The Buzz of Looking Up CloseWith all the restrictions still in place in May I am finding myself looking at things in much greater detail. I have been finding new life in my close up macro lenses but I have added something called an extension tube. This creates a space between the camera and the lens. It’s like holding the lens an inch or two away from the camera before you screw it on. This intensifies the magnification. When I was a student I used to use the inside of a toilet roll held against the camera at one end and the lens at the other. I had an old Zenith camera then, which was not as expensive as my Canon lenses.
Red Admiral on InstagramThe garden is alive with life just now. I saw this Red Admiral butterfly flitting about. I was cutting the grass at the time and noticed it in among the thistles. This was the picture that took my Instagram followers up to 900. I find having the discipline of posting pictures and the interaction has been one of the things keeping me sane in lockdown. My handle is @martinshieldsphoto, so drop by and have a look. I find Instagram good fun too.
With the ‘new normal’ and ‘new way of doing things’ it has been an education and changed my ways of working. I have been working for a charity through in East Lothian and social distancing was important. During these times I don’t use my 16mm wide angle much at all. It has been the 50mm and telephotos I have been using, so I can work at a distance. The campaign has not been released yet so I cannot post anything … but watch this space.
However I have been making a ‘socially distanced’ video with my neighbour George Thom about his pottery. I have never done a job where I photographed or filmed the subject through a window or a door. Have a look and see what you think.
The video is up on his George This Ceramics You Tube page.
George performed his own music for the video.
A Face in the CloudsApril has has been a very strange month as this face in the sky watching over us summed up. I was sitting chatting over a coffee in the back room when I noticed the cloud that looked exactly like a face. I jumped up and grabbed my camera which is always charged and ready to go. It was just as well as with in minutes the cloud had dissolved. It made for a bit of light relief for all the Coronavirus gloom on the pages of the Scottish Sun. I was pleased as it was my only work of the month.
I feel after a few weeks of lockdown that I have retired. I have been in the garden almost everyday and I have been re discovering my love of birdwatching and photographing plants in the garden. I have been watching the birds, especially my favourite goldfinches with their bright red faces. I have been using my long telephoto lens, I used for football, to get pictures of them. It’s funny this lens that has been all over the world photographing football is now my first choice with my feathered friends.The lens has also been good for the flowers with this close up of these Bleeding Hearts or Dicentra spectabilis to use its Sunday name.
Up Close and Personal
Last year I bought a 100mm macro or close up lens from a good photographer pal. It was a bit of a luxury as I have a zoom lens, which covers this focal length and I have another macro or close up lens. However my heart ruled my head and I bought it. It has been brilliant at this time to catch the detail of the spring flowers. It worked a treat with this bee on one of my thistle plants. It also gave a lovely picture of the thistle on its own after the bee had buzzed off.
Video in LockdownI have been doing a bit of video lately with Jo Jo Gnome author Jo Hall. With the self isolation that is going on it is just as well she is my better half. With all the emphasis on education at home now she had found her latest podcast had been whizzing off the virtual shelves so …it was time to make another one. I forget how good the Canon 5D is for making movies. Check it out on the website at www.jojognome.com or go straight to the video.
The Picture of The Day
The picture which started last months blog of the magnolia tree belonging my neighbours Norma and Bill, which had never flowered in the thirteen years since they planted it. Its first flowering made the Picture of the Day on the letters page of The Herald newspaper. They were delighted and bought half a dozen copies.
Spring Has Sprung in Our New NormalThis month has seen a change in society like I have never seen in my lifetime. Within two weeks all non-essential work had stopped and we are all on a lock down at home. I have been very fortunate to have a garden and a love of nature. I also enjoy close up or macro photography so I have continued to take photos. I think we all have to be as positive as we can in our own heads and keep going with whatever makes us tick. I have really been enjoying watching the spring coming along in the gardens surrounding us. Perhaps we should take this time to enjoy the sights and company of the people we are surrounded by. I have found people have been a bit more friendly as they keep a distance. We are all “in the same boat” really.
One of the surprising things in the garden was a Magnolia tree, which was bought over thirteen years ago by our neighbours Norma & Bill who are nearly in their 90s. It has never flowered in all that time. When I saw them (at distance) I could see their delight in it flowering. Also I love seeing the bright yellow daffodils on the meadow. Even with a bit of rain they sparkle in the sunlight.
