It’s Edinburgh, it’s August and that means festival time – the city is bursting at the seams with the Edinburgh International Festival The Art Festival, The Edinburgh International Book Festival and, of course, the world’s largest arts festival, the Fringe.
And that means me taking a lot of photos, mostly on the Royal Mile, where the performers traditionally congregate to try to build an audience – with hundreds of shows you really have to fight for bums on seats at the Fringe, and a lot of shows often don’t get many while others sell out, so being noticed is all important, with many out in costumes and make-up, others perform small snippets from their shows on the wee stages set up along the Mile, and it’s just packed pretty much wall to wall on the section of the Mile along by the Cathedral. Happy hunting ground for taking pics, first year I have been using the new camera, which is still a bridge camera but with manual zoom and manual focus, which has been a real boon, much quicker and easier than relying on auto-focus, especially in a busy, chaotic street environment with lots of movement of folks.
As always click the pics to see the larger sized versions over on my Flickr photo stream.
That manual zoom and focus is proving damned handy for taking quick shots of moving performers, and the larger zoom means I can get in a bit closer for capturing this kind of shot:
Sometimes masks must be used to protect the innocent…
Plenty of singing on the Fringe too:
Not to mention dance:
And some enchanting smiles
Watched over by the Fringe Police! You picked the wrong festival to haul ass through, boy!
It’s August and it’s festival time here in Edinburgh, the city bursting at the seams as the Fringe and the International Festival kicked off over the weekend, the world’s largest arts festival now in full swing, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the world’s biggest literary fest, starts next weekend (and I will be chairing a couple of events there again this year). Part of the Royal Mile is given over to the Fringe performers – with hundreds of shows it’s no easy task to get audiences, they have to fight for bums on seats, so they strut their stuff on the Mile, many in costume, some doing excerpts from their shows on the mini stages to entice audiences. It’s madly busy – almost literally wall to wall with people across the breadth of that historic thoroughfare – but it’s also a happy hunting ground for me to snap some more photos, and I tend to take a ridiculous amount this month (and the views on my Flickr tend to go mad as well as folks all over look for pics of the festival).
The first pic I shot at this year’s Fringe, actually a couple of days before it officially started, but it was on my way home from work and I thought some performers may be out already (some preview show were running by then), and my first shot was this group of Asian performers posting up their flyers for their show. Just as I lined it up the lovely lady turned around, saw me and gave me a nice big smile and wave, which was a nice way to start my festival season of photos.
Sushi Tap 2, with their rather eye-catching neon pink costumes, hard to miss, even once the Mile filled up with more people over the weekend!
Korean troupe Maro have brought Leodo: the Paradise to the Fringe
“Living” statue performer as a cyclist
Hibiki, a troupe of traditional Japanese drummers – wonderfully kinetic performance
John Robertson’s The Dark Room
Follow the Faun!
Charming performers from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Of course all the hurly-burly of the crowds and performers and the summer sunshine can be too much for some – this chap just settled right down on the busy steps of Saint Giles Cathedral and nodded off
Waking Beauty, a look at fairy tales from a feminine perspective
This musician was singing arias, which rang out beautifully clear even across the din of the busy festival street
With their black garb and white masks the performers from Baggage were just perfect for a monochrome shot
Taiwanese dancers from Gaze of the Kavaluan
Actors from Knowledge and the Girl, a reworking of Snow White for a more feminine and sexually mature audience
Pirate gals from According to Arthur – they very kindly offered me a balloon too!
Singers from The Sweet Nothings, an all-women a cappella singing group
With being so busy and also doing some stuff with the book festival I clean forgot to post some more of my photos from Festival time in Edinburgh
(these performers were from a production of Oliver Twist – presumably an alternative Nazi bondage version of Dickens!)
