Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

McLellan Galleries strangeness revisited

I posted an odd pic taken looking in the closed glass doors of the Mclellan Galleries a while ago.

Passing the place again, recently, it came to mind and, since I was carrying a better camera (for low light), I thought I’d take a similar look.

I don’t know what’s changed, it might be as simple as the time of day, but I didn’t seem to be able to find the same spot to stand on to get the same effect.


I just took a ‘better’ pic of the dark and spooky gallery entrance interior.

Sometimes even I’m surprised by what comes up in these shots.

Thanks to the relatively bright light of the street, this view looks almost black to the eye, suggesting the pic will be the same, but the camera sensor can do magic, and lift a useable image from the darkness.

McLellan Galleries Dark Interior

McLellan Galleries Dark Interior


Dec 9, 2018 Posted by | 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

Chance night find in Tollcross Park

With our loony system of ‘Moving the Clocks’ (well, it would get dark early anyway), I get the chance to be in places I wouldn’t be if I had to wait until it was REALLY late in the day, and being there would ‘A Bad Idea”.

For example, I get to take a shortcut through Tollcross Park, which has no lighting in its central area.

Glancing off to one side, I noticed what appeared to be a few dim lights in the distance, and wondered if it was a reflection, or actual lights.

It was lights!

Installed under the modern take on the park’s former bandstand. A small representation of a once large feature.

Tollcross Park Bandstand Night

Tollcross Park Bandstand Night

There really isn’t much light spilling from those fittings under the canopy, and the compact tries its best with what little there is, bearing in mind I only do hand held, so no tripod or long exposure.

I was also keen to move – this was Saturday night in Tollcross, and I was there between two groups of shouting yobs approaching from either side, so I wasn’t hanging around. One quick pic, and gone!

By way of comparison, I stopped during my next shortcut, and collected a daytime pic.

Tollcross Park Bandstand Day

Tollcross Park Bandstand Day

The history of park shows the original bandstand was huge compared to this, and provided a stage that could easily contain a full band of the day, which attracted a large audience for its performances in the park.

Mental note made to make a deliberate evening trip/diversion to this spot, with the big camera, to collect a better night/low light shot.

NOT on a Saturday!

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

GoMA Christmas project?

I’ve passed GoMA (Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art) quite a few times since it’s Christmas lights went up.

I’ve taken a few pics too.

But I don’t seem to be happy with any of them.

When I get home and look at what I’ve caught, they just seem to lack something I saw when I was there.

Could GoMA be this year’s ‘project’?

Last time, I felt that the right view just couldn’t be caught without standing in the street, and that’s not really a good idea here, especially in the dark.

Prior to that, I thought it was hard to get a clear view as people keep stopping on this corner, making it hard to get the whole width included without someone’s head or back in the way, obscuring a lot of the view.

And the overall width is large, even a reasonably wide lens can’t catch the whole scene from edge to edge.

I’m trying to avoid stitching images, and the distortion that brings, which I cannot correct.

I tried a different viewpoint, and found that it was possible to get into the doorway of one of the buildings, and avoid the columns standing there, so almost manage the whole scene.

But it also had to be corrected for perspective distortion, as the camera also has to be tilted a lot to get the top of the tower in (so ignore the black bits, I didn’t edit them out).

GoMA Christmas

GoMA Christmas

This almost works, except for that damned lamppost!

I guess I could use Photoshop (if I was wealthy), it has a tool to combine pic to deal with such things, I believe.

I will have to try to keep this view in my head, and try to find a better position based on it, to get the whole width in, and have all the light from side to side.

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

West Boathouse on Glasgow Green is not as derelict as I thought

I have to confess that, until recently, I thought an old boathouse on Glasgow Green was maybe derelict.

I’ve never seen it in use, or even open, due to the usual times I was down that way, and it was only a few weeks ago that I saw it with a door lying open, and people moving around inside.

In fact, plans have just been approved for a new 99-year lease to the Clydesdale and Clyde Amateur Rowing Clubs for use the West Boathouse and surrounding land.

Under the terms of the agreement, the clubs will pay £750-a-year between them for the site following the completion of the £2.8m redevelopment.

That work will be carried out by the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust (GBPT) who are set to install new changing facilities, lift access, multi-use spaces and a floating pontoon from next year.

The boathouse is a category B-listed building which sits in Glasgow Green and was built for the use of both rowing clubs in 1905.

As part of the work, the Trust will take over an area of Glasgow Green, which is not currently leased by the clubs, for a trailer park, rowing racks and an access route to pontoons.

The boathouse building will be redeveloped from a semi-detached unit into a fully shared space by 2020.

Both clubs have been paying £350-a-year since 1990 for use of the site but the new agreement will allow the council to transfer liability for maintenance and management of the building to the clubs.

Plans to revamp historic boathouse on Glasgow Green move one step closer

Pity I didn’t take a pic or two of some rowers I thought were mad to be out on the water a few days ago, when it was almost freezing – I like my playing to be fun.

I didn’t think I had any pics of the place, although I know I have some really old ones (on film) that show the place looking much as it does today, and in need of restoration, especially the area leading to the river. I think this was used for a shooting scene in ‘Taggart’.


I remembered I’d fired off some test shots on 05 November, while waiting for the fireworks on Glasgow Green to start.

The first one was just one of my habitual hand-held low light night shots, I can’t resist, even it was not the plan for that night. But, I still needed to have an idea of what area I could cover when I changed over to long exposures.

Glasgow Green West Boathouse Wide

Glasgow Green West Boathouse Wide

After playing around a bit, and finding a way to support the camera (exposures were going up to around 8 seconds), I began to get half decent results.

Glasgow Green River Clyde West Boathouse

Glasgow Green River Clyde West Boathouse

And then there were interesting shots.

This one caught an early firework release, but the actual interest will be spotted in the bright lights.

Note now they have developed ‘drops’ which appear to run down from them, as the camera was moved too soon, at the end of the shot, before the shutter had closed.

One to remember for later use.

Interestingly, the lit windows of the building behind (Templeton’s), although appearing to be bright, were not bright enough to ‘drop’ or streak in the same way.

Glasgow Green River Clyde West Boathouse and firework

Glasgow Green River Clyde West Boathouse and firework

Dec 1, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove lights

Passing Kelvingrove, I thought the light was maybe right to catch the decorative lights that stand ahead of the façade.

I wasn’t far off.

In this case it was still light enough to take pics of the building, yet catch the lit fixture without the illumination burning out the detail.

The only disappointment was that it’s not really possible to get into positions where they line up in interesting way.

Well, you could try, but you’d probably also get carted off by the police, given how some people react if you stand in the wrong place,or climb onto something.

Kelvingrove Lights

Kelvingrove Lights

It’s nice to catch the light at this time of day, and get images like this without having to process them to alter the balance.

Kelvingrove Lights

Kelvingrove Lights


Kelvingrove Lights Kelvin Hall

Kelvingrove Lights Kelvin Hall

And… the Kelvin Hall, just because.

Kelvin Hall From Kelvingrove

Kelvin Hall From Kelvingrove

Actually, I find I have to grab shots like this because I really thought it was something (a regular haunt) I’d never see for real again, some years ago.

Lamp Detail

I almost missed detail on the lamp, such was my interest in the few minutes of evening light.

As I walked away I noticed the lamp bases had Glasgow’s coat of arms cast into the base, I thought it was just the tree at first, but all the parts are there:

There’s the tree that never grew,
There’s the bird that never flew,
There’s the fish that never swam,
There’s the bell that never rang.

The fish (salmon) does have a ring in its mouth, it’s not a flaw in the casting.

Kelvingrove Lamp Column Base

Kelvingrove Lamp Column Base

I was sure I’d lined this view up accurately, but it seems distorted.

I’m not sure if these are the original light fittings, from the opening back in 1901, or if they are modern replacements or upgrades, I’d have to dig out original pics to answer that one.

However, as foundry items, they would never be ‘perfect’ due to way they were made.

The manufacturer really is SUGG, a company which has been making such items since 1837, so it’s entirely possible these are ‘modern’ items, but made with the original patterns. I just don’t know (perhaps an ‘expert’ is looking in 🙂 ).

I might ask, but it’s surprisingly ‘hit-and-miss’ doing this, as some staff are knowledgeable, while others have no idea. That’s not a criticism or complaint, as they do offer to help, I just find it a little surprising that info/knowledge is sometimes not easy to get. I think it’s simply that those who know seem to specialise in their own area, with great detail.

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

Purrple Cat Cafe sign 2

A few days ago I mentioned spotting a second sign attached to the Purrple Cat Cafe, but given it was dark and I was hurrying home, I had no chance of a closer look, or a daytime pic to see what it really looked like.

That situation has now been remedied.

First, a decent daytime pic to show what I’d missed earlier. As per the pics in the post mentioned above, it is almost invisible, being edge on as you cross the road towards the café. Then, when you are there, it’s above your head, so unlikely to be spotted, unless you’re watching for flying cats.

It’s obvious if you approach from the side – but that’s not my usual route.

Purrple Cat Cafe Sign 2

Purrple Cat Cafe Sign 2

A few hours later, it was dark – and the night shot was even better.

Purrple Cat Cafe Sign 2 Lit

Purrple Cat Cafe Sign 2 Lit

Interestingly, this shot was taken with the compact camera, not the dSLR (which was packed away and too hard to reach).

But it had the advantage of being set to compensate for the illumination, and somehow was shooting in the dark at ISO80, which I had not set.

Clearly, this has come out a LOT better than Purrple Cat Cafe sign – (problems!).

What’s that crowd for?

When I looked around the corner, I spotted a crowd gathered at one of the café window.

Fighting my way to the front, I found that the café kittens were putting on a show, as their enclosure had been placed on the window ledge.

They’re hard to get decent pics of, as the grids and stuff on the windows upset the autofocus, plus reflections of course, but one shot worked.

And, of course, by the time I get there, they’re tired out and having a rest.

Purrple Cat Cafe Kittens

Purrple Cat Cafe Kittens

Nov 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | 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

Purrple Cat Cafe sign – (problems!)

I did say I would arrange to take pics of the sign over the door of the Purrple Cat Cafe when it got dark, and I did.

But I didn’t anticipate the problems it would bring.

I make no apologies for having processed the image below within an inch (2.54 cm) of its life.

Purrple Cat Cafe Sign Lit

Purrple Cat Cafe Sign Lit

In reality, it comes out GREEN!

Having seen it in the half-light for so long, I just didn’t think of the combined effect of a dark night, a white sign, and purple background illumination.

Plus, the amazing human eye hides all those effects, and you see it as a white sign with purple highlights – then you get home, and the shock sets in when you review your catches.

I don’t know if a stand-alone shot can be tweaked, or photographed in full manual (or RAW) to stop the camera from being confused. Even processing such a shot might prove impractical, and take way too much time.

I might try this if there again under similar circumstances.

This wider shot better shows the appearance of this sign, balanced by surroundings.

Purrple Cat Cafe Night

Purrple Cat Cafe Night

There’s another (brighter) sign to the left, but I didn’t even try for that one.

Such signs burn out to peak white, unless you are prepared to play with compensation, or just go manual (or trick the auto).

Creepy neighbour wants in (or out)

Actually one of Glasgow’s lesser known murals, the girl trapped in the derelict shop next door looks as if she wants to leave her ‘home’ and visit the cat cafe.

Creepy Cat Cafe Neighbour

Creepy Cat Cafe Neighbour

Another view shows the occasional crowd that can gather at the window if any of the resident cats decide it’s nap time, settles down there, and get noticed by a passer-by.

A crowd gathers

A crowd gathers

Nov 19, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

George Square lights

Oh, you wanted Christmas lights!

Sorry, not happening – you need a ticket to see those (or the switch-on at least) and I imagine it’s not really that pleasant, as it must be a horrible crush nowadays, as so many want to go see this that it is a (free) ticket lottery to limit the numbers.

I happened to pass through the square last night, and given that the ‘Big Switch On’ is set for the 18th, and this is the night of the 16th – there’s not a lot there, compared to last year, when everything was in place around the square.

Maybe they’re not having features (I know the Christmas Market will be set up there soon, filling some of the space), it just seems a little bare.

On the other hand – council workers!

Maybe they are just waiting until the last minute, so they do all the work in overtime 🙂

Since it looked so nice with its own lighting, I thought it deserved a couple of passing shots before I left.

