Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Playing with the Shettleston giraffe

I came across the Shettleston giraffe mural not long after it was painted on the end of an exposed tenement wall following the demolition of an old derelict industrial building exposed it. But I never got around to using any of the pics I took that day.

As well as a straight pic of the mural, I had some additional shots that showed the surrounding area, but the mural is at an angle, so they’re not really suitable for presentation, however…

I thought I’d try using them for a stitched panorama, to make a pic that would be impossible to actually shoot, and it actually came out surprisingly well given it was not planned…

Shettleston Giraffe Pano

Shettleston Giraffe Pano

Compare with the ‘real’ Google view of the same scene…

Google Giraffe View

Google Giraffe View

Notably, the tenements behind the mural wall have ‘vanished’, and while the telephone box and bus stop are really on the same road, in the stitched image the telephone box now lies on a ‘new’ road that runs to the left of the image, while the bus stop appears to lie on another, entirely separate road running to the right.

Moral of the story – never trust a photograph or take it at face value without looking closely for anomalies.

Here’s an unadulterated view of that giraffe…

Shettleston Giraffe

Shettleston Giraffe

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Even a skip can be a mural

Another from my collection of wall art or murals for businesses, this time for skip hire.

To be honest, this is actually an old pic from a set I’ve had lying around for a while, put to one side as it’s not possible to get a decent, square, or head-on view.

But I’ve now mastered perspective adjustments, and with a touch of patience can sort most horrible squinty pics.

This one is still in place, if a little worn, and not just an offensive ad.

And, more importantly, it’s THEIR wall, so they have not stolen or vandalised space or property that belongs to someone else.

Christie Skip Mural

Christie Skip Mural


I happened to pass the same spot a few days ago, and grabbed a new shot to compare, and see if it had become a little ‘tired’.

While the photo makes it look a little better than the reality, it’s not that bad for a bit of weathering.

Skip Mural Wider

Skip Mural Wider

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Mural triplet celebrates Billy Connolly at 75

I have to admit to being a relative latecomer to Billy Connolly’s humour, but found it to be little short of hysterical with its frank honesty and simplicity – not to mention his delivery, which makes otherwise mundane and ordinary tales into side-splitting gems.

I’d never even heard of him until someone let me hear one of his records (that a round black plastic thing) somewhere, then I found him on the radio.

No Internet and search tools to find a quick MP3, stream, or YouTube item back then – but I suppose that could be another story, and one he could probably turn into another side-splitting sketch.

I read about the mural in the news:

Glasgow murals leave Billy Connolly ‘flabbergasted’

And decided it was time for a walk – and six hours and 17 miles later came home with the required pics.

There’s also a 1-hour documentary on them:

Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime

While two were netted with no problems, I managed to forget where the third was – mainly because its position in the Gallowgate means I’m almost obliged to pass it when I head for home, so I didn’t bother making a mental note of where it was. That was a mistake, and added around 3 miles as wandered around the city centre looking for something to jog my memory. Utterly useless until I turned for home – and THAT finally reminded me.

The murals are not hard to find or see, provided you know where to look.

The day turned windy and dull, with tiny showers, so I had to process the images to brighten them up and recover the colours.

I also corrected them for perspective, removing the slightly annoying narrowing as you look towards their tops.

(Click on any mural for a larger version.)

The last one, in the Gallowgate, is/was particularly annoying to photograph. I’m not sure what the best conditions or time of day would be, but an overcast evening was definitely NOT good. The finish is very glossy and the reflections from the sky behind the camera cannot be avoided, and obscure much of the detail. The other two do not share this problem.

Working from west to east, first up is Dixon Street, just south of St Enoch Square:

This one is slightly spoilt by a metal fence enclosing a seating area at its foot, but you can negate this intrusion by going up to fence and shooting between the railings


Billy Connolly Mural Dixon Street

Billy Connolly Mural Dixon Street

Next up is Osborne Street, in the section across from the car park, to the east of the St Enoch Centre, between Stockwell Street and King Street.

No problems shooting here, and you can even get squarely in front of the mural if you wander a little way up ‘Old Wynd’.

Billy Connolly Mural Osborne Street Old Wynd

Billy Connolly Mural Osborne Street Old Wynd

Last up is the Gallowgate mural, pretty (very) easy to spot as you head east along the Gallowgate from Glasgow Cross.

There’s no problem getting below the mural for a pic, but as you can see from this pic, reflections from the glossy finish are hard to mitigate – at least in the evening. Maybe there’s a better viewpoint to be had, but it’s hard to avoid sky reflections if you are stay on the ground/

Unfortunately, not even post-processing for highlight and shadow detail helps, since there is none to recover (recall the problem is the shiny gloss finish and reflections in it).

Billy Connolly Mural Gallowgate

Billy Connolly Mural Gallowgate



Shortly after this feature, Jack Vettriano announced he was moving out of Edinburgh to escape fame.

While I have absolutely no time for the wasters who are deemed as ‘celebrity’ for no reason other than being famous (you know fine well what I mean, for example appearing on TV for a whole 5 minutes and being crude to get a headline, and then paid millions for nothing), I think it’s a shame that people such as Mr Vettriano are ultimately hounded by more wasters who simply want a damned ‘selfie’ with them, or to say they met him.

Via: Jack Vettriano moving out of Edinburgh to escape fame


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

Hip Hop Marionettes and intrusive advertising

I hate adverts. Not all adverts of course, but I do hope there is a special Hell with eternal pain inflicted on anyone involved in creating ways to FORCE ads of any type to be viewed.

30 years of increasingly intrusive and distracting advertising on the Internet have turned me completely and irrevocably against adverts that are shoved in my face. I’m fine with ads placed where I can find them if I need them, or which don’t INSIST I acknowledge them.

Online, I use two complementary ad-blockers (oddly, neither of them is the famous Adblock Plus), and any site that I visit which demands I remove it gets permanently blocked – no exceptions – no mercy – and I will then go find a way to get free access to that site, WITH ads blocked. If I can, I’ll also alert others to boycott it as well, and make sure it gets bad reviews.

I don’t expect to find the same sort of problems with conventional advertising, but when I tried to take some pics of the ‘Hip Hop Marionettes’ mural from George Street (on a building in John Street) found that it was being spoiled by at least one massive billboard smack in front of it. From George Street, only off-centre views of the mural are possible.

You can only take a clear view by standing behind the billboard, in a car park, so need a wide-angle lens, and to be able to correct distortion from being so close.

(Sorry about the apparently ‘careless’ smudgy area at bottom centre – seems I was carrying some condensation around for a while, and it took some time to evaporate and disappear.)

First pic is such a shot, tidied up to remove distortion, then the next is just a straight view as taken when standing in George Street.

George Street Mural View

Hip Hop Marionettes

Stepping back a bit, we see what the ‘Power of Advertising’ achieves:

George Street Mural Spoiled View

George Street Mural Spoiled View

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fire Tiger is gone

I came across an old pic that had happened to catch the Fire Tiger mural at the side of the Clyde Walkway, near the South Portland Street Suspension Bridge. It ended up in a post about cat murals.

Big Fire Cat Clyde

Big Fire Cat Clyde

I’ve only got that one skewed pic, caught more by accident than design, so when I was near the same spot recently, thought it would be a good idea to update the ‘library’.


It’s gone now, replaced by (to my eye at least) a nicely finished, but much inferior offering. It’s just ‘ordinary’ now.

Tiger Mural

Tiger Mural

I’ve been staring at this for a while, trying to work out what is ‘wrong’ with it, and why it doesn’t ‘jump’.

I think I’ve spotted what it’s missing – EYES!

Those empty black spaces where a pair of attention-grabbing eye could have appeared just kill any impact this image could have.

It might be intentional, which is fine, but a pair of bright yellow and threatening eyes would really draw the viewer into this image.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Mushroom mural

Just a quick pic for today.

Since I included the Ingram Street mural with the yesterday’s shiny Flying Spur (which was really the subject, in spite of that post’s title), I suppose I’m obliged to include this mural which appears on the adjacent building and was just out of sight.

I do admire the way the folk who paint these things keep their proportions correct, given the scale of the work, and the fact that when actually painting them they are up against the wall.

I did see one where a grid was used, but then again, I’ve also seen pics where there was no grid, or at least not one that could be seen.

That thought also has me wondering if they apply perspective corrections, like those who carved a number of statues seen on some Glasgow buildings.

