Walking home from work a few days ago, after some awful (even for Scotland) weather, including a return to winter, spring arrived properly, with warmth and golden sunlight. I decided to take a longer but more pleasant route home, past the university and through the Meadows, the large, popular park nearby, and naturally it was full of people enjoying the sudden burst of nice weather. As I was snapping some quick people watching shots I spotted this chap, hammock tied up between two trees near the path, laid back and relaxed, and had to sneak a quick candid shot. Man, this guy has that lifestyle priorities thing worked out…
Walking through the Grassmarket this afternoon, the busy square of pubs and restaurants right below the Castle’s southern flank (some of the pubs there were centuries old even when Robert Burns stayed in them during Edinburgh visits). Gorgeous, bright, spring day, pubs and restaurants all busy with tables outside, locals and tourists alike enjoying the weather. And then I just happened across a group holding an open-air Tango session:
Right there in the old square, right below the Castle, couples dancing happily away in the spring sunshine, dappled by the new leaves on the trees. Seemed like it was begging for some black and white shots, so I started snapping away. A lot of the pics I had to junk – would just get lined up and focused on one couple and another pair of dancers would step into my line and I’d end up with a photo of their backs! But I got a few successful shot…
This lady in the pics directly above and below looks familiar to me – I’m sure I don’t actually know her, but her face looks familiar and I have a feeling that perhaps I’ve photographed her before at some other event in Edinburgh, but given how many thousands of pics I’ve taken it may take a bit of browsing to verify! Anyway, while I was clicking away, I got this shot as she danced with her partner and looked right at the camera with this wonderful, big smile (one of those really good smiles, the kind that isn’t just the mouth moving but the eyes and the whole face smiling). Joyful scene to just come across all these people so happily dancing away in the sunlight in the middle of the Old Town.
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!
Walking through the Meadows a couple of weeks ago during a sudden burst of warm, bright autumn weather, came across this chap making giant soap bubbles – I love finding little surprises like this as I wander round Edinburgh, it’s one of the reasons I always have my camera stashed in my bag, you never know what you might see just walking home from work… If you look at the lower pics, over on the far right you can just make out a bubble exploding into soapy shards, it must have popped just a millisecond after I hit the shutter (click on the pics to see the larger viewing options on my Flickr)
Quick shot from top deck of the bus to work as it was paused at the lights – this it Tom Gilzean, fundraiser extraorindaire and well-kent Edinburgh character. Mr Gilzean is a veteran in his mid 90s, yet is regularly at his post, usually outside the old Jenners Department Store on Princes Street, right across from the towering Scott Monument (I’m sure the statue of Sir Walter Scott looking across the road to him approves of his diligent work). He’s raised over £100,000 for charities, quite remarkable, as he is seen on Princes Street, medals polished, a charity collection box in each hand rattling away.
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!
And some folk have a different angle on things…
It’s Monty and the Funtastic Bucket Man!
And then their masks came off…
Walking home from work earlier this week on a very fine, sunny spring evening, spotted a crowd of tourists on the Royal Mile watching this street performer, Sideshow Stevie, paused on route home, had missed most of the act but did see little of his final part…
Which involved this small bed of nails, laid across his tummy
Then this fairly hefty chap climbed up and stood on the board!
Now that is a pretty extreme form of acupuncture!
Walking through Edinburgh on the way home from work the other evening and came across this trio on the Mound, right by Princes Street Gardens, in the space next to the Royal Scottish Academy. They are called Marama and consisted of two drummers and a bagpiper, kicking out the jams to a fabulous beat, folk music but with a more modern edge, which reminded me of bands like Shooglenifty we used to go to see back in our student days who took Scots and Irish folk music but reworked it in a modern style (we danced all night to those, irresistible beat).
They were having a ball, drummers whacking away and the piper frequently dancing around them both as the beat rolled out across the city and the crowd cheered along.
Great fun to come across things like this just ambling home, another sign of moving properly into spring and summer (despite the weather!) as street performers start to appear more often.
And here’s a short video clip of them in action – sorry, being a street scene the audio isn’t that great and doesn’t do them justice really, but was only way I could try and grab at least a bit of of their sound to share:
At least that was the old tag-line for Shell’s ads many years ago said. On my way to work this morning the petrol station on Dalry Road just a few minutes walk from my flat I saw Greenpeace staging a direct action protest to draw attention to the plans of Shell (and other greedy corporations) to explore and drill for oil in the Arctic. Not content with allowing oil companies to start looking for oil in unspoilt wildernesses like Alaska (and let’s not forget the mess they made of much of the Alaskan coastline, or the more recent mess off Florida) they want to go into one of our last largely untouched regions (similarly greedy mega corporations are jostling to be allowed to do mining exploration at the other end of the world in the Antarctic – there is no place these greedy bastards will not happily despoil to add a few more millions to their bloated profits).
Apologies for the low quality of the photos – the bus I was on to work stopped right opposite the petrol station, where no less than six police vehicles had pulled up (amazing how much response a big corporation gets – in my old job if we caught a shoplifter we’d sometimes have to sit and keep them there for half an hour to an hour until a pair of coppers turned up, but an oil company, sure have vanloads of police to drag away a few peaceful protesters…) Pulled camera from bag and got four or five shots off out the bus window before it moved off, most ruined by other vehicles passing in the busy road, only these two came out passably and not framed well since all I could do was shove the lens up against the window to cut down reflections from the glass, but still, better than nothing. I did like the person in the polar bear suit! More on this story on the BBC site here.
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!