Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

STRICTLY NO PHOTOGRAPHY at this Photo Experience

I’m almost tempted to leave off the ‘oxy’ when noting the funny oxymoronic ‘Photo-Experience’ signage I spotted in the St Enoch Centre (and had all but forgotten until I started indexing some of my recent pics).

While it’s fair to say we know what they mean, it would have been nicer had they taken some proper advice and prepared a more friendly and polite request, rather than this rather crude and blunt effort, which would be more appropriate on something like a security sign outside a Top Secret military establishment (where you might get shot for ignoring it).

No photo photo experience 01

No photo Photo Experience

I’ve been playing with some distortion filters, so thought I’d give this one a try, to make the warning clearer, especially the extra on the left:

No photo photo experience extra sign

No photo Photo Experience extra sign

Surprisingly effective correction, for little or no effort.


January 13, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas fair arrives in George Square

Another slight oddity I had forgotten about – and one I usually don’t get lucky and catch.

I don’t think I’ve even seen such a fairground ride being assembled, or arriving, so it was interesting to see the way this carousel was unpacked and assembled, together with the way the horses were all lined up neatly for transport.

The ride itself is an ingenious piece of engineering, both looking attractive and hiding the functional mechanics out of sight when complete, but become even more interesting when you see how it all folds up for transport. With oversimplifying, it’s easy enough to engineer something that works, but to make that same item as something which can be taken apart and re-assembled easily takes a lot more thought.

This reminded me of a fairground ride builder/maintainer I came across somewhere in Polmadie some years ago.

I only had the chance to visit formally once, then forgot about it for years – and now I see the area has been razed, so no chance of another look.

Fairground arrival

Fairground arrival

A few days later, and all is working well:

Carousel complete

Carousel complete

December 22, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas 2016 – Glasgow Argyle Street

Taking a pic of Argyle Street at Christmas seems to be obligatory, so here’s one for the collection.

I think I got lucky when I grabbed this shot, as others I took looked ‘ugly’, which I think was simply down to having one or two people in the foreground, and very much ‘out of scale’ with the more evenly sized bodies behind, leading to the view being ‘unbalanced’:

Argyle Street Christmas

Argyle Street Christmas

Still not sure about deer…

Oh well – maybe make an exception for reindeer at Christmas (unlikely to meet them on the road, unlike their IQ0 cousins).

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

George Square Winter Fair

Just grabbed one quick pic here before heading home.

I didn’t realise this Winter Fair in George Square  had just opened last night, but that bit of news explained why the place was mobbed, and the bodies were packed in like sardines. I just wandered in for a look since I was passing, but it was really no fun as you could hardly move (at least if you fainted, you wouldn’t end up on the ground).

I’m never sure whether to be impressed or irritated at those who push into such places with prams, after I was assaulted by one who decided to keep ramming with theirs because I wasn’t moving fast enough for them (with a solid wall of people in front of me) then hurled abuse at me when I just turned around to look and see if something was wrong.

I’d been watching the place being built for a week or more, and had been wondering what sort of ‘ride’ was marked by the tall lit structure, which was lit and rotating long before the fair opened.

I needn’t have bothered – it (and another that appeared later) was nothing more than a decorative structure above what appeared to be a German sausage fryer, and intended only to be the tallest and most noticeable stall to draw in customers.

Amazing prices, like the similar fair already taking place along the road in St Enoch Square, something like a single Danish pastry was on sale for £5 (or £2.50 for a tiny one on the ‘cheap’ stall), and being lapped up by the punters who seemed to be entranced by the bright lights and taken leave of their senses.

Sausage stall

Sausage stall


November 27, 2016 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The first signs of Christmas

I think this is the first time/year I have noticed what I would call ‘The first Christmas tree’ (in a window).

Things have got better in the commercial world, as shops etc seem to have responded to criticism that they were taking down Halloween decorations, and just replacing them with Christmas decorations as soon as Halloween was over. We seem to get a break now, and a more gradual slide into the Christmas madness.

Maybe that’s down to the UK’s adoption of the fallacy of the US’s Black Friday con, which has grown over the past few years.

If you are not already aware, then you should know that Black Friday has nothing at all to do with the media coverage of financial roots to the day, which is just a con to make people spend – see the video at the foot of this post for the truth.

