Edinburgh moonrise

Moonrise over Edinburgh – spotted on walk home from work, sun almost vanished in the west, glanced over shoulder to see moon rising in a pale eastern sky. I stood to one side on the Royal Mile, right by the Mercat Cross. Stand a few feet to the left or right and this scene wouldn’t exist, but stand in just the right spot and there is is, an early spring moon rising right above the royal unicorn and saltire atop the Mercat Cross. Most folks walked past on their way home from work without even noticing. For those of us who do know to look for these things though, sometimes, just sometimes in the mundane, workaday world, you can find a moment of magic…

More photos from the Fringe

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)

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(the happiest party on Earth!)

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(Performer from Fringe production of The Tempest – wonder if he is Caliban?)

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(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)
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(performers from a production of The Canterbury Tales)
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(some very energetic and enthusiastic dancers)
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(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…)

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(Performers from A Note of Dischord, a steampunk tale based on Sydney Padua’s 2D Goggles webcomic)

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(performers from Music Show Wedding, a Fringe production from Korea)
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(actors from a production of Peter Pan)
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(Titus Andronicus, always a rather bloody affair…)

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(more Steampunk fun from A Note of Dischord, kindly posing with their blunderbuss)

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(dancer on the Royal Mile, gazing into her crystal ball)

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(actress from a Fringe production of Macbeth)

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(these young performers from a school in Oklahoma had a show called Shakespearience)
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(young violinist on the Mile, with a practically glowing complexion)

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(performers from A Romance)
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(‘living statue’ lady in front of Saint Giles)

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(rather fit and flexible young ballet dancer performing on one of the small stages on the Mile)

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(tell me the kid at the far left of this row doesn’t look like a young Woody Allen in this pic?)

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(performers from Hungry Bitches)

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(a nearly naked, hairy man in a tutu? Not an unusual sight in Edinburgh during the Festival…)

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(lady and her very friendly puppet friend)

Spring skyline

Walking home from work, for once the sun had come out, end of the day in very early spring, sun already low in the sky now dipping towards the western horizon, casting copper light and long shadows over Edinburgh’s spectacular skyline:

Edinburgh skyline, spring sunset 02

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A zoom in on some details of the crowded roofs of the tall buildings of the Old Town, with the spire of the Tron Kirk visible on the Royal Mile, rising above them, the peak of Arthur’s Seat prominent in the background:

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I thought this one worked as a sort of cross-section of the Old Town, showing off the old structures which descend the steep sides of the volcanic ridge which the Old Town lies on – it’s a city of many levels, Edinburgh, and that’s before you consider what’s below ground too…

The beautiful, almost wedding cake architecture of Ramsay Gardens, surely one of the most unique set of dwelling places in the British Isles, sat literally right by the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Old town’s volcanic ridge, commanding views out across the 18th century New Town towards the mighty Firth of Forth, seen here catching the last rays of a spring day sun…

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Edinburgh at night

It’s that time of year where it is now dark before I leave from work to walk home, but I don’t mind that – even when darkness falls Edinburgh looks wonderful and I enjoy walking night-time streets and taking in views like this, looking down from Granny Black’s steps to the Grassmarket behind the Castle, the blander new building on the far side of the square of the Grassmarket is a modern hotel, behind and above it you can see the wonderful old structure of Herriots school; these are all improvised shots, no tripod as was coming home from work so balanced camera on timer on walls and railings:

new building and the old

Another shot from Granny Black’s Steps, looking down into Kings Stables Road which leads off from the Grassmarket – the building in the background above with the very large, brightly lit windows is the back of Edinburgh College of Art:

King's Stables Road at night

Another one looking down into the Grassmarket – the steep steps you see lead up and come out at part of the old, historic Flodden Wall by Herriots School near the University; they also feature in the wonderful animated film by Sylvain Chomet, The Illusionist:

Grassmarket at night

And this shot I have taken several times at different times of year with different cameras over the years, but when I see it like this I simply can’t resist taking another one. The Royal Mile runs east (from the bottom of the ridge at the Palace of Holyrood and now also the Parliament) west up to the Castle. And because I walk home westward at this time of year there is that marvellous quality of evening where it is fully dark but there is a lingering touch of pale light left in the western horizon, so as well as a night shot (another improv one – set timer in night mode, left shutter open, camera balanced on top of traffic bollard; I think about 2/3 of my night shots are improvised like this when I see a scene walking about town) you also get some light in the sky silhouetting the buildings. And with people walking about the busy street you also get that ‘ghosting’ effect, which I must admit I rather like. This is my walk home – isn’t it wonderful?