JoJo Gnome FilmingAnother one of these jobs being at home apart from the washing, hoovering and ironing is helping our your better half doing a studio podcast from our garden shed/summerhouse. JoJo Gnome is a Scottish Gnome that written by my partner Jo Hall. The education podcast has been getting a load of downloads as people are looking for good educational stuff for their kids at home in the 3 to 6 age group. We were filming video for the latest one. Also we were constructing the pictures to make an NHS rainbow bug out of eggboxes to be hung in the window. We have our in pride of place just now. You can see full instructions and the photos of how to make the rainbow bug at https://www.jojognome.com.
Up On The RoofLast month when I still was doing my day job, I was up on the roof of Robert Burns Cottage in Ayr. The roof was getting re thatched. My picture shows thatcher Dave Brooks as he adds the final sheaf of wheat to the roof of Burns Cottage in Alloway. The cottage, owned and looked after by the National Trust for Scotland was undergoing extensive conservation work by the charity, including the replacement of its traditional thatched roof. Centuries of Scottish winters have taken their toll on the roof, walls and chimney all requiring specialist attention. I am so glad the trust are looking after this very special building. The cottage was built by Burns’ father William Burns in 1757 and is the place where Robert was born.
Who’s For CoffeeI am a huge Dr Who fan. I love the new rebooted series but back in the day ‘my doctor’ was Tom Baker with his huge colourful scarf and wide brimmed hat. It’s an age thing, from when I watched as a youngster. National leading social care charity Cornerstone kicked off its 40th anniversary celebrations as Hazel Brown, Chief Exec of Cornerstone the social care charity met the 1980 Dr Who at the newly opened Cornerstone Tardis Coffee Box in Glasgow. Since being first established by Nick Baxter in 1980, Cornerstone has grown from being a charity that primarily served the North East of Scotland to becoming one of the largest care providers in the country. It was strange as I think I would have struggled to fit into this Tardis with all the coffee making equipment, cakes and supplies.
While spending so much time at home just now, it was nice to get a reminder of my day job. I recently saw the March edition of the University of Antwerp alumni magazine. They were awarding the annual awarding of the honorary doctorates. This year the honorary doctorate for general merit went to the Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish. He was an amazing guy with a strong story to tell. I was delighted with my front cover and inside photographs. The photo shoot was done in Ayr as he was visiting to get a Burns Award later that evening. The beach at Ayr on a cold January day made the photographs even more dramatic.
It seems so long ago now. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can go to the beach again.
FebruaryThis month has not been the best for photography outside. Its been a record month for rainfall and with all the storms we have had sometimes you just have to keep your fingers crossed and watch the weather web pages to see the best times to arrange a photo session. I was working with a group of five lovely individuals from the quantity surveying and commercial management consultancy Soben. We had been checking the weather app to see the best time and our window of opportunity was right in the middle of the 90% chance of rain times. As I waited in a cafe beside the River Clyde with the wind and the rain battering down I was filled with dread. Amazingly when they arrived they brought the sunshine. The weather app had got the times slightly out. We had some great sunshine although there was a bitterly cold wind blowing up the river. They did really well with just suits and jackets as I was freezing in my two fleeces, jacket and hat.
Diving in to The Taxi CupI always look forward to the annual Glasgow Taxis Cup photo call. Teams from the University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde, and Glasgow Caledonian University all compete in the sports tournament played on Wednesday 18 March, vying to win the Glasgow Taxis Cup. The students came along in their sporting gear everything from tennis and badminton to horse riding and sword fencing. I remember one year we even had a horse. Always the star of the photo call is a Glasgow Taxi. Champion swimmer Darren Lamb a from Strathclyde University was quite happy to stay in the taxi with the heater on as he was just in his trunks.
Pancake DayAnother once a year picture that comes along is Pancake Day. I was visiting Stack & Still, the UK’s largest urban pancake restaurant who donating all revenue from pancake sales to the charity on the day. Paul Reynolds of Stack & Still, who is an expert at pancake flipping, was giving a demonstration watched by youngsters from the Pavilion Youth Cafe in Easterhouse, Cash For Kids mascot Courage The Cat and Radio Clyde DJ Greigsy. Amazingly no pancakes ended up on the floor.
Looking Across The CityI still love a landscape and I was working at The City of Glasgow College Riverside Campus on the top floor, outside there was strong winter sunshine with heavy rain just about to start. The view up to the college’s City Campus looked brilliant. It is amazing that new Glasgow buildings like the Riverside Campus, the BBC, Hydro and Science Centre can all become iconic Glasgow views so quickly.
Making a SplashHappy New Year! It was a fast, wet and windy start to 2020 with my annual trip to the Loch Lomond Waterski Club’s sponsored fancy dress water ski event based at Cameron House Marina. Pictured is Gerry Murray, from Alexandria, dressed as a NASA astronaut. I was really impressed as the 60 year old was showing the youngsters how its done. I was struggling just to stay in the boat.
