The Forth Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in the world, not just in the UK. I took advantage of a clear but cold day to head over to South Queensferry to try and get a good photo of the famous structure.
Rather than take hundreds of images I set off with one image in mind. I wanted a long exposure of the bridge with the morning sun casting it’s glow on the red painted steel and brickwork. The skies were clear as expected but soon after sunrise the sun was shrouded by a rogue cloud. Damn. After 15 minutes the sunlight returned and I got the image I was after.
During the wait I took the opportunity to fire up the drone and take some alternative shots. My video wasn’t great – lack of practise and preparation, but I did get a couple of images that I was pleased with. I got warnings while flying of low temperatures and also over stressing the motor which was a bit disconcerting as the drone was about a mile out from me over water. Between that, batteries running low and me starting to freeze I didn’t get as much out of the drone as I should have.
My biggest fail of the day was I got cold. It was 0, feels like -4 and I was on a bit of sand/riverbank so very quickly I started to get cold. I needed more layers and better footwear. After 90 minutes I had to move on as I was that cold I was getting pains. A brisk walk to get another view of the bridge helped but it really was too late and I spent the rest of the day feeling cold and sore.
This trip was my first using the Peak Design Everyday Backpack. I love the design and flexibility that the bag offers but need to think how best to configure the flex fold dividers as one collapsed as soon as I removed the camera due to load but thats easily fixed by altering the layout. I loved all the expandability that the bag had as well and it meant I could use one 20L bag to carry all my gear. However it’s not watertight. This didn’t effect me yesterday but I wouldn’t trust it on a day out with variable weather. Its water resistant but the top pocket doesn’t seal so you run the risk of water getting into the main compartment. Overall I’m pleased with the purchase but not convinced I’ll be able to use it 100% of the time unless I also carry a rain cover for the unpredictable Scottish weather.
Next on the shopping list is probably a set of Lee filters. They aren’t cheap but will help with a lot of the photo’s I like to take. Before I buy I’m going to get out and use the camera more. I upgraded to a Fuji X-T2 towards the end of 2016 and I love it but need to use it more not just to understand it fully but also to improve my photography. There’s only so much a book or manual can teach.
Last year I tried to get some photo’s of the Glasgow Green firework display with mixed success. Wind didn’t help and where we pitched our camera’s was very busy and the locals were not often….friendly. So this year with a clear night promised I tried Queens Park with Shak. Surprisingly it was really busy but then again the view was pretty great.
I’d hoped to do a long exposure and capture lots of fireworks as they were set off over the city and I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. The rest of the pics were fairly standard firework photo’s but do capture what I was seeing.
I was let down by a couple of things. The Triggertrap I was using for long exposures worked occasionally rather than every time. No idea why but something I need to investigate. Not sure if it’s the lightning to headphone jack dongle.
The biggest let down though was me. My lack of knowledge was poor last night. No prep, don’t know my gear and it was only thanks to Shak that I got some pics later on with some great advice. Must try harder!
The Devil’s Pulpit is somewhere I had never heard of until a couple of months ago when Shak mentioned that a work colleague had recommended visiting as it’s a magical place. Some of the photo’s online looked great so early Monday morning we set off to get some sunrise pics and pay it a visit.
Devil’s Pulpit is formally known as Finnich Glen and is only a couple of miles south of Drymen so less than a 30 minute drive from Glasgow. Devil’s Pulpit is seemingly the name of a rock within Finnich Glen but over time has become the common name for the location. Getting to it is easy although there aren’t many parking opportunities. There is some parking available on the junction of the A809\B834 (56.034243,-4.419551) or you can park at Queens View car park and walk for 2 miles. We chose the former and had a short trek through a field before clambering over a small fence to find the path.
The path takes multiple routes and while obvious in the daytime in the dark it was a bit tricky to make sure we were on the right one. It was also pretty muddy thanks to the recent weather in the West of Scotland. After 10 or so minutes we finally arrived at the top of the steps down into the Glen itself. We decided to wait until the sun was up as there was a chance of a really good sunrise and we wanted to tackle the steps in more light.
The steps were laid in the mid 1800’s and it shows. They are worn, sometimes missing and very slippy. We took our time going down and in a couple of area’s it was very tight. Someone has placed ropes to help but we never used them – not sure how safe they are. Once down we started to explore and take some pictures (video courtesy of Shak)
The area isn’t that big but ripe for long exposures. We had a couple of ND filters with us but it was pretty dark so didn’t really need them most of the time. I’m pretty pleased with the photo’s from the day and the full set can be found on Flickr.
The Devil’s Pulpit is well worth visiting but make sure you are wearing some good boots especially if there’s been recent wet weather. If you want to get more unusual shots a pair of wellingtons isn’t a bad shout either so you can wade through the water. It goes without saying that if you arrive in the dark you will need a torch – luckily I’d brought my head torch so we had some light to get us there safely. Also be prepared for a steep decent and a bit of dirt and mud so a change of shoes for afterwards or a towel to get cleaned up is worth taking. Mid summer might also be a better time to visit to try and get some more light into the gorge as there was very little of that when we visited. Enjoy and good luck!
A couple of weeks ago I set off early to visit Kilchurn Castle. The plan was to get some good photo’s as the sun rose and as it was a clear night it should be worth setting the alarm for.
The drive up was fine but due to the freezing temperatures and the quiet roads there was a few slippy moments on the way. By the time I parked up it was minus 7. Brrrrr. The scenery and location was amazing and I setup the camera waiting for the sun to rise properly. There were only a couple of others around on the other bank of the loch and it was eerily quiet.
