Engine Photographs

I was looking at JohnR's splendid pix on his site. Did cause me to reflect on things I've learnt to help me with my pix, which are mainly
taken for reference purposes. Anyone else got lessons to share?
1. Liked the fact that John posts good-sized images. Nothing more frustrating than to find a pic that may yield useful reference info, only to find it is so small you can't see any detail.
2. Spied the info board for the Blackstone in one of the other pic sets. That was very helpful. I find that my memory is now sufficiently defective that it pays me to photograph the manufacturers serial number plate, & any owner-provided info, for every unusual (to me) engine that I photograph. Had to do that when I lived in the US, & brain was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of unfamiliar engines at Portland, Coolsprings, Zoflo etc.
3. Also learned to photograph anything & everything, including from all sides. Too many years as an aircraft anorak -- learnt the value of good 3-views ....... Always easy to junk unwanted images, & they cost nothing on digital ....
4. Have long since learnt to junk nothing! It's amazing how often some corner of some otherwise poor photograph yields some clue that you are trying to locate to rebuild your latest engine jig-saw.... & the more proficient you get at recovery with image software, the more you can save!
5. Always think background ... a few inches or feet one way or the other may make all the difference to distractions behind the engine. Much faster to change position that to learn Photoshop.
6. I try to label pix as soon as possible, whilst brain still has some clue as to what it saw ... Having said that, I still have a couple of thousand of US pix to label!
Colin
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Colin,
You make some valid points but I would like to add my own views if I may.
Colin wrote:

Putting up a good sized image is the perfect answer but not all of us have Broadband which means that a standard phone connection can take ages and people get board trying to download a picture.

. Info boards at a rally are a real pain as not many exhibitors put them out so you end up guessing what you have photographed, there are also very few exhibitors willing to talk to the public, I find talking interesting because it sometimes leads to another engine etc.

The average Steam Rally today does not want Stationary Engines and they are reducing the amount of space allowed which means unfortunately there is clutter as there is no where else to put it. At The Dorset Steam Fair this year it was actually one third of a mile from my caravan to my engine so wether I liked it or not I had to take everything I might have needed to keep my exhibit and me in good working order.

Sorry to go on a bit but to rally today is almost a pain in the posterior, the Lister Petter Rally for instance had to put up those stupid iron fences, which in my view are down right dangerous for the exhibitor because he had no escape save checking his tackle everytime he climbed over them, its reported that at least one third of exhibitors turned around and went home on sight of the fencing. You could not get a decent picture if you tried under those conditions.
Martin P
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I'm going to stick my neck out here. Personally speaking, I find that having to unload & park my vehicle elsewhere is an imposition that I will not (and as I get older, cannot) put up with. Quite aside from the inconvenience of being separated from your wheels in a country where it can go from a brilliant sunny morning to a sodden, cold, miserable afternoon in a couple of hours, the security aspect rears its ugly head. Call me paranoid & I will bear it meekly, but I like my car where I can see it!
I notice the witless "no gazebos" rule seems to be spreading as organizing committees cannot or will not grasp the nettle of properly worded and enforced erection conditions. I could write a set in an afternoon - it's hardly rocket science. Good Lord, if it sees some sensible action on this score, I will happily volunteer to do so.
As my years advance, I am less and less keen or able to huddle under an umbrella whilst my knees get soaked and be considerably out-of-pocket in order to do so. I always ask now upon applying for a pass & if it's fishing umbrellas only, I'll not go.
"Engine pens" my arse, the people pens forced upon Lister-Tyndale are a farce & although they may marginally improve public safety, they without doubt worsen Health and Safety for the exhibitor. In this country you are unable to sign your civil rights away, but a recent High Court test case DOES allow you to put yourself in greater danger than your fellow man. However, I'm sure that this type of hard barrier could be shown to place the exhibitor at greater risk than a simple rope line. Anyone better qualified than me feel strongly enough about this to pursue it now rather than just not attending next year?
Finally, where one leads another will follow & if we are not pro-active, I'm very much afraid we will see this requirement appearing at other large rallies in the future. Hard barriers are expensive to hire and may be the straw to break the bank of the organising committee who will have to shell out for them.Whatever would it cost to use them at Astle Park?
Regards,
J. Kim Siddorn, Regia Anglorum
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At the risk of being accused of raking over old coals, I really do not understand why this should be.
Nick H
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Because the organisers perceive that SEs do not attract the paying public. That this need not be so is demonstrated by a number of well run rallies. The unattractive displays are a product of bad organisation and no selection which uncaringly permit long lines of similar engines, ill-restored, frequently not running and/or not doing anything, devoid of information and with either absent or uncommunicative owner. Neither do most (with exceptions that prove it can be made to work) provide any incentive for those who do struggle to take out medium size (say 1/2-1 ton) engines. To anticipate the inevitable row I am not picking on Lister Ds per se. I strongly suspect the average visitor neither knows nor cares about the differences between a hundred farting, popping, non-working horizontal hit and miss either! As long as organisers tolerate boring displays and permit entry-ticket engines they will find their negative expectations fulfilled and the cycle repeats...... Opinions may vary :-) regards Roland
wrote (snip):-

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Very eloqently put Roland, and I entirely concur with your views. I've just realised, that as I have plaques going back to 1977, I must have been rallying for 29 years. During that time some very good rallies have come and gone, but all the best ones that I can remember have encouraged people to bring along their best engines. In my experience, good stuff attracts good stuff, and rubbish attracts rubbish. With the steep increase in the rise of fuel costs, I fear that we are going to see the larger engines becoming ever more uncommon on the rally field. For myself, I am going to cut back my exhibiting in 2006, and will only be going to events that I really enjoy without it being hard work,and can justify the expense. Certainly the remark I got from a steward at Nibley means I will not be exhibiting there again, and the complete indifference of the organisation in general (NOT the engine steward) at Welland has also put me right off. OTOH, events such as Burford, Kemble,1000 Engine, and Onslow Park are already firmly pencilled in on the calendar!
Regards
Philip T-E
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Shame about your 'deletions' Only our second year at Welland, but it has much to offer from the visitors point of view. Had taken a break from Nibley for some time, but greatly enjoyed it this year in spite of the barriers and consequent green holes.
Burford OTOH is not one that Helen enjoys as not enough other stuff to make for a good day out. 1000 engine is good for just about everything but is too far for a day trip so must remain only an occasional pleasure. Never sampled Kemble or Onslow Park.
Nick H
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Nick,
The rally's don't want the hassle to give us what we require, we take up space, we require facilities be it water for our engines or somewhere for a caravan or tent and we have no appeal. Everything else on the rally field moves wether it ploughs or goes around a ring. People can see the attraction of a moving vehicle not a engine which goes no where and here we dont help ourselves. 1. No interesting displays 2. No history/fact boards 3. Very rarely seen running 4. No interest when the public ask a question I could go on but I'm boring myself because I'm talking to the converted.
There is a rally near me, soon to be on, where the rally organiser openly admits that HE DOES NOT WANT STATIONARY ENGINES, and if you dont like the little corner of a forgotten field you know where your home is and each year the area gets smaller and smaller. A friend of mine has a large Shanks open crank and three years ago he stopped going when he was shown a steep bank to put his engine on, to get it level it would have needed two foot of timber under one side. It never came off of the trailer. I could easily sight many more I attend where each year we get squashed even tighter. Then you get the other extreme of Astle park or Burford where everything else is secondary to the engine but they are few.
Martin P
Nick H wrote:

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Gentlemen,
Obviousely Roland was a little ahead in typing his piece than me so I apologise for repeating everything he said, even though I do know with a certain amount knowledge that god for bid we have the same views :-))
Martin P
Campingstoveman wrote:

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a
attraction
Surely the facilities required are minimal compared with, say, traction engines (coal, water, low-loader parking etc) and the organisers also have to pay for those to turn up. Regarding lack of interest from the paying public, SE's may be a minority interest, but I would have thought it was a significant minority. I can't be the only one who selects what rallies to visit primarily on engine content.
--
NHH




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Nick, Your one of the converted hence you pick and choose, the average visitor needs to be enthrawled and a Rally will pay good money for Fred Dibnah, god rest his soul, to attend with his engine knowing that the returns to them will be far greater. As Joe public what would you look at, 175 traction engines pulling all manner of loads up a steep hill or 125 engines in a neat row going phut phut! I'm not trying to put a downer on our glorious hobby, I for one would not do it if I did not enjoy it, I'm just looking at from a rally organisers prospective.
Martin P
Nick H wrote:

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god
do
I'm not sure what it is that does draw the average punter, with at best a peripheral interest in ancient machinery, to visit rallies. I imagine most organisers must be enthusiasts of one sort or another.
--
NHH



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I've been organising outdoor events for 25 years & only have a sketchy idea of what makes one a success & another a failure. I can tell you what to do to maximise your chances of success and I can tell you what will be the kiss of death, but there is no accounting for folk!
The basic premise of the event may be flawed, the venue too difficult to find, the World Cup may fall on your day, there may be a locally-important school fete that this year is being run by a different, go-getting committee & EVERYONE goes to it - or it may simply rain between 8.30 and 10.00.
It is outside my area of expertise, of course, but I suspect stationary engines are invited because they fill an odd corner, they don't cost anything and - most importantly - they came last year. They also have a strong agricultural connection & peripheral interest nuts like the oil can man, the insulator man, the camping stove man and the old avionics man (!) bring along eccentric stuff that the public are fascinated by without being asked or paid.
This is all fine and dandy while you have a bloody great field & only ten traction engines, a Sherman tank, a border collie & six sheep to fill it up. I can hear it now - "Let's get the stationary engine guys along, give 'em a strip along the fence."
But now its ten years later & it has growded like Topsie, you have 150 engines, enough Allied and Axis armour to start a fair sized war, cars, busses, tractors and the obligatory six rows of traders all selling the same stuff. The BBC are banging on your door to film the Christmas edition of "One Man and His Dog" and now the stationary engines guys are moaning they can't see the arena for the smoke or the field's not flat or they are separated from their cars by a mile of rutted mud - or something.
Gentlemen, we might be taking on the aspect of mains hum at events not specifically interested in displaying our wares - and we all know what we do about mains hum...........
Regards,
Kim
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I know it has been said time and time again but some of us do little to help ourselves.
To most disassociated parties, stationary engines are not visually interesting or exciting when compared to say a traction engine or tractor. Most average people under that 'certain age' have no recollection of their uses, they are not recognised as part of our agricultural or industrial heritage and they don't conjure up overly-romantic images of bygone days in the same way.
If you look at the majority of rallied engines you will find little or no information on them and very often the engine is doing nothing other than looking pretty i.e. it is not demonstrating its intended purpose. As a result, the average Joe doesn't know what it is, what it was used for, how old it is etc. and therefore gets bored very quickly when walking along a line of chugging iron-work.
All of my engines/pumps/generators/mills etc. have at least one display board which gives a little bit of information covering it's origin, age, size, uses, company history, advertising posters where available and any tid-bits of info I can dig up and it works! The number of people who stop to read the information and ask questions is amazing when compared with the number of people who just walk past the other engines without even looking at them. I know this is a ridiculously small thing to us but my Petter M 5HP board gives it's cubic capacity (approx. 1300 cc) and a comparison between it's 5 HP output and the average family car output. The number of people who read this, point and smile and subsequently ask questions makes it worthwhile. Even the propensity that some have for showing a plastic Homer Simpson taking a shower in the output of a pump entertains the kids if no-one else!
Most of us rally our engines simply to have a day out playing with our engines and chatting to fellow enthusiasts. This is not good enough for the general public and I think we have to accept, however much it pains us, that without engendering some interest from Joe public, we will continue to be forced into smaller and smaller corners of fields and be treated with more and more disdain by the organisers and public alike. Even at my local club which is a tractor *and* engine club the engines are almost an afterthought after the mobile bl**dy disco and the ice cream van! But then we shouldn't be surprised, they at least make an effort to make either make money for the organisers or entertain the public!
*If* we want to have the opportunity to rally our engines (and I realise that there are many who don't) we have to be prepared to do more than turn up, crank up and chat to our mates!
Rant over
Mark
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Martin -- couple of comments
a. There are many places other than rallies to take pix, so fences are not always a problem. Even in today's unpermissive society, I have never yet had a steward refuse a request to go the exhibitor-side of the fence to photograph a particular engine ). I always turn up at sparrows for pix, so as to not set an example for the masses ......
b. All I was trying to say was "do your best to minimise the background clutter in your pix". I use digital cameras with swivelling bodies, so often I take pix from over my head, looking down towards the engine -- great way of chopping out caravans & other detritus. Personally, I yearn for the lost Country House rallies at Longleat & Beaulieu, where there was no way of cluttering up the pen! -- & tremendous quality & number of engines to boot.
c. The point with sites like JohnR's is that they allow variable image sizes. If u have broadband (or patience) you take the big pix. If u have no need of those, you can select smaller images. Great to have the user choice. Before broadband, I would often set up a load of downloads overnight, or in quiet periods.
d. Have to say I'm one of the non-exhibitors. Used to exhibit a great deal at shows like Beaulieu, Woburn, Knowl Hill etc, but lost the enthusiasm now. I like private gatherings of quality stuff -- the event that John showed with the Victorias was splendid. I'd happily do a similar event for Petter horizontals, hot bulbs, or something like that. Best traction engine every year was our local pub's end of season do in the car park. A dozen traction engines, a few stationaries, all your mates, & a good time had by all -- with no rope! I'm happy with my toys in the garden if necessay ....
e. I've commented before on exhibitors who won't speak to the public. Organisers have my blessing to chuck them out -- don't all exhibitirs understand we're only welcome if the public finds us interesting .... & every exhibitor has an obligation to make that happen.
Colin
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Colin, I don't disagee with you but felt that your average John or exhibitor has the same facilities as you or I might. When did you last rally at Woburn and are you local to me.
Martin P
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Martin -
a. Last did Woburn in the '80's.
b. Local to almost no-one on the planet, except Internal Fire -- in God's country, in Cardigan, West Wales. Wonderful area to live, but not an easy place to find (or buy) open crank engines, unless you have the local tongue, which I lack.......Lost a couple of nice Blackstones for need of a suitable negotiator, hence raiding parties into Western England & other foreign parts.
c. Not sure I understand the comment on facilities. I've got nothing unusual, according to the various folk I have known .....
Colin
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broadband etc
Campingstoveman wrote:

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