Winter landscape near Maple Cross, shot from a traffic jam on the M25 returning from my sister’s after Christmas.
A few photographs that aren’t either of rock concerts or trains, starting with these two fellows who were only too keen to pose for photos.
These two of Dawlish’s famous black swans weren’t quite as obliging. Whatever was at the bottom of the river was far more interesting than having their picture taken. I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot of one doing a Smaug impression.
OK, so this one does have a train in it. But it does show what Dawlish is like on a sunny day.
Dawlish is full of old-fashioned traditional pubs, and is completely free of the characterless chain pubs which fill most towns and cities. The Railway Inn, in a street too narrow for anything other than pedestrians, does great food, and a good pint of Otter.
I manages to get a photo pass for a night of metal mayhem with Fozzy & Breed 77 at Reading’s Sub89. It’s not the sort of gig where I’d risk my camera anywhere near the front without a pass for the pit!
Opening act Voodoo Vegas played some old school rock and roll. Good to see a woman in a rock band who’s not the singer.
Breed 77 were probably the most musically interesting, mixing alternative metal with flamenco and eastern influences to produce something that wasn’t a retread of things we’ve heard many times before.
Fozzy were a lot more traditional, rocking like it was 1985, but it’s impossible not to be impressed by their ability to work a crowd. This is a band who really understand the art of showmanship.
Even with a strict “3 songs only” I still ended up with a lot of photos. Plenty more photos from that night on my photo gallery site.
Smugmug, who host my photo galleries, have done a total ground-up redesign of their site. The new site is a lot more customisable and has a far more modern look, but we have lost the common look-and-feel between the blog and the photo gallery. Still some more customisation to be done, but have a look at the new version, and let me know what you think.
Some photos taken around Conwy and Llandudno in early July, not all of trains (there are some of castles and bunnies). This is the Great Orme Tramway which runs out of Llandudno.
The line has always been marketed as one of the “Great Little Trains of Wales”, but unlike the other lines, it’s not a steam railway, but a rope-worked tramway using the same principles as a funicular, something unique in Britain. This is the street-running lower section just below Halfway station.
A few photos from Portmerion in North Wales, well-known as “The Village” from the late-sixites cult TV series “The Prisoner”. It’s a photogenic place when the sun shines.
As an aside, why don’t they make television like The Prisoner any more? Worth noting that, like The Avengers and the work of Gerry Anderson, it didn’t come from the public service BBC, but Lew Grade’s ITV. Can you imagine ITV doing something like that nowadays?
A few assorted photos from the bank holiday weekend.
Marillion have a song called “This Train Is My Life”. Well, this train was my bank holiday weekend, in which I spent many hours on board assorted Arriva Cross Country Voyagers.
The reason for all this travel was Mostly Autumn playing The Robin 2 in Biston and The Brook in Southampton. This photo of Olivia Sparnenn’s spectacular hair comes from the show at The Brook on the Sunday night.
And just to prove I don’t take photographs solely of trains or prog-rock musicians, this one’s of the Lymington river just outside Brockenhurst on the Bank Holiday Monday.
I don’t usually do covers bands, but since this one was just round the corner from me, it would have been rude not to. Swallow are the Reading-based classic rock covers band fronted by Crimson Sky’s Jane Setter, with Diane Fox (above) on bass, Nick Martin on guitar, and Ade Ogden on drums. Their repetoire includes songs from Blondie, Uriah Heep, Golden Earring, Jefferson Airplane, and expecially for this gig, Led Zeppelin.
It’s not many gigs where I end up with more good photos of the drummer than of the singer, but pub gigs of this nature can be a challenge to photograph. The “stage” was wide but not very deep, with everyone in the front row. I was impressed with Ade’s drumming, and indeed the tightness of the whole band, as demonstrated by a very powerful version of “Radar Love”, one of the high spots of their first set. As a basic guitar-bass-drums-vocals lineup some songs needed to be played in a stripped-down forum, but the band’s arrangments worked, even managing to do Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’” justice without keys. I liked the way Diane Fox played the piano intro for UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” on bass.
Most of their second set was Led Zeppelin songs, at the request of the venue. Having seen the likes of Karnataka and Panic Room play Led Zep standards as encores, I’ve always thought Led Zeppelin songs work extremely well with female vocals, and the half-dozen songs they played, drawn largely from the early albums proved to be a very good fit for Jane’s voice. Somehow I doubt that Robert Plant could hit the high notes on “Immigrant Song” nowadays. And if Jane Setter could do Robert Plant, Ade Ogden also did a very convincing John Bonham.
While I still prefer to see bands play original material, it nevertheless makes for an entertaining evening, and Swallow do what they do extremely well.
Some photos from a few months back, Crimson Sky playing their home town of Bristol back in May 2012. The gig was a double headliner with Winter in Eden, held in the Sea Mills community centre after the original pub venue went out of business. It was a stroke of luck that an alternative if unconventional venue was available at short notice.
I was an assistant roadie for the band for that gig, and one of the reasons I never reviewed it at the time was because I was focussing on helping load out afterwards I found I couldn’t remember enough to be able to write a coherent review. One thing I do remember, though, was how cold the venue was. At one point I had trouble operating the camera because my hands were frozen.
This was the first photo I ever took with my current camera, taken minutes after buying it from Jessops in Torquay in 2009 after my existing camera died on me while on holiday.
Today came the news that Jessops is to close all stores, putting 1,370 people out of a job. Jessops had been ailing for some time, and there was always a gut feeling that it was only a matter of time before the chain went under. The suddeness of the end still came as something of a shock. Debate rages over whether their downfall was due to the rise of smartphones replacing “real” cameras, competition from Amazon, or simply poor customer service.
The Torquay branch where I bought the camera had already closed before today’s announcment. So had the Slough branch, over a year ago, where I made my last significant purchase from Jessops, a fast zoom lens.
I’m lucky that in Reading there are a couple of other camera shops including a branch of The London Camera Exchange. But there are many other towns and cities where Jessops was the only photographic specialist on the high street. What does this mean for photography?
Posted in Photos