Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Seven days

Joining in the Seven Days theme at The Barefoot Crofter and starting with a Sunday visit to John Lewis in search of a new sofa. While we were there I noted this comfy tartan chair for our 'when we move to Speyside' furniture list. It's hard to remember now that shops in Scotland used to be closed on a Sunday. Very convenient for those of us who work all week, but it's certainly not a day of rest.

Above, feelings are running high as flood prevention work continues along the Water of Leith. I'll post more about this shortly, but for the moment here's the scene from the bridge at Canonmills.

Below, a new stretch of walkway/cyclepath in the direction of the sea, captured on my walk home from work. A branch route from the main path, deserted on a rainy evening.

Staying with the cycling theme, but with a change of country mid-week with a visit to Antwerp for a conference. Below, a typical Belgian bicycle outside a university building in Antwerp, complete with the floral touches favoured by students there.

Depressingly for those of us from Edinburgh where the saga of the non-appearance of our trams continues, Antwerp's trams run in even the narrowest of streets. They also seem to enjoy the sport of cyclist-chasing.

Below, a couple of enticing restaurants in Antwerp, and a lovely street drain cover in Brussels.

A fire hydrant for my collection:

Below, Antwerp's new 'museum on the river', the Museum aan de Stroom. Fantastic views from the top, of which more later.

Saturday night and waffles, ice cream and chocolate sauce looking out over the Grote Markt/Grand Place in Brussels, with the intricate spire of the town hall rising into the darkness. Brussels is officially bi-lingual in Flemish and French. After being in Flemish-speaking Antwerp for a few days it came as a shock to the ear to step off the train and immediately be surrounded by French.

Sunday afternoon - Edinburgh airport and thinking longingly of a very strong cup of Scottish tea.
And of course seeing my family.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Skywatch Friday - rush hour glory

A rush hour treat in Edinburgh - a raft of glorious sunset colour against massing grey evening clouds. We are going down into the dark of winter, and these moments are precious.

The castle-like building in the first shot is the Balmoral hotel. The castle-like building in the second shot, with the domes and spires and flags, is the Bank of Scotland. The real castle is lurking in the distance.

More skies from across the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Torridon photo course

Dawn over Loch Clair, looking towards Liathach. A couple of weekends ago I was on a photography course in Torridon. It was a revelation. Not, unfortunately in photographic terms, but of the beauty of this part of Scotland in autumn. I know my own east coast stamping grounds well in all seasons, but this was the first time I'd been on the west coast outside of the narrow band of June to August. It was empty (save a few bands of tripod-toting photographers, and the cars of hill walkers at road ends and wider verges of the single track roads). The sun was low and the light (on Friday and Sunday) reflected off the tawny hillsides. I had never imagined such warm colours in an almost treeless landscape.

The shot above was taken on Sunday morning, towards the end of an early session at Loch Clair. We were in the minibus at 7 am, in the dark, slowed momentarily by a stag walking slowly down the road in front of us. On location (how pretentious that sounds) by 7.30, as the blue light gave way to rose and silver, and I sustained a tripod injury while trying to coerce what to me is basically machinery into capturing the beauty of the dawn.

Sunday at least had a dawn. On Saturday we were also out by 7, and bracing ourselves and tripods against rain and gale-force winds at the same location, and then after breakfast at Loch Maree.

My aim for the weekend had been to get a concentrated infusion of technical know-how and that wasn't forthcoming. However, looking back from a couple of weeks distance, I'm realising that I did learn some things about composition. The most frustrating thing was to know what I wanted to capture in terms of the quality of light, and not to be able to manipulate the camera to do that. I am singularly dim when it comes to f-stops. The old horror of maths lessons at school rears its head.

Throughout, I was concentrating so hard on trying to take artful photographs that I didn't take shots of what would normally appeal to me in a landscape. It was a very strange experience - 'trying too hard' is how I sum it up to myself.

I'll leave you with another shot of Liathach, again one of frustration as the clouds scrolled and crimped over the summit quicker than I could fumble with my f-stops, and I walked ankle deep into the loch before I'd realised it, in search of the perfect composition.


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