Well it was eerily quiet until i fired up the drone. I’d read that the drone didn’t like the cold and that turned out to be true. Battery life took a bit of a hit and I also got warnings about the temperature and also one of the motors. I carried on though and it was fine and I got some not bad shots.
However my lack of touch friendly gloves meant I flew without wearing any and my hands were frozen. Even the next day my fingertips were still numb. Idiot. I also missed out on many shots that I had wanted to take, partly cause I rushed and partly due to the batteries dropping quicker than usual. Next time I head out I’ll do a bit more planning upfront. It wasn’t just the drone…I missed a few great images with my camera that when I looked back through the photo’s I’d taken were obvious. Experience I guess but I was ticked off at making the effort to get there and miss some pic’s.
If you are looking for a fantastic old castle to visit that was built in the 1400’s then give Kilchurn a go. I plan to visit again sometime in the future and maybe try and get those shots I missed a fortnight ago but I’ve a lot of other places to visit before I return to Kilchurn. Onwards.
It ticked over earlier this week but I finally got over 1 million views on Flickr.
I’ve been on Flickr for years and still have my grandfathered in pro account but sometimes I wonder why I don’t just switch to the free offering. I’ve also looked at other sites like 500px as Flickr has stuttered again recently and just looks to be in the wrong hands at Yahoo.
I don’t even know if thats a little or a lot of views but every so often I get a little thrill when a photo I’ve taken is being used elsewhere on the internet.
As for most viewed photo….it’s not even a photo!
Over 10 years ago I put up this image of my favourite 25 games. Since then it’s had over 100,000 views – not too shabby. Frustratingly the old Flickr notes feature meany I’d overplayed the image with notes about each of the games but that feature is no longer supported.
Thats the niggle with Flickr. It feels like they are doing enough to keep the service going but Google Photo’s and to a lesser extent Photos on Apple are showing the way.
So while a milestone for me has been reached this could be the year of the big photo migration. Come on Yahoo, show Flickr a bit of love.
At the end of September we had some great weather in Glasgow. I headed down to Govan docks one evening and got some good footage with the drone.
I took a bit more time to edit with this one and tried to vary the shots and match with the music. What did take an enormous amount of time was the export from Final Cut. My iMac isn’t really stressed by anything but editing and exporting video needs more oomph. It’s five years old next year so I can see an upgrade within the next 12 months…I’d better get saving.
I wasn’t in the market for a new camera. Honest. The Canon DSLR I had was mostly unused but picking up the drone had relit the passion. Coincidently I was doing some work with the photography team at work and got to see a Fuji X-T1 in action. Shak then borrowed one for a couple of days and the images out of the camera were superb. Deal done – I wanted one which is quite bizarre. I’ve looked at mirrorless camera’s for a while as I liked the size and flexibility and the results they produced, especially the new Sony camera’s but they were so expensive. I’d ruled out the Fuji as it wasn’t a brand I really knew and the X-T1 was launched in April 2014 so felt that a new one was probably due.
However I decided quickly on the black X-T1 leaving the tricky decision of what lens (or lenses) to buy. I wanted a wide lens for landscapes but also wanted a zoom lens to cover a variety of situations. Looking at the various reviews of Fuji lenses quality is almost guaranteed so it was a difficult decision. A last minute push from Shak (who also picked up an X-T1 but in silver) led me to picking up the XF16mmF1.4 R WR and the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.
The camera and lenses arrived and I was immediately impressed with the packaging and the fit and finish of the Fuji products. They all felt really high end. Lenses felt solid and the image quality from a few test images was top notch. Instead of doing a full review of the camera, here’s some points of interest from my first 4 weeks with the X-T1.
The controls are quite different from a Canon/Nikon DSLRs so take a little getting use to.
With built in wifi it’s easy to fire up an iOS app to take remote photos.
I’ve settled on taking RAW+JPG images. The out of the camera JPG’s are pretty amazing and save a lot on editing time.
The two lenses and the fact I went for the X-T1 means it’s a fully weather resistant system – great for Scottish winters (and summers).
Battery life is a bit short so you will need extra batteries if you are out for the day.
I love the speed and sharpness of the 16mm lens…the flexibility of it and the images it produces are fantastic.
The electronic viewfinder is a revelation.
High ISO image quality is surprisingly good
Firmware updates have added considerably to camera functionality since launch
Video is average – I think the iPhone may be better!
Lot’s of buttons – almost too many at first
So what about some sample images?
If you can’t tell already, I love the X-T1. I picked up a Thinktank Retrospective 5 which is a great little camera bag which holds everything I need without being a rucksack and it doesn’t get in the way. I’d love a lighter tripod but my current one will do for now and I’m already thinking about another lens but the two I’ve got just now are fantastic and more than meet my needs.
Could I have done all this with the Canon 550d and a better lens? Probably. But the size and quality of the Fuji equipment has lit a fire again which was in danger of going out with the Canon. I just love using the X-T1.
Great autumn nights last week in Glasgow so armed with the new camera I tried a timelapse from the Clyde Arc.
That was the second attempt as the first 400 photo’s didn’t come out quite as expected. Thankfully the night wasn’t wasted and I managed to get something out of it. The video above is composed of just over 300 images and some tweaking in Lightroom and then a long wait exporting it to video but all straightforward and the result was pretty good.
The recent cold snaps and snow have seen some amazing skies around Glasgow. Early morning runs are far more entertaining when the weather is putting on a show. More impressive is that these are all from an iPhone.