Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Kedi and the cats of Istanbul

After yesterday somewhat grim video about the fate of unwanted Tibetan Mastiffs dumped by wealthy Chinese who no longer wanted their ‘fashion accessories’, something to lighten the mood and bring back a smile.

Hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame — and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could.

Critics and internet cats agree — this cat documentary will charm its way into your heart and home as you fall in love with the cats in Istanbul.

See the home page: Kedi

And: The cast of cats

Kedi poster

Kedi poster

While there is a standard trailer for this pay to view documentary, I came across the same trailer with an extra few minutes of material from the documentary.



Someone’s daughter made a video of Istanbul’s cats as their homework in 2016.

And shows you don’t need a huge great expensive documentary team to produce a decent video:

After looking at these (and there are quite a few more ‘Cats of Istanbul’ videos to be found along with those noted here), not sure if I should just go live there, or if we should arrange for some Istanbulian cats to be imported to the east end of Glasgow, so I can get my hands on them in the street, and not have the dubious pleasure of little more than ‘catbutt’.

Also Odyssey Turkey: Cats of Istanbul

29/11/2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Seldom seen Challenger

Not seen every day, but a shortcut through the streets of the Barras, and you can tell which street from the pics, was rewarded with the sight of this 2012 Black Dodge Challenger, looking suitably mean and moody in the fast failing evening light.

I love the way the manufacturers brought these cars into the 21st century, and made the work not only on the strip, but on the road, by designing European chassis to make them go around corners, as well as in fast straight lines.

Dodge Challenger

Dodge Challenger

It may be ‘old news’ now (from back in April), but this car has become a real ‘Demon’.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon: 840 horses, does 0-60 in 2.3 seconds, and hits the quarter-mile in 9.65 at more than 140 mph.

A little tamer, this example is no less desirable (to me at least).

Dodge Challenger

Dodge Challenger

As someone interested only in the engineering and development, I’m glad to be around to see fossil-fuelled cars take on electric vehicles on the strip, with each able to take honours (using production cars, I might add).

It’s sad to read about bullies (polite description) from BOTH camps who want to settle matters ‘Behind the workshop’ when their car loses, or accuse the other of cheating in some way.

Life’s too short not to just say “Nice” when you trip over one of these, or a ‘Ludicrous mode’ Model S, or the new Tesla Roadster, not yet tested of course, but a little faster even than the Demon above, with the promise of 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 4.2, and the quarter-mile expected to arrive in 8.8 seconds, plus a top speed of more than 250 mph.

Looking at those numbers, it’s hard to believe some sad motoring hacks once told us the end of fossil fuels was going to be the end of car fun.

Thankfully, they were fools, and even 10-20 years ago electric/battery vehicle customisers were using the old tech of the day to replace petrol engines in various classic muscle and sports cars with electric conversion that left their donor cars in their dust, and black lines on the road.

Crude? Yes. Effective? YES!

Thankfully, modern batteries and some really clever control circuits have made it all much more civilised.

Dodge Challenger

Dodge Challenger

I love them all – from a Model S whispering its way down the strip to beat most challengers (sorry, not meant as a pun).

To an Aventador that sounds as if it’s doing 150 mph while it’s just trickling along at walking pace in traffic.


Nice coincidence.

A few days after I made this post, I came across a picture gallery showing the Evolution of the Dodge Challenger (1970-2018) completer with some interesting tech details from under the Demon.

I’m afraid the good people at WordPress haven’t worked out a way to embed an imgur gallery (yet?), so you will just have to click on the link below and view it at source (almost 50 pics):


29/11/2017 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Anatomy of a low low light night shot

It’s not secret that I like low-light and night shots, and this carried over from my film camera days.

While I was usually not too pleased with the results – everything came out yellow thanks to the near universal adoption of low-pressure sodium street lighting – I did seem to be able to get results, and was often surprised by others who I thought were decent photographers who claimed they just couldn’t get it to work for them.

I beat the yellow lighting by shooting black & white, which had the fun side effect of often not looking like a night shot, and surprised a few people when they learned what looked like a slightly odd daytime pic had actually been shot at something like 3 am. Then, I was also tied to tripods or supports. Today, I work mainly hand-held, don’t use a tripod, or a support (can’t carry them casually anyway), and avoid flash if at all possible.

