Secret Scotland

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Glasgow Christmas timelapse treat

It’s amazing what just about anybody can do with digital cameras now.

Considering that is as good a reason for mentioning this short capture of Glasgow at Christmas.

Considering the amount of money I wasted back in the 1980s and 1990s, when video was supposedly becoming ‘great’, it almost hurts to look at what can be done with the latest camera-phones, let alone the latest real digital cameras, where video and still have all but merged to become one.

Timelapse footage shows how incredible Glasgow looks at Christmas

WordPress blogs don’t allow the video to be embedded, so you’ll have to use the link.

George Square Globe Wheel Tree

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 1


Dec 14, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Rutherglen’s Christmas tree – and a weirdo

I took a chance and grabbed a quick pic of Rutherglen’s Christmas tree, mainly because I should already have caught Baillieston’s, but as you see – it has yet to be caught. It is at least there, I’ve seen it, but could stop for a pic, or get back quickly. Soon.

I’m starting to develop a memory, goodness know what from though, as there were never any decent memory cells ‘up there’ in the past.

So I know this is much like last year, as are the lights in the Main Street.

Rutherglen Christmas Tree

Rutherglen Christmas Tree

Yet again, I’m finding myself slightly surprised at the results, and wondering what I changed to almost ‘ready to use’ pics out of the compact. At this level, the only giveaway is the mushy detail it delivers where there is any fine detail in the scene, or subtle shadow detail, which just doesn’t register, or is also mushy.

I have tweaked it a little, but not anywhere near what I was doing last year.

Creepy Clown?

I have to admit that while I find circus clowns funny in their natural habitat, I’m also with the people who find clowns distinctly unfunny, and even creepy, outside that environment.

They don’t scare me, unlike some people I’ve come across who seem to have an irrational fear of them.

It’s more a feeling of unease about anyone dressed and made up like that where it’s not appropriate. Probably something to do with the modern archetype of the evil clown, popularized by Stephen King’s 1986 novel, ‘It’. The character can be seen as playing off the sense of unease felt by sufferers of coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.

Anyway, while I was photographing the tree, I happened to look behind me (and up), and saw this thing watching me…

Rutherglen Christmas Character

Rutherglen Christmas Character

I have to confess to never having looked closely at the lights mounted along the main street, concentrating more on getting the whole street captured.

I haven’t really noticed this sort of thing before.

Since I’ve photographed the same lights and views for a few years now (they don’t seem to change much year-on-year now, anywhere), maybe I should change ‘mode’, and take walks along these streets and their lights, and look for interesting details, such as this.

Guess I’ll need to run some tests first, to see which camera/lens does this best since it means moving to longer zooms, and away from wider angled shots (one of the tricks for taking decent low light pics).

Dec 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

So, the weather’s not so good just now – time for some old Glasgow Christmas Lights

It always amusing to think of the folk who don’t think weather forecasts are ever right.

They generally don’t understand how to use them, and can usually be found complaining about getting rained on during a sunny forecast.

I wonder if they ever see rainy forecasts, and moan if the Sun makes an appearance instead?

Our forecast is wind and rain at the moment, and I’m afraid it’s right, so I’m staying in.

Just as well, since it’s safer too: Hairdressers threatened in salon Taser raid

Taser! (assuming it was real). At least this was the afternoon, I only get to be there at night.

The west end is no better! Pregnant woman attacked and robbed in Glasgow

Since I’m not going out in wind AND rain, this is a chance to give this gallery of Glasgow’s Christmas lights from days gone by.

It seems that Glasgow had a period of innovation with its lights, but that’s no longer the case, as it’s now so easy to buy such things off the shelf, rather than come up with something

As you’ll see from some of the older pics, the lights used to be installed over considerable lengths of the city centre’s streets.

I really can remember the year when Glasgow City Council announced the end of those long street displays, and the cries of anguish from Glaswegians who though it was the complete ending of Christmas Light in Glasgow (thankfully, it wasn’t, and really just meant less would be spent).

If they look familiar, then they probably are, if you took your holidays down in Blackpool, you saw some of them long before the rest of us.

A number of displays were acquired from that sources when their ‘tour of duty’ was complete down there, and they were retired.

And that does explain the mystery of the slightly strange themes out lights had during some years.

Glasgow’s Christmas lights down the years

One sample from the gallery – check the full set at the link given.


Glasgow Christmas Lights Pic Credit Media Scotland

Glasgow Christmas Lights Pic Credit Media Scotland

Dec 8, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Shettleston Christmas lights

I almost missed Shettleston’s Christmas lights!

I haven’t been in the main street for ages, and because Parkhead’s lights have still not been fixed, I didn’t realise Shettleston’s would be up and lit. Funny how they haven’t got to those dead lights at Parkhead – maybe nobody’s told them, or their purse is empty.

