Exactly two weeks ago today (on the 21st of April 2013) the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) ran two steam specials from Dublin to Maynooth and back which they named Royal Canal Shuttles. The name was inspired by the fact that the section of the Sligo line between Dublin and Maynooth runs along the banks of the Royal Canal for almost its entire length.
The trains consisted of the RPSI Cravens coaches, and were worked by the RPSI’s 0-6-0 steam loco No.186. The trains were a little more special because No.186′s boiler certificate will expire later this year, so this could well have been the last time she’ll be on this line for a decade or more. Once her certificate expires she’ll have to be fully overhauled, and given that the RPSI is a volunteer group, that will take quite some time. No.186 has proven herself to be a remarkably reliable engine over the last few years, and I’ll certainly miss seeing her around.
The weather forecast for the day was awful, but thankfully it turned out to be a little too pessimistic.
As usual, it’s taken me a while to get all my photos and videos from the Santa Special season edited and organised. Mind you, mid-January is a definite improvement over March, which is how late I was last year!
As usual, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) ran two Santa Specials a day from Dublin to Maynooth to Dublin on the first three weekends of December. The trains were all scheduled to be hauled by the societies recently overhauled 2-6-0 steam loco No.461, which has been painted in the beautiful old CIE green livery. The same loco had been scheduled to run the 2011 trains too, but she was not ready on time, and all the 2011 Santa Specials from Dublin had to be hauled by diesel locos instead. Having missed the Santa Specials No.461 went on to make a decidedly unreliable return to steam over the spring and summer of 2012. Apparently No.461 took a while to bed in after her previous overhaul too, but apparently she did become very reliable over time. Hopes were high that she’d prove herself with the Santa Specials. She almost made it through the whole season, but the last two days proved too much for her, and the final three of the twelve trains had to be hauled by diesel locos.
Unfortunately my health proved to be even less reliable than No.461, and caused me to miss three out of the six days, and hence six out of the twelve trains.
Back in 2011 I wrote a blog post explaining how to create an OS X Service for stripping keywords from image files. In this post we’ll use the same technique to create a Service for stripping geotags from JPEG images.
As with the keyword stripping service, there are two prerequisites for this action, one is required, one is optional. You absolutely MUST have install EXIFTool installed, and it would be good if you also had Growl installed, but it’s not essential.
I recently gave a talk to Astro2, the Astronomy and Physics Society in NUI Maynooth. The talk focused on taking photos of the heavens without breaking the bank. If you set your expectations appropriately you can shoot the sky with literally any camera. You’ve not going turn your iPhone into the Hubble Space Telescope of course, but you can always get something nice, even if it’s “just” including the Moon and planets into your landscape shots.
The core idea is that you need to take as much control away from the camera’s computer as possible, so that you can push the device right up to it’s limits. To do that you need to understand how your camera works, so the talk starts with a primer on the theory of photography.
The talk is very heavily illustrated with example photos, and each example comes with a description of the settings used when shooting it.
I was asked in the talk to upload the slide deck, so I have (sorry it took so long).
Yesterday I posted my thoughts on watermarking images for uploading to the web. This post formed the basis of myself and Allison Sheridan’s discussions in the Chit Chat Across the Pond segment on tonight’s Nosillacast Mac Podcast. During the discussion we talked a little about how I watermark my images, and I realised that I hadn’t released a version of my image processing scripts since 2008! I promised I’d remedy that, so today, after a little tidying up, I’m releasing the current snapshot of my scripts under the FreeBSD license.
I’m not releasing these scripts as a polished software package that’s ready to use, but rather, as a starting point for anyone who wants to create their own watermarking scripts. If you’re not prepared to get stuck into the command line and a little Perl (VERY little is needed mind), these scripts are of no use to you!
The scripts rely on the free and open source ImageMagick command line image editing tools, so you’ll need to install ImageMagick before you get stuck in. If you’re running OS X, I’d recommend installing ImageMagick via the free and open source MacPorts package manager.
As soon as you begin to get even slightly into photography, you’re likely to start sharing your images online, and inevitably, you’ll face the watermarking question. Do I watermark my images? Or not? If I do, how do I do it? Subtle? In your face? Somewhere in between? What ever choice you make, someone will tell you you’re wrong, and probably not politely.
