They’re Here! (12 March 2016)

Yesterday I was out photographing in Glasgow for most of the day.  I took about 1000 shots, most of which were just junk, but I did manage to get this one, which I think you’ll agree proves once and for all the existence of alien spacecraft.  Now I know what you’re thinking - “Yeah yeah, another grainy pic of a hubcap hanging from phone wires taken with something that barely qualifies as a camera”.

Well no, not this time.  I had my Nikon D5200 & Sigma 10-20mm lens ready & steadily supported on a tripod.  In fact there was no need to rush at all as it turned out there was plenty of time & they didn’t seem inclined to move anytime soon, so I even used my 9 stop neutral density filter to get an exposure time of over a minute.

With the wide angle lens I was able to get right up close to the nearest one, in fact so close that I had to make a 4 shot vertical panorama to show just how imposingly it towered over me.  

I was lucky to bump into a guy who turned out to be a bit of an expert on them.  He said that at night they light up & draw thousands of unsuspecting humans inside.  He didn’t know what happens to them, but he said that various different kinds of sounds can be heard from within.  I didn’t hang around that long - I’ve seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind thank you very much.

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The SSE Hydro & Clyde Auditorium (Armadillo) in Glasgow.


It’s Snowtime… (21 January 2016)

…When you Snooze you lose, and the lost wallet that wasn’t.


On Saturday we had the first decent snow of the winter.  I’d been at work on an early shift, and so, not unusually I fell asleep on the sofa when I got home with it snowing fairly heavily.  After a couple of hours of Zzzzz’s  I decided to go out in the evening to try & make some interesting photos in the local area of Greenock.

 I first set off for Customhouse Quay as there are some attractive streetlights & cobbles there that I thought would look good with the snow falling.  Of course by the time I arrived, the snow was nothing more than a light flurry carried on the wind, and the cobbles were all hidden under a couple of inches of snow….a perfect demonstration of when you snooze you lose!

From there I headed up to the Wellpark for some views of Greenock Town Hall’s landmark Victoria tower.  I worked the scene for a while. (can you tell I just finished a 6 weeks course on how to talk like a real photographer?)   Enjoying myself, nice & warm, wrapped up like an East German border guard, wiping the occasional snowflake from my glass (It was a very comprehensive course!)  This was my favourite shot of the illuminated tower seen through the trees.

After this photograph I moved across to a pathway leading down onto Bank Street.  I liked the way the pathway curved down to the street below and so I set up the camera on the tripod to take a few shots here.  

Normally, I keep my phone in my trouser pocket, but as I’d been using it as a torch for checking the camera settings it had been in my coat pocket for easier access.  Anyway I’d moved it back to its usual place in my trousers, but then after a while I was suddenly aware that my coat pocket no longer contained a heavy item.  My phone was in its usual place, so what was missing?  “Oh no!” I thought, “Where’s my wallet?”  Of course not being one to panic (Ask anyone with grown up daughters about nerves of steel!) I finished off taking the shots I wanted and then decided to look around in case I’d dropped it when taking the lens cloth or phone out of my pocket earlier.  

Retracing your steps is actually much easier in the snow, so I was confident that unless someone else had picked it up, my wallet was not here.  On the way back to the car I phoned my wife to ask her to check the clothes I’d work for work earlier in case I’d just left it in my pocket.  Nope! no wallet in my pockets at home either.  Hmmm getting slightly concerned now, as up until this point I’d been 75% convinced that that’s where it was.  I headed back down to Customhouse Quay to do the retracing my steps dance again, but nothing to be seen there either. 

I’m now starting to become used to the idea that It looks like I’ve lost my wallet, and wondering whether I should just disappear into the night rather than face the rest of the evening at home with the “You’re such a  disappointment to me” look, when my wife phoned (Did I mention how wonderful and beautiful she is?) to say that she’s found my wallet on the sofa under a cushion where I’d been sleeping earlier.  Result!

I began editing and processing the photos later on Saturday night which gave me the image above, but it was the following day before I got to process the others of Bank Street.  When I looked at the original images I was reminded of some paintings my Dad had showed me late last year.  They were by a Victorian artist called John Atkinson Grimshaw.  Many of his paintings captured a feeling of grey, dismal, urban/dockside life broken only by the warm inviting light of the windows in some of the buildings.  I therefore spent a lot of time processing the images to try to bring out a similar look and emotional connection.

Do you think I was successful?


Challenge Accepted! (16 January 2016)

One of the first things I did in 2016 was to join up with the Arcanum.  It’s a web based educational community for photographers (and other artists too).  The idea is that the apprentice (me) learns new skills & techniques from their master (in my case, well known Australian photographer Glenn Guy ) and the other apprentices within his group by working through various challenges.

My first photography challenge since joining was to spend a day making as many photographs as possible and then to select what I considered to be the best one to share with the rest of the group

So yesterday I spent most of the day making photographs using filters that my wonderful wife gave me for Christmas.  It was the first opportunity I have had to play with them so it’s been interesting!

I took about 300 frames in all, but some of those were 3 shot bracketed exposures, so in terms of actual compositions it was more like 150 several of which are just slight variations of the same thing.

I started off in the morning heading for Millarochy Bay on Loch Lomond which is just over 30 miles from home.  I’ve been to Loch Lomond many times, but this was my first time at this particular location.  I spent about an hour trying various compositions of trees & rocks with long exposures to smooth the water.

My next stop was another place I’ve never been to before.  Devil’s Pulpit is a deep sandstone gorge with a small river flowing through. The colours are spectacular with bright green moss covering much of the red rock.  It was a brilliant stroke of luck that I happened to meet another friendly photographer there who showed me the way down into the gorge as I doubt I would have found it in the time I had available.  Thanks Kevin!  I didn’t really get the shot I wanted here though as I was pushed for time, needing to get back home for a couple of tasks. I’ll definitely be going back there though.

Once I’d done my chores I took a few photos of an old dockyard crane at James Watt Dock about a mile from home.  I’ve photographed it before, but I’d had a different angle in mind for a little while just waiting for good light.  I think I was successful in that location, but I haven’t properly edited those images yet.


Late in the afternoon I headed back to Loch Lomond with the intention of making a photograph in the same location as the morning’s session, but with the post sunset glow in the sky.  On the way there I had to pull over and take a few shots of a farmhouse with Ben Lomond (it’s a mountain, not a person) in the background.  The sun was just above the horizon and the snowy peak was glowing brightly.  I really could have done with being 15 minutes earlier to get set up and composed, but I had to just make the best of it before the sun disappeared.

This shot of the tree at Millarochy Bay on Loch Lomond is my favourite of the day.  It’s probably one of the most photographed trees in Scotland, as evidenced by the fact that there were already 4 or 5 other photographers there when I arrived!  I don’t think I’ve processed a sunset into black & white before, but I was inspired to try it after seeing an image by inspiring photographer Christian Meermann recently.  

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