I might change my night shooting style – while I’ve allowed fairly high ISO to kick in (but not so high the image is horribly noisy), I might force it a little bit lower, and risk slower shutter speeds (for my hand held only work). I’m reluctant to go tripod or similar, but would like to get darker/deeper backgrounds.

Click for bigger is allowed.

George Square Light

George Square Lights

As a slight aside, it seems I’ve come across the chap who invented the lights (decades ago!) that the lighting frames we see attached to the square today were derived from.

Apparently, all this was invented and used here first, then copied elsewhere.

Sadly, today’s versions are much simplified compared to those originals, and have lost most of the animation they featured.

(All bow down and say ‘Thank You’ to Clive.)

Even though I should be used to this by now, I and STILL blown away by the wonderful colour rendition of the ‘new’ LED lighting we enjoy now, so bright, and balanced, compared to he various colour horrors we used to live under in nights gone by.

While I don’t actually disagree with those who see the passing of those lights, such as the various yellow sodium sources, I don’t miss having all my night scenes coloured largely by monochromatic yellow, or the weird colour shifts of other types.

It was nice having digital for the overlap, as it could compensate for many of them (unlike film, which needed a lab), other than mono yellow – if the colour ain’t there, you can’t recover it!

George Square Lights

George Square Lights

I might repeat these two shots later, once the Christmas lights are lit, if I remember (hahaha).

I keep saying I’m trying to take shots with people in, but…

I don’t know.

I still like my shots without people cluttering them up and getting in the way of a nice clean view.

This ‘people’ kept walking in circles, and I thought this was going to be one of the pics I was going to have to live with – my OCD was starting to make my hand shake, and I was beginning to sweat!

George Square Lights Peopled

George Square Lights Peopled

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

My first SUCCESSFUL fireworks shoot (Part IV)

I think this is last part (Part I, Part II, Part III), but the learning has been good, even though I’ve been home late recently and not had the time to play. That’s one reason this ended up spread over a number of posts, and not just one ‘dump’ the day after the show.

Plus, as noted in one of the earlier parts, instead of finding just a few decent shots in the collection, when I went to delete most of the fuzzy or blurred images I thought were useless failures due to camera shake, when I checked the detail, I found they were images of fireworks that actually WERE fuzzy.

The last batch come from the latter part of the show, when I had to turn the camera from landscape to portrait as the shells were become so large, and flying so high.

Earlier, I’d been able to catch reflections in the river.

Fireworks 967

Fireworks 967

Then they started to creep up higher into the sky.

While I’d been able to support the camera on the parapet earlier, turning it on its side AND having to point it higher meant I had no support under it, and the only ‘fixed’ point was one edge or corner. The lens was resting on my clenched fingers – I’m still surprised that was good enough to hold it steadies for exposures lasting 10 seconds.

Shots like this fuzzy firework proved hard to edit a darker sky into – as it darkened, the fine detail of the fuzz was ‘removed’ by the tools. Even a simple attempt increase the contrast had a similar effect.

Fireworks 980

Fireworks 980

They weren’t all fuzzies thought, and some just left ordinary, clear trails.

Fireworks 992

Fireworks 992

One of the last, as the show came to an end.

Fireworks 994

Fireworks 994

One thing I noticed was that, unlike a number of displays I’ve attended in the past, Glasgow seems to avoid the temptation to end its display by launching a load of fireworks into the air at once, and have them all go off at once.

Some organisers probably think this is impressive, and it is, but it’s also maybe a bit of a waste, as so many go off at the same time… you really can’t see any of them in the mass of aerial explosions.

Maybe the best would be to throw up more at the end, but also time them better, so they overlap, giving an extended burst mark the end of the show.

Maybe they do, and it’s the timing that’s not quite accurate enough – yet 😉

I hope I get the chance to try this next year.

In Scotland, there’s no guarantee of a show, and a number of other displays (on different nights) were cancelled this year as a storm rolled in, while wind and rain saw off some more.

Whatever happens (and assuming we are not in the midst of one our proper wet spells, when it can rain 24/7 for more than a week), I should be out scoping the land for somewhere just a bit further away, but still with a good view of the Green – so I just might be able to see the whole area of sky they perform (now that I know where it is), AND be able to sit the camera square, rather than canted over at an angle (oh, and worry about it disappearing into the river).

Nov 9, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

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