Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Oh look! A pole transformer (the missing bits)

When I took some random pics of a nearby pole transformer, I realised I’d missed some of the ‘interesting’ bits.

Mainly, the pics didn’t reveal how the electricity got out of the ground, and re-appeared at the top of the pole.

A second pic shows I could hardly have arranged the first pic any better, in order to obscure the feed from the ground to the splitter at the top.

This side view reveals the light coloured cable carrying out that task.

River Clyde Transformer Feed

River Clyde Transformer Feed

They think before the put these things up 😉

The piece of ‘modern art’ to the upper right is a manual mechanical isolator, meaning that servicing the transformer isn’t quite as exciting as it could be.

Using the appropriate high-voltage stick, the links can be pulled out of, or pushed back, into the circuit using the loop/plate on the end.

High Voltage Isolator

High Voltage Isolator

Not sure if related or not. but did you spot the feathery remains in the middle of the above pic?

High Voltage Victim

High Voltage Victim

There isn’t any voltage down there (unless there’s a fault), so this could have been left there after a raptor caught it, and settled there for a quiet lunch break.

24/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The giant hogweed farms see bumper crops in 2019

Coming along the path along the River Clyde near Cambuslang, it was hard not to miss this years apparently bumper crop of giant hogweed springing up along the riverbank.

It may not be all that warm, but combined with the recent damp spell, these things seem to be thriving, and look as if they are set to fill any available space down there.

These are already as tall as man, taller in fact, since these pics were taken from the path overlooking the river, and are easily level with (and above) my head. The ground they are rising from is about a metre below my feet.

Don’t forget the sap from these plants can render skin ultra sensitive to sunlight if it comes into contact with it, potentially leading to huge blisters, and even scarring.

Giant Hogweed 2019

Giant Hogweed 2019

14/06/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Cambuslang Christmas tree and lights

Even I can remember enough to know that Cambuslang has the same Christmas lights up this year, and its Christmas tree is in the same place (not a criticism, just a remarkable feat by my memory).

This meant I just wanted a half decent quick pic of the tree and some of the lights, as a record.

That also turned out to be harder than I thought it would be, as I started spinning some settings on the (compact) camera, and instead of getting exposure compensation option, I got something else.

Don’t ask what, I couldn’t get any adjustments I wanted, and just gave up – I kid you not, the manual for this thing runs into hundreds of pages, so if you end up in a menu, or bank of setting you’re not usually interested in – the rule is ‘Just Forget It”!

I just decided to grab a bunch of pics, and sort out what I had later, on the computer.

That was almost a bad idea too… as I couldn’t make my mind up about what to dump, and what to use.

I had the usual bright shot I used to favour, showing a lot of detail lifted out of the shadows.

Cambuslang Christmas Tree

Cambuslang Christmas Tree

Then I had the sort of shot I’ve been experimenting with, avoiding exposure that lifts detail, and looks more like the reality of the darer night view.

It doesn’t show as much, but the lower exposure seems to capture more detail in what it does show, and there’s a noticeable difference in the overall colour, and colour of illuminated details, which are not so washed out.

Cambuslang Christmas Tree

Cambuslang Christmas Tree

The rest were really just variation on the above, so I dumped them.

The odd thing about this episode was that a ‘Power off, power on’ cycle didn’t seem to clear the odd settings the compact had moved to.

But when I got home and switched it on again, to review the settings and see what was different…

Everything seemed to be as I usually set it, it shot as usual, and I was none the wiser!


I just got a new neoprene sleeve to protect the dSLR and lens.

It adds almost nothing to the size or weight, so might let me carry it more often, especially in situations where I’ve been avoiding taking it for fear of damage.

Best thing is the 11:1 superzoom is the same closed size as the standard 3:1 zoom (unfortunately not as light though), so BOTH fit!

17/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Oh look! A pole transformer, but…

A few weeks ago I happened to spot some tech details about pole-mounted transformers as used in the US.

Differing requirements (and probably regulations) make these more common there than in the UK, although there’s probably no shortage of them here once you move into sparsely populated areas, where they provided localised electricity supplies for areas which are isolated from the more common underground distribution found in more densely populated areas.

Here, they can often be found at the end of a row of poles carrying relatively high voltage wires overhead, until the reach the pole transformer, where the voltage is stepped down to something that can be more easily handled by lower voltage insulated cables running underground.

Last week, without thinking too much about it, I snapped a pic of one I happened to find myself standing beside while staggering around the banks of the River Clyde near Cambuslang.

I was really more interested in the rating plate than anything else, just to see what sort of voltage and current was being handled.

And this is what the plate told me.

Pole Transformer Plate

Pole Transformer Plate

Most of it is standard stuff, and I feel reasonably safe knowing I have a few metres between me and a meaty 11 kV supply. I’m probably at greater risk of more than half a tonne of metal and oil landing on me from a rotting wooden pole than of being zapped.

The only thing worth adding is that the O.N.A.N. cooling acronym refers to oil normal air normal.


Then I looked at the pic I’d taken of the transformer.

Pole Transformer River Clyde Path

Pole Transformer River Clyde Path

I was so busy worrying about the subject being backlit, and possibly going to turn out as nothing more than a black shadow against a bright sky, that I completely failed to notice the technical detail of what I was photographing.

Have you spotted the slight anomaly now that I’ve prompted you?

There are NO overhead wires arriving at this transformer!

Just loop above it – delivering the 11 kV primary from a small ‘tree’ of insulators just visible at the rear of the pole.

Between the tree and the transformer, I’m guessing (since I can’t actually look closer until I go back) that’s an isolator in the middle of the loops, so the transformer can be manually isolated for maintenance. If I get back down there, I’ll also have to remember to have a look at the cable runs on the pole, since there must, presumably, be a rather high voltage type there, which would be interesting to spot.

Funny how you can completely fail to notice a significant detail, even when staring right at it.

Worth remembering, as it seems some of the WORST evidence gathered during police enquires comes from… EYE WITNESSES!


28/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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

23/07/2018 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.

01/06/2018 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

27/02/2018 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

22/02/2018 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

22/02/2018 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

21/02/2018 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.

26/01/2018 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

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