Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Nice welcoming telephone box

I’m always amused by the whining that come from some communities (not ALL, as there are isolated and unvandalised boxes which are still useful and valuable today) when there is an announcement about the removal of telephone boxes due to lack of use and/or repeated vandalism.

I came across this particularly welcoming, friendly, and useful box one night.

It’s always nice to see a public toilet, or drug den, with good lighting – you don’t want to make a mistake with either of those activities for want of good lighting.

And that the phone has been muted, to avoid unwanted interruptions.

I prefer the ones with a shelf though, so there is somewhere safe to sit your Buckfast bottle.

Glasgow phone box

Glasgow phone box

05/02/2019 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Maybe we do still need cameras

When I’m taking pics that used to be difficult with film (by which I generally mean night, or low light), I often wonder if it’s worth the effort to do it properly, as I often find myself beside people with phones, and they’re taking the same shots without a thought, and just playing ‘Point-and-Shoot’. While I’m taking a moment or two to ‘Get it right’, they just hold up their phones, wave them about a bit, and appear to get a pic.

I suppose I’m over simplifying things, as those shared locations are usually in places flooded with street lighting, or floodlighting, which makes things a lot easier for any camera, ‘real’ or in a phone. I also have no idea how good, or bad, their pics look when seen later. At least I’m usually confident I’ll have a useable image when I get home.

And, to be fair to the developers behind phone cameras, looking at the reviews of the ‘clever’ ones, they are doing a pretty good job of creating software and hardware that can set things to automate the taking of a decent pic.

What I’m not sure of is how well they, and their results, compare in tough (dark) conditions, or what the pics look like from phones – I don’t have one, and never will. I just have to go by the tech reviews.

I found a couple of old pics that maybe give a clue, although the camera used had a considerably larger sensor than any phone camera – and a ‘real’ flash, not a LED.

One pic is a low-light exposure, taking seconds (I got lucky and found a support, but still hand held, and the spot still had sodium street lights behind the camera), while the other was flash.

I’m not sure of the distance to the subjects (they’re long gone, and detailed in another old post), but estimate 10-15 metres. The flash couldn’t really reach, but did provide enough light for the usual 1/60 second exposure.

A shot from a good phone camera would have been nice, but just not possible.

Car night pics compared

Car night pics compared


04/02/2019 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Night bridges – St Andrew’s suspension bridge

The other bridge I managed to catch before my ‘Night bridge’ pic collecting was curtailed, the St Andrew’s suspension bridge on Glasgow Green.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge Night

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge Night

I was a little disappointed to see that around half of the lights on this bridge had failed, but then wondered if that might have been a good thing, given the amount of processing I found was needed to kill of some of the glare from those that were left.

It’s nice to see something that retains some fairly noticeable colour when seen at night.

I should make a note to go back and do a set of pics on the lights fitted to this bridge. They are unusually large, and for external fittings, also very clear. Looking too closely at such fittings often shows they are discoloured, cloudy, or even frosted, and not really great subjects.

Stepping back, I couldn’t decide if the wider view was better than the close-in first shot just of the bridge.

So, it doesn’t cost anything, and I collected the wider view too.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge Night Wide

St Andrew’s Suspension Bridge Night Wide

18/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Night bridges – Polmadie

I had intended to try for some ‘better’ night shots of some bridges over the Clyde, but, as usual, some unrelated problems kicked the idea off the table, but I did collect a few of my more usual handheld captures.

I had read that the new Polmadie footbridge had new LED lighting installed, but a daylight inspection didn’t identify how this was installed.

Once I saw the thing at night, it was obvious.

The lights are fitted internally, within the handrail, and fire downwards through holes in its underside, which was why I didn’t spot them first time around.

Surprising sky in this view, as it was almost as black as the ground when I took the pic, but looks almost bright in the finished shot.

Polmadie Footbridge Night

Polmadie Footbridge Night

13/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | 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.

07/12/2018 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!

06/12/2018 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.

03/12/2018 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

01/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas is coming

I’ve been a bit tight with the early Christmas light pics, so I should get some of them posted.

This was the entrance to the St Enoch Christmas Market as seen from Argyle Street.

St Enoch Christmas Market

St Enoch Christmas Market

It provided the chance of a pretty good ‘reflection’ pic in the glass entrance to the Subway (behind).

St Enoch Market Subway Reflection

St Enoch Market Subway Reflection

The market’s quite quiet at the moment, so it’s still easy to a quick walk around.

A really quick walk in my case, as I must really be out of touch. The prices are just eye-watering for most of the stuff on offer.

Interesting to note the photo machines that were dotted around the place last year are absent. No great surprise (again, given the price) since almost everyone carries a phone with a camera these days.

Along at GoMa (Gallery of Modern Art)m the lights were finished, and all lit.

Couldn’t decide if ‘wide’ or ‘tall’ looked best for the building, so you get both.

GoMA Wide

GoMA Wide

Can’t get proper symmetry, at least not without standing in the road – and dying!

GoMA Tall

GoMA Tall

Although I still only shoot handheld, I’m using different base setting compared to the past, possibly catching more detail, and delivering darker darks, or shadows.

I’m leaving pics largely as taken (but errors always get fixed, if possible), whereas in the past I tended to ‘lift’ detail out of the shadows.

If nothing else, easier and faster for me.

23/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The illegals – D3 MLN

It took me a moment to realise this 2006 Ford Focus was actually one of the illegals, and doesn’t really seem to be worth the risk of that potential £1,000 fine for having illegal character spacing on the plate.

Quite what ‘D3M LN’ represents isn’t obvious (to me at least, and the plates themselves have no clues added.

I thought it might even have been a mistake (on the plate) but they’re same front and back.

2006 Ford Focus Front [D3 MLN]

2006 Ford Focus Front [D3 MLN]

2006 Ford Focus [D3M LN]

2006 Ford Focus [D3M LN]

Weird pics too.

Not sure if this was my own fault though, or the wet, but I couldn’t get a what I would call a proper ‘low light’ pic.

I must have hit a setting and upset if from my usual preference, as these pics were WAY slow with exposures in the order of 5 seconds.

Usually I can convince things to happen in less than a second provided the scene is under street lights, but this just stayed as a ‘dark’ shot, and had to be lifted with post-processing.

Whatever I did must have been a temporary change – I couldn’t find any setting I suspected, and the next outing provides pics as usual.

The plethora of menus and settings may be nice to have, but can be a pain. While I’d like a ‘pro’ camera as it comes with lots of knobs and extra displays, these come at a price, and I don’t just mean the cost (my eyes still start watering when I see new ones that cost as much as a decent second-hand car). They’re also considerably larger and heavier than their non-pro cousins.

21/11/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , | 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

20/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

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