I’ve shot the Gladstone Memorial several times before, usually in lovely, bright light. Until recently it was inaccessible because of the seemingly endless mess the unwanted and ineptly carried out tram works – not content with blocking entire roads for years as they worked they even buggered up pavements and the small park in the West End where the memorial sits. Walking home from doing some night shots in the city centre recently I saw it was open again and as I was carrying the tripod I paused and thought – why have I never shot this at night? In the dark with only ambient illumination from streetlights several feet away the statues all around the sides of the memorial looked very different from the bright days I had shot them on before.
The figure of a hooded lady particularly caught my eye and so I thought I’d quickly set up the tripod and camera again and try a couple of shots – quite a dark spot and the camera had to sit with the shutter open for a good while, drinking in every stray photon it could to come out with the above image. I was quite pleased with how it came out, especially shooting in black and white (I never use PhotoShop to greyscale my pics, if it is in B&W it means I shot it in B&W originally, I refuse to bodge or fake my images) – if you click on the image and look at the larger versions on my Flickr you can see it brought out the scant available light so well you can even see a couple of stars in the background. As it had come out so well I decided to take a closer shot and zoomed in – amazing how different the sculptures look after dark, almost creepy…
At last, very belatedly signs of spring here – walking home tonight it was a fine spring evening, glorious light quality, bright, clear. I noticed a lot of daffodils in full bloom, a full two months late – those should have been in bloom back in March but such was the appallingly, unseasonably cold (even for Scotland)weather for much of this spring they are only now blooming. It was so nice I went slightly out of my way to walk along the Union Canal on the walk home from work, and saw that – finally – the blossoms on the trees are starting to flower, again weeks later than they should (really they should have flowered and fallen by now leaving carpets of soft white and pink petals across the pavements). Normally I would shoot these delicate petals and the clear, blue dome of sky above in colour, but for some reason I felt like trying them in monochrome and actually I’m quite pleased with how they came out, which I attribute to the beautiful light quality more than my own eye.
The Scotsman Steps, the enclosed stone staircase leading from just in front of the old Scotsman newspaper building (now a hotel and restaurant as the paper moved to new premises by the Parliament several years ago) down to Market Street below North Bridge, were little used for many years as they were neglected, steps worn and often used by vagrants as a toilet (not pleasant to walk down). Now cleaned up and restored, boasting some lovely stonework and this view from top across North Bridge and the valley that divides the Old and New Towns (where the railway is today) towards the great bulk of what is now the posh Balmoral hotel, but which originally was the North British, a massive hotel built for the then new railways and their travellers. Good to be back in Edinburgh again, I missed the views the city gives me like this:
During my recent night photography session in Edinburgh I had a little fun prowling the dark bone orchards – this one looks quiet, dark, still, but actually it is Saint Cuthbert’s, which is right in the middle of the town with a very busy street just a few yards away. Up above you can see Edinburgh Castle, all floodlit while the massive volcanic rock it sits atop is in darkness, giving the illusion that the Castle is floating above the city like something from Gulliver’s Travels:
Royal Mile tonight on the way home, chill of a December night over the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, looking upslope towards Saint Giles Cathedral, the statue of Adam Smith visible on the upper left, the trio of classic old British telephone boxes and a ‘ghost’ effect on the left hand path:
Sometimes you just come across the simplest scene – a woman sitting with her back to you, looking at the sea, a couple walking in the background on the beach, low winter sun casting long shadows – and somehow you think hey, this would make a decent photo. I have no idea why but in colour I just knew it wouldn’t look like much, but shot in black and white it suddenly had something…
I was out at Edinburgh’s annual Doors Open Day on Saturday, interesting as ever getting into various buildings for a look around, let down only a bit by the usual incompetence of Edinburgh bloody council who were turning people away from the City Chambers despite it being in the programme that was arranged months in advance – many other locations opened their doors, with people on hand to explain the history and more, all volunteers, but Edinburgh council with its vast army of staff still made an arse of it. What a surprise… Shame on you, Edinburgh council – when I did Glasgow’s Doors Open the City Chambers there was most welcoming and I took many pics in that astonishing building. Shame I couldn’t do it in the one that I pay (through the nose) tax to sustain due to your incompetence – truly no task simple enough that Edinburgh council can’t make a mess of it… Sigh… Anyway, I took pics of the other places I caught in this year’s Doors Open but haven’t had time to sort out my photos yet, will post later on here, but meantime here is one taken in Edinburgh University’s old anatomy theatre, where some wag had placed this medical skeleton in one of the chairs of the old lecture hall. I took one shot and it was a bit dark, so I used the flash and accidentally got this rather pleasing effect as the skeleton flared white and the background went black (as usual click the pic to see the bigger version on the Woolamaloo Flickr):
Ambling through Edinburgh’s Old Town on a Saturday afternoon recently with a friend we noticed a stall set up on Middle Meadow Walk with second hand albums, CDs and DVDs. I used to go to second hand record shops regularly when I first moved here years ago, but prices for CDs and DVDs in places like Fopp or online have dropped so much over the years that the second hand places are often not worth it, although I do find myself still going for wanders through second hand and charity bookstores (and I certainly don’t really need more books, but it doesn’t stop me!).
It’s funny though, as soon as my fingertips started flicking through the racks, especially the plastic-wrapped albums, it was like the fingers remembered this exercise from many years of browsing and I felt a curious satisfaction, half memories of browsing through old albums with pals in Glasgow or Edinburgh of a weekend in our late teens and 20s. An enjoyable way to spend some time; raking through boxes of second hand comics has a similarly satisfying feeling. And I think the fact you can come away with some purchases but only spend a small amount is kind of nice, especially with things so tight – the feeling of having bought something cool but not having made a hole in the wallet to do it. I think I came away with second hand White Stripes album and a jazz one by Courtney Pine, plus a DVD of The Goonies for the princely sum of about 7 quid. Then we wandered over the road to Sandy Bell’s for a few pints and listen to some live folk music.