Harald Joergens Photography

Steam Narrow Boat "President" Virtual Tour at the BCLM

Historic narrow boat PRESIDENT, at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, West Midlands, UK

The clients is "Friends of President", a group of dedicated volunteers that run the historic steam narrowboat President, and the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, West Midlands, one of the finest and largest open-air museums in the United Kingdom, and owner of President.

The virtual tour was made to attract new members to join the "Friends of President", and to showcase a historic narrow boat from the outside and inside, to show the living conditions of the boatmen, and to show this historic narrow boat within the context of the museum, in an environment reflecting the time when the canals were the motorways of the time.

Explore the engine room and start the engine, experience the cabin by day and night, and stand at the tiller of the boat

Equipment used:

  • Canon 5D Mark II with Really Right Stuff L-Plate
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens
  • Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head and Multi-Row Pano Elements Package
  • Really Right Stuff carbon fibre monopod with MH-01 Pro momopod head for nadir shots
  • Notebook computer with remote camera control software

How it was done: All photography inside the boat has been done with the camera remotely controlled via a laptop computer in the hold - just visible if you try hard to find it.

To have every detail in focus, from the closest to the lens to the furthest (almost infinite), focus stacking has been used. All photography has been done with available light only, using exposure bracketing. The combination of focus stacking and exposure bracketing means a large number of photos:

The resulting photos have been processed using focus stacking software. The resulting images have been edited, then stitched together, edited again, and then turned into a spherical panorama.

Because of the extreme contrasts between the relaively dark interior and the bright sunshine outside, exposure bracketing had to be used, and all the images cobined from focus stacking have been processed in HDR (High Dynamic Range) to compress the brightest and darkest parts.

Technical information:
This interactive panorama uses only HTML5. A Flash version could be added, but the usage of Flash seems to be declining rapidly, whilst almost all modern browsers support HTML5.

Narrow boat PRESIDENT:
President was built in 1909 at the Fellows, Morton and Clayton company dock at Saltley, Birmingham. A steam engine was heavy and required a significant amount of space, in 1925 it was replaced by a Bolinder engine, increasing the carrying capacity by almost 50%. President ended her working days, after the canals were nationalised, with the British Waterways northern maintenance fleet based at Northwich working on the Trent and Mersey, Macclesfield and Shropshire Union Canals

President was bought by the Black Country Living Museum in January 1983. Friends of President was formed in October 1984 to assist in the operation and maintenance of this unique vessel. In 1990 the Muir and Findley boiler was replaced by a Cochran dryback return flue boiler.

During 2001 to 2003 President underwent a major refit, with new steam engine and pipework, new cabin and major hull repairs.

Much more about President's history can be found on the President website, and in this document about the restoration work.


  • Nick Haynes (Friends of President) for his time and support
  • David Stott (Friends of President) for providing all the technical information
  • Will Derbyshire (Friends of President) for running the steam engine and providing the sound
  • Black Country Living Museum, for their support and help

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