One of the reasons you’ll get five opinions on watermarking from four photographers is that there is no universal right answer. Depending on why you’re publishing your work, whether you’re an amateur, pro, or something in between, what license you’re sharing your work under, and how high a resolution you’re uploading your images at, the best solution for your needs will change.
Rather than try to convince you all that the approach I’ve taken is the one everyone should take, I just want to provoke some reflection, and to help people who are just getting started arrive at a good solution for their situation. The main thing I want to do is pose some questions that I hope people will find helpful in making their own decisions. I’ll also describe the choices I’ve made, and my reasoning. My aim isn’t to share my choices as some sort of prescription, but rather as an example. And finally, I’ll end with some tips for making your watermarks subtle, if that’s the road you choose to go down.
Anyway, on the 5th of May 2012 the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) ran a special train to commemorate Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, who passed away last year. Dr. Fitzgerald was a very well respected former Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), as well as a former president of the National University of Ireland, and, a former Vice President of the RPSI. It’s because of this link to the RPSI that the organisation paid him this tribute.
I’m still struggling to get up to date with processing my shots, but I am getting closer to caught up than I was a month ago, so things are heading in the right direction at least .
Last time I reported on a steam special (the Maynooth Shuttles), it was to, yet again, say that, despite our hopes, newly over-hauled steam loco No.461 couldn’t make it. Well, that finally changed this time, when she worked her first passenger-carrying train from Dublin in over a decade. She’s not quite running smoothly yet though, clocking up some very significant delays on this rail tour. Still, at least she’s out pulling trains on the main line!
Of all the railway groups I’m a member of on Flickr, none has been more helpful and inspiring than the Progressive & Artistic Railway Photography group run by Martyn Fordham. Now, the members of the group, with Martyn and Ian Cowley taking the lead, have created a blurb photo book showcasing the work of many of the photographers who contribute to the group. It was decided to call the book “Along Different Lines”, which I think reflects the group’s focus on, for want of a better cliché, thinking differently about railway photography.
I was flattered to be asked to contribute five shots to the book, as well an introductory paragraph, and explanatory captions. You can buy the book from the Blurb website, but, since it’s a hard-back book, it’s not cheap. Since the book was not created to make money, and is being sold at cost price, I have no compunction against including my contributions (text and images) below.
I’m still continuing to get caught up with processing and editing my photos and videos from the last few months. Over the weekend I finished working on the media I shot on the 3rd of March when the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) ran two “Maynooth Shuttle” steam specials from Pearse station in Dublin to Maynooth and back.
Having missed the 2011 Santa Specials because of technical issues, recently overhauled ex-DSER (Dublin South Eastern Railway) loco No.461 was suppose to make it’s return to Dublin for these shuttles after a 10 year absence, but, alas, it wasn’t to be. The weekend before the specials she encountered some more technical difficulties on her way from RPSI headquarters in Whitehead near Belfast down to Dublin. No.461 did eventually make it out to Maynooth the next day on an empty driver training run, though even that was not an unmitigated success because she was supposed to run all the way to Enfied, but only made it to Maynooth! Still, by early April she was finally ready, and she worked the Spare Link rail tour over two days (pictures and video coming soon).
With No.461′s on-going problems, RPSI stalwart loco No.186 stood in for her on the Maynooth Shuttles. Through no fault of No.186 the morning shuttle was over an hour late. Apparently someone had carelessly parked a track maintenance vehicle in front of the turntable in Dublin-Connolly station, so No.186 had to run the whole way around (and partially under) Dublin city to get to the nearest alternative turntable in Dublin-Heuston on the south-side of the city.
Still – it was a good day in all, with some lovely sunny periods between some very heavy showers!
You can see all my shots from the day on Flickr where I’ve collected them into a set.
As well as shooting Stills with my trusty Nikon D40, I also shot some video on my new Nikon D5100 (and my iPhone 4 when the D5100′s battery died). I’ve edited the video and some of the stills together into a movie of the day’s events which I’ve uploaded to my YouTube Channel. I’ve embedded the video below for convenience: