Bus Photography

Where can you take photographs

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The thorny topic of where you’re allowed to take photographs of buses, and even if you’re allowed came up again recently. It’s a topic that appears to raise it’s ugly head every few months and always seems to raise peoples blood pressure. So I thought I’d do a little roundup.

The first question you need to ask yourself.

Are you standing on public or private land?

If you are standing on private land then you can only take photographs legally with permission. No ‘if’s’… no ‘buts’… no ‘I’m not causing any problems’… no ‘it’s not fair’… no ‘so-and-so was allowed to do it’. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED. Sorry if that seems harsh but that’s the law. Now there are places which are private land and don’t give a hoot or will give you permission if you ask nicely (train stations often fall into the ask nicely category), but it’s their decision.

If you’re standing on public land, or adopted highway (that could be privately owned but maintained with public money by the council) you can take photos. Private security guards don’t have the right to move you on, stop you taking photos or inspect your equipment. Some might try but they do not have right under the law (unless there are additional by-laws). The police, however, do have the right to move you on if they believe you are causing a nuisance or obstruction, for example, a tripod causing issues for people walking on the pavement due to its size and placement.

So, if you’re standing inside a bus station, odds are it is private land and you will need permission. If you’re standing on the public land outside the bus station then you have the right to take photos.

Are you allowed to take photos of people?

On public land yes, on private land no. However, this comes with a huge caveat as the law is much greyer in this area. Just because technically you might have the right doesn’t mean someone won’t try and sue you if they’re not happy about it. It also will be of little use if someone takes offence and smacks you in the face or smashes your camera. Essentially in this situation, the big danger is from someone taking offence, so don’t be a douche about it.

Can a bus driver stop you taking of photo of their bus, which may include them driving it, when on the public highway?

No. That said it won’t stop some of them trying which let’s be honest is bad customer service.

Can you take photographs on a bus in service?

No. The bus counts as private property. That said if you’re not causing any issues, are discrete and not upsetting any other passengers you will probably be ok. If, however, the driver asks you to stop you need to stop as the law is on their side.

What about all this GDPR stuff?

I have heard concerns that facial data can be considered biometric data and hence fall under the act. However, I’ve also heard that this will not be applied to ‘personal data processed for the purposes of “journalism, literature and art”‘. Essentially we’re all going to have to wait for some test cases to clarify things.

Obviously, this topic is huge and there are many more considerations. If you’d like to learn more about it I’d suggest doing your own research. Organisations such as the Royal Photographic Society and the National Union of Journalists provide advice for members. As a starting point though you could try the following online articles (but don’t forget the law can and does change so you need to keep up to date).

Also, I’m going to add that I am not a lawyer. This information is a condensed version of my own understanding of the law from my own research and published information.


Bus Photography

Sometimes Things Just Go Wrong

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GoPro Camera with cracked case and tape repair

You know sometimes things just go wrong. A couple of weeks ago I went to Middlesbrough and while filming I noticed a crack in the case of my GoPro which I’ve been using to film the videos and vlogs. I had no idea if it was filmed ok or if all the footage would be ruined. Fortunately, the camera is still working but with a crack in the case right next to the lens it’s obviously in trouble.

So I decided to look at moving back to shooting with the DSLR camera that I normally use just for photographs. It’s not a camera that’s really designed for video but hey sometimes you’ve just got to work with what you have. Unfortunately, this means using a tripod to get steady shots. This led to a trip to Durham with Ian to give it a go and see how I felt about it. I suppose I should add that the set up to use this camera is much larger, heavier and cumbersome.

GoPro Camera with cracked case and tape repair
GoPro Camera with cracked case and tape repair

Forecast checked, bags packed and thermal undies put on (just in case) we headed off. I much prefer spotting trips with Ian, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. Of course, things didn’t go as planned. The forecast has been for the day to brighten from lunchtime, but that didn’t happen. The sky stayed stubbornly dark and dingy. This wouldn’t have bothered me too much with the old camera but this one I know doesn’t like gloomy conditions. Oh well, you can’t do anything about the weather.

GoPro Camera with cracked case and tape repair
GoPro Camera with cracked case and tape repair

Then the batteries I had with me started to drain at an alarming rate. Batteries only last for some many charges before they start losing their ability to hold their charge. As videoing is much more power intensive this will become more pronounced, add in the cold and you’d think I hadn’t bothered to charge them. (I had before you start wondering).

So all too quickly I was stood there in the gloom, unable to shoot any footage or even take photos, trying not to act all bored while Ian continued on with his camera taking some photographs. There is probably nothing worse than a bored photographer who can’t take any shots being forced to stand an watch others using their cameras. I did my best not to shuffle my feet and whinge, I’m not sure how successful I was though.

I managed just enough footage for a short video while in Durham which you can find here, and the hunt is now on for a new camera.

I hope your recent trips have been more successful than mine.  Take care…


General Blog

The Magic Million – an adventure on YouTube

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I’m so excited, I could jump up and down while squealing like a child, I won’t though as no one needs to see that. So what has me so excited? We’ve passed 1 million views over on the YouTube channel.

Thank You!

Given this milestone, I thought it might be an appropriate time to look back on the journey and share how it all started with you all. In spring 2016 I was looking for a subject to make a video about to practice my video editing skills with. A chance conversation led to the idea of filming at the NEBPT Howlands Rally in May.

Little did I know how that was going to change so much and eventually lead to The Transport Lens. I enjoyed filming, mooching about with my camera and chatting to people. What surprised me though was the number of people asking about watching the video and what my YouTube channel was. I had no idea this aspect of the hobby existed! After watching a variety of channels I decided to give it a go and on the 21st of July, I created a YouTube account and uploaded my first video.  I knew nothing about running a YouTube channel and couldn’t even think of a name! ‘Ian’s Bus Photos’ was suggested and away we went.

In fact here it is.  My first YouTube video, still with the ‘Ians Bus Photos’ name as it was a while before we changed to ‘The Transport Lens’.

Those first videos took me days to edit and render with many false starts. I had no idea what I was doing and if I’m honest wasn’t really expecting many (if any) people to watch. I remember talking about it with Ian and saying if I made it to 500 views I’d be over the moon. The response has blown me away and never ceases to amaze me.

Over the last two and a half years those initial tentative steps have expanded to include trains and trams, timelapse and vlogs. The vlogs especially have surprised me. I genuinely don’t like being in front of a camera, so voluntarily putting myself in front of the lens and even talking to the camera was something I never thought I’d do.

The YouTube Channel has now been joined by a Facebook page, this blog and website, plus Instagram and Twitter. I’m enjoying it more than ever and can’t wait to see where it takes me in the two and a half years.

So thank you for coming along on the ride with me. I guess some of the best journeys are the ones you never expect.

Bus Photography

Buses in Beautiful Light at Peterlee

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Sometimes the light is just so nice I can’t resist the urge to take my camera out for a few shots. During winter, especially that awkward week between Christmas and New Year, it can be hard to get out with lots of demands on your time. So while the light was nice, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door before anything could pull me in another direction.

Arriva Sapphire NK15 AAV, Fleet Number 1596, showing in Peterlee December 2018. ISO 250 18mm F5.6 1/1000th

Despite it being late morning the sun was low in the sky, creating strong directional shadows. This can be a blessing and a curse depending upon how you’re able to position yourself. I decided to go to Essington Way in Peterlee where I knew the light would be streaking up the road just slightly to one side. There is also a bus stop I have a strange fascination with, don’t ask me why because I have no idea, but I’ve photographed it a lot more than is probably normal for an average bog standard bus stop.

Go North Easts Wear Express, NK08 CFZ, Fleet number 5288, shown in Peterlee, December 2018. ISO400 50mm f5.6 1/1250th

The speed limit on this stretch of road is 30 miles per hour and I thought it would be wise to expect that the buses would be doing close to that, let’s not assume the drivers were speeding, so unless they actually stopped at the bus stop I was going to need a high shutter speed to freeze the action. When out on a shoot I always decide upon a starting point for my set up and then adjust as appropriate.

Arriva Sapphire, NK61 CXW, Fleet number 1465, Shown in Peterlee December 2018

One of the disadvantages with shooting at a location like this is that you don’t have the volume of buses that you would expect at say a bus station, which I guess is why most bus spotters/photographers tend to stick fairly close to the bus stations. You do get plenty of cars and other vehicles going past and while they weren’t what I was interested in they can act as great substitutes to test settings and composition. I positioned myself south of the bus stop on the opposite side of the road, dialled in the changes based upon shooting a few cars and waited for some buses.

Arriva Sapphire NK15 AAV, Fleet Number 1596, showing in Peterlee December 2018. ISO 250 18mm F5.6 1/1000th

It’s Go North East and Arriva in Peterlee, no Stagecoach and I ignored any buses heading along the road northbound. With the sun directly behind them, it wasn’t going to give the sort of shot I was looking for so I resisted the urge to keep checking in that direction, concentrating instead on the southbound traffic and the bus stop.

Go North Easts Wear Express, YJ13 HNWm Fleet Number 691, shown in Peterlee December 2018. ISO400 50mm f5.6 1/1600th

All too soon, after about half an hour, I needed to head back but it was great to get out in the fresh air and light. It was a couple of days before I could get the photographs up on the computer but here they are. Maybe next time I’ll try a little bit further down the road and go for one of the beautiful open green spaces of the town as the background.

– Mara


Bus Spotting Visit to Manchester

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We normally try to visit Manchester for a bit of spotting at least once a year, but this time instead of going on our own it was a trip with the Northern Group Enthusiasts Club to the Manchester Museum of Transport December Open Day.

