Night Moves

With the clocks going back it is darker earlier each evening here now. Some find this depressing, the long, dark nights. I quite like it, and it is a good chance for some night photography! Sometimes I am out with the tripod taking them properly, other times they are often improvised, taken on the way home from work when I have no tripod handy so I go handheld for rough shots or use things like railings and pillars to sit the camera on to steady it in lieu of the tripod. This is an improvised shot by the Union Canal, the steel skeleton of a new building under construction on one of the last brownfield sites left from the former Scottish and Newcastle Brewery complex which used to dominate this area for years.You can see the flat-topped railing I used to sit the camera on to steady it in the image:

Construction at Night

Another improvised shot on the same night by the Union Canal, bracing the camera against a mooring post to get this image of this houseboat at night – how cosy does it look against the cold, dark night? And below that a short from just a few feet further along looking to the old Leamington Lift Bridge.

Cosy Floating Home

Union Canal at Night

Rough handheld shot in lowlight mode at dusk in Bruntsfield, looking into the windows of Project Coffee – I think for this kind of pic the roughness of the freehand shot actually works:

Project Coffee at Dusk

Zebra crossing at night, Polwarth, another freehand shot walking home from work:

Night Crossing

Another handheld shot, this is the Telfer Subway at night:

Subway at NIght 02

Heading down through the lower part of the New Town to my book group, had been raining a little and the cobbled roads by Drummond Place had that glistening look to them under the street lights:

Drummond Place at Night

Walking through the old boneyard of Saint Cuthbert’s at night – peaceful very dark and quiet and yet only a few steps from busy Lothian Road and Princes Street, bustling with people and traffic, yet down here the quiet of old tombs, the crunch of fallen autumn leaves and so much darker than it looks in these pictures where I could do long exposures. The things you spot, different little realms just a few steps away from busy main streets, if you go a few steps off the main thoroughfare in Edinburgh:

The Path of Night Walks Through the Realm of the Dead

Saint Cuthberts at Night

Steps Into Autumn Night 01

And look a the view of the Castle you get from the old graveyard:

Castle From the Churchyard 01

And here’s one taken with a new toy, a cheap LED light panel that fixes to the camera’s flash gun shoe – I turned it on and took a walk through the old graveyard near my flat. The middle is deliberately allowed to become overgrown to become a mini urban wildlife area, and during the day you can hear all sorts of sounds, from twigs snapping to branches rustling. At night you hear even more of it but can’t see the animals making them, just hear the sounds from the undergrowth between the older tombstones. In the darkness of the walled boneyard, you can imagine how creepy that feels, as if something is following you through the cemetery. For added effect I took these on the way home on Halloween:

Halloween in the Boneyard 04

Halloween in the Boneyard 02

The blue fortress of winter…

One from my photo archives, taken on this day in 2010, during the very heavy winter and snowfall we had that year, and reposted here to mark 30th November, Saint Andrew’s Day:

Edinburgh Castle, Saint Andrew's Night

I came out of my book group that evening, Edinburgh was covered in snow. And the Castle atop its great rock above the city was illuminated Saltire-blue to mark the day of our nation’s patron saint. The skyline of my gorgeous city is remarkable at any time, but on this winter’s night, the Castle in blue, the city draped in snow, it was magical, and I just stood there in the cold taking it in. These are the sorts of sights you just come across living in Edinburgh, no wonder I love it so much. As I was out at my book group I wasn’t carrying a tripod, I improvised by jamming the camera between railings overlooking the Gardens to steady it, and with so much streetlight being reflected by the snow it was enough to get a clear night shot. I didn’t expect it to come out so clearly, being an improvised shot, but it’s digital so not wasting film, may as well try, because sometimes they don’t work, other times you capture a moment like this forever…

Castle and spire

Another shot from recent night-time round of photo-taking – I was actually taking something else, then noticed if I moved the tripod round a little, perhaps I could fit in the both the spire of Saint Cuthberts and the western flank of Edinburgh Castle. So I had a go and it seemed to work…

Happy Saint Andrew’s Day

It’s Saint Andrew’s Day again in Scotland, here’s a night shot I managed to improvise of Edinburgh Castle lit up in blue like our Saltire especially for the occassion. I was on my way home from my book group so didn’t have a tripod, but when I saw this I improvised, jammed the camera as best I could between some railings above Princes Street Gardens and tried to brace it to hold it steady enough for a night shot, helped by it being lighter than usual with all the snow we had at the time reflecting a lot more ambient light and after a few shots one finally came out reasonably well (click for larger image on my Flickr):

Edinburgh Castle, Saint Andrew's Night

Bamburgh

A couple of weeks ago we had a nice, sunny Sunday, almost an early spring day, so my friend decided to drive further down the coast with his dog than usual and I went along. We ended up crossing the border into England (nothing like a bit of foreign travel, eh?) and found ourselves at the gorgeous, historic Bamburgh Castle on a lovely stretch of the Northumbrian coast. I’ve known about the castle for many years but this was the first time I got to visit it.

Bamburgh Castle 03

Bamburgh Castle 05

There’s been a fortification of some sort or another since the 400 AD period on this basalt rock rising up next to the sea, the square keep is Norman (with walls from 9 to 11 feet thick), some of the rest of the castle looks almost like a Victorian idea of what a medieval castle should look like and that may be because industrial magnate Lord Armstrong bought it (as many newly rich industrialists did with castles and country houses to fit in with the upper classes in society) and restored it. Beautiful building though, on lovely part of the coast and we were lucky to arrive late afternoon as the sunlight was stretched out to a lovely, warm copper colour and was hitting the landward side of the castle, making the ancient red stonework glow.

Bamburgh Castle 07

Bamburgh Castle 011

and here’s a short video panorama of the Castle:

Cut into a niche lower down the base of the castle rock is the local war memorial, standing on a flat rock a few feet above the parkland in front of the castle; it is a rather lovely spot to have a memorial to the fallen. The Christ on the cross in the memorial seemed to me to have a very old style to it, perhaps so it better suited the looming medieval castle towering protectively above it.

war memorial, Bamburgh Castle 01

war memorial, Bamburgh Castle 03

Christmas greetings from Scotland

After finishing work for the year I walked up a very snowy Royal Mile to the Castle gates. For the first time ever I had it all to myself, not another soul there for ten minutes, just me standing in snow that came over the toes of my boots, that soft scrunching sound that reminds you instantly of childhood playtimes in the snow. Just me and the cold and the snow and the Castle glowing in the night above the city, dusted with snow like icing on a historical cake. Below and around me views across the whole of Edinburgh, right out to the Pentland Hills. Freezing but incomparably beautiful. Merry Christmas from a snowy Scotland!

Edinburgh Castle, snowy December evening
snowmen on the Mile

Snowy Edinburgh

On the way home this evening after the last book group of the year and a nice drink, passing Princes Street Gardens, the Christmas lights, snow, Edinburgh Castle… This is my view on the way home and one of the reasons I love living here in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

yuletide Castle

yuletide Edinburgh