Back on track, while I will soon be seeing a lot of Christmas trees in house windows during my 4 mile trek to the shops, at the moment, there is a solitary one shining out into the cold dark evening. Pity it is not something more traditional, and just one of those bare sticks with lights on it…

First Christmas tree Tollcross

I has seen quite a few workers on ladders and cherry pickers out too, but it looks as if the first ones to get their work finished (and throw the big switch on my route at least) were those in Shettleston Road, so they get the award for first street lights to go on show…

Shettleston Christmas Lights

I’ve seen more since, and Baillieston have some lit as well, but it blowing a gale with near horizontal rail the night I was there, so no pic to prove it as I wasn’t taking a camera out in that weather!

November 25, 2015 Posted by | Civilian | , | 1 Comment

St Paul’s nativity in the dark

I should probably have made this St Paul’s nativity in the dark, and the wind, and rain!

I forgot about this because the weather had been so bad as I walked home. The wind and rain (horizontal) were so bad I almost didn’t try for the pic, but wasn’t likely to be there again for a while. As it was, I had to hide myself behind the bus shelter at the church, which kept the rain off the camera, and meant I had half a chance of holding the camera reasonably still in the gale that was blowing at the time.

Probably the last Christmas pic for the year, but not the last low-light.

Never managed this in the days of film, and even this one was more luck than judgement, as it was taken before I had learned the right way to set thing up for a hand-held grab shot in the dark. This shot should have been ruined by camera shake, but somehow managed to beat it – although I have to admit there were one or two that got thrown in the bin.

Nativity St Paul

Nativity at St Paul

January 9, 2014 Posted by | photography | , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas Hub

It’s funny how you can find yourself in unexpected places with odd pic opportunities.

Some years ago, even though I had some friends that lived around there, I wouldn’t have gone near Welhouse, part of Barlanark, and not in the dark.

Things have changed a lot, both there and in neighbouring Easterhouse, but reputations die hard.

So, when I spotted some Christmas lights, I did still look twice before I headed across the fields for a literal shot in the dark. And I really was crossing fields, as so many houses have been razed here. That said, it’s a while since I was last at this particular spot, and more (old) house were still standing than I expected, as they had already been closed and sealed last year.

Really dark here, and interesting that I was able to lift the sign on the right out of the gloom.

January 7, 2014 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Christmas at Glasgow Fort

When I took a wander along to Glasgow Fort a few months ago, one of things I had wondered about was how it fared during the winter. Unlike this year, which has been wet and windy, previous years have been snowy and frozen, which might have made it a bit harder for me to walk along there, but I got lucky a few days ago, when the wind dropped and the rain stopped.

Even with Christmas lights installed, I still find it to be a dull place, with few shops of any real value. Too many ‘names’ that ‘kewl’ people like to spend ridiculous amounts money for, just to have the right logo on show.

One odd thing I noticed was the high sign rising from the midst of the shops. This has no lighting to advertise or draw attention to the centre.

The Christmas decorations weren’t particularly inspiring, but at least provides an opportunity to learn a little more low-light hand-held photography.

It’s intriguing to see the effects that can be drawn out in post-processing, and in this case I’ve tended toward raising the level to look closer to day time than night time pics. This was simply because leaving them as night pics tended to look like failed shots with  no detail, but it’s nice to have the choice, and still have the black sky.


Depressing view of Chisholm Hunter. The ceramic watch I have had an eye on has gone from £770 to £1,440 in the short time I have a taken a liking to it.


The big LED clusters were kind of nice…


January 6, 2014 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Blue reindeer in St Enoch

Coincidences – can’t keep away from them.

The last few post show I’m currently enjoying a return to low-light photography, something I’ve finally got digital kit which can do it without producing images that look like baby’s fingerprinting. The most interesting part of this is that unlike film, which could only do this trick with long exposures, and could produce random result due to problems with different colour stock, big image sensors have nailed this. And I also learned that the long exposure was not the only way to get good pics under these conditions.

The coincidence?

Well, reading some media predictions for 2014 suggest that this will be the year when camera makers stop their silly megapixel wars, and start to produce sensors that work better in low light. This lunacy has people drooling over 41 MP phone cameras, forgetting that their lenses barely resolve a quarter of that, or less. And now we have the police suggesting that they will be identifying criminals by zooming into reflections of their faces, as found on the surface of eyeballs caught in such pics.

