Strolling around the Beamish Museum in the north of England, I’m always curious to see some of the less visited corners. Upstairs above the newspaper office, is a recreation of an old print shop. Much of the machinery was sourced from the print works of Jack Ascough’s in Barnard Castle, one can only imagine the leaflets, posters and stories these letters and presses printed over the years.
I first tried to photograph the interior of this wonderful old water mill 10 years ago. At that time, a 50mm f/1.4 lens at maximum aperture just about let enough light in to enable a few handheld shots without excessive noise. Now, low noise sensors and image stabilisation mean so much more is feasible, including wide angle.
The project was shot with a Fujifilm X-T3 and Acros film simulation using ambient light and minimal post processing. My aim being to make use of my time exploring the light inside the old mill with my camera, rather than sat at a computer with Lightroom.
The present mill dates from the 18th century and is now in the care of the National Trust and has been restored to full working order.
The engine room at Papplewick Pumping Station near Nottingham. Spent a wonderful couple of hours there photographing the magnificent beam engines and boiler house at this preserved piece of industrial heritage. These buildings were not built as public buildings and for decades few saw the design and detail that went into their construction. Papplewick, in particular, has a wonderful symmetry to its design, a symmetry that repeats over the three levels of the engine house and even into the more utilitarian boiler house with its six symmetrically arranged coal boilers.
As I child one of my early memories was of our dad taking photographs on what I later learned was a 1940s vintage Zeiss Ikon folding camera – I have it to this day. He’d been in the airforce and there were a few board-mounted black and white prints of places as diverse as Paris and the Shetland Islands that he’d made himself in his own darkroom. Years later, as a graduate student, I’d set up my own darkroom in a cupboard of a flat I rented using his enlarger.
As a teenager I was given a Russian Zenit-EM 35mm with it’s 58mm f/2 Helios lens. I probably had that camera for longer than just about any other since and it served me well as a student geologist. Later, I splurged on a second camera a Soviet Lubitel 2 120 roll film twin lens reflex. While there were undoubtedly better cameras around in the 1980s, they were well beyond my budget and I can’t help but feel that the shear fun I had using these manual cameras instilled my long term interest in photography.
I recently spent a thoroughly enjoyable few hours wandering around the iconic location of Bodiam Castle in Sussex on the south coast of England. Wind direction and light conspired to make this view the one that worked best rather than the more usual image that shows the castle completely isolated by it’s moat but it was the pure fun of making it that will be my lasting memory of the day.
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