From the Archives #8

I have a new review waiting in the wings for publication tomorrow, but until then here’s another image from the archives. In other news I’m now the proud owner of a lovely new X-Pro 2. After six years stuck at 16 megapixels it’s a bit of a revelation to have 8 more to play with and the high ISO performance is amazing me. ISO 6400 and 12800 are really good!

Heptonstall Ruins
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This image was shot on my 1st generation X100 with the WCL-X100 wide angle converter attached. As was often the case, I forgot to set that I’d put the adapter on the camera in the menu, so it’s wrongly recorded as being shot at 23mm rather than 19mm.

From the Archives #7

I’ve finally parted with my beloved X-E1 after three years and many thousands of images. In its place I’m now the proud owner of an X-T10. Wow what an upgrade in performance this is! I’ll do a full write up soon and why I chose the X-T10 over an X-Pro 2 or X-T1. In the meantime here’s another shot from the archive.

One Wrong Step

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I’ve never done that much macro, mostly because I find it very fiddly and don’t have the patience when I’m out walking. But on this particular day I spied some lovely water droplets on some cobwebs and was determined to try and capture that ‘micro-lens’ effect you get from the droplets. Then what do you know, there’s a little fly on there with one leg stuck on the web! Now admittedly this is quite a heavy crop because the 60mm being a 1:2 macro lens only gets you so close, but I still really like this one.

From the Archive #6

I recently came across the work of Masashi Wakui, a Japanese photographer who produces some wonderful stylised street photography of scenes around Tokyo. In particular I really love his nighttime shots which I feel do a great job of capturing the essence of the city. It gave me the inspiration to go back through my archive to see if I had any decent nighttime street scenes from my various Japan trips I could treat in a similar way. Many of the night shots I have from Japan were shot on a Nikon D90 which at best had middling low light performance and fairly poor dynamic range compared to today’s standards. This makes doing much of anything with them a fairly frustrating experience; blown highlights stay forever blown, and the shadows do little but yield noise when pushed. But a few images from my last trip in 2011, where I took a D7000 with me, came out better. This one from Shinjuku, shot near the charmingly named, but actually really quaint and interesting “piss alley” turned out quite well.


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Happy Halloween!

Apologies for the lack of posts lately, I’ve been busy with work and not had that many opportunities to go out with the camera. As Halloween is almost upon us I thought I’d post this recent shot which I think looks rather spooky. It’s an abandoned cottage near where I grew up that’s been empty for decades.

Haunted Cottage
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From now on I’m going to start uploading higher resolution photos so things look crisper on high DPI displays. As these larger images are slightly more vulnerable to misuse, I’m embedding a faint watermark in them. Hopefully the tradeoff in clarity is worth it!

From the Archive #5

I’m working on a big post about a recent trip to Liverpool but since it’s not done yet here’s another shot from the archive to tide you over.

Sunshine and Showers

Nikon D90 28mm, ƒ/9, 1/400s, ISO 125

I got this shot while on a wander down the incredible beach at Ynyslas, around 8 miles north of Aberystwyth in mid-Wales. It had been sunny and remained so where I was stood, but in the distance grey clouds rolled in and it began to rain. The light and contrast between the sunny foreground and gloomy background were fantastic.

From the Archives #4

This is the fourth in a series where I share older images that I’m quite proud of but which are unlikely to otherwise appear here.

Torii Stickers

Torii Stickers

Nikon D90, 50mm, ƒ/4.5, 1/200s, ISO 200

This is a detail of a torii gate at a shrine in Ueno park, Tokyo. I took this on my first trip to Japan in 2009, which feels like a very long time ago now! I’m not sure why it’s adorned with stickers, perhaps from local sponsors or businesses wishing for good luck? At any rate I liked the textures and colours.

From the Archives #3

This is the third in a new series where I share older images that I’m quite proud of but which are unlikely to otherwise appear here.

Darwin’s Seat

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I love this image of Darwin’s statue in the Natural History Museum in London. It’s a beautiful building, full of intricate details and flourishes. The natural light streaming in from the high windows on a sunny day picks out the details in the stonework really nicely. I only had a 50mm f1.8 prime with me at the time, so in order to get everything I wanted in this image I had to stitch two photos together in Photoshop. If you search for images of the Natural History Museum you’ll see many photos looking up the hall towards Darwin’s statue, but mostly taken with wide-angle lenses that give a very different perspective.

From the Archives #2

This is the second in a new series where I share older images that I’m quite proud of but which are unlikely to otherwise appear here.

Getting Lost in a Maze of Torii

Getting Lost in a Maze of Torii
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This shot is from Fushimi Inari-taisha, a large Shinto shrine complex near Kyoto, famous for its tunnels of brightly painted torii gates. I’ve visited this shrine on several occasions now, but the most memorable visit was my last in 2011, as it was the first time I’d been after dark. As a popular spot with both locals and tourists, the various shrines that make up Fushimi Inari are usually busy, with lots of people coming and going through the maze of torii gate dotted paths that criss-cross the mountain between the various shrine buildings. At night however the place is almost entirely deserted, leaving you to explore in peace. With the rattle of shrine bells, claps, quiet mummers of prayer and chatter all absent, the place is eerily quiet. The mountain already has a rather other-worldly feel and that is only magnified at night with all but the shrine buildings and gates lost to the darkness.

