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mick

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mick last won the day on August 19

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  1. mick

    Bird Photographs

    It's very rare that we get anything other than Sparrows, Dunnocks and Blackbirds in our garden at home and while I enjoy trying to take photos of them it's also nice to be able to photograph something different. At our caravan we regularly see Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Goldfinches and Chaffinches along with the more typical urban garden birds and so in an effort to get photos of them we began putting out food to tempt them closer. It wasn't anything grand as you'll notice in the photos, just a tray formed out of aluminium foil secured to the decking handrail with some cotton thread. In it we placed some live mealworms that we'd purchased online and it wasn't long before we had our first visit from a Blue Tit. Still learning, I had my camera set up on a tripod inside the caravan shooting through a double-glazed window so the photos were never going to be of high quality but I'd rarely seen a Blue Tit close up before and certainly never taken a photo of one so any type of result would be an achievement. In addition it was dull and rainy, hardly the type of conditions for great photos but the following three images were typical of the many I took on that occasion. I don't really want to add too many photos as I would like to get to the point where I add only the most recently taken ones but I think it's part of the story to describe how my interest started and grew and how hopefully my efforts improved along the way so I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.
  2. mick

    Bird Photographs

    Here's another couple of my earlier attempts taking photos at home with birds perched on the garden fence and my neighbours conifer hedge as the background. I like to try make the bird a part of a photograph rather than it being the main part all the time.
  3. mick

    Bird Photographs

    The next photo wasn't anything special but marked the fledging of some Pied Wagtails that have nested beneath the solar panels of our roof for the past 3 years. I took a whole series of these as each youngster went on its way. Likewise, the following isn't a quality photo but it's one of those moments that you either catch or you don't and so it's better just to grab the shot when you can. Here one of the parent Pied Wagtails feeds a newly fledged youngster.
  4. mick

    Bird Photographs

    I know very little about birds and until recently I believed we had a garden full of simple sparrows as that's just about all I ever noticed. If they were brown and in the garden then they had to be sparrows. I started sitting just inside the patio doors with the camera on a tripod and taking photos of the sparrows that landed along the garden fence. The garden next door has a conifer hedge and I found that when it was not in focus it made a great background for the sparrow photos. Like I said, if they were brown they were sparrows and it wasn't until I became aware of the shape of the beak that I discovered this one wasn't a sparrow at all but was in fact a Dunnock. I think the background is great on this one and the bird itself is really sharp and clear. It's just a really nice photo in my opinion - one that makes you feel good about it.
  5. mick

    Bird Photographs

    That's great Roddy. I had a young Blackbird in the kitchen a few weeks back and a startled Tree Sparrow in our caravan not long ago but I've never been that close to a bird of prey. You're both very lucky!
  6. mick

    Worsley Dale Garden Railway

    The shed is now blessed with two working LED striplights and I can't believe it's taken me this long to install something that's so necessary for working out there. I've never been able to work in the shed with the door closed before because it's just so dark when you shut out the light and the winter's nights have always been a no go. I have no excuse anymore. The sidings extension in the terminus area is taking longer than anticipated but that's mainly through having the problem with my knee, but I have moved forward a little more and installed another point and a section of headshunt. The point outside the shed and the one leading to the headshunt will be wired as a pair that throw together. All that's left to do is install the point on the exterior of the shed, widen the entrance hole to allow the additional track through, and join up the track with the point visible in the above photo. Once the trackwork is complete I will divert my attention to the backscene and then the ballasting. I had taken it for granted that the method of working for the OTA log wagons into the terminus sidings would be that they would run round in the platform before drawing out and reversing into the sidings. Well yesterday I moved the OTA's across from Shieling Bridge and discovered that there's only just sufficient room between the points for the 12 wagons - and I mean just! Not to worry, I've experienced situations like that for real so it's nothing to be concerned about.
  7. mick

    Bird Photographs

    The Robin was spending a lot of time round our caravan and I took lots of uninspiring photo's of it until one morning it happened to perch on top of a low shrub that had been pruned over winter and was just starting to sprout new growth. The little Robin looked straight towards me while I rattled off multiple shots not knowing exactly what I'd taken until I later viewed them. I was delighted to find this amusing shot among them. Perhaps more through luck than judgement but you have to be there and do something to get them I suppose. I'm not sure what he's shouting but maybe he was just fed up of me following him around with the camera all the time! This was the type of image that I wanted to capture.
  8. mick

    Bird Photographs

    I began experimenting with the different camera settings and manual focus rather than automatic, trying to focus on the birds eye. It was also becoming clear that you needed to take many photographs in the hope of getting just the one you really wanted. Back to our Robin again only this time it was a little sharper due to the use of a tripod. Lots of distractions around the subject but they were mainly thrown out of focus. It's a nice photo of a Robin but it doesn't say a great deal so we're back to taking many photos in order to get just the one that's something different.
  9. mick

    Bird Photographs

    Robin's were to play a major part in my introduction to photographing birds as you'll discover and a couple of weeks later I happened to witness the following scene with an adult Robin feeding a youngster. This was just one of several images taken at the same time but it was disappointing to discover that the images were not as sharp and clear as I had hoped they would be. It felt like an opportunity lost.
  10. mick

    Bird Photographs

    I'm not a photographer by any means but I do enjoy taking photographs and over the last couple of years or so, as a special interest, I've been trying to capture photographs of garden birds. Now that's all well and good but what do you do with them once you've taken them? I now have hundreds of digital images of common garden birds stored on my hard drive and so I thought I'd start a topic here in order that I can display just a few of them. I'll add photos as attachments so that they don't appear in the forum Gallery and everyone can then choose whether or not they wish to view them. I'm going to begin by posting the photo that began my interest. It's nothing special at all, just a young Robin perched on a branch outside our caravan kitchen window. The above is a cropped section from a larger image and the actual subject was perhaps 12-15 feet away so even at full focal length as here it just shows that you're going to need to be quite close in order to capture decent photos. I didn't really understand how to take better photos but I soon had a desire to improve, to take photographs that were sharper and clearer. I experimented using teleconverters to get closer and began tweaking the camera's settings to obtain sharper images but I'm a slow learner so it's taken me some time to make any real progress.
  11. mick

    Worsley Dale Garden Railway

    I've been a bit crazy with class 37s Tony and currently have 32 of them! I'm not going to be building this time, there's a replacement bridge en route which should be with me before I even start dismantling the old one. I thought it would be worth the effort in order to create a suitable area for taking photographs. We'll see if it was a good decision when everything's back in order. Well after a break for a few days I've made a small amount of progress today but I've been hindered with a very painful left knee. I thought it had eased last week but a short six mile walk in the Dales on Thursday has got it playing up again. I've managed to fix a light above Shieling Bridge station and would have had one above Cattle Leys terminus too had it not been broken when I opened it. I've never had lighting inside the shed before so this is a big step forward. The broken one is on its way back and a replacement on its way to me so hopefully we'll be fully illuminated soon. I've also managed to lay one point in the new terminus sidings and have got another one soldered up ready to install which will leave just the one on the outside of the shed. The outside one will entail widening the baseboard slightly to accommodate an extra track and building a cover to keep the rain out. Nothing special required just so long as it's watertight. I've got point motors and autofrog modules so it shouldn't be too long before the terminus sidings are in operation.
  12. mick

    NCE v Gaugemaster

    Funnily enough I was looking at DCC control systems only a couple of days ago and it's the first time I've looked at the Z21 mentioned earlier in the post. It looks quite interesting though it's the first time I've heard of a sniffer port. I currently have the Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance 2 with one tethered and one wireless handset. It's been fine but the round knob for speed control has just about stopped working on both of them and I have to use the buttons instead. Is it called rheostat or something like that? I certainly think the handsets are the weak link but the system is a few years old now so perhaps it's time to look for something better. But there again, do I need something better for a mainly single track round the garden? I could send the handsets in for repair or I could put the money towards something new that might last a bit longer.
  13. mick

    Worsley Dale Garden Railway

    Yes it sounds like we are lucky to have such a wide range of materials available to us in the UK. I know that some overseas members have difficulty obtaining roofing felt for example.
  14. mick

    Worsley Dale Garden Railway

    In between doing a spot of weathering I've been thinking about the task of relaying the plywood base section. I should make it clear that currently there's just one spot where the plywood appears to have failed and I won't know that for certain until I start tearing into the roofing felt. What I do know is from looking at recent photographs there are some undulations in the plywood base that I'm almost certain weren't there before and if this is to be a long term pastime then I do need to do something about it now. Currently it's double track in this area with the inner concrete sleeper line known as Watch Houses Loop. I don't use it very often although I know I should. I thought about removing it altogether and changing to single track all the way round but instead I've decided to keep this section double track and extend it slightly towards Stack Gill viaduct. Then instead of a passing loop, although it will still be used for that purpose, it will be deemed double track running between the two viaducts. Photo above is taken from the beginning of Stack Gill viaduct. The first few feet is fine as the track is already laid on aerated block base but from where you can see the roofing felt just before the curve is where the plywood starts. I intend to add a 'Y' point to start the double track somewhere just before the plywood section so that I have to change as little of the existing track as possible. The existing point is just on the far side of the bridge you can see in the distance so we're perhaps looking at an extension of 5-6 feet. The spot above is a great place for photographs so I may try to improve the embankment. The above photo looking back in the opposite direction gives a clearer picture of where everything is. 'Trundles Bridge' in the foreground will be replaced and the point motor housing seen just in front of it it will obviously need to be relocated. The exact location of the new bridge will be determined by the best vantage point for photographs I intend to do the work in short sections so that if ever it comes to a complete standstill (not unknown with me) I will be able to add a link of track to run trains as and when desired. I'm hoping that it will also aid in keeping the new bits level with the old. I've also considered the possibility of adding some colour light signals in this section. I think I can get away with just using 2 aspect signals as they're going to be more for show than anything else and it makes controlling them easier - the red/green aspect can be changed under DCC via the point switching. I need three in total but adding an extra distant (green/yellow) would enhance the tunnel area for photos. Signals will need to be easily removable - so being able to just slot them in would be a bonus. Oh and yes, I will be using sections of aerated block to form the new track base. These will be cemented on top of the concrete foundations. I've been very pleased with the way they've stood up to the elements so far, even the cut sections that I've used as parapet walls along the tops of the viaducts. I just need to take care cutting the strips required as they'll only be 25mm or so in thickness.
  15. mick

    Worsley Dale Garden Railway

    They certainly did, although I don't think they are active on the UK scene at the moment.
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