Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Signal Box and disused Rail Track - Neath, New South Wales

 

This disused Signal Box is on the Cessnock Road at Neath in the Hunter Valley.

When the Neath Colliery was opened in 1907, the branch line was built to freight the coal.  I believe this branch line came off the Cessnock Line which was a private line operated by South Maitland Railways.  The Railway did carry passengers and merchandise for the new mining townships but was mostly used to transport coal from numerous collieries in the South Maitland area.  The Neath branch line opened in 1908.  When the mine closed in December 1984, the line was still in use until the Coal Washery was closed in April 1988.

The Station consisted of a pair of 70m platforms around the main lines.  There were 2 lines on this branch however one was lifted shortly after the closure in 1988.  The Signal Box was used as a staff exchange location up until 1996.

It has gone the way of a lot of abandoned places now; windows smashed and the odd graffiti painted on walls.

While I was out that way, I stopped and took a photo of a lagoon that I pass on the way to my daughters house.  Love the reflections off the still water and intend to return out there for some more!


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Friday, 23 October 2020

Sunset Silhouettes

 

A couple of weeks ago we took the dogs for a walk along the foreshore of Warners Bay and down to Speers Point on Lake Macquarie.  It was unusually warm for the time of year and there were quite a few people gathered in the park there enjoying the cool breeze off the Lake.

As the Sun set, it cast this beautiful golden colour over everything and was reflected off the water too.  

I shot these using the spot meter on my Canon 90D and metered off the people.  The light of the Sunset behind them blew out the exposure and the people became darker.  A little adjustment in Lightroom saw them become silhouetted against that brilliant Sunset colour.

We had intended on getting some takeaway and sit down after our walk to enjoy the cool lakeside.  However, as we started to get settled we were dive bombed by mozzies and the wind started to pick up across the Lake.  We decided we would grab some Kebabs and head on home.  By the time we reached the car about 100 metres away, the Sunset had been replaced by very angry clouds and the wind had picked up  considerably.  I had to hold the car door open as we put the dogs in because the wind was slamming it shut and just as Kim & I got into the car the rain came pelting down in heavy squalls driven by the wind.  The storm front brought a cool change with it and the temperature dropped by about 10° C in a short space of time.


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Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Out and about - Fuji Colour Superia 800

 

My photography has really taken a hit lately.  Covid lockdown hasn't helped but, I have also been busy painting!  Nothing arty farty but walls!  My son and his wife recently brought a house and it really needed a change of colour.  So, before they moved in, we helped out with painting inside the house and, once that was done, we helped them move.  Then, a week or so later, my daughter also brought a house and I was back with brush and roller in each hand!  Still not finished that one yet!

So, back in June when I was really chomping at the bit to get out with a camera, I went through the film in the freezer and found an expired Fuji Colour Superia 800.  Something I had not used before.  I loaded the film into Minolta X-700  and promised myself that I would take the camera everywhere with me and at least record what was around me.  These are nothing really exciting but they did take the edge off my photography withdrawal symptoms.  I used a Minolta MD 50mm f1.7 lens.

I didn't have any real expectations from this film.  I had never used it before and had not reviewed it on line (like I do with some) so as to get a benchmark for my outcome.   When I viewed the final outcome I had mixed feelings about colour.  It seemed to me to be a bit dullish although I note that this film is featured as a 'high speed daylight balance' film.  Maybe that was the problem; most of the shots were taken on overcast days.  As you can see below, the two photos below that have some element of sunshine in them have a better colour representation I think.  The film is also featured to having a fine grain structure and high degree of sharpness but I was disappointed with the high level of shadow grain in these photos.  That possibly has to do with the age of the film so maybe next time (if I have another roll of this in the freezer) I will overexpose 1/3 to 1 EV to see if that gives a more pleasing result.  

I decided, when I saw the initial outcome with the grain, that I would do some digital touchups to try and improve on that.  I have the Nik Collection plug-ins that I use in Lightroom and I use the Dfine programme to control noise for my digital work.  I gave it a try (only slight adjustment though; for some reason I don't like to use Digital Software to tweak my film photos.  It doesn't seem right!) and it did improve them somewhat.

These photos cover a bad weather experience down on Newcastle Beach.  Low pressure weather system and gale force winds produced a huge on shore swell and the waves were spectacular!  The weather had been bad for about 10 days and our Schnoodle puppies, Daisy and Archie and our daughters dog, Rocky, went wild when we finally got them out for a run.  Mind you they had a great time playing in the mud and were filthy at the end of it all.  A couple of the others are just random shots taken on the way to and from work.  

So, here they are.

Before I go, I must admit to an accidental travesty.  In March, I had loaded my last original Fuji Acros 100 Medium Format film into my Bronica ETRSi.  I forgot that I had done that.  Two weeks ago, because it was getting a bit warmer, I thought that I should get a roll of Fuji NPH 400 so I could go out and get some Sunrise and Sunset photos with the Bronica.  Horror of horrors, I opened the film back and there was the Acros 100!  I quickly closed it up again!  I don't think that quick flash of light would have ruined the whole roll and so I wound the film on through 2 exposures so hopefully it would take me to an unexposed area on the roll.  It had to happen to that last roll of original Acros100....

Hope you're all staying well as are we.


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Thursday, 9 July 2020

A Newcastle Lunch Hour


I work in Newcastle (my paid job!)  About 5 mins walk away is the Newcastle Beach.  The best spot to go to for a sojourn out of the low light, computerised work place is James Fletcher Park on Watt Street.  It is 3/4 of the way up a reasonably steep street.  

Great vantage point looking north to the beach, Canoe Pool and Ocean Baths.  Looking south to the sea wall covering the bluffs below the Anne Feneley Lookout.  Look to the east; endless ocean with ships on the horizon and the odd whale or two breaching and frolicking during the migration season in winter.  Closer to the breach the local Porpoise Pod gently rise to take a breath as they feed just offshore. Standing at the fence in the Park, above the bluffs, one looks straight down onto the Skate Park.  A great perspective for photos from above.

You've gotta look up too!  On days when the wind is right, there are always paragliders riding the updrafts from the bluffs (check out a previous post to see some of this action).  For faster action in the sky, there is usually a helicopter or two hovering around.  Whether being used for Port Hunter operations or just a joy flight over the city, it would be great to hitch a ride with one!  But, for the ultimate buzz, there is always the fighter jet aircraft from the RAAF Base at Williamtown (just north of Newcastle) that perform low level ops over the beach.  You've got to be ready for them though!  With a sudden deafening roar they creep up on the unsuspecting worker loafing in the park and are gone before you can raise your camera!

Just standing there taking in the scenery, the fresh sea air and listening to the waves crashing against sand and rocks is enough to release the tension for that short time.

These photos taken with a Canon 90D and Tamron 18-270mm f3.5 zoom.

The beach not hosting as many as it usually does during the summer but, there appears to be a lunchtime touch footy competition going on for most of the year.  The relaxing of some social distancing rules means that there is a few more people out and about these days in comparison with the last few months.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Photo Safari in Black and White - AGFA APX Pan 100


After the demise of the original Fuji Acros 100 (of which I still have 1 roll left!) my fav B&W film has become AGFA APX Pan100.

This is a very reasonably priced black and white film.  I picked some up from Walkens House of Film on line shop for about AU$9 for a roll of 36 exposures.  

It is a nice, finely grained film.  It has a good exposure latitude and won't blow out the highlights on a bright day but also keeps detail in the shadows.  It produced some lovely crisp, contrasty tones which means I rarely adjust contrast digitally for this film.  Those tones are also assisted by the smooth sharpness of the film, characteristic of a fine grain.

The majority of these photos were taken on overcast and rainy days.  The light was down a bit but I shot at box speed (100 ISO) and didn't overexpose (as many film photographers will suggest). Still, the low light didn't impact the grain as much as it will on some films

I loaded the film months ago into a Minolta X-700 camera and shot with a Minolta MD 50mm f1.7 prime.  It's a great little lens and has given me some wonderful photos.  Because of Covid-19 isolation I didn't get out to have the film processed and scanned until some of the restrictions were relaxed a bit.  When I got the film and scans back, it was sorta like unwrapping presents at Christmas and getting a nice surprise on seeing how well it had gone.

Most of these photos were taken on Lunchtime Safaris, as I call them.  I go out with my camera at lunch and go for a walk.  Some were taken on an 'introduction to society' day out with our new Schnoodle puppies Archie and Daisy.  They were very well behaved!

Newcastle (Australia), is just a hive of building activity at the moment.  Cranes dot our cityscape for new buildings going up everywhere.  Roads are blocked off for the upgrading of utilities for the new buildings and there are really cool big boys toys working on clearing out old buildings to make way for the new.  Happy to say though that, for most buildings, the facade of the older building is being kept to maintain the heritage look of the CBD, which is great.


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Breakfast at Cafe Inu with my daughter one morning.  Egg & Bacon Roll and Cappuccino!

Cafe Inu at Carrington.



Daisy & Archie had so much fun on their 'Introduction to Society' day out.  They are
Schnoodles (Schnauzer X Poodle) and were 17 weeks old in this photo.


When I walk through the City Arcade in Hunter Street, it's like going back in time!










The old Signal Box building has been turned into a restaurant.  Haven't eaten there yet but
it is on the list.  I do have a photo of the Signal Box when the heavy rail
ran into town and I will post a before and after story one of these days!







Signal Box and disused Rail Track - Neath, New South Wales

  This disused Signal Box is on the Cessnock Road at Neath in the Hunter Valley. When the Neath Colliery was opened in 1907, the branch line...