Saturday, 11 December 2010

Black Watch and Taiko

A quick dash to Southampton for a new lens from LCE didn't produce much in the way of anything to look at in the form of ships, but the docks did manage Black Watch and Taiko. At least one of them was easy on the eye.

Ship facts:

Black Watch - IMO number 7108930, built 1972, flag: Bahamas, GT 28668

Taiko - IMO number 8204975, built 1984, flag: Norway, GT 66635

Saturday, 6 November 2010

November 2008...

Almost two years ago QE2 left Southampton for the last time. She'd been sold to Dubai and sailed on her final cruise to the Middle Eastern country on 11th November 2008. I was there, on a special Red Funnel cruise aboard Red Eagle, to see her off and, of course, was very sad to see my all-time favourite ship leave forever.
As well as still photos, some of which you can see here (scroll down the page a bit), I also carried along a Minolta Dimage Z2 compact camera with a movie mode on it and took some poor quality videos. The camera's image quality is poor, the sound quality worse and the autofocus struggled to cope but I did manage to capture something of the event with it and that's always better than nothing.

Bridge crew leaning on the siren button:

Some of the fireworks:

This was the last vew of her as we slowed down and she continued on down the Solent and out of sight.

I don't think there was a dry eye in Southampton that evening.

I still miss my old friend. :(

Saturday, 30 October 2010

CMA CGM Magellan (again)

CMA CGM Magellan was due to leave Southampton at 1000 today, so I decided to head to East Cowes to photograph her leaving. The weather was a lot better, just showery instead of murk and rain so the photos would be better and the fact the ship would be closer would also help photo quality.
The ship was late leaving and it wasn't until gone midday that I saw her appear from behind Fawley power station. Unfortunately by this time, the sodding white sails were rapidly multiplying - they don't appear to sail out of Cowes harbour, they just materialise as if by magic - and very considerately parking themselves right in my line of sight (UKSA mostly, I wish they'd go off down the western Solent) as were the clouds. There was a short shower but it has passed by the time the ship was in the main channel.
Seeing her today, it doesn't look as if the superstructure is offset, after all. Maybe it really was an illusion.

Ship facts: IMO number 9454424, built 2010, flag: UK :), 153022 GT.

Click for larger size

Friday, 29 October 2010

Bumpy ride

Commodore Clipper, seen from Ventnor Downs on a stormy day. She hugged the island coastline until she got as far as Ventnor and then headed out into the Channel.

Ship facts: IMO 9201750, built: 1999, flag: Bahamas, 13460 GT

Click on pictures for larger versions. These are hefty crops from the originals, the fact that they are still reasonable quality shows how useful having a high resolution sensor is. Crops from my 40D and old 20D would never have been this good.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

CMA CGM Magellan

The new CMA CGM Magellan arrived at Southampton this afternoon. She is one of the giant Explorer class ships, with her accommodation block located towards the front of the ship. It seemed if the accommodation is offset to the starboard side, aircraft-carrier-like, which looks a bit odd; I thought it was an illusion caused by the angle I was seeing her at as she entered the Solent but, looking at photos on the net, this is actually how it is and not an illusion.

I missed seeing sister ship CMA CGM Christoph Columb so it was nice to see this one. Unfortunately, the weather is pretty grim and murky today and it showed in the photos - this was the 7D's first outing and it's a pity the weather didn't co-operate! Plus the fact that it's a new camera, and I am still figuring out how to use it properly, is also reflected in the quality of the pics.
Larger versions of the photos can be seen by clicking on them.