From the Archives #1

This is the first in a new series where I share older images that I’m quite proud of but which are unlikely to otherwise appear here.

A day at the beach

Day at the Beach
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I captured this shot of the beach at Aberystwyth on an unusually warm late March day, back in 2012. I lived in this town for the best part of a decade before moving to Yorkshire, so I have a lot of fond memories for it, many of which are summed up in this shot. Whether having a barbecue on the beach with friends, a lazy wander along the promenade to buy an ice cream in the scorching summer sun, watching the waves crash against the seawall on a stormy day, or climbing Constitution Hill at the far end of the beach. Good times! In a further play to my own nostalgia, I’ve processed the image to give it a slightly desaturated filmic look.

The Abandoned Pottery

The Abandoned Pottery

It’s not often I get the chance to do a little urban exploration, so when a friend suggested visiting an abandoned pottery out in the countryside, I leapt at the opportunity. Urban exploration, or “urbex” for short, is the pursuit of exploring and documenting derelict and abandoned places before they succumb to vandalism and the ravages of time. As these places tend to get destroyed and robbed once they become well known, I’m not going to say where it is. Indeed the place has already been trashed in parts and has had quite a few items stollen. The first few bits of graffiti have also popped up in recent months, judging from older photos I’ve seen of the place.

Chaotic barn

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The pottery is made up of several buildings and sheds. All are in a state of chaos with things everywhere. What ever caused this place to shut down and become abandoned obviously happened fairly quickly as it seems no effort was made to sell off stock or machinery. What’s also strange is the abundance of personal property, given this was a business and not a residence. Photographs, birthday cards, decades old newspapers, magazines and all manner of things can be found strewn around. Much of it dating from the 1970s and 80s.

Rusting milk churns

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These old milk churns are rusting away outside the barn you can see above.

Pottery workshop open to the elements

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Several of the pottery’s workshops are missing their rooves and are being overrun by nature, to add to their already dilapidated state. Unfinished pots are everywhere, in some places in piles where shelves have rotted away and collapsed. Some still neatly lie between sheets of deteriorating cardboard where they’ve been patiently waiting to be glazed for decades. It all adds to the impression that after work ended one day, the business closed never to reopen.

Large machinery

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Among the masses of pottery, ferns and general bric-a-brac, are a number of large pieces of vintage looking machinery. One of the workshops even features a Victorian style line shaft system for the distribution of mechanical power to multiple pieces of equipment. The machine shown above is the largest at the pottery. I believe it was used to extract excess water from the clay that was processed at the site. Sitting in front of it is a badly deteriorated, but fascinating looking typewriter.

Ancient typewriter

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Curious piano

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Another interesting discovery was this piano tucked away in a room just off one of the workshops. Why you’d have a piano in a pottery that must have had a lot of very noisy equipment running most of the time, I don’t know. Curiously the fairly grand furniture is sitting against bare breeze block walls. It seems like this part of the building was a late addition to the site, so maybe they ran out of money before it could be plastered? Still it all adds the mystery and intrigue of the place. This room was very dark so it took a rather long exposure to make anything of it. What light it had did have a nice quality to it though. In case you’re wondering, the piano had stopped working.

Ladder in pool of sunshine

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At the front of the pottery was a shop and tearoom area. While this is the most intact part of the site structurally, sadly it’s been pillaged of anything valuable and some louts have pulled most of the furniture from its original positions and littered everything else on to the floor. With all the windows boarded up and the skylights very murky from decades of grime, it’s rather dark inside. A solitary shaft of sunlight nicely lit the ladder you see above. Presumably some intrepid person had used it to look up in the loft area as it didn’t seem like it belonged there. Despite the messy state of the place, lots of interesting personal artefacts were still littered about. Including these political campaign fliers urging you to vote wisely at the local election in May 1980.

Vote wisely for a better future!

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An old menu advises you that the cost of a cup tea and biscuit was a mere 35p, as was a buttered scone. Prices that seem ludicrously cheap in today’s Britain. Previous visitors had clearly made attempts to arrange items to create more visually pleasing photographs and make sense of the jumble. Generally that’s not something that I’d condone, but given the mess this place is in, I can see why people would want to try and bring a little order back. I had to light the shot below with my phone it was so dark!

Tea and biscuits just 35p

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Also inside the shop area I came across this photographic enlarger and a bottle of ‘fixer’. It seems the former occupant also did a bit of photography on the side and must have had a darkroom somewhere. You can see from this shot just what a mess it is inside, along with the mindless graffiti that’s been daubed in several places.

Photographic enlarger and bottle of fixer

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I’ll finish up with this shot of a chair in the clay processing room. There seemed to be a curiously large number of chairs all over the site. All wooden and many missing their bottoms. There’s something about a vacant chair that makes a place feel lonely don’t you think? Anyway I hope you’ve enjoyed this photographic exploration of the old pottery. If you’ve enjoyed this post please consider supporting me and the site by buying a print from my store or on Etsy.


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