Ian has been a member of the club for years and he’s now added me as a joint member with him. So does that mean I’m now officially a card-carrying bus spotter? I suspect I crossed that boundary a while ago but hey ho this is my first club membership.

We arrived at the Museum just before lunchtime and decided to take the shuttle bus into the centre of Manchester straight away. The idea was to film and photograph in the centre before it got too dark. At the moment it’s getting a little too dark for good footage around 3 pm (ish). The weather was also against us as it was dull, overcast and drizzly so there was a good chance twilight would arrive even sooner.

The drop off point was at Shudehill Interchange and we gave it a go there with the cameras briefly. Unfortunately, due to the road layout, amount of traffic and all the people it wasn’t a very good spot for video so Ian suggested we head up towards Picadilly. It’s not a long walk although it did take us past a large Jessops store which I naturally had to take a quick peek inside. I truly miss the days of high street camera shops.

Once at Picadilly I settled into my ‘usual’ spot at the end where the buses swing a 180 turn, which also happens to be near some of the tram tracks. If you’ve watched the vlogs then you may have come across how much I like trams. I’ve no idea why I just love them. So being in between buses and trams is a happy place for me. Ian, of course, wandered off to get photographs.

Normally the way we work is that Ian takes photographs and I take video. However this time I also had a stills camera with me, a new to me lens which I bought on a market stall and I wanted to give it a good testing. I much prefer to test in ‘real’ situations rather than say pointing it at the dog on the sofa. All the still images in this post were taken using this lens (a 28-105mm Canon from the film era in case anyone is interested) and although it struggled a bit to track subjects overall I think it performed well.

I also took the opportunity to shoot some more time-lapse footage. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying doing these time-lapse videos. Not everywhere is suitable for them and at one point I had my tiny little tripod on the ground with me standing practically over the top of it to prevent any of the people passing by from knocking it over. I’ve got to admit Manchester Picadilly seems to be one of the worst places for people randomly walking about. Every time we visit I’m amazed there aren’t lots of accidents. People playing chicken with buses and trams or just plain old walking in front of them without looking. It must drive the drivers bonkers, or at least it would drive me bonkers.

Soon enough the light was fading to the point where we decided to head back to the museum on the shuttle service. Once there we headed inside for a look round. What a cracking place! Honestly, I could have spent a lot longer in there looking around and chatting to people. It’s definitely one of the best transport museums I’ve been to and the cafe makes a mean cup of hot chocolate as well.

Soon enough though we were back on the coach and heading for home. I’m pleasantly surprised with how well the camera coped with the overcast drizzly conditions and low light levels. As always you can check out the video on our YouTube Channel.

This is also going to be the last blog post of 2018… so I guess I’ll see you all next year 😉

– Mara

General Blog

A Sparkly New Online Shop

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Visit the New Online Shop

What do you buy the Bus, Train, Tram Spotter in your life for a gift? It’s a question that I’ve been wondering about recently. It can be fairly easy to find something at a rally where there are wonderful stalls with books, magazine, photos and various other memorabilia, but let’s be honest you can’t always buy at the rallies. For a start, you might get spotted and that ruins the surprise.

Also, some of the things I’d personally like to give and receive can be difficult for companies to stock. Take phone cases. I go through these at about 1 a year and I’m always on the lookout for the next one. However, there are so many different phones that it’s difficult for a company to stock them all, let alone in a variety of designs.

So following the saying about ‘if you want something, then do it yourself’ I started looking into the idea of an online, manufacture on demand store. This led me to RedBubble and teaming up with them to create our new Online Store. RedBubble is a worldwide leader in manufacturing on demand for this sort of thing with years of experience, 24-hour online customer service and they ship worldwide.

Essentially the items are only manufactured once someone actually buys them, getting around issues such as all the different mobile phone case designs. This way you pick your design, pick your phone model and the case is made and shipped to you.

They also do things other than phone cases. So if you’re looking for something or just want to have a nosey then check it out. At the moment there are some modern and classic bus designs/images already available and more will be coming soon. If there is a demand I’ll also look at some non-photographic designs and maybe even some trains and trams.


Take care everyone and I’ll be back next week with a blog about our trip to Manchester with the Northern Group Enthusiasts Club.

– Mara


The Hunt for the Poppy Bus

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The Go North East Poppy Bus


Awful mobile phone shot taken at Park Lane Interchange

It’s not often I’m ahead of Ian when it comes to bus spotting, but with the newly repainted Go North East ‘Poppy Bus’ he’s having no luck. ‘The Poppy Bus’, registration NL63 YHO, fleet number 6086 has been travelling around the northeast for a couple of weeks now, occasionally on private hire but mainly the Route 56, or Fab Fifty Six, between Newcastle and Sunderland.

