Journal Places

A Night at the Museum

Every landscape photographer knows that the best times to shoot landscapes are usually first thing in the morning before sunrise and just before or just after sunset.  I’m not a landscape photographer myself but I can still appreciate that the quality of light varies dramatically depending on the time of day.  When I heard that the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley were hosting “A Night at the Museum” and that tickets were half the normal price, it seemed like an offer not to be missed!

Canal Boats, Black Country Living Museum

It was a cloudy evening and spitting with rain as the doors opened at 6:30pm.  Thankfully for the visitors, the rain held off for most of the night although I was secretly hoping a swift downpour would render the old cobbles into a miriad of highly reflective surfaces.

A.Hartill Motorcycles, Black Country Living Museum

Right from the start, it was obvious that there wasn’t a lot of light so I bumped up the iso to 400 to prevent any danger of camera shake.  Later, I would have to switch to iso800 as the light faded.  With 1400 tickets sold, I felt that a tripod would not be welcome at the event and so it remained in the car all night.  I did have my trusty speedlight though for when the light levels fell below hand-held levels.

Castle Fields Boat Dock, Black Country Living Museum

I was surprised at just how busy it was and the number of brightly clothed visitors did make the business of taking photographs quite a challenge at times.  If I’m being honest, I didn’t get quite as many good photos as I hoped, and the lengthy queue for a cone of delicious chips and batter scraps was also a  distraction, all of my own making I might add!

Rolling Mill, Black Country Living Museum

One thing I definitely wasn’t expecting to see on the night was a fully working demonstration of a steel rolling mill.  This was probably the highlight of the whole  evening for me, although I could have done with a slightly longer lens with hindsight.  The men working the furnace and rolling mill actually do the same job in real life as they were demonstrating here, albeit with more modern equipment.  It was a great sight seeing red hot metal emerging from the furnace and being worked through the machines.  I feel very fortunate indeed to have witnessed the skill and expertise of these men first hand.

I finished the night at the funfair which was still going strong even after the official 10pm closing time.  I love using slow shutter speeds to record fast moving subjects but all I was getting from the roundabout was a coloured blur.  Enter the speedlight set to second curtain sync and with a shutter speed of 1/15th second to record movement prior to the flash.  This is the best of the shots I took.  It’s just a pity that the white safety barriers have caught the full force of the flash…

Funfair Ride , Black Country Living Museum

I really enjoyed my night at the museum and I will definitely look out for more night events at this venue.  To see more of my photos from this event click here


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