Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Flat Earth fun – Something for the weekend

Following Monday’s news that flat-earthers have insulted the people of Scotland by taking over a shop in Inverness, I can only do my own bit and have some fun for the rest of the week.

Not actually ‘fun’ as such (unless the idea of flat earthers is enough to tickle your funny bone), but a set of gorgeous hi-res pics shared from a recent Dragon Lady flight to the edge of space.

For those not aware, the Lockheed U-2, nicknamed Dragon Lady, is an American single jet engine, ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force, previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency, and has been since the mid-1950s.

This is the panorama you get from the cockpit of a legendary U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft.

Ross Franquemont is a U-2 pilot and instructor at the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Beale Air Force Base, California. Fortunately for the rest of the world, he is also a great photographer. In fact, the incredible images you can find in this post were taken by Ross during missions flown at high altitude (something around 70,000 feet) in the Dragon Lady aircraft.

Flat earthers hate it, and of course, say any pics taken from it and showing the curvature of the Earth (and any other globe effects) are all FAKE, and manufactured for the purpose of discrediting the ‘truth’ of the flat earth.

Earth From U-2 Credit Ross Franquemont Via The Aviationist

Earth From U-2 Credit Ross Franquemont Via The Aviationist


03/03/2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | | Leave a comment

The old clay pipe factory in Bain Street

Another post inspired by the proposals to brighten the area up.

Falling into the category of “I never noticed that” is the building (or perhaps pair of buildings) seen below.

With my head usually buried in what little remains of the Barras, I didn’t really notice the buildings which made up the venue.

Too late, as quite a lot has been cleared in recent years, and I suspect plans to upgrade and revive the area and its venue will see anything that the planners see as ‘unattractive’ to New (young/trendy) Money will be swept away in a wave of… ‘improvements’.

I already missed any chance to catch the once thriving building that used to stand beside Pearson’s in Moncur Street, which we should have said was ‘heaving’ with people on a good weekend, packed like sardines, and almost impossible to move in.

But I did wake up soon enough to spot this pair of almost identical twin buildings in Bain Street.

They, together with another behind, were once a clay pipe factory.

In its day (the date stone on the left shows 1877), this building looked even better, with a central joining section (demolished) which had an entrance topped by a single upper storey, Not quite a portico., but still more impressive than a simple entrance or door on its own. Now, there’s little more than a glorified shed in its place.

Bain Street Clay Pipe Factory

Bain Street Clay Pipe Factory

While I was able to stand far enough back to take a reasonably undistorted pic of the two building together, this is often not the case, with a distance of no more than a city street being available. This means one is forced to take pic from the side, along the façade, instead of head-on.

The wealthy, or professional, can afford fancy lenses to cope with this proximity, but that’s two clubs I don’t have membership of.

But, I do have some clever (free, of course) software that will stitch together a series of pics taken from a fixed spot.

Since I had the option, I stepped forward and took a couple of closer shots, to see the difference.

While the image above is lightly processed, I have not done anything to the stitched version below (other than crop off the untidy ragged edges).

While it does allow pics to be taken in otherwise impossible circumstances, or wide panoramas, it does cause distortion.

While this can always be corrected (if you spend the time, and money on software), I’ve found that the form of distortion seen here is not well catered for in any of the free software I’ve collected, and while I do have one photo-editing package that allows freehand correction meshes to be constructed and applied, it’s not really practical as it takes a lot of effort (so only worth doing if being paid!)

The stitch isn’t TOO bad, and if it was all that could be caught would also be  fairly easy to improve with only a few perspective corrections applied, but I had the luxury of not having to stand close in. That would have meant a LOT more distortion.

Architectural photography can be tough if you want buildings that look square!

Clay Pipe Factory Stitch

Clay Pipe Factory Stitch


I got lucky later, and knowing that the third building in Moncur Street was part of the set meant I could catch some shots and add them here.

Knowing the history makes it easier to spot the similarity with the Bain Street pair, and tie them together.

Clay Pipe Factory Third Building

Clay Pipe Factory Third Building

Unlike the first pair, where there was plenty of room to stand back and get a wide shot of both together, Moncur Street brings back the problem of narrow streets and the need for ridiculous lenses to capture the whole building at once.

But, the magic of image stitching came to the rescue again, and while I can’t do a linear stitch, this one came out well, with the wide-angle radial distortion looking just fine. I seem to be getting the overlap judged better too, reducing it to the extent that the joins are being nicely hidden.

More irritating is the fact that I’ve never seen the street clear of cars, so can’t avoid them appearing (and no, I can’t afford Photoshop – at least not until it’s sold for free, I know it has a ‘removal’ option). Higher would have helped, but I left my ladders at home.

Clay Pipe Factory Third Building Stitch

Clay Pipe Factory Third Building Stitch

Since I took these various pics I’ve found out that the building has become ‘The Pipe Factory’, is a space for art which is dedicated to the production and dissemination of artists work and ideas. It runs a public visual arts and learning programme that includes exhibitions, workshops, residencies, events and publications, provide affordable spaces for artists to work and opportunities to experiment and exhibit in a supportive community environment.

The Pipe Factory

03/03/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

The almost invisible commemorative stone on Parkhead Cross

I’ve come to be a bit of a parrot when it comes to getting folk to waken up and spot the sights of Glasgow which surround them.

Most often than not, I’ll be suggesting they “Look Up!”, since many features are to found decorating the upper parts of many buildings, but in this case I found the ‘Look Down’ can pay dividends too.

I don’t know how many times I have passed this stone and not seen it – it’s far from obvious.

It’s also easy to miss, since most folk will be concentrating on the traffic as they make their way across the four roads that meet on the fairly busy Parkhead Cross junction, which has a fifth road feeding in only a few metres away, and can bring an unexpected rush of traffic to bear down on the unwary.

Find this stone almost at the tip of the gusset formed by the junction of Tollcross Road and Westmuir Street on the cross.

Parkhead Cross Commemorative Stone

Parkhead Cross Commemorative Stone

The text is hard to read thanks to the grain of the granite, and can only be read clearly if close to the carving.

I tried to enhance the pic by altering the contrast etc, but nothing made much difference.

For reference, the wording is given below.

“There, ‘midst
the rattle, roar, an’ din
O’ countless hammers rivettin’,
Ye aiblins micht some knowledge fin’
Worth while to store,
An’ learn hoo such fame they win
The warld o’er.”

Bailie David Willox (1845-1927)

This stone was laid in 2016 to mark public realm improvements commissioned as part of the Parkhead Cross Townhead Heritage Initiative
Funded by Glasgow City Council Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.

03/03/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | 1 Comment

Today is What if Cats and Dogs had Opposable Thumbs Day

03 March is What if Cats and Dogs had Opposable Thumbs Day.

Cat Thumb

Cat Thumb

Imagine a world where our feline overlords  had thumbs. Opposable thumbs like ours. Thumbs that allowed them to open their own tins of food, easily steal your possessions and generally make more trouble than they already do.

This is a day to think about how different your life would be if Mittens (or Fido) joined the ranks of the (supposedly) superior species with opposable thumbs.

How would things turn out if they didn’t need humans to turn that tin opener?

Back in 2011…

I’ll let you into a fairly well-kept secret…

Cats already have opposable thumbs, and use them when they have to, but our feline overlords have one overriding reason to keep them a secret…

Pathetic Humans

Pathetic Humans

03/03/2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment


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