We both loving seeing buses in new livery and Ian has been trying to get a shot of her. So far he’s been completely unsuccessful. I, on the other hand, keep bumping into her and then messaging him to point this fact out. Granted I’ve not managed nice video of her or anything like that but I have at least seen her.

Shortly after she re-entered service Ian had an unexpected afternoon off and decided to head to Sunderland with his camera, hoping for a shot at the Park Lane Interchange. Nope no such luck as she was on a private hire that day, (fortunately we found this out before leaving the house), deflated he stayed at home. A couple of days later I was heading home and scared the living daylights out of my friend when I started shrieking ‘it’s the poppy bus’ as we entered Park Lane before running off to try and get a photo. She was running on the Sunderland Illuminations Park and Ride but it was dark and I only had my old mobile with me so although I got a few shots they weren’t much good.

The following weekend a determined Ian headed through to Newcastle and we positioned ourselves by the City Library (just by the Laing Art Gallery) to look for her. Ian had his camera at the ready and I decided to do a live stream onto YouTube which you can find here. I will, however, spoil the fun and tell you we didn’t see her. Once again a deflated Ian.

Later, again in Sunderland, I was at work and she drove past us. (Cue more shrieking followed by texting Ian) No photo opportunity this time as I couldn’t exactly grab a camera and run out of work, but I’d seen her again (for reference running the Fab 56 on Fawcett Street).
So that’s two to me and zero to Ian.

All that said I am happy to report that on another trip to Newcastle he did finally manage to see her running the 56. Not sure how good the photos of her were though as so far he’s refused to show me them.



First visit to the Lincoln Transport Festival

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Earlier this month we visited the Lincoln Transport Festival for the first time. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, all I knew as we stood waiting to be picked up for the journey was that other people had said it was a ‘good ‘un’.

So what did I find when we arrived? Lots of beautiful buses, most of which I hadn’t seen before, plus some lovely old classic cars as a bonus. The buses were spread out over a few different locations near the Lincoln Road Transport Museum and the ‘event service’ was running from just outside.

I do love seeing the old vehicles running about and love taking video of them moving much more than of them simply parked up. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very easy on this occasion. The main road where the buses were picking up gave a lovely pull out which would show them turning in front of the camera. Unfortunately, this was a very busy road so the view was often blocked by cars passing in front of the camera. Additionally, there were lots of people crossing the road between the pickup point and museum.

As I stood there with cars and people blocking my shots and passing in front of the lens at just the wrong moment I’ll admit I felt a little jealous of Ian with his stills camera. Photographs are much easier to get in those circumstances because you only need a clear shot for a few seconds.

We also ventured into Lincoln centre on the event buses, no video of that though as I don’t think it’s appropriate when the buses are full of people. People don’t get on these buses to be filmed and end up online, so in those circumstances, I don’t film the trips.

Naturally, we headed to the Bus Station to see what modern in-service buses we could find. Lincoln routes are currently operated by Stagecoach (an internet search listed a few independents as well but we didn’t see any) and in between showers I filmed some leaving the bus station.

Overall a fun day. It would have been better with a little sunshine but hey, it’s Britain in November so the weather could have been much worse.

General Blog

Frustrations and Resolutions

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This blog frustrates the living daylights out of me. I started it with the intention of using it to ‘write’ about our adventures bus spotting, (then later tram and train spotting), but it’s not quite worked out how I planned.

Take this summer for instance. We had several trips which I would have loved to write about but by the time I’d edited the videos and got them online, the point where I’d planned to then write a blog post and include some links for you all to the videos etc, well by that point we’d already done another trip. It would then feel silly to be writing a blog post when I could be spending my time editing the new video footage for you all to see. Then the cycle would repeat.


Rotterdam Tram


And so it is that this blog has been mostly ignored and left alone in favour of the YouTube Channel. Then a couple of months ago I decided to create a Facebook page for The Transport Lens and also sort out Instagram. Both are now slowly gaining followers and allow me to post in a bit more of a friendly social way. Posting videos on YouTube doesn’t often feel very personal to me, the descriptions aren’t very spontaneous and sometimes you just want to show people a quick little phone snap of something that happened. This then led to me reflecting, guiltily, on this languishing blog.

So, here I am. Typing my first blog post in I’m not sure how long and wondering if there is any point. I mean will anyone read it? Does it matter if they do or don’t? I’m not sure. I guess only time will tell on that and also my resolve/ability to keep posting more posts.

– Mara

Bus Ride Videos

Stagecoach Open Day at the Lillyhall Depot

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We recently visited the Stagecoach Depot at Lillyhall over in Cumbria. I’d visited before but that was prior to starting the YouTube Channel so I was looking forward to going back but this time with my camera.

So here are the videos which are now all up over on YouTube.


Take care and hope to see you out and about soon…