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    • StephenL: Tell me about yourself.

      @Glenn_Smith : Here goes, I’m based in the southwest of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, work-wise I started out as Mechanical Draughtsman, completing an Apprenticeship in a Naval Dockyard, drawing Diesel-electric Submarine components. From there I worked for 23 years in a Slurry pump Company starting as a Draughtsman again and finishing up managing the drawing office.

      Those 23 years I was traveling 2 hours each way to and from work, with long days leaving home before 6 am and getting home usually after 7:30pm. In the last few years I’ve been working in a Crane company, again in Engineering, though the last few years I’ve been managing the spare parts department, not quite my ideal role.

      In my spare time, I play with photography a little. From about the age of 10 I’ve had a camera to play with, Well before Auto anything, I didn’t jump into Digital photography straight away, but now I’m fully in and no film cameras anymore.

      During the four hours of travel at the previous job I listened to any photography podcast I could find.  With over 20 hours a week of travel time that was a lot of podcasts, so over that time, I gained a fair amount of photography insights. I try and spend one day a weekend out with cameras and most nights I play with the processing of images to see what I can come up with, just playing around trying out different things.

      These days I run workshops in the local Botanic Gardens, get the odd event photography job, I’ve have done a few speaking events to camera clubs or birding groups, and already have three requests for next year. I’m also an Ambassador for the local Camera shop, which also involves the odd talk or workshop.

      So between a five day a week job, and photography, not too much time for other activities like gardening, furniture making, clarinet playing and when I really have a spare moment, I’m in a very slow process of making a working live steam model of a triple expansion engine, turning and milling all the gunmetal castings.

      So that’s the two-minute elevator pitch of who I am.

    • StephenL: You are making a working live steam model of a triple expansion engine.  So many questions, Glenn. How did you start the process? Did you find blueprints of a working one in a museum?  When it’s completed, will you use it to power a marine vessel?

      @Glenn_Smith : Like everything, there’s a story behind this one, with layers of stories to it.

      My father was always interested in model engineering and live steam. When I was little, he brought a small metal turning lathe home from his work one day when they upgraded, so I grew up around machinery.

      My father made a few small live steam stationary engines.  He was also into model making, He made some amazing wooden boats. He eventually started to make a 3 1/2” gauge live steam locomotive. Unfortunately, he never got to complete this project, before he was taken by the dreaded Cancer. He was only partway thought the build.

      I aimed to complete it one day but before I started on the remains of it I thought I better try something a little smaller and get some skills up so I can do justice to his work. My father also collected the Australian version of the Model Engineer which I also use to read, (still do) and in that I found the triple expansion engine.

      Turns out this model is an Australian design and the castings were still available to purchase locally. I’ve got the castings and have started to machine them. However these days I don’t find a great deal of time to get back to it, but it’s definitely on the list to get to.

      Here’s a link to the engine in question. As you can see from this it’s not a five minute project as every component needs to be made, down to the pipework and bending of the pipes etc.  This one has a small condenser which also needs to have all the internal pipes in the condenser made. Gears need to be cut including worm drive gearing.

      This engine is a model of a real engine.  A full-size Engine is in the Maritime Museum in Sydney on the Harbour. It was the engine out of one of the Sydney Harbour ferries.

      The Ferry was one of the only boats sunk during the war when the Japanese midget submarines carried out a raid on Sydney Harbour. Further to the midget submarine raids, there were three submarines involved: two were sunk in the harbour and the third escaped the harbour but was damaged.

      The wrecked third one was only recently discovered off the coast of Sydney.  The two sunk in the harbour were recovered from the parts of the two when they were recovered.  They were cut into sections and between the two there was enough to make up one boat for display,

      During my time at the Dockyard the sections were bought to the dockyard for a refit to put on public display at the National War memorial.  As part of the refit, the boats were completely stripped down and refurbished. During this work a section of the pressure hull was removed and a window put in for the public to view, the section that was removed was cut up into small sections and all the apprentices that worked on it were given a section. I’ve still got my section.

      We also measured up the boat and created drawings that I have a set of, with the aim of one day making a model of that.

      Getting back to your question, I’ve also got the drawings of a steam harbour ferry; not the one the engine is out of but once I complete the triple expansion engine the aim is to then build a ferry to put it in. So long term project there.

    • StephenL: What are some good photography podcasts for a passionate beginner to listen to?