And of course I shot some at the Book Festival
(Bryan Lee O’Malley signing in the Edinburgh Forbidden Planet a few hours before I talked to him on stage at the Edinburgh International Book Festival)
(from left to right, Kate Charlesworth, Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot at the Book Festival)
(Ken MacLeod and Mike Carey signing after their Book Festival talk – Ken I’ve known for many years, Mike I have known but only online so at last we got to meet in person and have a nice drink and natter after the event)
(Mike Carey again, this time talking comics at the Book Festival with Isabel Greenberg and, on the right, Stuart Kelly)
(Nick Hayes – left – and Reinhard Kleist – on the right – after the talk I chaired with them at the book fest, a very good evening)
(between events it’s nice to sit in Charlotte Square at the book fest in the literary-themed deckchairs)
(night-time at the Edinburgh Book Festival)
(and the traditional 45 minute classic fireworks concert launched from Edinburgh Castle which marks the end of the Edinburgh Festival season. Didn’t go all the way into Princes Street and the crowds, instead took these from bridge over the Union Canal near the regenerated area)
Orange fish-headed people walking along Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile? Ah yes, it’s time for the Fringe…. And that means I end up taking even more photographs than I usually do! Here’s the batch from the first few days of this year’s Festival:
Isn’t this just one of the best smiles you’ve seen??
Zombies on the streets!
And there is sexy retro sci-fi space-babe action too!
Well, that’s the world’s biggest art festival been and gone for another year, and as usual I snapped a lot of photos around the Fringe, mostly on the Royal Mile where there’s a section put aside especially for performers to gather to promote their shows (with hundreds of events you have to fight to be noticed and get an audience – not unknown for some Fringe shows to end up with just a few people in the audience in some shows, it’s a hard festival on performers and companies). I’ve actually still got a batch more to go up that I’ve not had time to process and upload to my Flickr yet (been busy with the final weekend of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, see my report the other day).
My average views on my Flickr usually go up a lot during the festival season as folks from all over look for pics from this year’s Edinburgh festivals and some of my older ones. Often I get double my normal average views. This year quite a number of times I got triple, taking me to an all time personal best, well over 6000 views in one day. Then the following day that record was smashed again with 7000-plus… Few days later 8000-plus. Topped out at just a smidgen under 10,000 at the high-water mark. Quite why it went so far beyond even the normal higher figures I usually see during the Festival I have no idea, but I’m certainly not arguing and will take ’em! Anyway, here’s a second selection of photos (click for the larger versions on my Flickr)
(the happiest party on Earth!)
(Performer from Fringe production of The Tempest – wonder if he is Caliban?)
(how could you say no to a face like this?! “Dott Cotton, International Idiot”, spotted her several times miming and clowning on the Mile, very good)
(performers from a production of The Canterbury Tales)
(some very energetic and enthusiastic dancers)
(Yes, it is a man dressed as a giant banana, with a mouthful of bananas, lying in a cobbled street in the historic Royal Mile. Must be the Fringe…)
(Performers from A Note of Dischord, a steampunk tale based on Sydney Padua’s 2D Goggles webcomic)
(performers from Music Show Wedding, a Fringe production from Korea)
(actors from a production of Peter Pan)
(Titus Andronicus, always a rather bloody affair…)
(more Steampunk fun from A Note of Dischord, kindly posing with their blunderbuss)
(dancer on the Royal Mile, gazing into her crystal ball)
(actress from a Fringe production of Macbeth)
(these young performers from a school in Oklahoma had a show called Shakespearience)
(young violinist on the Mile, with a practically glowing complexion)
(performers from A Romance)
(‘living statue’ lady in front of Saint Giles)
(rather fit and flexible young ballet dancer performing on one of the small stages on the Mile)
(tell me the kid at the far left of this row doesn’t look like a young Woody Allen in this pic?)
(performers from Hungry Bitches)
(a nearly naked, hairy man in a tutu? Not an unusual sight in Edinburgh during the Festival…)
It’s August and in Edinburgh that means we go into Festival mode and a hugely visited city goes from busy with tourists to utter madness. Yes, many other cities have festivals, but none in the world have anything quite like Edinburgh, it’s on another scale, the world’s biggest arts festival (and the posh International Festival and the Book Festival have still to join the Fringe in another week or so!).
(one of the many Fringe venues getting ready for this year’s Festival, cleaning off playbills and the blackboard signs with the schedules on them for last year’s shows)
This young juggling lad may be youthful but he’s a veteran – I’ve taken pics of him each year for several years, usually in different costumes and hairstyles, but the same bloke, and I see he is back performing on the Royal Mile and drawing good crowds again. He’s good, if you watch his performance do slip him a few shekels:
(lost in her music – ukulele action on the Mile)
Looking at these Fringe performers drumming up interest in their show I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how Eddie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous look ten years on:
Reminds me of some of the women who come on the seemingly endless and incredibly vulgar and drunken hen parties that plague the city through the year…
Performer from A Shade of Dust on the Mile:
Yes, it’s the Fringe so it isn’t unusual to see men in dresses walking through the historic Old Town:
This ‘nurse’ was promoting the show Take Care:
This chap has a show called Red Hanrahan, based on the works of the great W.B. Yeats, I asked him if ‘terrible beauty’ was included in the show:
Friendly puppet and her lady friend:
Yes, it’s that time when I go even more click-happy than usual taking photos around the Festival… My Flickr stream passed the 9000 images mark just a couple of weeks ago as it is and if it goes as usual in August there will be a good few more added before the month is out. In another week I’m lucky enough to be invited again to the opening night party of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and as well as going along to several shows I will actually be chairing a couple of the author events this summer too, a dubious pleasure for the audiences…
Yes, it’s August and in Edinburgh that means festival time – the Fringe started last week, the world’s biggest arts festival is underway, and this weekend the world’s largest celebration of the written word, the Edinburgh International Book Festival started. The city is buzzing and packed. And naturally, as usual, I have been clicking away with the camera, especially on the Royal Mile where performers get a space to advertise their shows, some doing small segments of their act to crowds or out in costume handing out flyers to drum up interest in their shows, always a happy hunting ground for taking photos. My Flickr stream normally goes nuts in August, often doubling the normal average views, mostly people looking for Fringe pics, from this year but also looking through the several hundred I’ve built up from previous years.
(above: this very lovely puppeteer is performing in a stage adaptation of the wonderful children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit; below: actress from Pool of Blood)
Some performers take it all lying down…
This lady was doing body art and henna tattoos on the Mile while the performers strutted their stuff, the sunlight hit her and the woman she was working on just right and I managed to get this close up of her plying her art on the lady’s hand, sometimes you get lucky:
And I got very lucky with this one as the actress held still in a pose with the sunlight hitting her just right, had time to frame her for a profile portrait shot. Quite pleased with how this came out, makes me think of a shot from a 1930s/40s fashion magazine:
She was part of this troupe, preparing the electric chair from the looks of it:
Who else do I see on a very sunny (yes, we have had a couple of days of sun! Finally!) Royal Mile but Spider-Man!
And her majesty Queen Elizabeth I:
It can be very tiring, the non-stop hurly-burly of the Fringe, so a nap is a good way to recharge – why not just carry your own bed with your for a wee lie down when you feel your energy flagging?
Some very colourful dancers and musicians from Mother Africa:
I even saw a man playing the musical saw (and numerous other items from his tool box too!)
Quick video to capture his playing:
These performers were putting on what looked like a WWII themed Macbeth
I’ve seen this young chap several times now at the Fringe (usually always with a different hair style), I think I have shots of him going back the last two or three years juggling firesticks and knives, he’s very good
And this was the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s director Nick Barley at the opening night party on Saturday night
had a very nice time at the opening party (have several book fest gigs to look forward to over next couple of weeks), plenty of drinks on offer to us, got to chat to some book chums – here’s top science fiction author Ken MacLeod talking with author and academic JF Derry:
It was too warm inside the Spiegeltent at the Book Festival so once the speeches were over we went back outside. My friend Melanie was at an author event which came out during the party and the book fest folks were nice enough to let her come in and join me, so we sat out under a glowing summer night sky as the festival buzzed around the city chatting and drinking
And while we were out there I got this great shot of Scottish poet Ron Butlin (left) with my friend JF:
Already shot ridiculous amount of Fringe photos and been uploading them steadily to my Flickr – quite often shoot another few dozen walking home along the Mile after work, but the weather is supposed to be back to horrid rain again for the next few days so suspect I won’t be walking along taking photos then! Still have a large amount waiting to process and upload though, so that’s not a problem! More to follow…
Well last night was the traditional hour-long fireworks classical music concert over the Castle that marks the end of another year of the Edinburgh International Festival, with the Fringe and the Book Festival having finished the weekend before. It’s a huge display of pyrotechnic fun and luckily the threatening rain clouds held back till the end of the concert. Much as I love the annual fireworks (much larger than the ones at Hogmanay) having seen them many times I can’t really face watching them from Princes Street as there are tens of thousands lined up to watch and I can’t be bothered with trying to get through all of that each year. Used to watch from my friend’s old workplace which had a Castle view, they had a party with food and booze while we watched over the roofs of the New Town to the Castle, but sadly they relocated and their new place doesn’t have the view. So last year we watched from the Radical Road under the Crags on the volcanic bulk of Arthur’s Seat; this year I decided to try somewhere closer to my end of town and with the old S&N brewery finally fully demolished I realised that from the old humpback bridge on the Union Canal at Fountainbridge I’d get a half decent view.
The Fringe may be over too (and Edinburgh has that ‘just taken down the Christmas decorations’ feeling – peeling flyers for shows now finished on walls and stands but the carnival is over and the fabulous freak have left town. A relief in some ways but also always slightly sad) but I shot far too many photos during August as usual – the section of the Royal Mile near my work is given over to performers to do little bits of their acts on small stages and to parade up and down, many in costume, trying to interest folks in the hundreds of shows competing for bums on seats, which gives a lot of opportunity for grabbing some interesting street scenes (in fact I still have some left to process and upload to the Woolamaloo Flickr – click the pics here to see the bigger versions on my Flickr).
A gallant kiss on the hand for his lovely assistant:
Even rain doesn’t stop the Fringe or the tourists – the tacky ‘tartan tat’ gift shops must do a roaring trade in these disposable rain macs for tourists who come to Scotland in the summer with a summer wardrobe only to find the rain!
Offffff with his head!!!!!
Championship level gurning from the Mad Hatter!
Beautiful smile from this performer:
Rockin’ around the clock tonight…
And faery creatures prowl the street, casting their charms…
And we even had Charlie Chaplin performing right outside St Giles where once the dour, miserable old bugger Knox used to preach:
And a bit of skin always helps sell a show!
And I managed a couple of shots at some Free Fringe shows too:
And the Book Festival of course (I’ve already posted full reports & pics from those events on here and the FP blog):
Edinburgh is bursting at the seams as the Festival season gets into full swing (and I’m off to the opening night party at the Book Festival later this evening), the entire city buzzes, the streets are full of crowds and performers, but sometimes you just have to sit down for a break and a chat with a human statue (complete with seagull and pretend bird poo!):
It isn’t just the Royal Mile that is thronged as the Fringe performers promote their shows, the Playfair Steps are normally a good shortcut from the Mile down to the New Town, past the National Gallery and Royal Academy, but during August it is packed solid with tourists checking out the craft stalls – nice if you are on holiday and can amble at a snail’s pace looking around, pain in the bum if you live here and need to get somewhere for a certain time!
This lady performer on the Mound is very, very flexible:
One thing that never changes at the Fringe, one way to stand out among the literally hundreds of other shows happening every single day – show some skin!