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View from a roof

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(dome of Old College Building at Edinburgh University on Southbridge)

The roof terrace of the modern section of the National Museum of Scotland is one of Edinburgh’s best ‘secret’ spots to take in views across the roofs of the city’s Old Town. I say secret, it isn’t really a secret, it is free and open to the public like the rest of the museum, but I mean secret as in so many people – visitors and natives – simply don’t seem to know it is there and the remarkable panorama across the city it offers. Highly recommended for a visit.

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(above: looking down on historic Greyfriars Kirk, below: top of Edinburgh’s splendid Central Library)

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(view right across the Old Town to the clock tower of the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street, visible even over the tall buildings of the Old Town), below: fluttering flags on the roofs of the City Chambers and other buildings, bottom: dome of the Bank of Scotland HQ on the Mound)

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Colours

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Bright, sunny, warm autumn day, really bringing out the colours in the historic Riddles Court, even in the small confines of the wee square of the court between the towering tenements of the Old Town, right off the Royal Mile, the sun still managed to creep in to light up the wonderful colour on this building and nature even kindly provided me with a lovely blue sky to contrast it against it and a few shadows from a neighbouring tenement.

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Al Fresco album browsing

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!).

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al fresco album browsing 02

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.

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folk music in Sandy Bells 01

Like a puppet on a string

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

Love is just like a merry-go-round
With all the fun in the air
One day I’m feeling down on the ground
Then I’m up in the air
Are you leading me on?
Tomorrow will you be gone?

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

I may win on the roundabout
Then I’ll lose on the swings
In or out, there is never a doubt
Just who’s pulling the strings
I’m all tied up to you
But where’s it leading me to?

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

Like a puppet on a….. string

I loved these Fringe performers on the Royal Mile, snapped on the way home from work:

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The woman playing the puppet pulled some fabulous expressions:

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Fringe 2010 - like a puppet on a string 06

Preparing for the Tattoo

preparing for the Tattoo
Some of the grandstand seating and control tower erected on the Castle Esplanade for the annual Royal Military Tattoo which takes place during the Festival in August and these days also gets used for some concerts before and after the Tattoo. Duran Duran and Florence and the Machine were on there on Thursday night – amazing spot for a gig, the Castle gates and battlements to one side, Edinburgh at night to the other sides below your view from the top of the vast volcanic Castle Rock. Alas, also very exposed to the elements and that evening we had thunder, lightning and torrential rain, which is the drawback to that sort of venue… I have been just once to the Tattoo, not really my cup of tea, although it is quite dramatic to see a massed pipe band at night come marching out the Castle gates, which are flanked by statues of the Bruce and Wallace, fire blazing in metal braziers on the battlements above. And at the end all the lights out, even the ones which floodlight the Castle, save for one spotlight and the haunting image and sound of a single, lone piper on the wall of this ancient fortress high above the city.

Where to now?

Quick candid street shot on the Royal Mile, a young tourist couple looking at their guide book for ideas of where to visit next in Edinburgh. The Mile is incredibly busy now with visitors, but nothing compared to what it will be like come August and the Festival. And yes, I am still on a bit of a black and white photo kick at the moment, started off using it for architectural shots then decided I quite liked the way some street scenes looked in monochrome. I don’t know why but I love capturing un-posed street scenes, I think it appeals to my sense of using photography mostly for ‘honest’ purposes (ie I don’t rework them in Photoshop, usually what you see is what I saw, including monochrome shots – if its in B&W I shot that way, it wasn’t in colour then grayscaled afterwards, I think that gives a ‘flat’ result) and my Gonzo Photographer ethos of not setting up shots and settings much but mostly shooting quickly from the hip at whatever catches my eye; not everyone’s way of doing it (some prefer methodical set ups of framing, lighting and settings, I’m more of a spontaneous kind of person in this as in writing), but its how I work with my camera and I enjoy it. And with 31, 000 views on my Flickr stream I assume some other folks must like some of them too.

where next?