Ship facts: IMO number 9454424, built 2010, flag: UK :), 153022 GT.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

New toy

I had been thinking about getting a new camera for a while and today, while window-shopping in Jessops, I weakened, caved in and blew my savings on a Canon 7D, an 18 megapixel DSLR. I was happy with my 40D (and with my ancient 20D which was a backup camera) but I decided that I wanted something with better AF, especially as I also do wildlife photography, and with movie format. I've seen excellent DSLR movies on YouTube and, as a camcorder is also something I've wanted for a while, the 7D fit the bill. The 7D is also more robust, with a magnesium alloy body, instead of polycarbonate.
I looked at the 60D as well, which was released a couple of weeks ago but a couple of things, including the fact it takes SD cards rather than CF cards, made me spend another £300 on the 7D. I already have loads of CF cards, mostly 4GB and 8GB, although the couple of 2GB ones are no good with an 18MP camera so I'll sell these with the 20D.
I'm hoping to try it out properly over the next couple of days; so far just the cat and dogs have been (un)willing subjects. I've managed to figure out the AF system, which is more complicated - but miles better - than the 40D and I have discovered that, joy of joys, there is a grid you can switch on in the viewfinder, so no more wonky horizons! I had one in my old Nikon D80 before my switch to Canon but not in the 40D; if you wanted a viewfinder grid for the 40D, you had to buy one. The 7D also has an electronic level finder, which is activated via the Info button and appears on the screen.

I haven't had a chance to do much with it yet, except pet pics, but so far the results look good. I took a picture of our old Siamese cat in a fairly dark room at 6400 ISO and the noise is well-controlled and easily dealt with in Photoshop and Neat Image, another factor that made me want to get a new camera, as I take a lot of bird and animal pics in quite dark woods. The images at 6400 are a lot cleaner than those at 800 ISO in the 40D.

All I need now is a decent wide-angle lens, and maybe a 100-400mm lens, as the 70-200 is a bit too short when photographing ships in the eastern Solent between the Nab and the forts and the 400mm is too inflexible. I just need to replenish those savings first...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

At Cowes today

Transsib Bridge, IMO 9382798, built 2007, flag: Liberia, 47400 DWT

Transsib Bridge

Sten Moster, IMO 9341184, built 2006, flag: Gibraltar, 16600 DWT

Both ships are on their way inward to Fawley refinery. Photos taken from Queens Road, Cowes.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

'Red Sunset'

Red Osprey at sunset, as I was waiting for Queen Elizabeth to sail on her maiden voyage last week. The misty conditions added to the colour, scattering the low sunlight around.

Friday, 15 October 2010

In the Solent, 13th October 2010

The other afternoon, 13th October, I was at Cowes and, as luck would have it, I was at the seafront when APL Turkey was leaving Southampton Water. I'd just missed another container ship going in but that often happens.

APL Turkey, IMO 9532771, built 2009, Flag Liberia, 72200 GT

APL Turkey

And, a bit later, passing Ryde, was Navion Anglia

Navion Anglia (IMO:9204752, built 1999, flag Bahamas, 126749 DWT) passing Ryde. The Brent Geese in the foreground are a sure indicator that winter is almost here.

And a bad pic of one of the Wight Ryders, passing Navion Anglia

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Queen Elizabeth sets off on her maiden voyage

Queen Elizabeth set off on her maiden voyage on Tuesday, 12th October 2010, and I headed to East Cowes to see her go past - I'd watched Queen Mary 2 leave from Southampton on her first voyage in January 2004 although I'd missed Queen Victoria as I was working as a birdwatchers' tour guide in Ecuador at the time. Her departure was scheduled for 1700; I was listening to the Southampton VTS frequency in case of delays but she left on time. I got to East Cowes a bit early, just before 4pm, as I was half-expecting it to be busy down there with spectators and I was right, it was. If I'd got down there half an hour later, I wouldn't have been able to park - even the double yellow lines were taken. It was busier here than Town Quay in Southampton had been for her arrival. But no-one was jostling for position and it was a nice atmosphere.
The ship was escorted by Waverley, which had returned to the Solent for the occasion, Shieldhall, one of the Red Funnel car ferries (Red Eagle? I considered going on this special trip but decided that £30 was too much) and the usual array of small craft flotsam, most of which had thinned out by the time the ship reached the Solent.
The pics are a bit dark because the sun was setting and the light was going, although I managed to keep them from being blurred because I remembered to take a tripod with me. I haven't done too much to them as there's only so much Photoshopping you can do without ruining them! However, the weather co-operated and it was a lovely autumn evening so the pictures were better than they would have been if it'd been cloudy or wet.
Note: these are compressed versions of the originals and, as such, are not of such high quality.

Rounding Calshot

The setting sun is reflected in her glass and paintwork

Passing East Cowes

Close up of forward superstructure and bow

Watched by a collie, who appeared more interested in the ship than his owner did. If he is anything like my mum's collie he would probably be wanting to round the ship up and herd her somewhere!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Ships at Southampton, 8th October 2010

Here's 'the best of the rest' from Southampton last Friday.

Anemona (IMO 9370812, built 2008, flag: Panama, 49000 DWT) departing, with Ventura (IMO 9333175, built 2008, flag: Bermuda, 113000 GT) in the background

APL Poland (IMO 9321263, built 2008, flag: Bahamas, 86692 GT) departing

APL Poland

Car carriers - I forgot to get their names!

Muhlenau: IMO 9313668, built 2004, flag: Antigua and Barbuda, 2461 GT

Navion Oceania: IMO 9168946, built 1999, flag: Bahamas, 72449 GT

Red Eagle

Saga Pearl II: IMO 8000214, built 1981, flag: Bahamas, 18853 GT

Saimaagracht: IMO 9288069, built 2005, flag: Netherlands, 18321 GT

Ventura: IMO 9333175, built 2008, flag: Bermuda, 113000 GT
Red Osprey with Queen Elizabeth in background

Queen names the new Queen

The Queen named the new Queen Elizabeth in Southampton this afternoon and BBC Radio Solent covered the event - very well, it has to be said. After Cunard president Peter Shanks made a speech, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester did a small blessing then The Queen named the ship - the bottle smashed and the ship's siren was sounded.
The ship sails on her maiden voyage tomorrow, full of lucky people, and I am planning to be at Cowes or East Cowes to see her go past, so I hope the weather is as gloriously sunny as it's been today especially as the light will be going by the time she gets to the Solent.

One sad thing about today's events, with the naming of a new Cunard ship called Queen Elizabeth, is the sudden realisation that the old QE2 is now well and truly consigned to history and will never return.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Queen Elizabeth, a new cruising Queen

The new Cunard cruise ship Queen Elizabeth arrived in Southampton for the first time on 8th October 2010 so, as I can't resist a new ship - and a new Cunard one at that - I got up ridiculously early and caught the 0630 car ferry to Southampton to see her come in.The weather was very foggy and I doubt that any spectators on the island would have seen anything. The forecast was for murk and drizzle and, although the stars had been out at 0430 when I got up and let the dog out, it quickly clouded over again and, by the time I'd driven to East Cowes and parked the car it was very murky indeed and rather spooky in Columbine Road.

On arrival in Southampton, I could see that Ventura and Saga Pearl II (formerly Hammonia, Astor, Arkona, Astoria) were already in as was my friend from Tuesday, the woodchip carrier Anemona; indeed I'd seen SPII off Calshot as I was on the ferry still at East Cowes. I went straight round to Town Quay where, despite the still early hour and the poor forecast, people were gathering. The weather turned out not to be as bad as forecast, with the sun beginning to break through the fog and clouds. The people watching the ship arrive certainly didn't number in the 'thousands' as claimed in the media, although there were a few hundred in TQ and Mayflower plus around 100 at Hythe, according to my friend Patricia, of Liner Lovers. To be honest, I was glad about this as there is nothing I hate more than having to jostle for position among loads of casual onlookers (who Patsy calls 'fairweathers', which is not an entirely unfair term!). I don't know if there were any more watching from the island or Stokes Bay but I doubt it as it was very foggy in the Solent and still dark as she was passing the island.

The BBC were there and I got interviewed but thankfully(!) my mugshot did not appear on their website although my interview did, in a very shortened form.
As I was chatting to a fellow onlooker, an elderly chap who has always visited Southampton to see the passenger ships, Patsy texted me from Hythe to say the ship was visible from that side, as they have a better view down Southampton Water and at 0750 I could see Queen Elizabeth's funnel above Dock Head. The ship went past Town Quay (which still has that pain-in-the-neck fence at one end) and Mayflower Park to the Upper Swinging Ground where she'd turn and come back past before reversing into the Ocean Bus Shelter Cruise Terminal and coming alongside around 0930.

