Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Some goodies from George Square

Since I was in George Square shortly before Hogmanay, it seemed like a good idea to catch a pic or two.

The first thing I noticed was some of the keen folk who wanted to make an early getaway.

Fork lift and white vans ready to go!

George Square Clearout Squad

George Square Clearout Squad

Back at the mulled wine stall, it looks as if the trade in ‘Mulled Buckie’ must have gone down well.

Even the bottles couldn’t stand up straight!

Mulled Buckfast Aftermath

Mulled Buckfast Aftermath

The next one is interesting (to me at least) as it shows the column in the middle of the square (with Sir Walter Scott, or his statue at least, at the top) has NO strobes illuminated.

These were operating before, and it seems they can be a bit of a pig to keep working if they get wet. Moisture and high voltage generally don’t play well together, and they have had a reputation for committing suicide in the past.

But I think the problem here is somebody just forgot to set them, or the fuse blew, since they’re ALL off.

Sir Walter Scott Column Strobes (Not)

Sir Walter Scott Column Strobes (Not)

And finally (maybe)…

Since I’d given up wandering into Glasgow before this happened, I didn’t know (until I checked) that the George Square celebrations had been scrapped by the council back in 2011, following years of complaints and weather-related cancellations.

See? THAT’S what happens if you just whine about something that organisers have no control over – they just say “Fine”, and return the favour.

I’m being quite serious about this. I got the date from a news story about the cancellation, and it’s probably a fairly safe bet to make that the same people who added a load of insulting comments regarding the members of Glasgow City Council (for ending the organised celebration) were exactly the same people who piled complaints into the council when the weather led to year after year of cancellation just before the big night.

I looked in on the George Square web cam, to see if any of those same whining and insulting individuals had the initiative just to go to the square (where people did just turn up to greet the New Year), but no surprises there, and the place was largely deserted.

It was hard to be sure, since some moron had left a floodlight pointing right into the web cam, and the glare was hiding most of the view.

This was the scene (somewhere behind all that glare) at seven minutes past midnight on Hogmanay.

George Square Web cam 2019-01-01 00:07:08

George Square Web cam 2019-01-01 00:07:08

I have to be honest… I’ve seen it busier.

01/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , | Leave a comment

New Mackintosh statue receives Glasgow’s highest honour

While I have to be honest and say it’s not a tradition I endorse (it’s only a matter of time until someone is injured or killed, as we have just seen: Man dies after falling from Christmas tree in Kirkcaldy which was from a tree only 12 feet tall), Glasgow has christened the new Mackintosh statue with… a traffic cone.

While I couldn’t be there at the right time (and hope it is not something seen often), by the magic of a quick photo edit, I can at least give an impression of the sight.

Christmas Mackintosh

Christmas Mackintosh

For a look at the actual event, see here…

New Mackintosh statue given ‘Glasgow’s highest honour’ as cone is placed on top

21/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

After the cat met the Christmas tree (Updated)

So, the Christmas tree went to assertiveness classes.

Christmas Tree Warning

Christmas Tree Warning


Really Grumpy Cat

Really Grumpy Cat




Christmas Tree Challenge Accepted

Christmas Tree Challenge Accepted

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Honourable mention for… piping and juggling

I took these pics at the start of the Christmas stuff in Glasgow, not of the subjects, but purely to carry out some camera tests, having decided to play around with my usual setting for ‘hand held low light’.

I had been tricking the camera into preferring high ISO (but with the really high values locked out), slowish shutter speeds (but keeping away from really slow and shaky speeds), and wide apertures. It can do what it likes with aperture, since I know there’s really no point in not using wide apertures – stray into smaller settings, and the other two compensate, and the results are never good (for hand held).

I’m not going to comment on their abilities, since I’m told it’s not ‘PC’ to say anything negative about someone doing something you can’t do yourself. I’ve never even tried to play the bagpipes, and have yet to find the ‘magic’ that allows one to juggle.

But they do try, and it seems a shame not to give them a mention.

Buchanan Street Piper Juggler

Buchanan Street Piper Juggler

And a bit wider.

Buchanan Street Piper Juggler

Buchanan Street Piper Juggler

And… just one more.

Taken in a hurry as I turned to move on – I think it came out best of this test.

Buchanan Street Piper Juggler

Buchanan Street Piper Juggler


What’s that in the background, on the litter bin?

Is it an Orwellian 1984 reference?

George Orwell — ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.’

Well, we ARE in the ‘future’.

Buchanan Street Bin

Buchanan Street Bin

It took me a moment to work this one out, after putting it into context with the rest of view.

Sadly, it’s nothing more than one of Glasgow’s new high-tech, foot operated, litter bins.

I kid you not, but I am so used to seeing graphics like that used to indicate accelerator pedals in cars, I really struggled with this at first, and wondered what on earth that symbol was there for.

10/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas in The Forge

Just a quick shot of Christmas as seen in the Forge Shopping Centre in Parkhead.

It’s really weird, I seem to be in such a hurry to get places this year I almost miss these things.

Then again, maybe it’s the lack of true frosty days we’ve had in past years, which means that my brain is not clicking fully into ‘Christmas Mode’.

And there are still no thronging crowds in the city centre. Busy, yes, but not the ‘sardine packing’ I’ve become used to.

Has online shopping now arrived for real?

It’s strange weather-wise – there have only been a few nights with light frost, clearing quickly, and I have seen days hit 11-15°C in the past week. While it is by no means warm, it’s nearly as cold as recent years at this time.

Even the high wind warning we have in place for today is being thwarted.

As I write as we head towards noon, the Sun is shining in a blue sky with clouds.

But an hour or so ago it was dull, there was a shower, and the wind was so strong it ripped a branch of a spruce tree, and it landed almost at my feet, complete with five cones still attached!

Christmas Forge

Christmas Forge

07/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Christmas tidy

Yes, this is the same spot as the earlier Christmas Casualties.

Looks like the same folk are using it for a late Christmas tidy and clear out of their home.

Haven’t been near here for weeks – wonder if I missed more?

Christmas Clear Out

Christmas Clear Out

08/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Fabulous phablet

I was mildly surprised to see this, since the media never seems to stop bleating about how scared ‘silver surfers’ and the elderly are (in its ‘valued’ opinion) scared of modern tech and the Internet.

I’m more used to seeing phablets and the like being used at events, where the pesky owners feel the need to wave their wonder-toys over the heads, and make sure anyone behind them has their view ruined.

At least there was plenty of space here.



It might be the start (discounting some earlier pics from the same place) of me breaking my phobia about candid shots, and including people  – something I normally HAVE to avoid doing while taking scenes where the main subject is a place, object, or building, and I don’t want distractions.

I also think I might have earned myself a Gold Star, and (shock!) grown up a bit.

I used to indulge in the odd bit of sarcasm, but decided it was too much like hard work once the Internet became pervasive, and some people just don’t have a sense of humour. So much as it can be an easy and cheap source of laughs, I don’t need death squads on my tail.

Doesn’t mean I won’t try for the odd laugh though, if somebody jumps up and down and waves their arms to attract such attention.

But a nice gent taking pics at Christmas?


06/01/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas cat and mouse

I’m guessing our recent/current hit of pretty cold (-5 deg C) and slightly snowy weather (only a few cm, but the cold meant it lay) meant that my local mice made the wise decision of staying at home, wherever that may be.

But I thought this seasonal variation on the theme of cat presents was worth including (obviously not my pic).

It didn’t say, so not sure if cat is making present to useless hoomin hunter, or if it’s a present for the cat.

The look on the cat’s face… could be interpreted in many ways.

Christmas Mouse Present

Christmas Mouse Present

While there were quite of a lot of successful pics of cats killing/felling Christmas trees, and a few crazy solutions to ‘cat proof’ the tree, I found this one, which looks both simple and effective.

Cat Proof Christmas Tree

Cat Proof Christmas Tree

30/12/2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Creepy elves spy on kids for Santa – or training for the surveillance era

Rummaging through some pre-Christmas sale items on Christmas Eve, I was amazed to see this offering:

Elf Surveillance Camera

Elf Surveillance Camera

Given the sort of hysteria some people manage to raise over perfectly innocent activities, I’m somewhat amazed to see this item actually made it onto the shelves without protest.

Who can forget the outcry and bans that were publicised when camcorders became common, and places such as schools banned parents from bringing them to school plays, to record their own children’s performance.

And let’s not forget the dire warnings from various ‘experts’ who love to pop up every now and then, alerting parents to the danger of hackers turning on cameras and microphones in laptops, home computers, tablets, mobile phones etc, without triggering the lights or indicators that show they are active.

And just a few days ago there were yet more expert warnings, for parents to check toys that can receive messages from mobile phones, and relay them to children. Apparently these are easy for naughty people to hack, and send unsavoury messages to the children, and even change the voices from nice friendly ‘toy’ voices, into scary monster voices.

At least this creepy little elf’s camera has a flashing LED.

Wouldn’t it be shocking to find out the ‘Dummy Child Surveillance Camera’ was a massive con set up by a worldwide ‘ring’, and far from being a dummy, was in fact packed with high-def camera, complete with its own wireless connection and RPi or similar which is programmed to silently hack into the nearest mobile phone or wireless access point, and relay pics of kids’ bedrooms around the world.

Maybe there’s a reason those batteries, supposedly only powering a flashing LED, have to be replaced on an almost daily basis.

That would never happen, would it?


You can get the same standard black dummy surveillance cam in Pound Shops for… er… £1.

A splash of white paint, and a bit of tinsel or some glitter would make it a bargain Christmas cam.

Better value than this £5 rip-off (slashed to clear at £3.99!).

And I much prefer my own surveillance special – nobody will EVER notice this…

Black Cat Christmas Tree

Black Cat Christmas Tree


25/12/2017 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , , , , | Leave a comment

When sodium is bad

Unintentionally, as in not have preplanned the observations, I’ve made (and probably will now continue to make) posts that praise the rapid and wide adoption of LED street lighting as a matter of local policy by most councils, on main roads at least.

Probably more of an economic decision than anything else on their part, since such lighting (depending on how it is deployed) should at least half their electricity bill – it should do considerably better, but there are unknown factors, and the changeover is far from complete, so they are still paying to run the older types with their higher power consumption.

There is also the initial cost of the installation of the new lighting, but that is at least partially offset by the age of many old fittings, which would have to be replaced anyway.

And those old fittings are far from being anywhere near as reliable or long-lived as solid-state LED devices, which should not need the same level of ongoing maintenance and replacement to keep them in service.

This all came to mind as I snapped what I THOUGHT would be a cute Christmas pic.

But I had forgotten I was standing in a street lit by sodium lighting when I had that thought.

The actual thought had been that a little Santa figure standing in a window looked more like ‘Santa in Hell’ than the usual jolly character, as the string of lights around him were quite a vivid shade of red.

But – this was what the camera (as opposed to my ordinary, yet still fairly clever, human eye had perceived) saw:

Santa In Sodium Hell

Santa In Sodium Hell

It’s a pretty vivid reminder that once ALL night photography was much like this (no wonder nobody really bothered, or had to become a dedicated expert). And expensive, since you had to buy film, the pay for D&P (developing and processing), or set up a darkroom. Either way, most shots often ended up in the bin. You could not make instant corrections as done with digital today, and even a quick D&P session could eat at least an hour.

I haven’t done anything to this image other than try to recover some sharpness (yes, sodium lighting messes with focus too), but this also took more than 1 second to capture).

Actually, I couldn’t do anything even if I wanted to, other than maybe change into a B&W view.

Analysis of the colour content shows that most of the pixels are RED (presumably a result of the red lights in the window).

Half of the remainder are GREEN.

And the BLUE count is so near zero it might as well be forgotten.

And since we all know mixing blue light and green light gives yellow (surprise), with no blue content, there’s no manipulation option, or any way (other than by creating mixing layers, and nobody’s got time for that) to produce white by altering levels/mix.

Oh well… back to the main streets!

As a footnote, would it come as any surprise to learn that there are some residents in the US campaigning to have ‘unnatural’ LED lighting removed from their neighbourhoods, and have their sodium lights reinstated?

24/12/2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Santa has to rest before the big night

The main man has been busy in the run up to Christmas, and has surely earned the right to have a little lie down before all the running around he’ll have to do tonight.

Resting Santa

Resting Santa

And don’t forget…

NORAD Tracks Santa

Well, they have to don’t they?

He’s a nice guy, but I think even Santa would probably be upset if he met an ICBM or THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile going the other way.

24/12/2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

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