Thursday 25 February 2016

Solent Sky

With a house full of kids in a bleak February half-term the Solent Sky museum in Southampton seemed a good destination. Although a large building it is dominated by the Sandringham flying boat - a massive aeroplane for it's day, it was built in WWII to hunt submarines, then rebuilt to carry 44 passengers.

Rather than just look from a distance it is possible to go inside and explore, which gives a real feel for what flying in the aircraft would have been like. The accommodation is split into compartments with a 1930's style, resembling trains of the time - and more spacious than you might imagine. There is even access to the cockpit - which is more WWII bomber than airliner of course! Taking off from or landing on water in one of these must have been quite something.

The story of the Spitfire is also featured, including the Supermarine racers that spawned it, as well as the many other aircraft companies that were based around Southampton. And for more hands-on action how about sitting in the cockpit of a jet fighter? Here's my daughter giving it a go!

So well worth a visit, I'd say.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

A New Camera

I had a minor disaster over Christmas. My camera slipped out of my hand while I was sitting on the sofa - but it hit a lamp stand with it's lens on the way down, and that was the end of that. Grrrr...

So I went camera shopping, though the January sales were disappointing there were some offers. While a DSLR or bridge camera would be better for model photography I need a versatile compact camera to serve as the family/holiday camera too, and a limited budget, but there are some good compacts these days with many features previously only found on more expensive models. In the end I chose a Canon Powershot SX710 HS; the 30x zoom lens (yes, really) will be nice when out-and-about but the manual control options are useful for photographing models. Not that I know how to use them!

Of course I had to have a practice, and here is the new camera pointed at Awngate. I don't often use a tripod, but to get some good shots of the layout it's very helpful. As well as the layout lights I've set up a florescent lamp; good light is really important for photography but using the flash really doesn't work well here. I mean it when I say I don't understand all the settings, but I've picked up a basic understanding, so here I've played around with exposure times around a second, and a low ISO number for image quality, while adjusting the manual focus, and letting the camera do the rest.

And here are some of the results. I'm rather pleased with them, particularly the depth of field (that is, the range which appears in focus), which is always tricky with model photography.

However, don't get high expectations for the pictures on this blog, a new camera does not a professional make, and anyway the Auto mode works very well too!