Queen Elizabeth (I am not tempted to put QE3, ok, just a little) was escorted by the tugs Svitzer Sussex and Svitzer Surrey both giving a watery salute, plus there was a Blue Funnel cruise vessel which my friend Chris Brooks of ShipFoto was on, a gin-palace type thing which was carrying members of the 'Sovereign Cruise Club' according to a banner on the side and two helicopters, one of which was filming for the BBC and pulling off some impressive moves.
Click on each photo for a larger size.

Sunrise over the Ocean Terminal
Queen Elizabeth appears around Dock Head
Passing Town Quay
Heading to the Upper Swinging Ground
Coming back down towards the Ocean Terminal from the Upper Swinging Ground
Passing Mayflower Park
Nearly back at Town Quay
Close up
About to turn and reverse into the Ocean Terminal
Red Funnel proving they've not lost their aptitude for getting in the way of the photo! Actually the Red Jet adds a dash of colour to a scene washed out by mist and shooting into the light
Backing into the Ocean Terminal

Patsy came over to the Southampton side and joined me on TQ to watch the ship come back down from the Upper Swinging Ground and go alongside. Once it was all over, we went to Mayflower Park for some shots of Saga Pearl II and, in my case, also the container ship APL Poland, which was leaving. We did notice that, on the side of the Holiday Inn was a huge banner proclaiming the world was awaiting the arrival of Queen Elizabeth. I don't know about that, as I'm sure most of the nearly 7 billion people in the world probably have more pressing concerns, but it was a nice slogan.
'The world awaits...'
Once we'd done and seen all we wanted to in Southampton, we went over to Hythe because Patsy needed an old broken chest freezer removed and her and her dad couldn't do it for health reasons, so I said I'd come over and give them a hand. I'd never been on the Hythe ferry before, on my couple of visits that side in the past, I'd driven round from Southampton so it was a new experience. We caught the quaint little (and ancient!) electric train down the pier and then the bus to Butts Ash. Once I'd moved the freezer and me, Patsy and Kevin had a natter over a cup of tea, I caught the bus back to Hythe Pier and the ferry back over to Southampton.
Despite the ferry being crowded as it was by then a nice afternoon and people were wanting a look at the new arrival, I managed to get some shots of Queen Elizabeth in her berth.
From the Hythe ferry
Queen Elizabeth shares the dock with a general cargo ship

Because the Hythe ferry was running more than five minutes late I missed the 1300 ferry back to the island, so I killed some time going to the maritime museum. However, now you have to pay to get in. I don't begrudge paying but I've seen it all before, many times, so didn't bother. I did look at their little shop, though, as they used to sell nice bits and pieces featuring famous liners of the past. I say 'used to' as it is unfortunately now all Titanic stuff. 'Tat-anic' I suppose you could say.
Mentioning older ships, I took the photo below last time I was in Southampton. It is a photo of a photo which is hanging in Town Quay and shows the first Queen Elizabeth in Southampton Docks in the 1950s. I have no idea who took the original, or I'd credit it. Needless to say it wasn't me but if it's yours, please don't send me any bills for its use, I'll just remove it!

But here's a bit of 'compare and contrast':

A photo of a photo - the original Queen Elizabeth

And there's the second Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth 2, or QE2:

QE2 in the Solent, sometime in 1999

None of the Queen Elizabeths are any better than the others, just different. Although I will state a bias for the old QE2, but she's gone (although very missed by everyone) and the new ship, I'm sure, will become just as well-loved as the previous Queen Elizabeths in time, despite what some may say.

The 1400 ferry was very busy, just like a summer crossing, and the fact that it was sunny and very warm added to the illusion of summer. We were late leaving, and whether the fact an ambulance left the terminal with its siren and blue flashing lights on was anything to do with that, I don't know. Most probably it was, but it did give me an opportunity to photograph Anemona leaving.

I'll put 'the best of the rest', APL Poland, etc, in a separate post.