Shettleston’s lights aren’t animated, so you can try spotting the bits that aren’t working.

You can also see whiffs of sodium yellow creeping into the shots and tainting them, despite the predominance of white LED street lighting we have now. Side streets, and those away from the main street continue to be lit with the ‘Yellow Poison’.

Strangely, I’ve had a lot of arguments with people claiming they are being dazzled and blinded by the new white LED lights.

I wonder if this is just the knee-jerk reaction to any sort of change that some people love to indulge in.

Looking at these three shots, it should be clear that there is very little side spill or even direct line of sight to the actual LEDs themselves, which only light on one side anyway, which means their spread is less than 180° with little or no light projected sideways.

This is quite unlike all the old sodium, or other non-LED street lights, which throw light over a full 360°, and need lenses or reflectors to direct light that would otherwise shine upwards or to the side from being wasted.

Street pics no longer have the completely burnt-out or flooded areas of glare where every street light shone directly into the lens.

In fact, it’s almost hard to even see the lights now!

Shettleston Christmas Lights East View

Shettleston Christmas Lights East View

I wonder if they’ll be given some maintenance, or of this is our lot for the year?

Shettleston Christmas Lights West View

Shettleston Christmas Lights West View

I tried a second viewpoint, after noticing the layout of the road due to a change in width, means it looks as if you are standing in the middle of the road, but are actually still on the pavement.

Shettleston Christmas Lights West View 2

Shettleston Christmas Lights West View 2

Still finding this year’s camera settings are intriguing – I wish I’d paid more attention to what I had fiddled with.

Last year I was adjusting most pics to alter the lighting balance, and probably lifting too much detail out of the backgrounds and the shadows.

This year, I’m hardly touching any of them, and am able to use them straight from the camera, as shot.

The darker backgrounds/shadows seem to be coming out better – bearing in mind this is all hand held, without a tripod or other support.

It’s almost funny (for me) seeing others struggling with tripods, and getting in the way of people walking in busy streets.

Dec 7, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Playing with George Square’s Christmas lights

Another of those shots you shouldn’t be seeing from me, this time a daylight shot of George Square’s Christmas lights.

Fortunately, there’s  not much Sunlight at this time of years, so I might smoke a little, but at least I won’t burst into flames.

I went there after learning how smart it was to scope out a night shot during daylight, having tried it with the shot trying to get the whole of GoMA and its surrounding lights.

It was quite an education, finding out just how far I had to beck down St Vincent Street in order to get the whole scene in a single wide angle shot. Pity I can only do this with the compact, which has a wider wide than the widest wide of the superzoom I have for the dSLR.

Well, at least the higher quality catch it provides can be stitched, with little evidence of the join.

STILL missed a bit on the left (partly deliberate, as the building was beginning to encroach, but more than I meant to), I have to try harder to remember the compact show and exact view – dSLRs generally show a little less, so you don’t miss edges.

George Square Wideness

George Square Wideness

I went back later, to play with some more shots in the dark – which is not really dark with all those lights!

I arrived at the big wheel, and was irritated to find that barriers etc meant I could not get far enough back (when close) to get any more than 70% in frame, even on the widest setting, in either portrait or landscape views.

So, I had to give up and try the stitching mentioned above, but at least needed only two shots to get this combined view.

Can you see the join?

Fortunately, the exposure was the same for each pic, sometimes it can vary wildly. I was lucky the wheel stayed still too.

I can’t control the distortion in these (much), but really wide lenses do something similar, and there’s not usually much complaint.

George Square Big Wheel Stitch

George Square Big Wheel Stitch

I stepped back, to take some more normal, single, wide angle views of this, showing more of the lights, this time the illuminated globe that was on one of the lawns last year, and fenced off so people could take pics inside. They didn’t seem to bother doing that this year.

Then there’s the Squares Christmas tree, which seems to be really FAT this year.

I took a few of these, all slightly different, but mainly to see what would be caught from the ever-changing animated lighting of the big wheel.

From past experience, I’ve learnt there’s little or no point in waiting for a specific effect (unless you really really HAVE to), and you might as well just take a lot of shots to catch whatever is happening with the lights.

I should maybe add that these pics were taken before… it got cold and wet!

George Square Globe Wheel Tree

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 1

Note the lighting on the tree. In recent years it has been simply draped from the top, in lines.

In days gone by, it was wrapped or wound around the tree.

Both fairly easy to put on – but I’m told that when the light strings were wrapped around the tree, by the end of the season they were a pig to remove, having been worked into the branches by the wind.

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 2

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 2

Maybe they should make up special vertical looms.

The straight drape means there’s a lot of lights together at the top, but they’re sparse by the time they get to the wider bottom.

Two banks of LEDs would be good. One up top, as at present, then another with double density strings for the lower ‘half’.

