Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Street-light deja vu

Out for a short run a few nights ago, and spotted a familiar sight along the road.

Broken Street-light Two Spotted

Broken Street-light Two Spotted

We’ve seen this before, and it looks as if I was right, and…

Our birds are too fat and well fed

These lights are likely to be of similar vintage, so I wonder if something has got old and tired, or maybe there’s a manufacturing fault in some?

The failure looks similar to the first example spotted a few weeks ago, although I’d need to go back in daylight for a better pic.

Broken Streetlight Two

Broken Street-light Two

We’ll see.

I’ve no idea how long this one has been hanging, and it could last a while thanks to the better weather we have now.

Unlike the first, we’re no longer in the days of wet and stormy weather, so it’s not likely to fill with water like first, or be battered by high winds, and broken off.

I’m not along this way so often, but I’ll be watching when I am, so we can see how long this one lasts like this, and when it’s replaced.


I did manage to make a fairly rapid return, and sure enough, the daylight pics confirm this has broken around the bracket, just like the first one.

Broken street-light two

Broken street-light two

A closer look confirms the fitting has again just split and broken away around the edge of the bracket.

You can see how dirt has been washed inside the fitting, and collected under the bracket area for some time, before it eventually broke away.

Although it’s evaporating in the better weather, water can also be seen to be collecting at the bottom of the lens cover.

Broken street-light two detail

Broken street-light two detail

Just to be different, another view with a nice leafy background.

Broken street-light tree shot

Broken street-light tree shot

14/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Broken and lost streetlight – repaired

Starting with the ‘Fat Birds’ post back on 19 February, we’ve had a nice new streetlight fitted to replace the broken one that did a disappearing act during Storm Gareth.

Not sure exactly when it was replaced as I missed the event, but since I had been wandering back and forth, and it had not been replaced earlier, I can say it happened during a two hour window.

Pity, I wouldn’t have minded so much if I’d been out all day and missed this, but being in all day and STILL not seeing any of the show is just irritating.

The good news is that this the first LED streetlight to arrive in my street.

While we have had three white light fitted in recent years, these have all been the old fluorescent legacy type, which I’m sure the council lighting department was trawling up from old stock, to avoid buying any low pressure sodium replacements before the LED changeover was underway, and new stock was all of that type.

While it would probably be very hard to photograph, to the eye at least, the single new LED light in the sea of yellow murk is impressive to say the least.

There’s obviously NO upward light pollution as LED fittings only emit light from one side anyway.

Side spill is controlled by the lens and fitting, and is very low, just enough to provide useful illumination outside the main light pool.

Probably the most impressive aspect is the clearly defined main illumination pool, which can be clearly seen with only this single light in the midst of the sodium yellow surrounding. Being able to compare the brightness of the two is impressive, with the gloomy yellow being in stark contrast to the clearly illuminated white area, where a lot more detail can be seen.

By eye, I can see how it illuminates a rectangular area of the road, extending far enough to eventually merge with the lights on either side, but seems to be shaped to avoid the footpath. I’m not aware if that is intended, or just an incidental effect of how it is mounted. Poor or careless mounting could influence this, and there are some of these lights in nearby streets which have been very badly installed and aligned (they may actually have been disturbed after fitting). Regardless, the illuminated area is a near perfect match for the width of the road.

Broken Streetlight Repaired

Broken Streetlight Repaired

A little better than before.

Broken Ligh tNight

Broken Light Night

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow lighting elves must be emptying the spare lighting stores

Noticed a funny thing a few weeks ago, while cruising the back streets of Shettleston and Sandyhills.

Along with the bigger main streets, these are beginning to see a slow roll-out of new and upgraded hardware.

While the main roads have seen a 100% commitment to LED upgrading, lesser streets seem to be benefiting from an upgrade to many of the ancient lampposts standing in them, but not to a 100% LED upgrade.

This probably makes a deal of sense. Many of the posts must be decades old, and are made of ferrous stock, or the more interesting reinforced concrete.

In either case, these relics are, sadly, suffering the effects of Scottish weather and their age. Many metal poles are now showing advanced corrosion, and the concrete type are failing as the surface concrete lets water in to the reinforcing steel rods within. These corrode, blow off their concrete protection, and accelerate the corrosion process.

While I’ve never seen any of them just collapse, I have seen a number of lesser posts on road signs suffer corrosion to the extent that they have become weak enough to collapse from their own weight, or have just been pushed over.

Now that it’s getting dark early, I get to play with low light hand held pics again.

I’d almost forgotten about the back street lighting updates. This work seems to be carried out by the Street Lighting Elves, since I’ve never seen it actually happen, just see the changes when I pass during the morning after.

But dark nights mean I can see the ‘new’ lights in action, and this confirms an earlier observation that the lights fitted to the new poles appeared to be chosen at random, and are not a general changeover to LEDs.

A couple of view along one street show the effect.

In the first, looking along the left side of the street we have: fluorescent, sodium, sodium, fluorescent, fluorescent; and along the right: LED, LED, fluorescent, LED.

I’m still pretty sure they’re using up existing stock, rather than discarding it, as the upgrade progresses.

Odd Street Lighting Upgrade 1

Odd Street Lighting Upgrade 1

In this view we have along the left: sodium, fluorescent, sodium, sodium, fluorescent; and on the right: LED, LED (this IS lit although it looks as if there is no light on this pole, spot it in the first pic), fluorescent.

Odd Street Lighting Upgrade 2

Odd Street Lighting Upgrade 2

26/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sad council lighting distribution box

I noticed this box a while ago.

Originally it wasn’t all that notable, but since first seeing it, it has not only started to break up and fall apart (no doubt helped with a good few kicks from some of the locals), but even the footpath and kerb seems to be joining it – I suspect that may be with the help of some very bad parking.

Google’s Street View has been watching over it since 2008, and if you take a look at the archived images you’ll see that not only did the box appear to be in half-decent condition for its age, there was even a lamppost standing beside it back then.

It’s now being held together courtesy of that most wonderful of inventions – the cable or zip tie.

I’m almost surprised to see it still standing there whenever I pass down Bridgeton’s James Street.

Old Glasgow Council Lighting Box

Old Glasgow Council Lighting Box

10/07/2018 Posted by | council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Street light test shot

Before the Beast from the East arrived, I grabbed a shot of some street lights, after I noticed I had three different types in the same place.

The nasty LP (low pressure) sodium types have already been cleared from most of this area, removing most of the yellow vomit from the surrounding, so the types are identified as:

1 HP (high pressure) sodium, still yellow, but described as a much more pleasant ‘golden’ colour.

2 Metal halide These contain a mix of mercury vapour and metal halide molecules, and an MH bulb emits a fairly uniform white colour. The molecular blend has become more-or-less standard, so the colour is consistent.

3 LED (light emitting diode). While this should be consistently white, it is achieved by mixing colours at source. This has apparently led (sorry) to some atrocious buying decisions by some councils/authorities, and some weird colour temperatures being installed during LED street lighting upgrades. Of course, those responsible for such mistakes have no desire to admit their foolishness, and readily hide behind claims that LED street lights are ‘horrible’ or ‘useless’ compared to what they replaced. But be aware, the fault lies NOT with the LED, but with the persons responsible for their bad choice.

Snotty little ‘jobsworths’ always love to have a handy scapegoat to protect their jobs when they make another mistake.

Where correct specifications are made, few notice when existing metal halide street lights have been replaced by LEDs.

Cambuslang Streetlight Test Shot

Cambuslang Streetlight Test Shot

In the above pic, the two ‘golden’ yellow lights are HP sodium.

The two lights in the middle of the shot are existing metal halide types, and appear to be white.

The last three lights along the road off to the right are all LEDs, and replaced the old sodium lights along the road some time ago.

There does seem to be little notable difference between those and the metal halide types to their left.

It’s uncanny to be here when the lights are switched on.

The two gas types display the usual slow start-up sequence and variations as they reach a stable operating condition.

But apart from what I assume to be the effects of a soft-start circuit (to avoid a switch-on surge), when the LEDs come on, apart from a momentary flicker as they stabilise, it’s like having daylight return while you are still standing under a dark sky.

And I DO mean daylight – the number of horrible yellow shots I bring home has dwindled, while I sometimes have to check the time/date stamp on an image to confirm it was taken in a street at night time, or look at the shadows or sky for clues.s


01/03/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Sodium streets

I’ve mentioned how nice the world of night photography had become since LED street lighting had made significant inroads into the upgrade and replacements of most councils street lighting, on main roads at least.

Prior to this, most street lighting was sodium based, either low pressure (very yellow) or high pressure (some say ‘golden’ yellow that can almost look white to the eye, but still yellow). Also used were fluorescent tubes (as near white as doesn’t matter), and various mercury discharge types, also effectively white. There are more variations, but they’re not so common.

Most were chosen for efficiency, to keep power consumption down, but where truer colour rendition was considered important, the higher consumption of those closer to white was considered acceptable.

While this didn’t matter for B&W film, colour film (print or slide) was less forgiving.

Unlike a digital camera, correcting for white balance came at the darkroom stage, or by buying film stock for specific light sources. Not forgetting the option to buy colour correction filters. There was an additional problem – colour film suffered colour shifts if used for long exposure low-light shots (reciprocity failure).

I’ve been enjoying the ability to take night or low-light shots that have colour in them, and seeing the results is still a pleasant surprise.

But there is still the occasional chance for a ‘sodium street’ shot, and while this could be expensive to get right with film, the magic of digital means a stream of shots need not be taken in the hope of getting one right.

I got the chance last night, as the snow brightened things up, and I wandered through some streets with only low pressure sodium lights.

In the past, this would have needed a tripod, a number of shots to get a decent one, or two, and costs of developing and processing.


Two shots – two pics. No tripod, just handheld.

Did I say I liked digital?

Sodium Street

Sodium Street

I wasn’t paying proper attention to the focus, but it seems to have been just fine. The original show the number plates in detail.

The correct colour of the few Christmas light is a further bonus.

Seen like this, sodium lighting does actually make a nice subject.

Normally I’d knock back the brilliance of the lights themselves, but it looks OK in these pics, so I left it as was. Similarly, the shadow detail did not have to be raised, and again is as it was with no processing. I think any changes would have made the result look artificial.

Sodium Street

Sodium Street

28/12/2017 Posted by | photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Still no blue from blue lights at Shawfield

Following on from ‘What happened to my colour?‘ I keep poking at this to find an answer.

I grabbed some more pics when I was passing the same place, but this time later and darker.

Another wide shot of the lights in question, although taken with a slightly longer exposure, didn’t really pick up on the blue tips on the lampposts, although they still appear a fairly vivid blue to the naked eye.

This time, a glance to the side showed the recently completed police HQ nearby, topped with a nice blue/white illuminated sign.

A few shots were taken of this, but even though it is further away, the blue background to the white lettering is rendered with similar colouring to that seen by the eye.

So it’s not just a simple case of no sensitivity to blue – which was never thought to be the reason since we’ve never had a problem with blue Christmas lights, even recent tiny blue LEDs photographed from significant distances.

Investigation continues.

Shawfield Blue Light Oddness

Shawfield Blue Light Oddness

Compared to…

Shawfield View Dalmarnock Police Admin HQ Blue

Shawfield View Dalmarnock Police Admin HQ Blue

11/12/2017 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

What happened to my colour?

I don’t usually get oddities in pics that I don’t quite know the answer too, but a recent wander through Shawfield raised one such question.

Redevelopment of the area brought some stylish lighting, poles with illuminated blue cones atop the standard white downlighting for the paths.

But, when I first grabbed a pic I was disappointed to see all the illumination came out white – no blue!

Not a great surprise though, as blue sensitivity can be a problem, so I revisited and grabbed another pic, being more careful – still no blue!

And I don’t mean just faint, but none at all when I did some extreme post-processing to find any blue in the area of interest.

While I’m sure it is just a sensitivity/response issue, I’m also slightly surprised, since so many other scenes with low light blues have come out as expected. In this case, it may be down to the specific narrow wavelength of light from the LED source, and a dip in the camera’s sensitivity at that wavelength.

Shawfield Lights

Shawfield Lights

These were the earlier pics that suggested there was an issue with the blue portion of these new lights.

Note that the reflective (rather than emissive) blue of the cycle path sign is rendered normally, even though it is a tiny part of the area captured.

Shawfield Bridge And Lights

Shawfield Footbridge And Lights

As can be seen from a shot taken to target the lighting fixtures in detail, there’s no problem catching the colours provided there is plenty of light.

Shawfield Light Detail

Shawfield Light Detail

Regardless of the reason, it looks as if blue specific shots will need to be reviewed at the time, and not later.

06/12/2017 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Scotland gains another ‘Dark Sky’ award

I like to give a mention to ‘Dark Sky’ awards made to areas of Scotland, when I’m lucky enough to spot them.

A large area of woodland in hills above Loch Ness has become a Dark Sky Discovery site.

Abriachan Forest Trust has been awarded Milky Way class Dark Sky status, the first location in the Inverness area to receive the certification.

There are other Dark Sky Discovery sites in the Highlands, including Castlehill Heritage Centre near Thurso.

The status is only awarded by Dark Sky Discovery to places with “very clear views” of the Milky Way galaxy.

Via ‘Milky Way’ designation for forest near Loch Ness

It’s a bit of a sad story in a way, and while the subject may not be impinging directly on this newly awarded site (yet?), it does wave the tiniest of warning flags for its future if care is not taken.

I refer to a paper I saw recently, reporting the findings of a survey carried out using a new set of satellite images taken of the Earth as seen at night.

Both worrying and disappointingly, it seems that despite the continuing switch to LED illumination, and efforts through cooperation and legislation to deliver more efficient and directed outdoor lighting sources which should reduce light pollution, artificially illuminated area of the Earth are actually growing BRIGHTER, not dimmer.

It would seem that while we are producing lighting units which use less energy, we are not using that to provide the same lighting for less energy consumption, but maintaining the same budget and pouring out MORE light for the same cost.

Well, that’s my take based on what I see.

Council’s HAVE reduced consumption by using better and more directed street lighting (I’ve even seen some being slated for REMOVING lighting they consider excessive), while commercial interests are simply getting more ‘Bang for their Buck’, and installing brighter lights to advertise their presence, yet paying no more to run them.

Since I won’t be getting anywhere this site any time soon, this random night sky wallpaper scene will have to do.

Dark Sky

Dark Sky

28/11/2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An actual cost-saving repair

Not seen often, but I guess this street lighting repair cost less than digging up the old lighting pole, buying a new one, and setting it in the pavement.

I’m not sure how strong or long-lasting those metal straps are – I’d have used three myself.

As it is, the failure of one (or even slackening as the concrete of that old pole erodes) will leave all the load on just one, while the addition of a third would considerably reduce loading and increase life, and be safer should one strap fail or work loose.

But that’s just me – always over-engineering.

Spotted somewhere in Greenfield.

Economising Light Repair

Economising Light Repair

I suspect the old concrete lampposts may be due for renewal or replacement – there have been some reports of their failure in the media, and a closer look at them shows the concrete is failing, revealing the steel reinforcement inside – and that exposed metal can corrode and expand, leading to further accelerated failure of the structure.

It may be coincidence, and a rogue item, but it’s only a few weeks since the upper part of a lamppost in Glasgow failed, and unfortunately struck a van passing below.

It will be a bit of a shame when they are replaced, I rather like the appearance of concrete lampposts, and we won’t see them made again.

18/09/2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Glum Helensburgh esplanade lighting story

Sad to say, I misunderstood the meaning of the headline on the following story on first sighting:

Lighting to be installed on Helensburgh seafront | Helensburgh & Lomond | News | Helensburgh Advertiser

Recalling the old days of the Clyde coastal resorts, I erroneously interpreted this as a reference to decorative illuminations of some sort, and not merely street lighting.

And it got worse as I read on, with:

one Helensburgh resident and business owner is concerned the seafront is ‘unsafe’ due to the lack of handrails, permanent barriers, and adequate lighting.

He said with summer on the way, tourists who don’t know the area may be in danger of taking a wrong step and tumbling into the sea at night.

He told the Advertiser: “If someone’s walking along near the edge and trips they might just drop into the sea and that could be the end of them – especially is there is a storm or if it’s high tide.”

I don’t know the statistics, but I have been a regular visitor, and can’t recall stories of visitors spontaneously falling into the sea, and if it’s stormy, then wandering along the edge is acting irresponsibly. Describing the seafront as ‘unsafe’ seems rather extreme and possibly politically motivated, as there are many Scottish seafronts with considerably less lighting or barriers etc than Helensburgh, and we don’t appear to have any significant problems as a result.

It will be interesting to see the result of the work mentioned in this story, as one of the nice things about spending a late evening on the esplanade at Helensburgh is the relative darkness and quiet, both things we miss if we live in or near the city. I hope that sitting on the pier (in the car park) enjoying a locally procured fish supper and watching the light on the opposite shore come on as dusk falls will not become little more than a memory.

I’m also somewhat amazed that no-one attempted to blame this resident’s outburst on some mythical and non-existent Health and Safety requirement. Maybe the Advertiser has been fingered for promoting such nonsense in the past, and doesn’t want to be held up as an example of that particular type of headline-making nonsense.

On the other hand, the article does go on to describe works which are being carried out to improve the appearance of the area, and remove potential tripping hazards, repair road/footpath surfaces, and install various items of street furniture – and that’s all good to hear.

The pic below is from April 2014, so the work mentioned in the report is not just a promise, but actually taking place:

Pity they’re not installing some good old-fashioned illuminations (as well).

30/05/2014 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

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