Posted on January 12, 2021
Feeling A Bit Like Christmas
Christmas pantomime is one of the many things that this awful pandemic has brought to a halt. It is also one of my favourite assignments of the festive season. The Pavilion Theatre Glasgow decided to film this year’s show, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, with the cast in a bubble for the all the rehearsals. The show was available on YouTube on Christmas Eve. It proved so popular the run was extended to the 10th of January. All the regular cast : Stephen Purdon, Grado, Liam Dolan, Nicola Park, Joyce Falconer, James McAnerney & Mori Christian with dancers and musicians, made it a great watch and I had one of the best days in ages. I did walk through a booth, which misted me all over with a fine spray of disinfectant, I got my temperature taken and put on hand sanitiser and was shown to my seat where I had a row to myself. It was so good watching the filming. It felt like the most ‘normal day’ in ages. The pater of River City’s Stephen Purdon and Scot Squad’s Grado was brilliant.
Glasgow’s Amazing People & Buildings
I love Glasgow’s old buildings. It’s true that they will never be built like that again. I have been privileged to be inside many of Glasgow’s architectural gems and meet some really interesting people. I visited The Clyde Port Authority building on the Broomilaw recently. It’s one of the few original buildings in that part of town. When you see old film footage of the Clydeside its always there with all the horses and carts driving past. I had to meet Tom Allison, chairman of Peel Ports Ltd. Tom was chief executive at Clydeport before it was taken over by Peel Holdings in 2003. What he doesn’t know about the Clyde Port building is not worth knowing. We spent nearly an hour chatting about the building and its history before we started taking any pictures. Tom, who is also a non executive director at Celtic FC has been given a CBE in this year’s new years honours list for his services to Scottish Business and charities. It was a really dull December day outside, so I am glad I had my big studio lights with me. I loved the staircase with the painting of Sir Nathanial Dunlop the longest serving chairman of the Clyde Navigation Trust whose eyes followed you as you walked down the stairs.
I met lottery winner Sandra Devine when she collected her win back in November. It was a double treat, as she lives round the corner from my old house in Johnstone and her postman husband Martin was a couple of years below me in school. She was delivering personalised Christmas items, cards and Christmas puddings from National Lottery winners to charity Glasgow’s Golden Generation based at the David Cargil Centre in Langside. My grandpa was in David Cargil House old folks home. It really felt things were coming full circle.
Science Will Get Us Out Of This
Another fascinating person I met lately was Harper VanSteenhouse, president of BioClavis who are based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus. BioClavis, was set up in 2017 as a spin-off from California-based life science firm, BioSpyder Technologies. I met Harper in the science labs where the company have developed, in collaboration with BioSpyder, the BioClavis Test which detects the Coronavirus virus using biological barcoding. I was puzzled, even with my O Level in Biology, it had to be put in laymen’s terms for me. “So it’s like scanning your shopping?, I asked” Harper was very kind with his reply and he didn’t laugh. I didn’t mention that I failed my higher biology. The good news about the biological barcode testing is that it will be able to test 100,000 samples by the end of January. The story appeared widely in the media and I even saw a piece from as far away as the San Diago Metropolitan. How cool is that.
Bad Moon Rising
Always have a camera at the ready I always say. Driving home I saw the moon popping up from behind the Campsie fells. I knew I had minutes before it went too high and the huge size caused by the curvature of the earth was lost. I put on my 300mm with a 1.4 convertor and using the car window to steady myself managed to get a few frames off. Fortunately there was still some sunlight coming through to put some light on the snowy hillside. The picture was one of my most popular with 470 likes and 54 re tweets on twitter. Instagram had over 150 likes with 248 on Facebook.
Posted on December 27, 2020
Big Is Better
I love scale and everything being big. I remember discussions in college about how ‘big is better’. A picture used bigger in a newspaper always has more impact. I remember hearing a story about a picture that was presented to an editor who didn’t like it and wanted something with more punch. The picture editor went away and printed the same picture huge and in colour, as it was originally printed in black & white. It went straight into the paper with the words ‘that’s what I’m talking about’. I met a talented artist Siobhan McLaughlin with her painting Glen Muik at The Lemond Gallery in Bearden. The painting is over over 20 ft long. The gallery was one of the few places that can take such a size of painting. This five panel painting features in her film ‘Landscape in Lockdown’, which was commissioned by The British Art Network, jointly run by The Tate Modern and The Paul Mellon Centre for British Art. The huge scale of the work did it for me, without a doubt big is certainly better.
A New Way To Tip
During this Covid crisis lots of people, including myself have stopped using cash. It was always a thought about how many hands coins had been through by the time they come to you. Now with the pandemic there is concern about catching something from an old 50p piece. The problem was you could not leave a tip for those members of staff that are working to serve us our coffees. I was working at the cool venue The Finnieston on a new pioneering initiative to support waiting staff. Top restaurant group, Kained Holdings had teamed up with TiPJAR and Hospitality Action to kickstart a national charity campaign to help Scottish hospitality workers during the COVID-19 crisis. You pop the app on your phone and you can leave tip in the virtual tip jar. How cool is that.
The Steamy Sheep
I have been doing a regular couple of miles walk along the old railway track. Usually about between 2 and 3 miles just to try and keep my fitness up and walk off the cake and coffee. It’s a walk that nearly always provides a picture. There are so many regulars on the route, sheep, cows, geese, sheepdogs, birds of prey as well as the usual walkers and cyclists. The sheep had been taken along the path the day I saw them all bundled together. It was really cold but with all the sheep jammed in the pen, after they had all run through a nearby river made them all start to steam up. It was quite something to watch. They certainly brighten up my Instagram page. This friendly coo also is a regular friendly face. Have a look on my Instagram page.
Posted on November 30, 2020
A Look at The Sea
I really enjoy my trips on a Cal Mac Ferry. My regular journey is on The Clansman from Oban going to Coll & Tiree. I jumped at the chance for a trip to Weymes Bay to meet some of their lovely staff. I never get the chance to talk to staff members much, as our Oban journey starts at 6am and I am too tired and sleepy to make conversation. Mental health first aiders Fiona, Callum, Tayloure and Kirsten have been trained to support colleagues who may be struggling with mental health issues. With all the Coronavirus and lockdown restrictions, part of the ferry company’s commitment to staff wellbeing, is having more than 60 workers recently qualify as mental health first aiders. Based across the network, they have been trained to spot the signs of mental distress and are available for colleagues who need to talk about any concerns they may have. The project is accredited by NHS Scotland. They were a great bunch and were laughing as we had about two minutes to do the picture, as the ferry does not hang about for long when it leaves port. The photo got a nice show in the Hebrides News.
A Lottery Award for Julie
Sometimes I feel humble when I meet some people. One such person was Julie Morrison. Julie is the founder of a growing Coatbridge charity supporting bereaved parents. I met her as she was named as the winner of the charity and community category at this year’s UK-wide National Lottery awards. The Baby Loss Retreat charity provides free retreat weekends at relaxing locations in Ayrshire and Dumfries for bereaved parents. Julie received her trophy from TV presenter Jean Johansson at a special event at the Westerwood Hotel. It is a privilege to be invited to work at these events.
Healthy Days For Me Now
I am a fan of vegan and veggie snacks, the low calorie count really helps with me trying to keep weight off and not ballooning to my days of old. So checking out a new range of vegan snacks for World Vegan day was something I was really looking forward to. Ayrshire based Nudie Snacks sell award winning cauliflower crisps as well as other plant based treats. We had Tracey Hogarth founder of Nudie Snacks in the middle of a field on wild October day. Sunshine and showers was forecast, so we all had our wellies on and umbrellas on standby. Finally one break in the rain and we managed to get some shots. In the final picture the day looks quite nice. On the way home I finished a packet of the crisps, which were brill and a packet of the delicious coconut chips. Some days don’t get any better.
Night City Scape
With the changing of the clocks from British Summertime and dark nights coming, I love the dark skies over Glasgow. I took a lot of the colour saturation from the picture but left the colour in the Nissan sign. The red really jumps out. The spot at Spiers Wharf at Port Dundas is a favourite spot of mine for a picture, which I used pass on my way home from my days at The Herald & Times. I could leave early and still not be too far away if I got that late job phone call.
Posted on October 11, 2020
I do like a dram however I was at The Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine to sample a wee dram that was undrinkable. It was an eighty year old bottle of Scottish whisky salvaged from the 1923 SS Politician, one of Scotland’s most famous shipwrecks and the inspiration for the much-loved Ealing Studio comedy Whisky Galore. How cool was that! Abigail McIntyre, Senior Curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum was the person trusted to hold the bottle. I was too scared in case I dropped it. Also in the picture was the helmet that was used by deep sea diver George Currie when he brought the bottles up from the seabed. I used a small flash inside the helmet to give it a cool look and brighten up the bottle.
I have been back in the Glasgow City Halls a couple of times over the last few months and what a delight it was to get the opportunity to go and and listen to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performing in the world’s greatest classical music festival, the Proms. What an amazing sight to see all the musicians, all socially distant, performing together. Conducted by the very cool Alpesh Chauhan, the highlight was pianist Stephen Hough. My favourite shot is always looking through the lid of the grand piano.
Making a SplashI have passed the Pinkston Watersports Park at Port Dundas many times and have even walked around the old industrial canal site before it was built. It’s a community paddlesports centre with Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course.There is so many things to do there, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, wake boarding and now tubing. What a lot of fun that looked. STV news person Polly Bartlett was in trying it out for a TV piece. She loved it. I must say she was very brave. The white water tubing was quite thrilling to watch and great fun to photograph.
It was so good to see something happening in George Square after the long time in lockdown. Thirty City of Glasgow Merchant Navy cadets with Principle Paul Little and Glasgow Lord Provost Philip Braat attended the annual wreath laying ceremony. This was the first time the students from the college had formally gathered since the lockdown back in March.
Brooch In A BoxMy favourite lens at the moment is my 100mm macro bought last year from a pal. It is brilliant for portraits, macro and product photography. I had been photographing cakes with it last month.I was asked by my better half to photograph some of her new creations. A ‘Brooch In A Box’. These are hand printed silk brooches, from original paintings, finished with free motion embroidery. They look lovely in the photographs and are selling well too!
Posted on September 12, 2020
After six years with the same front page on my website I thought it was time for a change. I spent a lovely couple of hours with Chris from Christy Digital as my website has been needing a bit of a tweak. It turned out but I had been publishing my blog the wrong way from the start . Who knew that you put up a new post instead of just adding to the one page. Well, perhaps only me. My first post has been the longest ever. I am surprised I didn’t get a letter in from WordPress complaining. It made such a difference having an expert on hand to see you on the right track and not to raise an eyebrow or criticise. Also one that brews such nice coffee. My skills are photography and lighting. It’s good to bring in the skills of others to help. I am delighted with my new front page, a collage of some of my favourite assignments. Check out Chris at his website here
I am a fan of cakes, no one can doubt that. When an assignment came in to go to Cakes By Rebecca in Blantyre, it was something I was looking forward to. Rebecca was lovely and really enthusiastic about her business. What great staff too. The photographs got used in The Herald’s business section as she was the featured young entrepreneur. I did have my mask on but I was allowed to take it off for cake eating purposes.
Cool Masks for The City of Glasgow CollegeWith the academic year coming around again all the colleges and universities are looking at ways of keeping their students safe. The City of Glasgow has some really cool face masks in college colours. I went in to see them with a couple of volunteers. They did look pretty striking. I am not a fan of the black serious masks. I find they can be a bit depressing. I love the bright colours and especially the tartan ones. Remember the very cool Boé Gin one I photographed last month.
A Landscape From The PastI am always looking out for a good cityscape of Glasgow. The city rarely disappoints. With all the heavy rain recently, I was looking out across the city and saw the low clouds and heavy dark lines. When I put the picture into black and white and increased the contrast, the way I would have done in the darkroom, the image really jumped out at me. The picture had a real 1940’s or 1950’s industrial feel about it. It was like the buildings were tall chimneys and factories with smoke all across the city.
Posted on July 31, 2020
A Sight For Sore EyesOur holidays like everyone else’s were cancelled this year. We have a week in Tiree every year so we were sad not to go. At the start of lockdown we were told not to cancel but to postpone accommodation to help out the hotel trade. We go every year so we were already booked for the next few years! However we had a booking for Oban that we left open just in case the lockdown relaxed enough to let us travel. The owner was pleased we kept it open and when there was a chance to go we thought we would book an extra couple of nights. It was brilliant get to have a change of scenery. To get to see Glencoe in all its majestic beauty and the sea and sand at Seil Island was just a tonic for the senses.
Back To Work
Getting back to some normality now as things seem to be opening up. It is amazing how used you get to turning up to a job with a selection of designer masks. My favourite is my tartan one. Also I always have small bottles of hand sanitiser in my pockets and now I’m totally used to using the electronic thermometer. It’s just a case of going with the flow. Some places have oneway systems just like the shops and keeping the 2 metres has actually been no problem at all.
I was privileged to be covering the BBC Radio 3 Lockdown Live lunchtime concerts at the Glasgow City Halls. It was my first time in the city centre since lockdown. It was strange coming in to everything so familiar … but different. I love the City Halls and had attended concerts during Celtic Connections. The Radio 3 concerts were delightful. Just me and the artists in the hall over three days. Them playing and me photographing.
Pianist Steven Osborne, percussionist Colin Currie and opera tenor Nicky Spence accompanied by pianist Martin Martineau over three super days. When I got home in the evening I would edit the pictures listening again to the concert on the BBC Sounds app.
Last month the Royal Scottish National Orchestra were getting back together for the first time since lockdown. With a new socially distant layout in the auditorium, lots of hand sanitiser, temperature checks and masks it was a comfortable relaxed atmosphere. Again, I love listening to live music and watching the musicians. Seeing conductor Thomas Søndergård back in action was brilliant. I don’t know who enjoyed it more the musicians or me.
I do enjoy a wee gin now and again. I was asked to photograph a cool new face mask for bar persons pouring Boë Violet Gin. It was my first time trying this gin and was so impressed, especially with its colour. Colour is always important in a picture so I was a fan right away. Also I have found out that even with a mask on it is still important to get the subject to smile. I noticed the difference with the bar person’s eyes. When a person smiles their eyes smile too.
Walkin’ Down a Dusty Road
It has definitely been a musical month. I was out on location filming a blues video called Walkin’ Down a Dusty Road by the Dee-Don Delta Lockdown Bothy Blues Boys. It was originated by musician Al Fleming with some of his musical pals from his home town of Aberdeen, one from Miami USA and the track being mixed in London. All the music had to be done by the various musicians at home and sent to London. As we were in lockdown we had to do a socially distant video for the song . I filmed Al alone as no one could travel more than five miles. It worked really well and I really enjoyed making and editing the video.
To see my blogs from the last five years check out my page Blogs of Times Past in the main menu.