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 3

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 3

I’m also a little surprised the tree lights are steady, and not animated in some way, which is really easy with LEDs.

Maybe that will be the next set 😉

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 4

George Square Globe Wheel Tree 4

I’m really surprised at what the compact is now delivering with the revised settings I made at the start of the season, but don’t ask me what they are, I’ve no idea what I changed. Actually, it has so many damned settings I have almost no idea what I’m doing with it. Half the phone book (manual) is dedicated to 4k operation, which I’ve never even looked at!

Notable things I’ve learned is that I was right about the smallish sensor it uses. The pics are surprisingly good, but there is the ‘Falling off a cliff’ aspect, where the image quality just disappears below a certain light level, where the dSLR would still be returning decent views.

The other really odd thing is that nearly all the shots are useable ‘Out of the box’, and don’t need processing to raise shadows, or lower highlights. I’ve hardly touched any (none of the above), and those I do need to fix were genuine low light views.

What I’m finding this year is that I’m shooting a lot of wide views, nearly always having to tip the camera back, away from vertical, and have to do a lot of perspective correction. I think I’m lucky I found that tool last year, and got some practice in, or all the above would be very distorted and weird looking.

Dec 6, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

George Square’s naughty reindeer, and neat Nativity

Since a break in the wet weather let me take a quick look at George Square now that the setting up is finally done, the reindeer were an obvious target, as they’re kind of awkward to picture, being made up of white LEDs – they just morph into a single mass if you don’t choose your angle well.

But the problem was different this time.

One was clearly suffering from a hangover, and its head was flashing off and on (more ‘off’ than ‘on’).

I had a few tries at catching the whole thing lit, but gave up as the time ‘on’ was so short.

I almost caught it once.

Reindeer On

Reindeer On

I know it looks ‘off’, but of you compare it to this fully ‘off’ head, then you can see I did almost manage to catch it.

Reindeer Off

Reindeer Off

But, I had better things to do, so gave up.

It was still relatively quiet, although the Christmas Market had already gone from reasonably quiet, to absolutely mobbed shortly after 6 pm. I’d walked in to it just before 6, and had been enjoying a quiet wander, and didn’t notice it had filled up like a sardine tin once the shops closed (at 6), and the crowd had just migrated. It took me nearly 10 minutes to shuffle out through the mob.

They weren’t bothered with anything else, so I took the chance of a quick pic of the Nativity scene.

George Square Nativity

George Square Nativity

I think I’ve been luckier than in past years here.

It’s lit (I’m sure there have been problems with its lighting in the past) so you can see what’s inside the glass box – added after somebody thought it would be clever to steal the baby one year!

Even the reflections from the lights in the Square aren’t obscuring the interior, and I didn’t have to avoid the throngs of doting parents wanting pics of their sprogs standing in front of the crib.

Getting there early seems to have advantages.

It’s odd, with the slightly different camera setting I’m playing with this year, as even the compact (all I can carry at the moment, most of the time) is producing half decent captures that I don’t have to process (other than for framing) to alter the exposure.

Previously, I’ve processed the exposure for almost every night or low-light pic, and it’s odd to find that even trying this only for curiosity just produces a result I don’t like, and I go with the pic as taken.

Dec 3, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

An unusual Christmas lights pic (for me)

I had to be in Glasgow yesterday, during daylight!

I passed George Square, which is STILL being ‘assembled’, despite having had the Christmas Lights Switch On last weekend.

So, I had to have an unusual, for me at least, daytime pic of the Christmassy stuff going on there.

George Square Daytime Christmas

George Square Daytime Christmas

I didn’t know I’d be back a few hours later, so there’s more, and brighter.

The lit thing on the left is an eatery in the Christmas Market, which is also being installed now. I think they’re doing to have to work hard AND fast – the market is due to open in only a couple of days, on Sunday 25th!

Last year I thought it was one of the fairground rides, as the bottom was obscured and couldn’t be seen until the market opened, and I learned better!

George Square Nightime Christmas

George Square Nightime Christmas

I’m still being surprised when the compact produces decent night pics.

It really does ‘fall off a cliff’ as the light falls at higher ISO, and the images suddenly get mushy and ‘noisy’, but until that point they come out well, and I was even able to lift shadow detail from this one, without the noise becoming objectionable.

Nov 24, 2018 Posted by | council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Christmas is coming

I’ve been a bit tight with the early Christmas light pics, so I should get some of them posted.

This was the entrance to the St Enoch Christmas Market as seen from Argyle Street.

St Enoch Christmas Market

St Enoch Christmas Market

It provided the chance of a pretty good ‘reflection’ pic in the glass entrance to the Subway (behind).

St Enoch Market Subway Reflection

St Enoch Market Subway Reflection

The market’s quite quiet at the moment, so it’s still easy to a quick walk around.

A really quick walk in my case, as I must really be out of touch. The prices are just eye-watering for most of the stuff on offer.

Interesting to note the photo machines that were dotted around the place last year are absent. No great surprise (again, given the price) since almost everyone carries a phone with a camera these days.

Along at GoMa (Gallery of Modern Art)m the lights were finished, and all lit.

Couldn’t decide if ‘wide’ or ‘tall’ looked best for the building, so you get both.

GoMA Wide

GoMA Wide

Can’t get proper symmetry, at least not without standing in the road – and dying!

GoMA Tall

GoMA Tall

Although I still only shoot handheld, I’m using different base setting compared to the past, possibly catching more detail, and delivering darker darks, or shadows.

I’m leaving pics largely as taken (but errors always get fixed, if possible), whereas in the past I tended to ‘lift’ detail out of the shadows.

If nothing else, easier and faster for me.

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

Christmassy fun

A couple of oddities/observations as I wandered around last night.

First was in the St Enoch Christmas Market, where there seemed to be an odd, selective, power failure.

I thought one stall was just setting up as it was in darkness, but then noticed a lot of them were dark, with the stallholder just standing around. Not good for food stalls.

I’m guessing that the power distribution was allocated randomly, or perhaps just as stalls were completed as the market was being set up.

It all looked a little odd, as the stalls were dark, but the attached decorations were lit, as seen below.

It’s also a little odd seeing it all so quiet – but closer to Christmas, if it’s like last year, this scene will make a sardine tin look half empty as the punter pack into the space.

St Enoch Market Power Fail

St Enoch Market Power Fail

Then there was Hanover Street, which was closed at the George Square end while the square was being set up for the lights and fair.

This was the shot I wanted.

Hanover Street Closed

Hanover Street Closed

Could I get it, quickly and easily?


Despite signs and cones at the other end of the street informing drivers that it was closed at George Square, a steady stream of morons kept arriving at this barrier (which at least demonstrated their skill at performing 3-point turns – probably because they get plenty of practice!).

Serious thought – instead of picking on the elderly, people with glasses, or other easily identified and targeted groups to ban from driving for no good reason, why not use the CCTV cameras and ANPRS to identify ACTUAL PROVEN motoring morons such as the one seen below, and serve them automatic bans, or retests, before they are allowed back on the road?

Drivers like this, wandering around without a clue about what is going on around them, not paying attention, are a greater danger than any group which is simply picked out because of some visible feature. I seem to recall that method was used to fill… concentration camps!

Hanover Street Moron

Hanover Street Moron

Nov 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

George Square Christmas lights

So, to follow up on the George Square lights post, I did a quick divert and collected the George Square Christmas lights, trying to stand on the same spot.

As can be seen, after my observation that the square was a little bare compared to the same time last year, the explanation is now obvious – the space has been left for the shows, that’s fairground if you’re not local.

Unlike previous years, the square has been kept closed by perimeter fencing after the big Switch on, while the fair is being built.

If you don’t already know, you can watch the square live via the council’s webcam

George Square webcam

George Square Christmas Lights

George Square Christmas Lights

And this was my try for the second pic.

That seems to be one FAT tree we’ve been gifted from Norway this year.

George Square Christmas Lights 2

George Square Christmas Lights 2

The multiple Christmas trees along the edges of the square look good when they’re aligned.

George Square Trees

George Square Trees

Did I mention the barriers? There are barriers.

George Square Trees

George Square Trees

Alternate alignment.

George Square Christmas Trees Aligned

George Square Christmas Trees Aligned

I couldn’t resist one more ‘chance’ shot as I was walking away.

This is the area where the Christmas Fair will be erected next week, but at the moment is just being used as a muster area since it can’t be used for anything else.

George Square Christmas Fair Area

George Square Christmas Fair Area

I mentioned trying new settings for my low light hand-held pics, mainly moving down from the high ISO numbers I let the camera wander up to.

It seems to work quite well where things are bright, but the shutter speeds suddenly disappear down a hole when it gets darker, and shots become a lot harder to catch.

And ‘grab’ shots in failing light are very hit-and-miss, since it’s not possible to hold the camera still long enough for most of them.

I tried to catch a couple of interesting cars – not even close! But the old setting would have delivered a rough, but at least useable, image.

Maybe I should just get a smartphone.

Nov 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Odd Christmas lights at Parkhead Cross

This was a bit odd, and seems to be more than a slip.

I noticed this previously when passing, and noted that while Parkhead Cross has its usual three light sets, the set in Westmuir was lit, but not the others.

I stopped for a quick pic this time, as it was the same as the other night.

Can’t tell if the fault is this set being on – or the other two being off!

Parkhead Westmuir Street Christmas Lights

Parkhead Westmuir Street Christmas Lights

No, that’s not my BMW, unless it’s a pedal car!

Nov 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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