Stairway to the StarsI love theatre and the history of the buildings. So when the Theatre Royal in Glasgow built their new extension I wondered how it would fit in. It looks so modern and exiting but now feels as it it has always been there. The Sackler Staircase inside the building is an amazing sight. I have looked at it many times and wanted to come in and photograph it properly. I was in the theatre a couple of weeks ago photographing some of the other interior spaces and when I had finished I thought, I am going to take the time to get it right. My 16mm lens with the camera on a tripod and a single flash just to light up the red colour on the staircase. I think I did it justice.
A Burns SupperI had my first ever trip to the Robert Burns cottage at Alloway in Ayr. It’s quite a place and really was something as I had the place virtually to myself as I was shooting before opening time. I was working on the news story that academics at the University of Glasgow plan to pull together a worldwide map of contemporary Burns Supper activity. The History of the Burns Supper project is led by Professor Gerard Carruthers, Co-Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies based at The University of Glasgow’s College of Arts. He was great to work with. We had a dish of haggis, neeps and tatties and some books on Burns but sadly we didn’t have a dram as it was too early in the morning. The project, which will run from 2020-2022 is being carried out by the Centre for Robert Burns Studies (CRBS), which has the world’s largest concentration of Burns experts.
A Fish SupperI have never seen fish eggs except on the TV. It was not the easiest thing I have had to photograph with them being so small. Also they sit on the bottom of the beaker. You have to gently swirl it to get them to float so you can see them. The Clyde River Foundation have cared for and released hundreds of thousands of fish, brought mobile hatcheries into more than 1000 classrooms and inspired multiple generations of children. Clyde in the Classroom, a unique, hands-on project that seeks to bring the River Clyde into classrooms around the West of Scotland celebrated its 20th anniversary. I was with Willie Yeomans from the Clyde River Foundation and some pupils from Blairdardie Primary at the Glasgow Science Centre. He was showing the kids some fish eggs before they get released in to the River Clyde. They were all fascinated by the eggs that will eventually grow into big fish.
Loving The Tartan SuitIt’s not every day you get to photograph a Hollywood A list celebrity. Alan Cumming, actor, director and singer was speaking at the University of Glasgow’s Bute Hall. The actor who starred on Broadway in Cabaret and played Boris Grishenko with Pierce Brosnan in the James Bond film Golden Eye was delivering The Cameron Lecture. The talk was celebrating Scotland’s great theatre traditions through the life and work of one of its champions, the late Dr Alasdair Cameron. Joining him was theatre director John Tiffany, whose credits include Harry Potter & the Cursed Child and Black Watch. It was John who had asked his friend Alan to give the talk. I was also thrilled to meet John as I saw the Harry Potter play in London last year and was totally blown away by it. Alan was wearing was a fantastic tartan suit, which really stood out against the background. Definitely better than a traditional dark grey one.
Still Game for the IRN-BRU Carnival
I was covering the opening of the IRN-BRU Carnival this year, which marks it 100th year. I have been going along since I was at primary school. Opening the day was Still Game star Ford Keirnan. He was cutting a specially designed cake and then afterwards cut the ribbon with Clyde FM stars George Bowie and Cassi G. The hard part of that shot is not to let the ribbon get cut too quickly. Always do a practice shot first. The cake was a much easier to shoot, as long as no one drops it.
Taggart Meets Line of Duty
One of my favourite shows of the holiday season is Only An Excuse. Funnily enough I enjoy it more because of the politics and news rather than the football sketches. I like the sport sketches but really love the take on political leaders. My favourite sketch this year was the Taggart meets Line of Duty one with Taggart star Alex Norton. There were also a few great new faces, Mark Cox from Still Game and Joy McAvoy from Two Doors Down. It was great watching the sketch being recorded and then photograph them all in character. It was hard to keep a straight face.
Famous Faces in the Doorway
I do feel really proud when I walk past the doors of the Pavilion Theatre and see my pictures of the cast up in the glass on the doors, larger than life. I love the way they look. However it is not easy to take a photograph of the doors. It has to be dark and the show has to be on so there is no one in the picture blocking the images. The trickiest part of the operation is watching for the busses swinging round from Renfrew Street as they stop right in front of you to take on passengers. Oh yes they do…imagine that!
Lighting Up The West End
This years St Andrew’s Day Torchlight Parade, now in its 4th year, organised by the West End Festival was the biggest one yet. Once again I found myself sprinting down Byres Rd to get a head of the torch bearers. There were some great sights as the warm light of the torches lit up the cold frosty night. The atmosphere was really lovely and everyone was having a good time. The torch and night light performers can be a challenging to photograph as it is a dark winters night, but the results can be stunning. The Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens also look magnificent all lit up against the night sky. My tips are, to use a high ISO number on the camera, a wide aperture lens, a steady hand and a wee bit of luck.