Channel 4 News’ arts and culture correspondent Matthew Cain doing a report from the Royal Mile – the camera was a good 40 or 50 feet away so most folks in the crowd around him couldn’t see it, it made him look like he was walking through the crowd talking to himself:
Traditional Japanese musician on the Mile
With the city so astonishingly busy paramedics on mountain bikes are used to get round the crowds for emergencies to treat anyone who needs it until an ambulance can get there. Here’s one hard working bike-medic catching a quick coffee break among the Fringe crowds:
Lady with her harp:
It’s Edinburgh, Festival time and seeing a man in a kilt on top of ladders juggling knives on the historic Royal Mile is pretty much an everyday sight as I walk home from work!
These Native American musicians are here playing on the streets during the Festival most years:
It’s August, it’s Festival time, the city is incredibly busy and the Fringe begins properly this weekend, although some performers have been doing preview shows for several days already. Came out of work yesterday a bit late, rainy day had gone and sun had put his hat back on, so I thought I’d de-stress by walking up the Royal Mile with the camera out and start bagging my first Fringe pics of 2011, got a bunch already, doubtless as usual I will take far too many over the next few weeks. First Fringe with the new camera, which technically is a better camera than my old, deceased on, but I got some great work out of that old one so the new one has a lot to live up to. Certainly worked nicely last night as I bagged my first couple of dozen Fringe pics with it, starting with this group from Diamond Dick, who were all dressed and made up in the style of 1920s silent movie folks:
(I am such a sucker for that Louise Brooks style...)
and this scene with the Fringe performers trying to bring a smile to an infant’s face was just to cute not to snap as it happened right in front of me:
If it runs like previous years I’m sure I’ll have plenty more pics to follow through August on my Flickr, which has now reached to a ridiculous more than 6, 000 images level..
I noticed a spike in one of my photos from this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe this week and wondered why:
Turned out it was being linked to from several websites, including this Japanese one. I’ve seen my pics borrowed numerous times on other sites – including, rather pleasingly, the New Yorker book blog at one point – but I think this is the first time (that I know of anyway) that I’ve been used on a Japanese site. Truly I am a cosmopolitan chap.
The Edinburgh Festival moves into full swing with the International Festival and Book Festival joining the Fringe which has been going for a week already. The city centre is bursting at the seams between tourists (which we have all the year round, more in the summer, of course) and and Festival goers – the city’s population practically doubles during August. Just trying to walk home from work of an evening is a nightmare, the streets are jam packed and most of the folks are moving slowly so it can be quite frustrating when you are trying to get around your normal working day, it’s not so bad when you are off and can relax and enjoy the vibe. That said it does give ma some good opportunities for some street shots on the way home, walking up the Royal Mile where a section of kept for performers to big up their shows, from handing out flyers to actually performing segments of their shows on the street or on tiny stages, to attract audiences, and with thousands of shows running the month you have to work to get your show noticed and get those bums on seats.
Performers range from unicyclers and jugglers to singers, musicians, comedy acts, plays, magic, dancing, it’s pretty much all there and you can get a great taster of it walking the Mile.
These guys were walking in super slow motion up the Mile (still pic, so you will have to take my word for it!), which did mean for a change with street shots I had time to get in position and get off a few shots. I’ve mentally named the guy on the rear left here ‘Igor’. I think he looks like an Igor from some mad scientist lab.
I passed the stilt-walking puppet master with his human marionette again last night, love their act – the girl is very expressive – and when I put some shekels in their collection box she blew me a kiss! I’m in there 🙂
We even have saucy space vixens in fab retro futuristic silver space garb and sexy silver space boots!
Sometimes wardrobe accidents happen – this poor woman’s braces have clearly become caught on something:
We even have Batman, presumably over on a Scottish motorbiking holiday:
You’re never too old to bike!
Electra Glide in (Saltire) Blue?
We even saw a greener alternative to the hideously expensive, over budget, over time and disruptive tram system they are (failing) to build in Edinburgh – we shall all commute in giant hamster wheels! Although one friend suggested actually this made the guy looked like he was a character on a tarot card.
We even have zombies!
and very sexy Little Mermaids with the Princesses show: