England

Geevor Tin Mine, Cornwall

Day 5 - Geevor tin mine.  The weather picked up dramatically from the first few days (if you saw a previous post, we were engulfed by some murky weather), and we headed off to one of the best known tin mine museums in Cornwall.  Tin mining used to be a huge industry here, and the landscape is covered in old stacks and derelict shells of former mining outfits.  There is even a Poldark mine...Geevor tin mine is home to a fantastic wealth of information about mining, and you can even walk through a shallow mine shaft which is manned by people who used to work here.  Claustrophobic individuals might want to avoid that!  One of the best parts of the mine (especially for a photographer) are the buildings devoted to the workers themselves, where they came in in the morning, where they prepared for the long day in the dark, and where they cleaned up after a hard day mining tin.  I tried to capture the feel of the place in a photo story style, with a number of images trying to show the conditions they faced and the spirit they had while working here. At the bottom of this structure you could see the shaft this lift was using and how deep it was. Certainly not for the faint hearted.

This was part of the lift construction to transport miners and their equipment underground.

Next to this structure was the building complex for the miners.  You could see the company had tried to provide some home comforts for them considering the difficult working conditions, but it did seem quite bleak.  The whole area was called "the dry", purely because the miners would dry their overalls here, and have a shower to get clean and dry.  There was a very clear sense of hierarchy in the dry, with separate mess areas and shower areas for the bosses.  The more interesting part was the mass locker room for the "grunts" of the mine, the workers.  So much of their stuff had just been left when the mine was suddenly closed in 1986, and the museum has left many of these items, dust and all, to give a sense of what it was like.

Shirts, pants, socks, jackets, so many items were left behind.

The personality of the miners shone through. A few bikers' lockers were grouped together, showing a shared love of machinery.

Some of these men also seemed pretty good at riding, with some stickers from competitions they had entered.

Photographically this area was quite challenging.  The light was both low level and of varying quality, including a mixture of different light sources.  It took a little while to recognise the white balance that was needed (although granted, shooting in RAW meant this could be corrected in Lightroom).  Also, I had to open the lenses and shoot at a higher ISO - ISO is less of a problem with the Fuji X system as it produces pleasing film-like grain, but the wide aperture meant that I missed good focus sometimes.

Clocking in for the last time in '84.

The sense of humour of the miners was clear to see.

Alongside the items left by the workers were photographs of themselves, along with some stories of times in the mine.  It was eerie to read these in the quiet calm of the empty dry, especially with their property hung up around you.

Shower time in the Dry. This shower was for the normal shift workers. There was little privacy.

Abandoned tokens, for the abandoned possessions.

Mono conversions are fantastic with the files from the Fuji X-Pro1.  The RAW files have such nice tones directly out of the camera, it takes little work in Lightroom to bring out a little more contrast.  The more I use this camera, the more it seems the files take less work than with the Nikon D750.  The files don't react well to sharpening, but if you get it right when taking the image (i.e. minimising camera shake), you don't need to add sharpening in post-production as the files are that good.  Particularly with the 35mm f/1.4 and the 18mm f/2.

The workshop.

This was a nice break of routine for me, as it allowed me to consider a set of images to convey a sense of a place full of history.  Normally I'm more accustomed to finding the "one" image with landscapes, but I really enjoyed our day at the mine.  As I would relish the chance to photograph a wedding in the future, this kind of storytelling is great practice, except for the lack of people of course...

Lightroom 5 - power of the new process

I've had Lightroom 5 for some time now, and I have been hearing and reading many comments from people commenting on the power of the updated and improved sliders. As I haven't had much time (or the right weather) to go out and shoot, I thought I'd go back through my images and try to rescue some files that on first glance looked (basically) rubbish!

Now, these images aren't necessarily fantastic, but they do show just how much Lightroom (and Adobe Camera Raw) can now deal with. I've included jpegs of the original file and the edited final image.

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In the original image (top) I had lost a lot of detail in the shadows. I had originally intended this to be part of a bracketed exposure, but it didn't look quite right. Putting it through Lightroom 5 (second image), I was able to pull back the shadows whilst keeping detail in the sky. This just went to show how forgiving Lightroom really is!

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This next file is a good example of how the software can help fix overexposure and harsh highlights. The sky was so bright that day, and I didn't have my filters with me. My camera sometimes struggles to meter properly, as the D90 has not got the best dynamic range (in my opinion!) - a lesson in why I should use manual more often.

Due to the flat sky, I decided a black and white edit was probably the most appropriate. It worked out ok, but I think a storm rolling in over the hills would make this image stand out and "pop" more.

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I chose this final image to (hopefully) demonstrate how good LR5 is at helping a flat image look more dynamic and interesting. The vibrance, saturation and clarity sliders in particular do a great job of making things look more real and full of texture. I managed to get more detail and contrast from the trees throughout the forest - which I think makes the image much stronger.

Of course, this would have been much more difficult to do if I had shot in jpeg and not RAW...

Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK

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A few weeks ago we made our second visit to the IWM Duxford, after the fantastic anniversary air show in the summer (for those of you who haven't been, there is a fantastic selection of aircraft on display, including a retired concorde!). Concorde cockpit

A great place to practice many different photography skills, like low-light, candid portraits and action shots of planes (during air shows). I've included some shots from the last air show we went to, including some images captured of the recreationists present on the day. Enjoy!

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Loved ones

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Rations

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American Jeep - caught in the headlights

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12 knots - lots of these old gauges were on sale at various stalls

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Preparing the gear

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WW2 American Classics

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Stunt flying!

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Concorde (?) formation of the Red Arrows

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Making the turn

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Red Arrows on display

All images captured using a Nikon D90 and 50mm f/1.8 and the Nikon 70-300 f/4-5.6.