      @Glenn_Smith : Okay, photography podcasts there are plenty of these about, depending on what you are after.

      There are different types from ones that just cover news and current trends in the industry to educational podcasts to inspirational podcasts.

      So some of the ones I listened to are

      Chris Marquardt’s Tips from the top floor, 

      Martin Bailey photography podcast, 

      Derrick Story’s the Digital Story Photography podcast, 

      Ibarionex Perello’s the Candid Frame, 

      Scott Bourne’s Picture Methods Podcast, 

      Stephen Finkel Photomission podcast, 

      Mike Sharky James, PetaPixel Photography podcast, 

      Don Komarechka’s PhotoGeek weekly, 

      Jeff Harmon’s Photo Taco podcast, 

      Steve Brazill, Behind the shot (This one also has a YouTube channel and on a recent episode Steve and Don Komarechka were doing photo critics including one of My Mushroom shots.)

      Last one, Brooks Jensen’s Lenswork Photography.

      So just a few podcasts there.

      Most come out once a week so by the end of the week I’ve usually got through them all. There are plenty of others out there, so not all will be to everyone's taste. But these are the ones I usually listen to each week. 

    • StephenL: You’ve won the Canon 24 hour challenge and one of your Shroomshot Saturday images on Cake was critiqued by Steve Brazil.  Where else have your images been seen?

      @Glenn_Smith : My images are mainly seen on Social Media.

      I used to have a reasonable following on Google Plus when it was going, with over 100K followers following my Mushroom collection which I posted to each week.  That was one of the good aspects of Google Plus, themes you could post to. I’ve tried to keep the theme going here on Cake but not so many join in on the fun. It was all about adding an image each week and over time you improved your technique, so over several years of shooting a mushroom shot each week I got to the level I’m at now, still work in progress.

      I use a lot of the main Social media sights, from Cake, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, 500PX, Mewe, Ello, Clickasnap, and probably a few others that off the top of my head I’ve forgotten about.

      I’ve also had an image used as the Australian Geographic’s viewers shot of the week a few years back so that made their web site. Other places my images have been used. The NSW Department of education was making an interactive walkthrough of the woodland area of my local Botanic Gardens and they have used a few of my images in that project. The Australian Botanic Gardens use a lot of my images to promote their various events and other social media posts they do.  I’ve also written a couple of guest blogs for them as well with images attached.

      Over the last few years, I’ve done some event Photography work for the Botanic Gardens and these shots have been used in the local Press, with one event having over 100 shots used on their Weekly website.

      Of late, I've also been shooting a local Singing group here and some of my shots have been used in their Social Media posts.  They’re a local group of three sisters out in my area and make terrific Harmonies together. You can check out some of their work on their Youtube channel:

      They have less than 200 Subscribers and are trying to get over 200. Their Instagram feed and Facebook page uses some of my shots at times.

      I did have a small exhibition of my work of 20 Printed and framed images in a local Art Café in the area for a month earlier on in the year; plenty of great feedback on the images. Always nice to hear.

      Other places my work has been seen is in the local papers that come out weekly. Once I had the front page with an image that won the local Council photography competition.

      I’ve had several images over the years in the papers from the competitions as I seem to be in the winning circle most years I enter. This week I should have images in both local papers from promotional work the gardens run.

      One thing I’ve got upcoming is a 5-second spot on a Local TV weekend Magazine show that will be running a story on the local Botanic Gardens and during that they will be mentioning the Photography workshops I run for the gardens.

      Of course, you can always find my work on my website as well, which I plan on upgrading a little in the coming weeks. Been a bit slack on the updating of the website of late.  I used to have weekly blog posts going out but over the last year or so these have been far from weekly, and almost yearly of late, so need to get onto that one very soon.

      So in the local area my images are about.  A few postcards use my images. The local Council was using two for a while and the Gardens also have one of my images on a postcard. Each year I make a few calendars and pass around usually three: one on Mushroom photography, one on my Birding images, and the last one a mixture of Birds, Mushrooms and Landscapes.

      Outside of the local area pretty much limited to social media.

    • StephenL: Let’s talk about problem solving.  Whether it’s designing the shot that won, building a triple expansion engine, or managing competing deliverables at work, how much detail or depth do you go into when solving a problem.  Are you planning on the fly? Using a simple to do list? Or does every problem require a three inch thick binder of your project plan?

