January 25, 2015

Ghost Hunting at the Four Crosses, Cannock

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, a ghost hunt is an interesting way to spend an evening.  I've done two ghost hunts with Eerie Evenings, and for this one at the Four Crosses in Cannock I took along the camera to get some photos.  I find the Eerie Evening team good - there's no faking and they don't try to convince you that any experiences are paranormal, that's for you to decide.  For the record, I'm firmly on the fence...  I've like to believe that there's something, but my scientific mind means I'd need to experience something really convincing to believe.

The Four Crosses is an old coaching inn originally built in 1636, with some of the timbers thought to be a thousand years old.  Today it's seeking a new owner with newspapers claiming the hauntings are putting buyers off.  The reported spooky goings on include the ghost of a baby that fell off the bar and died, a child who ran outside an was immediately killed on the busy road outside, 'Knocker' an old regular at the pub, marching soldiers, a man who committed suicide in the garage, and many more.

The evening started with a medium doing some readings amongst the group, and then the group was split into three teams who spent the evening doing vigils in the main hall room, the upstairs bedrooms, and the cellars.

I didn't feel scared at any point in the evening, and the only thing I experienced was during a session with a planchette where the group were 'contacted' by a man called Normal Mole, an old bar worker from the pub, who died at the age of 78.  He lost money playing snooker, and in the room he contacted us was accompanied by five other ghosts.  I've not looked into whether any of that information is accurate or could be backed up with real evidence.

From a photography point of view a lot of the evening was spent in the dark which made photography a challenge.  But I'm always amazed just how much detail can be brought out of the dark with a bit of simple editing in Lightroom

Whilst editing I spotted just one oddity, which you can take a look at in the fifth photo below...

The Four Crosses, next to the A5 in Cannock.
The evening started with a medium passes some messages onto some people.
I missed a photo of one girl with her mouth agasp after hearing a message.
One of the Eerie Evenings team gets some ghost hunting equipment ready - including dowsing rods,
laser thermometers, and EMF meters.
I was entrusted with a laser thermometer - point the red dot at an object and it'll tell you the temperature there.
When editing this photo I spotted what looked like a person outside of the window.
The window was on a first floor bedroom so it couldn't have been a person stood outside.
I'll let you decide if it's a ghost or something more earthly.
In these cellars motion centres kept being set off when nothing was there.
Some of the group heard footsteps here.
The cellars were a tad cramped.
This planchette seemed to react to the group singing nursery rhymes.
This is the bar where a baby fell off and died, leaving a haunting behind.
The ladies toilet and fireplace are the most haunted areas of the entire building.

January 18, 2015

Weston Hopsicecare Light Up a Life

Weston Hospicecare is one of the Just 10 Photos supported charities that you're invited to donate to if you enjoy our photographs.  

Based in Weston-super-Mare the hospice provides physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual care to the 1 in 100 local people with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart or lung failure. The Hospice’s care reaches out to local people in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset and border areas of Somerset providing a safe haven and source of comfort and guidance to every single person who needs it.

Light Up a Life is just one of the many events the hospice runs each year to gain donations and provide comfort to those who've lost someone.  Run at the hospice, just before Christmas, Light Up a Life comes at a hard time of year for many.  The hospice garden is filled with hundreds of lanterns lit to celebrate a life.  

January 15, 2015

New Years Day at Didcot Railway Centre

New Years Day 2015 was quite dull, weather wise, but was brightened up by a visit to the Didcot Railway Centre.  Although I only live a few minutes walk from the Centre this was only my second visit.

It was lovely to walk around and see the trains on display and even ride on a couple of steam trains going up and down the track.  From a photography point of view the Centre offers rich pickings, whether outside amongst the rails and trains, or inside the buildings and sheds getting up close to the engines and carriages.

I took Olympus OMD E-M1 and shot with my Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens and the Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye.  As the weather was so dull, most of the photographs came out dull too... and so for the first time I processed the photos into black and white.  It's great that the black and white grainy photos reflect the dirt and grime associated with the engineering of the steam age. 

Thomas was in residence.
The black gold that powers the steam engines.
Not to be moved.
Not sure what this gauge is for, but the contrast in fantastic.
The Drysllwyn Castle.
Balancing the camera on one train to photograph another.
In the shed showing great perspective.
A rare chance to see an engine being fired up.
British Railways.

January 12, 2015

Longleat Festival of Light

When I heard about the Festival of Light event at Longleat I knew I had to go and get some photographs for the blog.  In terms of night time light events I've experienced it's second only to the 'fire garden' event at Stonehenge as part of cultural celebrations of the London 2012 Olympics.

The Festival of Light is the first cultural event of its kind in Europe and consists of twenty hand-crafted displays built and placed by a team of over one hundred from the Sichuan province in China.

The scale of the works, dotted around Longleat House, is simply amazing.  There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people on the evening I went and as you'll see below there was lots of space to get photographs.

Because of the dark conditions and high contrasting lights I took my trusty Olympus OMD E-M1 and 25mm f1.8 lens (a great combination for low light and sharp photographs) and one leg of my Three Legged Thing tripod called Brian as a monopod.  Someone walked past and commented that it was the biggest selfie stick they'd ever seen... sometimes I despair!  Most of the photos were taken in aperture priority mode and using the monopod to reduce any camera shake.

I really hope Longleat do something similar next winter, I'd love to spend more time wandering around getting even more photos.

The entrance to the Festival of Light right next to the car park.
A Chinese dragon sweeps alongside Longleat House, occasionally breathing smoke.
Masks inspired by Peking Operas.
In the Animal Zone this peacock was one of two hundred illuminated animals on display.
The Temple of Heaven is based on a 600 year old building in Beijing and stands 20 metres tall.
The Panda Paradise display is full of playful pandas.
This Qilin is made up of thousands of small medicine bottled filled with coloured water.
Longleat is famous for its lions, and this illuminated lion takes pride of place in the Animal Zone.
Also in the Animal Zone, these illuminated rhinoceroses.
The singing Christmas tree is makes a big impression.