Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

A couple of months ago there was a party

Another of those pics I ‘lost’.

A little longer ago than I thought, I had made the mistake of thinking I might get to enjoy a bit of fun back then, and maybe change my style a bit.

Being adventurous never pays off though – it’s rather like ‘No good deed goes unpunished’.

Far from enjoying myself, it seems I picked up a gut bug that has grumbled on for weeks and curtailed most adventures.

And that meant thoughts of learning how to break my habit of excluding people from my pics went on to the back burner too.

It may seem an odd thing a world of selfies and the like, but I really don’t like having people in my pics, and can go to extremes to avoid them. It’s just a habit that developed from being mainly involved in photographing ‘things’ for years.

I was just about to turn around from my walk and head home when I spotted this group over the wall.

I was also kicking the wall in frustration at this point, having just missed a shot that would have caught one of them inverted, and dancing on their hands.

Clyde Walkway Tiger Bay

Clyde Walkway Tiger Bay

A complete contrast to the group I didn’t dare point my camera at, a short distance behind me, in the next bay past the La Pasionaria statue. Oh, and there’s another pic collection I’ve forgotten all about.

They were skulking on the steps below the old public toilet building next to the Jamaica Street bridge, and having an Electric Soup (Eldorado), Buckfast, and vodka party to round off their day (shoplifting).

I wouldn’t have noticed them, but for their method of celebrating each bottle emptied – triumphantly smashed on the adjacent steps.


December 8, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The Woman Mural at The Barras – lucky I had an older view

Looking through some forgotten pics I never got around to using, I noticed a mural that probably went largely unnoticed when it was new, and is even less likely to be noticed today.

Frankly, I took this pic to record Pearsons and Bill’s Tool Store, just in case ‘they’ decided to knock it down, and catching the still visible mural was just a happy accident.

Painted on a gable end visible from Moncur Street, the gable was brought into view when one of the best old buildings that made a day at the Barras fun was demolished a few years ago. In its day, this old multi-storey building was packed with stallholders, and even more packed with punters looking for a bargain. Sometimes it was hard going just to get up and down the stairs, or even reach the stalls to see what was on offer.

Today, the site has been occupied by flats which appear to made out of shipping containers, stacked so the now block this view of the mural.

As far as I know, it’s still visible from Stevenson Street (parallel to Moncur Street) and the lane joining the two.

Barras Woman Mural

Barras Woman Mural

September 21, 2017 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Mitchell Street mural – eventually

Still on the theme of murals, it’s maybe time I got around to including some of the more famous and well-known examples.

Like many I collected a few years ago, I never bothered including them as I seemed to see them everywhere back then.

I think I got fed up wandering back, as I wanted the street empty, but it never happened.

This was back in 2015 – I guess she’s spotted something tasty in one of those big wheely bins (or maybe a bottle of Buckfast with some dregs).

Mitchell Street Mural

Mitchell Street Mural

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Last of the giant murals

It seems the murals I dig up recently are the largest in Europe.

This is the last of the set of three and can be found in North Portland Street.

Covering the west gable of Strathclyde University’s Graham Hills building, this mural depicts a photograph taken during a lecture given in the Royal College during the 1920s, and has been updated to include present day (as in 2014) students.

Unfortunately, you can’t quite get a straight view of this gable end, unlike the other two giant murals on this building, so I’ve had to a little more than ‘just a little’ perspective correction to tidy this one – as betrayed by the slightly ‘thick’ people I caught taking pics of this mural from the street below.

Glasgow North Portland Street Mural

Glasgow North Portland Street Mural

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Astronomical mural

Another one I collected a while ago, and then forgot about.

I think one of the nice things about this one is the location, which allows an almost uninterrupted view.

None of the usual squinting or restricted access to a nice clear field of view, so you can see it with minimal distortion or having look at from way off centre.

It took some digging to find out what at least one of the subjects in this mural is. While I found many claims of “Guides to Glasgow’s Mural Trail”, most didn’t have a clue about the content, and were really just clickbait titles – if I didn’t use an adblocker set to ’11’ I’d probably have been bombarded with scummy ads when visiting them.

However, I think I got lucky and found a new guide from Glasgow City Council (must be new, it has the three recent Sir billy Connolly murals included), and this describes the telescope at least.

The Dansken equatorial telescope is shown, once used to teach nautical astronomy.

No mention of the satellite though, however a little more digging, and it just seems to be based on a stock image, possibly a generic weather satellite (although I did also find some web sites using it to depict a GPS satellite).

