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18 August, 2019.

Today has been a fantastic day for making pictures for Dirt, Soot and Smoke. I spent the day at the delightful Cheltenham Racecourse station on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway, making pictures of the footplate crews. The weather was sunny, with blue skies for most of the day, which really helped lift the blue of 6023 'King Edward II'. Driver Andy Beale was in charge of 6023 during the morning and it was possible to make some candid pictures of him as he waited departure time. The candid picture is one of the many things that a photo charter can never recreate,so I avoid them.The other steam loco in action was 2807, along with diesels D6948 and 45149. Pictures of the footplate crew were also made of these, as part o a plan for a book release in 2020! A couple of weeks earlier I had spent the day at Winchcombe station, photographing steam crews and station staff.

16 August, 2019.

It has been an absolutely hectic last two months!

Block Bells, Buttons and Dusters has been finished and sent to the printers. This now means that work can really get underway on the Kidderminster diesel depot book. It's a marvelous facility, with great volunteers. On my last visit a few days ago I photographed a sea of blue traction, comprising of D1013, D1015, D1062 and D7029, all being worked on. It really was just like Old Oak Common depot in the 1970s. In addition, 40106 was having a new steam heat boiler installed.

The depot book is not a conventional railway book full of 3/4 front views. Instead it looks at the work carried out at the depot, which ranges from cleaning locos to full body lifts, and the volunteers who do it. In it you'll see D1015, D1062 and 37688 being repainted, along with all the preparations that go into the process before a paint brush is even lifted. It's much more involved than most people realise. Readers also get to see the million and one jobs, not all of them particularly pleasant, that have to be done before we can all enjoy seeing these classic machines in action. To say Kidderminster depot is fascinating is an understatement.

Away from Kidderminster, I've also been working on Dirt, Soot and Smoke. This looks at the people who keep the steam railway heritage movement alive, ranging from the heritage railway loco cleaner to the main line driver. To this end I've visited many heritage railways during the last few weeks,  along with main line stations, to make some beautiful images of people working with steam. There has already been a lot of advanced orders for both books, so obviously it's a style of photography that people appreciate.

As with all my books, I don't involve myself with posed 'wooden' pictures of people, much preferring the candid approach. Main line drivers Graham Ward and Ray Churchill are but two who have been photographed in recent weeks, with both men enabling me to make wonderful candid images of them on the footplate. I never ask staff to pose, and such naturalness shines through in my pictures. This is something that is always lacking on photo charters, and don't get me started about the 'man with a lamp' syndrome that appears to be on the tick list of every photo charter!




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