I have news for the tired and worn-out hack that thought this was worth a cheque from their editor – they’re about a year (much more if you could afford full frame pro dSLR even before that) behind the times, and should be fired, not rewarded. Had I been able to afford the price of a small car to buy such a dSLR a year or two ago, I would have been tempted.

Another experiment, from Glasgow’s St Enoch shopping centre. Looking at the date I have for this pic, it doesn’t really qualify as low light, but it looks as if it should, so it’s in. There was a white reindeer along the gallery, but no clear view, courtesy of various vendor’s displays.

I’m always dubious about pulling out a semi-pro looking camera in such places nowadays (cameras in phones can be used with impunity, even when supposedly banned). While I used to visit the Metro Centre (Gateshead) and found photographers welcomed and encouraged (they even had their own stall selling disposable cameras to day visitors), I’ve never quite got over the time I was almost, but  not quite, thrown out of Princes Square shopping centre by two very large security suits for taking pics, after a brief “Third Degree”.

I’ve never gone back, and never will, but having looked at the list of tat shops it contains, it’s not a place that I’d ever go into anyway, so it’s a futile gesture – but I can still give it a bad review.

Blue Reindeer

January 5, 2014 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas 2013 aftermath

With the wet and soggy weather prevailing, I haven’t been out much, so the chances of finding any casualties of Christmas (once treasured possessions demoted to the bin) have been low. However, I did come across a few, before the bin men tidied up. There might have been more, but this year has seen the people become very tidy, and rather than discarding things around their wheelie bins, seem to have packed everything neatly into them, in black plastic bags – and I’m not going bin-diving!

The first thing I came across was a once cute pair of brass table lights (I think) with petal fitting. They almost looked salvageable until I looked closer, and found that everything was loose, and anything breakable was broken or cracked, including the small (expensive to replace) bulbs it utilised.

Christmas Casualty

Second up was more like what I was on the lookout for, and was a pile of old toys, bagged and discarded at the roadside. There wasn’t anything interesting, and I didn’t want to linger too long getting the pic. I almost let the flash kick in, then noticed a bunch of kids come out of a nearby shop. Attention was not something I like to attract in this particular spot, as it’s usually followed by the kids propositioning you if you look old enough to buy cigarettes and/or alcohol for them. The second pic is pretty poor (originally monochrome sodium yellow), but running it through a B&W filter helped, a little.

Christmas Casualty

So, slim pickings this year. Maybe something better will turn up if the wind and rain gives me a break, and I can cover a few more miles.

January 1, 2014 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

The weather’s rotten – here’s a nice pic from before it went downhill

The past few winters have been notable cold and snowy. So far, this year has been wet and windy.

The one saving grace is that at +6°C or so for much of the time, that a whole 10°C better than last year. That said, at least a decent walk could be had then – this year, while I’ve been lucky a few times, more often than not I have to dry everything out if the rain starts while I’m out, and the wind drives the rain in all the way down to my undies!

I’ve got some pics that look a bit more Christmassy than soggy, so might dip into them.

The first one was sheer luck in getting the exposure and focus spot on, it makes the second look poor, but it’s not that bad, really, since there was horrible low pressure sodium street light flooding the scene with yellow vomit. I quickly learned that this cannot be removed, only converted to B&W, since the yellow sodium light is monochromatic, there are simply no further colours to be recovered.

Christmas lights

Christmas lights


This shot was the first I grabbed hand-held (I don’t carry a tripod in my back pocket) without even setting the camera up. I never use the ‘Auto’ setting, which seems to be obligatory these days. The reason for avoiding this setting is that on all but one camera I have used recently, selecting ‘Auto’ also activates compulsory flash support, and I really don’t like bare flash, even a good one – it’s always obvious. I’ve played about with this since I last used it (in the Forum) and lifted the building façade out of the shadows. It’s sometimes surprising how much detail can be recovered.

Christmas Glasgow

I’m currently being left with one low light pic problem I haven’t quite found the cure for – focus.

While the pics above are sharp enough, I’m finding others may be reasonably exposed, but are poorly focussed. This, despite the camera’s autofocus being quite happy (even when repeated many times), and manual focus being hard to achieve by eye in low light.

December 29, 2013 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

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