Apparently these were carved to correct for perspective and viewing errors or distortions caused by looking at them from below, from the street. I should look into this, and find some actual examples to get pics and post one day.

Mushroom Mural

Mushroom Mural

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Squirrel, fox, Flying Spur, bee, coo, stag, deer – you pick the subject

Spoilt for choice, I have no idea the best subject to pick for this pic, so…

YOU decide!

Bentley Flying Spur

Bentley Flying Spur

April 29, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Cat murals abroad are different (from ours)

I caught some local ‘official’ murals in Glasgow some time ago (3 years ago!), as seen in Glasgow’s graffiti cats, and they’re still there – and I rather like the term that has been coined by some to describe them online, ‘murder mittens’.

Here’s s reminder:

Glasgow Dunlop St cats

Glasgow Dunlop St cats

One thing I’ve noticed is that our murals tend to the realistic, and that’s not a complaint. As a failed artist (despite being told by an art teacher I could and should paint and draw as I had the ability, I still think anything I attempt is fit only for the bin) I love the realism and accuracy of the work, and believe another thing my teacher told me, that cats are a real test of ability – and if you can portray them realistically, you are lucky and talented.

That said, I was browsing through a photo site that just collates random pics it thinks are great, and I spotted a couple of cat murals in a recent dump.

Unfortunately, it just collects the pics, not any of the details, so I have no idea where these are located, but from the ‘feel’ of their environment and surroundings, I’d say they lie on foreign soil.

But it’s really the stylised nature of their depiction of cat faces that caught my eye.

While I love the realistic murals that have appeared in Glasgow over the past few years, and are ‘Tourist trails’, even hidden in odd places so they are hard to find, and a surprise when they are spotted, I also think our artists need to develop some imagination too, and dare to move outside the borders of pure reality, and move into some more stylised and abstract work:

Foreign Cat Mural 1

Foreign Cat Mural 1


Foreign Cat Mural 2

Foreign Cat Mural 2


Foreign Cat Mural 3

Foreign Cat Mural 3

It’s not that we don’t have them at all, but this example (the only one I have of such a thing) is located on a wall facing AWAY from the road AND behind a wall. It’s only visible to people walking the path along the side of the River Clyde, or who may happen to look across from the opposite bank, from a place that is largely deserted.

Big Fire Cat Clyde

Big Fire Cat Clyde

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

A quality mural near The Barras

While this is an unfair comparison – and it’s not actually meant to be taken as a comparison since this is NOT a shutter mural – it is still a fair example of what can be produced.

I came across this one quite a while ago, but used the pic in another forum so had forgotten to mention it here.

If you were at Bill’s Tool Store at the Barras, you could turn around and look behind you. If it hasn’t been removed or replaced then you’ll see it.

It really is rather good, and worth at least a glance for real.

Bain St St Luke's Mural

Bain St St Luke’s Mural

I’m afraid I don’t know the significance of the winged bull (oops, sorry ox), but I do think it’s safe to say the mural has some connection with Tennant’s – I see at least 4 references to that particular Glasgow brew.

Note: See comments below for more info 🙂

April 17, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 2 Comments

Hope the spray tans are better than the spray mural

I thought I’d caught most of the shutter murals around here, but since they can usually only be seen at night, after the shops have closed, it’s hard to make sure I wander along all the appropriate streets so late in the day.

This one surprised me recently, as I’d not seen it before.

It may be just be me, and maybe I am being overly critical or demanding, but I thing the quality of the artwork shows a steady decline since the first of these shutter murals appeared, and the idea caught on.

Maybe the earlier murals were produced by artists or talented people, while the later or more recent efforts are from others making ‘best efforts’, and avoiding the cost of employing someone.

Just curious.

Spray Tanning shutter mural

Spray Tanning shutter mural

April 16, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Vaguely Soviet Shettleston mural

Not that noticeable as it is not located near the road, this mural on a wall behind a church always strikes me as being reminiscent of the old Soviet murals often seen Russian settlements.

That said, the characters and colours are too ‘soft’ and not as stylised or perhaps aggressive as they would be if they had actually been created in that era. The feeling would have to be a little more Art Deco too, so I’d say that despite the subject, this is just too modern in appearance.

Shettleston Wellshot Road mural

Shettleston Wellshot Road mural

April 11, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

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