Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

No giant hogweed scares this year?

With no scare stories in the media about giant hogweed this year, I had almost failed to notice the plants.

It was only while I was passing through the giant hogweed plantations that border many areas on the banks of the River Clyde recently, and looking up at the tallest examples, that I realised we were missing the alerts this year.

I’m not sure if this is down to the drier weather than usual, and the brown appearance of the plants, which are almost as big as usual, but appear to weaker and starving compared to past years. While I’m not going to start prodding them, I suspect the are pretty dry internally, and there will be little of the hazardous sap spilling if the stems are cut or broken.

I’ve also seen a lot of them just wilting by the side of road, leaning over instead of standing straight.

Still, they can be spooky to pass, like this tall pair ‘guarding’ the path on the Clyde Walkway.

Clydeford Bridge Giant Hogweed

Clydeford Bridge Giant Hogweed


July 23, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Cambuslang Lodge pic in a narrow street

That went surprisingly well.

I’ve looked at a lodge building in a Cambuslang side street – Tabernacle Lane – and wondered how to take a pic.

It’s a narrow street. Two cars could pass without a fight, although there’s only room for one since the street usually has them parked along one side, leaving the other side as a single lane for access either way. As a pure guess, that mean only about 5 metres from the façade of the building until your back hits the opposite wall.

A 24 mm lens captures some, but this is most it can see, in a single shot.

Cambuslang Lodge Wide

Cambuslang Lodge Wide

Time for some magic, and a test to see how good it might be.

By taking a number of pics across the façade, these can be stitched together to form a view of the whole.

I got quite close, but I’m still finding it difficult to guess how much extra I need to include around the edges, to avoid missing any coverage, and the resultant black areas. In this case, I was just a little short of material in the bottom left and right corners.

Cambuslang Lodge Stitched

Cambuslang Lodge Stitched

On the other hand, I DID get the whole façade, the missing parts are outside the desired area.

And it’s considerably better than was achieved with a single wide-angle shot.

Unlike most panoramas, which usually only combine images horizontally, I can also do this vertically, and for any number of images, but found the less I use, the better. The single wide shown first is actually one of the shots merged into the stitched view.

Just my luck as usual – as I was leaving, a woman arrived and removed the car blocking the view of centre bottom of the building.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Parked or abandoned?

Not sure.

But the industrial wheelie-bins seem to have better security than the car.

That said, is it legal to chain such wheelie-bins to bike racks, and block them from use by the people they were installed for?

Parked Or Abandoned

Parked Or Abandoned

February 27, 2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

At last – Allison Drive charger caught in use!

It’s a massive FIVE YEARS (almost to the day) since I first searched for the nearest EV (electric vehicle) charging point to me.

That find was followed by a little walk to Allison Drive just behind Cambuslang’s main street to fetch a pic, back in 2013.

Ever since, I’ve wandered along there repeatedly to see if it was ever in use.

Finally, last night – I actually found it in use for the first time!

I really expected to find a Nissan Leaf there long before this (there’s a growing number of them around me), but it was a BMW i3 that broke dry spell here.

You can look up the details yourself if interested, but the i3 is reported to have become the third best-selling EV (at the time of writing), and with model variations, and different testing methods, I’m NOT going to give anything relating to range, other than note it is not massive – think around at least 100 miles give or take. But I say that not as criticism, as the 300+ miles demanded by EV naysayers is not needed for most daily journeys.

In fact, it’s quite sad trying to discuss EVs in the UK, as most ‘ordinary’ people (and much of the media) is something in the order of 5 years behind those who dropped the notion that EVs are just ‘milk floats’. Look to the US or Norway for accounts closer to reality.

Now, more local chargers have been added, but I’ve yet to catch them in use (but they are in much quieter places).

Cambuslang Allison Drive BMW Charging

Cambuslang Allison Drive BMW Charging

February 22, 2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I told you – Just Shoot, Don’t Think!

Unplanned, but the demand of a return trip to Cambuslang last night meant the chance to repeat Just Shoot, Don’t Think! with a proper camera. No offence to the compact, but when it comes to REALLY low light, it’s just not made for that job.

Although this was as near as makes no difference 24 hours later, that doesn’t guarantee the same ambient lighting or weather, or even Moon.

I ended up taking two shots, separated by a little over an hour.

Obviously, there’s no train this time. Nice as it would have been to have one, I wasn’t going to stand about waiting for one to appear.

There was no Moon, at least not in shot, as it was a lot higher in the sky and too far to catch.

There was no wind in the first shot, and when it did turn up for the second, it was blowing the opposite direction compared to the previous night.

So, two technically competent images, sharper, better exposed thanks to the sensor, but…

Without the train, the Moon, and the near horizontal ‘smoke’ – not really much of a pic.

I think the first chance catch is much better.

Cambuslang Night 1

Cambuslang Night 1

And an hour later (as I was heading back).

Cambuslang Night 2

Cambuslang Night 2

Reminder of the grab.

At least I avoided that damned tree!

The shots above would probably look better with some more contrast dialled in, and a litter darker too. It’s amazing how much more can be caught with a large sensor.

Cambuslang Night Train

Cambuslang Night Train

February 22, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Think, Just Shoot

While I’ll admit to a degree of OCD and/or perfectionism (I’m so glad I simply can’t afford something like Photoshop or I’d never be seen again), and while I once just used pics straight from the camera, I don’t think I’ve done so for years, as even the simplest of ‘tidies’ can vastly improve things. For example, ever since digital arrived, I don’t think I’ve shot a level/straight pic – yet I never seemed to suffer from this when I used film.

Sometimes I just go with the Lomograph (look it up online) motto of the title – not every pic has to be pin-sharp and perfectly exposed.

No need to splash out on a special camera though. Save money and just downgrade your digital, or shoot without thinking.

I was hanging over a bridge near Cambuslang last night (so, I have some strange habits) when I spotted a train coming, and an interesting smoke trail being picked out by light coming from below, plus some Moon. It was a slim crescent in reality, but looks more like a disk.

I’m almost surprised at how much came out in this unplanned grab (with only one chance), as it should be obvious there is little ambient artificial light here, but the spill from works on the right, plus the light from the passing train just made it work – and delivered my demand of a low-light hand-held shot.

I wish somebody would lose the trees nearest the bridge though, apart from encroaching on the view, they catch too much light from the road behind.

Cambuslang Night Train

Cambuslang Night Train

February 21, 2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the dark dark distance… Cambuslang

Fortunately, just missing the snow (not necessarily a good thing for night shots, depending on what you are looking for) I collected a few shots of Cambuslang in the dark, and added some more tools to the low light box.

2oo mm is never going to be handheld in the dark, so it’s time to add the skill of finding something, ANYTHING, solid to brace or lean against. This means even a long lens can catch a shot demanding time in the order of 2 seconds, even at high ISO.

So far I’ve failed totally to remember the manufacturer’s instructions to DISABLE all the anti-shake goodies, but I can’t find evidence of that causing visible problems, even in close examination of the original.

The closest notable subject in these pics is probably the high flats, about 1.4 km or 0.85 mile away.

Not here of course, but in the original pics that means people in those windows could be seen.

Cambuslang Night Time

Cambuslang Night Time

Although there was enough definition in these tests to allow the autofocus to work, I turned it off, as the distance meant that having a stab at something short of the ‘infinity’ setting was likely to work better.

The subject can’t really be seen in enough detail under these conditions, so a best guess, plus a few either side, are needed.

These came out better than others I’ve seen, even if having the aperture wide open means a reduced depth of field. But the long lens setting means that is less of a problem than it might be.

Cambuslang Night Time

Cambuslang Night Time

I’m not too unhappy with the results.

Probably the most important lesson is just how disruptive have a bright area can be, as the hills in the first shot (with no bright area in view) are quite well captured, while they’ve almost been lost (along with much of the background) completely in the second.

January 26, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Smoke and Mist in Cambuslang

A lucky spot (for me) recently as I caught this view of Cambuslang over the old Caledonian railway viaduct at Carmyle.

I don’t usually see anything like the smoke (maybe mostly water vapour) coming off the industrial area near Cambuslang, or even the mist over the background. But a chance wander in the area let me catch this view.

Cambuslang Smokey Mist

Cambuslang Smokey Mist

January 14, 2018 Posted by | photography | | Leave a comment

Some low low light tests

Although I’ve been firing off some low light tests, they’ve mostly been places with varying amounts of Christmas lights around, so they’re not very low light – although they would have been near impossible as hand-held shots, which is what I always try for.

One of the first proper low light shots I ever tried was of the Herald and Times building near Cambuslang.

Despite great claims for the abilities of the bridge camera I was using then, this scene was simply not possible, and the reality was that until I had access to a dSLR this scene was never going to be anything more than bright spots with noisy smears in the space between – and that included long manual exposures, since this is overlooked by a bridge parapet the camera could be sat on.

Forward to the present, and while I thought the decent compact had failed, a surprising amount of information was present after some light processing.

Herald Times Comp

Herald Times Comp

A little further along the same road, it was possible to point the camera into a black void from bridge over the Clyde, looking towards Carmyle. This really is just blackness to the eye, with a few streetlights glowing in the distance, so even the focus has to be guessed (even autofocus needs something to lock onto).

A surprising result, as previous attempts without a dSLR sensor were just noise and a few light dots.

I hadn’t really expected this.

While it would need some tweaking of the settings, this could be improved with a little effort.

Clyde Carmyle Comp

Clyde Carmyle Comp

But, I’m lazy, so…

Another visit was called for, with a bigger camera, to find out what could be obtained without that much effort.

Back to the Herald and Times first.

Unfortunately – somebody decided to dump some snow on the scene while I was away, so it’s not really like-for-like.

But I’m not getting another freezing, so this will have to do.

The difference is in the detail (of which I get to see more in the full size original) – probably most noticeable here is that the motorway lights have posts in the example below (absent in the pic above).

Herald Times

Herald Times

And slipping along to the bridge over the Clyde, and another look towards Carmyle, and an irritation!

This is approx one quarter of the pic taken, as I forgot the difference in wide-angle setting, so got this one wrong.

Clyde Carmyle

Clyde Carmyle

You may notice the extreme yellow, as this area only has sodium lighting.

Just for fun I thought I’d let some automatic corrections run on this scene.

It basically works by assuming the brightest point is (or should be) white.

Clyde Carmyle Adjusted

Clyde Carmyle Adjusted

Same routine applied to the compact image really shows the difference.

Clyde Carmyle Comp Adjusted

Clyde Carmyle Comp Adjusted

Bottom line – dSLR captures a lot more than a compact, and even a quarter of one of its images has more detail recorded, and this can be extracted later.

I’d like to repeat this with a large sensor compact – but that won’t be any time soon.


While there’s not much chance of me having a large sensor compact in my hand anytime soon, I do have one that uses the next size down, and after the fairly grotty result I forced out of it in the last pic, I got the chance to reprise the shot, but this time forcing it shoot at low ISO.

This suggests more exposure is needed, but shows that the degree of ‘grottiness’ is reduced.

It’s not really a fair comparison, there being no way to ensure the lighting was similar (who knows where the Moon was), and this is a much wider shot too – well, it was just taken at random.

Clyde Comp ISO80

Clyde Comp ISO80

December 30, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Cambuslang Christmas lights

Cambuslang got its Christmas lights switched on too.

Cambuslang Christmas Lights

Cambuslang Christmas Lights

And a Christmas tree of course.

Dare I point to another member of the “Hook ’em and Drop ’em” school of Christmas tree light decoration?

The practice of simply hooking the light strings to the top of the tree is almost universal now, rather than the more decorative and attractive method of wrapping the strings around the tree.

Cambuslang Christmas Tree

Cambuslang Christmas Tree

That’s three for three so far (Glasgow and Rutherglen match), leaving Baillieston’s vote to be collected when I next get there.

I can’t think of any others that still have real trees (that I get to), and while I will be dropping in on some shopping centres, most of those have no trees, or they’re stylised versions with the lights built-in, so don’t count.

December 11, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

The day after they fixed the borked tidal weir on the River Clyde

Anyone looking in here over the years may have noted the odd burst of ‘excitement’ or near hysteria if I ever manage to catch some event as it happens. It’s pretty rare, blink and you’ll miss it – I’m more likely to be shot down in flames (by Murphy) if even try.

Case in point – the recent failure of the River Clyde Tidal Weir gate.

River Clyde banks show signs of collapse after weir fails

It could appear I’m handy for this, such is not the case, and any time I see it I’ll have been waddling the streets for at least couple hours, often more as I don’t just walk there directly.

However, after seeing the news about the problems with the gate being stuck open I did consider heading straight there, but the opportunity just didn’t arise.

I had thought about settling for second best since I’m east of the weir, and settling for a ‘historic’ pic of the river at its lowest lever, but that opportunity was kicked way from me too, and was particularly frustrating as I now cross the river fairly regularly to reach the shops.

I finally managed this last night but, of course, the offending gate has been fixed, even if only temporarily, so the river level has returned to normal, as can be seen below.

I’m fairly fortunate to have this spot to monitor the river at, as there is a non-conformity in the river bed, a sort of natural mini-weir the river flows over near the bank: normal level is represented by this view; if things are dry and the level has fallen, then I can see the river bed here, and the flow over the non-conformity is like a little waterfall; when the river is high, this feature is absent and can’t be seen (unless you know it’s there and where to look to spot the tiny turbulence over the feature).

I’m guessing the only evidence of the few days of extended low water is the slight break-up of the river bank, which can be seen just above the right of centre in this pic.

Guess I missed my chance.

Cambuslang Clydeford Day After Weir Fixed

Cambuslang Clydeford Day After Weir Fixed


September 3, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

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