Stock Weather Satellite

Stock Weather Satellite Image (3D rendering)


George Street Astronomy Mural

George Street Astronomy Mural

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recalling the mural trail

I’d forgotten about a number of larger mural I happened to collect some time ago, and was diverted from before I had a chance to post them.

As the so-called ‘Mural Trail’ has become popular since I came across them, it seems a pity not to use those earlier pics, so I’ll be trawling the collection for those I’ve missed so far.

If I can get back into the city centre I might try to remember to visit some of the more obscure and hidden smaller murals that were added, as they can’t be seen so easily, or viewed directly (being narrow lanes). I rather like playing with perspective correction and like to see these as they would appear if they could be viewed by stepping back and taking a ‘proper’ look – impossible in the real world unless you can walk through walls and see through them.

No such problem with the large ones – they usually just need a little tweak to correct for converging verticals.

George Street Navigation Mural

George Street Navigation Mural

I’d completely forgotten about this one, only visible as you approach Glasgow along George Street from the east, just past the junction with High Street.

I had to dig a little to find out what it was based on, and it’s a bit of history:

Said to be inspired by a 1913 photograph, it tells the story of the Land-Ship, a mock navigation bridge built on the roof of the School of Navigation in the Royal College. That is now part of the University of Strathclyde, and the college building can be found a just along the road.

The Land-Ship was a revolving platform with carried a Kelvin compass mounted on top, and was used to teach students the principles of compass adjustment.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Billy Connolly Dixon Street mural – Vettriano original (almost)

Although I’d read about the originals of the murals made to Celebrate Sir Billy Connolly’s 75th being exhibited, with my memory any clue as to where they were going soon evaporated.

So it was a nice surprise to trip over one of them, the one by Jack Vettriano, as I wandered through Kelvingrove recently.

Only thing was… I was wrong, and it seems the original in question is actually in the People’s Palace, and this is only a study, per the label:

Vettriano Study Label

Vettriano Study Label

We can still compare the little yin to the big yin…

Vettriano Mural Original

Vettriano Mural Original Study


Billy Connolly Mural Dixon Street

Dixon Street

There’s an irritating shadow cast along the top edge of the study, but the real problem with reproducing this image lies in the very ‘warm’ lighting used in Kelvingrove. Not visible to the eye, it produces a very warm image.

While I corrected for this, and it looks fine seen on its own, I think it still looks a little too ‘warm’ when seen in close proximity to the larger mural, obviously shot out of doors and under natural light.

It’s a while since I made it into the People’s Palace, so this means I’ll have to wander along there sometime soon, to get a look at the real original.

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , | 1 Comment

I fixed the hidden mural in Partick

I only get to places like Partick and Dumbarton Road occasionally nowadays (once used to be there every week), so get taken by surprise by some changes.

This one came as I turned round to take some pics of Partick Library, and found a new (to me at least) mural had appeared on the gable end of a building, and was yet another that follows a recent trend of apparently placing these deliberately in places where they cannot be seen properly. It’s like many that have appeared on the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail, often placed on walls in narrow lanes where they cannot really be seen.

I’m afraid I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and find such placements tend to spoil these images, as they only allow the viewer to see them at an angle, imposing unavoidable perspective distortion.

I’m not sure if the murals themselves are painted so as to try to compensate for this, but after playing with perspective correction of this Purdon Street mural, and finding it problematic, I think they do. In this case, when I had the correct geometry of known objects in the image, I found the proportions of the girl’s body to look very unnatural, and had to re-apply the correction to get a natural appearance.

This is the least distorted view of the mural, as spotted when I was about to take a pic of the library:

Partick Library plus Mural

Partick Library plus Mural

I suspect the image has been created taking into account the enforced viewing angle, as the girl’s body, I think, would appear narrower due to perspective it had been painted normally.

This is my best attempt at correcting for the viewing angle, where I feel I had to balance the degree of correction and set the amount of correction by eye, rather by referring to the known geometry of fixed objects in the scene:

Purdon St Mural Fixed

Purdon St Mural Fixed

Might be interesting to try the same trick on other examples of these recent murals.

Historic precedence

This isn’t some sort of magical revelation I had, but is inspired by prior knowledge of the work of early Glasgow sculptures, responsible for many statues to be found on elevated locations around the city.

They distorted their creations to take account of the foreshortening which would take place when the viewer was looking up at the statues from the street far below.

Partick Library

I never actually got that pic of the library, the one I’d meant to get.

I had a lot of bits, so stitched them together for a panorama – it almost worked too.

If only Dumbarton Road was not so busy, and there had been no traffic, it would have been fine:

Partick Library Pano

Partick Library Pano

August 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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