Folk don’t know how lucky they are now, as their phones carry cameras that will take pics at night (without flash) in places where there is half-decent lighting.

Real cameras do even better, but still need sensible users. Despite buttons and settings marked ‘Night Shot’ they often don’t deliver if it REALLY is night, and there’s no nearby lighting.

I was reminded of this as I tried to grab a ‘casual’ pic recently, while walking home.

The first attempt was a joke, and there was so little light (no working street lights nearby) – my little pocket camera just laughed (no pic).

So, disable the flash suppression – well, the flash certainly fired, but the result speaks for itself, and the expression ‘Taking a pic of a black cat in a black room with the lights off’ came to mind. This pic.

Bicycle Try 1

Bicycle Try 1

I have an ‘Auto Adjust’ pic correction option in my software. This almost never fails to impress me with the adjustments it makes, and there are often cases where I cannot manually reproduce whatever it does with some pics, regardless of which individual tools I use.

But it barely changed this one.

Bicycle Try 2

Bicycle Try 2

I tried an alternative, which allowed me manual control of the automation to tweak the effect, and this managed to do a little better, but this was the limit for a ‘simple’ pocket camera.

Bicycle Try 2A

Bicycle Try 2A

I was going to have to go back if I wanted this shot, and take the ‘Big Guns’.

The first shot was really just meant as a trial, with no street lights shining on this corner, and me too lazy to release the highest ISO setting in the camera, I didn’t expect much. In fact, I was caught by surprise as the shot would have come out reasonably… had I not moved too soon, before the shutter closed. My bad, not the camera or the way I have it set. I just didn’t wait. I thought it was going to hold the shutter open a lot longer than it did. (No second shot, this was only an exposure test – to compare against the previous examples above).

Bicycle Try 3

Bicycle Try 3

I normally avoid flash, unless absolutely necessary, so the last shot in this set allowed it to fire.

Bicycle Try 4

Bicycle Try 4

Even I’m impressed, as it’s only a tiny pop-up.

Probably the main advantage it brings is to kill the dreadful yellow of the old LP sodium streets lights still living here.


I ended up delaying this post for a few days, in anticipation of the arrival of a fast lens (f1.8 – all I can afford) and a final comparison.

While the ‘new’ lens was just on the camera and I had not had a chance to test or calibrate it (the body settings are still tweaked for the slow zoom lens, and a surprising change in the weather (it got WARMER after raining lightly through most of the afternoon/evening) meant I was plagued with condensation on the relatively cold camera body and lens surfaces, all but ruining tests I had been trying to make.

That said, the comparison was amusing – while this corner was so dark, the zoom lens exposure was almost 2 seconds for Try 3 (no wonder it blurred, even with vibration reduction doing its best), the fast lens took the same shot in 1/6 second.

Bicycle Try 5

Bicycle Try 5 (Yes someone sat it up since I was last there)

Bear in mind that this was a straight hand-held shot in a corner so dark the autofocus couldn’t see anything to focus on, and manual focus was not going to happen, I couldn’t see enough detail in the viewfinder. Fortunately, I could fire-up an autofocus illuminator.

Slightly puzzled by the WHOLE scene being notably out of focus though, as focus confirmation was signalled (shutter is locked if AF fails anyway). Might have been down to condensation, which the weird wet weather I had been walking through all day had hit inside the camera body, and affected this function. While a wide aperture lens does have a narrow depth-of-field, NOTHING in this view is actually in focus.

Update 2

This post got delayed AGAIN!

The f1.8 lens turned out to be horrible for my purposes, and after a day (and night) spent with it, it was found to produce poorer results than any of my cleverer lenses with slower f-numbers, but vibration reduction (and able to zoom).

I wanted one last shot of this scene, but in daylight.

I almost missed it, as it gets dark so early, but as can be seen, the shop in the background is open this time.

Bicycle Try 6

Bicycle Try 6

This shot just confirmed that a fixed lens without vibration reduction just doesn’t cut it, not even in daylight.

And the wide aperture – meaning narrow depth of field – is just a liability. I generally need MORE, not less.

They may be great in sunlight, or in a studio, or with a tripod, or under a flash, but for street use?


(It’s history.)

29/11/2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment


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