      @Glenn_Smith : Like most things the answer to that question is it depends.

      It really depends on the situation, what the required end result, who is it for and who else is involved.

      For example, most of my photography is just for fun and for my use it’s just that I share it on social media as others seem to enjoy seeing my work and what I come up with. Photography is a form of the arts and as such it’s in theory a creative outlet.

      Creativity is something I’ve always struggled with, it’s not something that comes naturally to me, it’s something I almost have to fight and wrestle with to get an end result. I know people that see my work would probably disagree. On a good day I get into what people call the zone and I can produce some images that turn out nicely.  Other days I just go through the motions trying to come up with something. Most weekends I shoot for a whole day and maybe come up with four to five images I’m happy to share out.

      So where does problem solving come in here, well photography is really all about problem solving, but to solve a problem you need to first have one, so the first part is to actually realise you have a problem that needs to be solved. Photography-wise that can come in the form of a deadline where you need to get a certain image by a certain deadline.

      You mentioned the Canon light awards shot.  To get that shot I actually took 522 images, (I just checked), each one a slight variation or test shot testing out varous aspect of the shot, I had 24 hours from leaving a location near the city, to drive home one hour, come up with an idea based on a brief, take a shot, use minimal processing, drive back and download the shot to a Canon network, competing against about 400 plus other photographers, many of which were professional photographers.

      So the problem solving used here was pretty much on the fly, try things to see if I liked it, see if I thought it would appeal to the judge, a Canon Master who is very much in to surrealism in his work using lighting. So a few things to aim for and of course meet the brief. With only 24 hours to come up with concept to completed work.

      So I’d shoot a series of shots checking the back of the camera to see how things were shaping up, go upstairs, download the images on the iMac, see how they looked, then back down and try again to improve on the image.

      The trick was to use lighting to tell a story where every light had to have a purpose, So I had to come up with lights. I only used one speedlite in the shot but the shoot actually used nine separate light sources.

      It’s amazing how many different lights you can find in a house when you look. Two iphones using the torch function, several torches and of course a speedlight. Lighting effects were for coloured gels, and even a red coloured plastic shopping bag with a torch shining though it.

      With lighting you start with one light and keep adding one light at a time checking that the angles and distances are right to give the right effect without cancelling out the already positioned light. So it was very much a trial and error process.

      Where as my day to day job and previous jobs have been very structured, and in some cases there were problem solving tools already laid out to use.

      At the slurry pump company there was a big push to use ‘Lean’ tools and the ‘lean’ philosophy.  The ‘Kaizan’ events were often used and I was part of the company wide ‘Lean’ Team.

      Here you were given a short time to improve a particular task or system in the value stream.  The first stage was always to measure the existing process, then study the existing process, value stream map it, using value stream tools, come up with a proposal pitch the proposal to management with estimates of gains and cost benefits.

      If the pitch was successful then implement the improvement and measure it to ensure that it achieved the results proposed. Finally document the new process, set up work instructions and finally record the whole process so other divisions can learn from the update and see if it can be implemented in their overseas sites.

      So this problem solving was very structured and rolled out to all divisions within the organisation on a global level.

      Another opportunity with the slurry pump company came when there was a big push to learn a process of innovation.  This one actually appealed to me very much as this one was a structured way of coming up with innovating ideas using a set of tools again so instead of sitting back and daydreaming up an idea it was a very structured way of coming up with new novel ideas.

      For those interested in the process here’s a link to the website of the company that lead the innovation change process.

      This process can be used in any organisation and not just a Design / Manufacturing process (it’s been successfully used in the IT industry), or even just home life where you want to improve or come up with a new idea for something.

      The last area I’ll cover here is a small home project.

      An example was a few months back I was going to put on a display of some of my photography work at a local art café where they have an artist on display every month. So my problem here was I had images that were only prints and unframed. So how to go about the framing process.

      I already had woodworking skills from various other woodworking (furniture making) projects I’ve completed at home. So can I make a frame and mount prints? Something I’ve never done. But all seemed do able. So a fair bit of research went into this one, Youtube, reading websites.

      I considered doing a framing course at the local picture framer, but that one got difficult when they changed the training days to only week days and working five days a week that one became an issue. So I studied up on it all, worked out what I needed in the way of tooling to carry out the process and of course finding raw materials.

