Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

When good advice goes wrong

The pic below is not immediately obvious for what it is, but was the clincher when I bought a so-called ‘fast lens’ and found I was grateful I had bought it from a supplier with a ‘No quibble’ return policy.

Like most working on a budget, I have to rely on zoom lenses rather than a selection of fixed lenses.

Over the years I’ve also had it drummed into my head that zooms are poor, something that was possibly true, but is no longer the case. Certainly they represent a series of compromises, but that’s a different matter.

I used to think it would be nice to have a fast lens and get low light pics without camera shake, and maybe a step up in image quality.

But for reasonable money, I now realise that means a zoom coupled with a large sensor dSLR and the latest VR (vibration reduction by whatever trade name) technology.

VR now brings 4 stops (or better if careful) of advantage, large sensors are crazy sensitive now, and clever zoom designs mean they are no longer the fuzzy friend of the budget photographer. It’s more important to GET the shot, than stand like an idiot because your great fixed lens cannot fit the scene when you back is against the wall.

The view of Shettleston library was the last straw as I tested a 35 mm f1.8 lens recently.

At worst, I could have caught the whole façade in two shots, with my back against the tenement walls across from it.

But with the fixed 35 mm lens I was forced to take SIX shots to stitch together for a single view of the building.

By this time I was also scared to move/breathe, as these lenses don’t come with anti-shake or vibration reduction – and that means being forced to use fast shutter speeds, even in the dark, as I’d lost 4 stops worth of exposure settings.

Worse, I couldn’t (safely) position myself centrally, so the distortion was asymmetric and exaggerated (and ain’t nobody got the time to sort this one).

After this test, the lens went back in its box and got my money back the next morning – and I appreciate my existing lenses so much more, now that I have something to compare them against. If there is any image degradation because ‘zoom’, then I’m happy to live with it.

Shettleston Library Sodium

Shettleston Library Sodium

It’s also cured me of my longing for a fast lens.

Granted there are really good genuinely fast lenses out there (esp zooms), but the 4-figure price tag means they’re so far out of reach I don’t even have to bother lusting after them.

18/01/2018 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Take a chance

Sometimes it pays to take a chance, and even failed pics can come good.

Although this ended up looking like a reasonably well-lit street, in reality, the lighting is pretty poor and it looks quite dark, even to the eye – which is why I pointed a camera along it.

Apart from the exposure, autofocus laughed at me, and manual focus brought similar laughter – I just guessed and took a few shots.

Being handheld, most went in the bin, but one was reasonable and could be tidied, then a little processing brought up hidden detail, and lastly, a noise filter tool out the ‘snow’.

It’s funny, and so far I can’t see an obvious rule, but I no longer immediately ditch what appear to be failed low light or night shots.

Most of them are indeed total failures that can’t be recovered, but some of them deliver a half decent view and are worth a bit of effort, even if just for practice.

Dark Dalness Street

Dark Dalness Street

18/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Would buy

It’s handy having a decent second-hand car dealer at the end of the road.

You get to play fantasy car buyer, and don’t need any money (which is kind of handy for me).

The selection tends towards the better end of the range, although like many others, their offerings suffer from the current horrors of favouring SUV ‘bricks’. Although I’ve noticed their numbers falling in recent months, with proper cars becoming more numerous on the forecourt. On good days, the offerings are a refreshing change from these glorified vans.

Such as…

Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce

This would be one of my choices, as I prefer this to the more modern variations – and it’s a lot easier on the pocket too.

I seem to prefer the more classic shapes, but having come across the Wraith, I can’t really complain (until the price tag comes into sight).


18/01/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | | Leave a comment

Burrell revamp funding is almost in place

Four supporters have pledged a further £1.4 million in funding for the £66 million project, bring the total to almost 65% of its projected cost to expand display space and improve visitor facilities. The Wolfson Foundation and The Headley Trust which each pledged £500,000, the Gannochy Trust pledged £250,000 and The Taylor Family Foundation pledged £150,000.

Glasgow City Council has agreed to pay up to 50% of the cost of the refurbishment, while the Scottish government has pledged £5 million, and £15 million will come from lottery funding.

The A-listed building in Pollok Park closed in 2016, at which point I discovered just how awkward it was to reach via the multiple varieties of public transport I would need to use to get there – I’d probably be better splashing out for the cost of a taxi! But I live in east, and the Burrell is in the west, so opposite sides of Glasgow. Ouch!

Being priced off the road – NOT fun.

The museum is presently expected to re-open in 2020, which means I have to keep going for another couple of years at least, and while most museum refurbs generally run to schedule, I kind of have my doubts about this one, given the extent of the work involved.

I’m keen to see the changes, since my past visits left me feeling that nice as it was, there was a lot more hidden away and missing from the displays. Bringing more material into view can only make better still.

Some of the collection remains on display in Kelvingrove, and while it’s only a tiny display it does include information about the changes too.

Burrell building

Burrell Collection, Pollok Park, Glasgow © Iain Thompson via Geograph

18/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

Events set for 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s death

Jim Clark

A series of events has been unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s death.

Taking place over the weekend of 7/8 April 2018, events include an exhibition showing some of his cars and an anniversary dinner.

Last September, plans for a new £1.6 million museum in Duns were confirmed, to honour the driver, and is expected to open in early 2019.

This will expand the existing facility which was dedicated to the driver, and which I must have passed many times before I learned of its existence, but not before my regular trips to the area ended, so I really missed out on this one.

Via Jim Clark anniversary events unveiled

More details from The Jim Clark Trust

18/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The illegals – M1 TGJ

Nothing special, apart from the illegal spacing on this one.

This is just a 2013 Mercedes-Benz C180, but has some extra goodies so gets badged as an AMG Sport.

It’s a pity Mercedes doesn’t make more fuss over improving the C180 – comparing the spec to today’s offering over one I had many years ago makes the earlier model look like a roller skate, and it had almost no ‘toys’ fitted, while the base model today looks like a top luxury spec by comparison with its past.

The motoring hacks used to trot out a standard line and kick Mercedes (and BMW) for having base models that had ‘everything’ as an option, and cranked the price up like a rocket, but I think they’d be out of a job if they tried the same jibe today.

Mercedes [M1TGJ]

Mercedes [M1 TGJ]

18/01/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

That had to hurt

I wonder if this bike broke and was dumped…

Or was dumped and then broken?

Another example of my great timing, after passing this scene numerous times I noticed some of the fitting were actually reasonably decent as regards their quality, so decided to pop some tools in my pocket next time out.

You KNOW what’s coming next, don’t you?

Yup – next time I squished along that muddy path… it was all gone.

And, typical of my luck/timing, another complete one appeared just along the same path – but was made with lesser quality parts. While the broken one was assembled with stainless hex bolts, the second was assembled with plain steel bolts.

Little Bike Oopsie

Little Bike Oopsie

18/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

They’re getting bigger

It may be my imagination, but I’m sure they’re getting bigger.

And it’s not as if I’m feeding them boxes of bait either, which I gave up as they just seemed to eat it faster if I put out more.

Guess the quiet spell is over, and the cold weather makes little difference to their invasion.

Still Bigger Mousey

Still Bigger Mousey

I don’t even bait my traps, just lay them along the paths I now know mice will always follow, so I’m not feeding the ‘second’ mouse either.

Second Mouse

Second Mouse

18/01/2018 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Unintended humour in Carmyle

I’m sure anyone that wanders around with a camera has trail of pics they’ve missed for various reasons, usually arriving a few seconds to late, or just not being able to ‘Point & Shoot’ quickly enough is the reason, with little that can be done.


Sometimes discretion, or just sheer cowardice, can be the cause.

I passed the shops in Carmyle recently, and really wanted to grab a pic as I happened to look into the windows of two adjacent establishments as I passed.

These are they (safely closed, so I’m reasonably safe too).

Carmyle Shop Fun

Carmyle Shop Fun

I almost burst out laughing before I passed.

In each window, the resident stylist was performing exactly the same task, and setting the hair on their respective clients.

I thought the one the left was quite attractive, and the one on the right was a complete dog!

It was a real missed opportunity.

Both were doing the same trim on the heads of their respective clients, and all were completely unaware that they were paralleling one another.


18/01/2018 Posted by | photography | , , | 1 Comment

If you sell it, they will buy it

I think it’s a shame they’re pulling videos and publishing advice not to eat Tide.

Darwin spent a lot of time and effort creating his work on evolution and natural selection, and moves such as that work against this system, allow variations that really should be filtered out of the human gene pool to survive, and interfere with nature – and as the Green Looneys tell us, anything that is natural MUST BE GOOD.

Via Warning over alarming ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ detergent eating YouTube trend

See Candy aisles on lockdown!

You actually want to eat this stuff by your own free choice?


Tide N Bran

Tide N Bran

Wash down with…

Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew

18/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | 1 Comment

Today is Women’s Healthy Weight Day

18 January is Women’s Healthy Weight Day.

Given the rabid response of the feminazi brigade, I’m always worried when any ‘Day’ refers to women, regardless of its origin.

But, given the dangers of being too thin, OR too fat, and the past history of such extremes being dictated by others, not the individual, I think this day should be taken at face value and all PC (politically correct) thoughts dismissed without any consideration whatsoever.

Health is more important than all such nonsense.



In the good old days, it was easy to stay slim.

Vintage Healthy Diet

Vintage Healthy Diet

18/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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