      I have a Printer capable of printing up to A2 sized full colour prints, I had a basic mat cutter a bit small and very simple. I had all the woodworking tools so I figured, what do I have to lose?

      First step was to find a decent mat cutter, one that would cut decent sized mats and also cut glass. Once that was found, the next step was to find a local supplier. I found one so I thought, but after several attempts to contact them and no response I tried a second one.  It was only 950km away so local for Australia, so I ordered that and it arrived within two days, That was impressive.

      Next up, source the materials.  I found a local framing supply place only a 40 minutes drive.  So I sourced glass, 3.5 metre framing lengths, mat boards and foam core boards, framing wire, D rings to mount the wire, archival tape and backing paper. So a car full of supplies and a drive home without breaking 16 sheets of glass.

      The only part I wasn’t too confident in was the glass cutting. That was something I hadn’t done, I’ve cut ceramic tiles when I’d tiled the bathroom, (A previous project, complete renovation of a bathroom).

      So back to the question on problem solving. There were a lot of problems in this simple project most were solved by small planning processes, a bit of a project plan on a single page, listing of raw material quantities based on calculated lengths taking into account off cuts.  A rough plan was made of the frame lengths.

      The cutting of the glass was interesting as the first cut ended in half a sheet of broken glass. I didn’t take into account the self-weight of the glass and if broke under its own weight.

      Each sheet was cut into four. I enlisted the assistance of my wife to hold the unsupported corner, the mat cutter supported three corners, but the remaining corner wasn’t able to take its own weight. So problem solved based on trial and error.

      After all the glass was cut a new problem arose.

      They were cut close to the same size but a slight variation so that meant each frame had to be custom made to each sheet of glass.  Each sheet was measured, labeled so I knew which one was what size, then came the mass production of the frames.

      I started off using a hand mitre saw and cut the first frame by hand.  All worked well, but very time consuming. So with nineteen more to make I’d probably still be cutting, so I decided to use a cut off drop saw that I had. To speed up the process I made up a series of jigs with stops so I could work faster. This worked out well, again trial and error to start with but once set up I was able to go much faster. Frames were made, joined and finished. Mat cutting and foam core boards were easy and the mat cutter made easy work of twenty mats in no time at all, a worthwhile investment.

      So the problem solving here was trial and error, some minor planning, some tooling to speed up repeat processes and purchasing the right tool for the right job.

      There are many problem solving tools to use. It will depend on the time you have, the end result, which tool is best to use.  But having the tools available and knowing which one to use when goes a long way to making life easier.

      So that’s a quick insight in to some of my problem solving without going too deep.  I could easily go into all the finer details of the tools I use, but that would fill the 3 inch binder then.

      StephenL: Thanks for the phenomenal interview, Glenn! If anyone reading this has more questions for Glenn please ask away as he’s been kind enough to entertain them. If not, I hope you enjoyed this interview on Cake.


    • Getting back to your question, I’ve also got the drawings of a steam harbour ferry; not the one the engine is out of but once I complete the triple expansion engine the aim is to then build a ferry to put it in. So long term project there.

      WHAT?!!! Build a ferry? How big a ferry would that be? I can’t imagine the hours and craftsmanship. I keep staring at the triple expansion engine models. So much beautiful craftsmanship.

    • Yes @Chris they are amazing pieces of work and seeing them run slowly seeing all the linkages move truely memorising. The ferry model I’d build is about 5 foot long. It was powered by a triple expansion engine as well. So getting close to a match. Still got a long way to go on the engine yet before I start on the ferry itself then work out how to rig up the RC servos to run it. I’ve also got the drawing for a model scotch boiler to go with it, so it’s just getting time to play with it all.

    • Yes @StephenL thos one is getting close to kicking off on Cake. I think I’ve got it right in my head now how to do it with a serious of open and closed panels plus conversations. So think I’ve just about mapped out how to get it going, I can take content from my existing workshops plus new content. So just about ready to roll on it. This weekend was my last commitment for the year so have some time between now and February to get started. So keep an eye out shortly. 😉

    • Yes I can see what you mean about the hair, sorry to disappoint but pretty much short back and sides here, nothing flash.

      A scotch boiler is a typical Marine boiler used on steam vessels.

      They are compact to take up less room on the ship.

    • As for where to run it, there’s always my pool. But there are plenty of model boat clubs about and small lakes normaly not so many these days with the drought where having here. But there’s a few about still. So no shortage of places to run them.