A Lovely Event
I was at a super event in Edinburgh this month. Housing Options Scotland welcomed the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell to their celebration event at Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel. Staff, volunteers, board and supporters of the organisation, were all warmly welcomed and thanked for their involvement in supporting disabled people, older people and members of the Armed Forces community all over Scotland to find housing suited to their needs. Having met many of the people who have benefited form the work of the charity I can really see how important their work is. It was also so nice to see some of them again. The front of the hotel was a stunning location for CEO Moira Bayne and Chairperson Margaret Fallon to welcome cabinet secretary for Communities & Local Government Aileen Campbell.
Its That Time of Year Again
Its panto time again and I found myself at the the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow’s opening night of Pinocchio. Starring River City stars Holly Jack, Scott Fletcher & Stephen Purdon with wrestler ‘Grado’, who also stars in Two Doors Down & Scotsquad. The theatre was packed and it is nice to see all the kids loving the pantomime with the start of the Christmas season. As you see they got a standing ovation. The cast all work so well together. The boys were hilarious the sketch pictured below.
I am no stranger to a scone so when the chance to do another photograph with the Three Sisters Bake I did not hang about. One of the sisters, Nichola Reith is now fronting a new TV program called Flour Power. A 10-part baking show, which airs on Saturday mornings at 11am on BBC 1. The show, originally aired on BBC Scotland, sees workmates across Scotland battle for the cake-making crown with Nichola Reith providing baking guidance and judging the best efforts. The shoot was done in the kitchen with a mouth watering spread of delights. Afterwards we moved into the beautiful autumn garden. When asked which one I wanted to take away, my first and only choice was the scones. Amazingly they lasted until I got home. Perhaps if I tune in again I could bake my own.
Light, Shape & Sculpture
Light can be a challenge at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Queens Cross Church in Glasgow. However on a cold autumn morning when the sun is just a the right angle you can see the magnificent building interior. I was photographing the exhibition of artist Jephson Robb. He is beside some of his sculptures which are part of a major exhibition called Primary which opened at the venue. The Glasgow-based artist was invited by The CRM Society to show his work in the building for the month of October to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Mackintosh Queen’s Cross. I must confess I did use one flash just to help the sun along.
Another Visit to The Scottish Parliament
I have had more than a few visits to the Scottish Parliament this month I might think about becoming an MSP. I was through for the National Autistic Society for their Autism Hour photo call with nearly all the MSP as they came out of the debating chamber. I was amazed at the enthusiasm as everyone waited patiently until we got everyone together. It was a bit daunting having to line up such a group of influential people.
I also was there with Mary’s Meals for World Porridge Day. The First Minister really got into the spirit of the day receiving a mug pot of porridge from Daniel Adams, the UK Executive Director. Thankfully none was spilled. It was fun to say to security that we were bringing a huge pot of porridge. However after the shocked looks, I told them not to worry the water was not to be added until later.
I had the privilege to be photographing the very first wedding to be held at The Princes & Princess of Wales Hospice, in its new location at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow. Robert Dobbs married his partner of 16 years, Andy Dickson at an emotional ceremony in the Sanctuary of the Hospice. Robert was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and found out recently that the cancer had returned. Robert proposed to Andy and with the help of their families, Hospice staff and their Celebrant, to organise the wedding of their dreams. It was a beautiful day. The guys really enjoyed getting their picture with the lovely vintage car and were about to be driven over to the House for an Art Lover by Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice Head of Fundraising Heather Manson. I love photographs and the way they can capture a moment.
Late Night Date Night
With the autumn evenings leading on to winter festivals, Halloween is one that everyone looks forward to. On a lovely September evening I was at Arnprior Farm in Stirlingshire. They were launching “Late-Night, Date-Night” for romantics looking for a date with a difference. The pumpkin field at Arnprior is a big draw for people to buy their amazing pumpkins. They had found with all the youngsters coming along, there was a lot of couples coming too. So they had the idea for one night only to turn the pumpkin patch into a late night date destination. We had a couple of models, Anna and Charlie who put on their finest evening wear complete with wellington boots. The special night coming up on Sunday 27th of October features a folk band, gin bar, artisan autumnal menu from Skinners of Kippen, plus pumpkin crafts.
Empowering Africa’s Young Scientists
This month I met an incredible young woman called Sofiat Olaosebikan. A University of Glasgow student who using maths and computing skills to train young scientists in Africa has helped to push the frontiers of knowledge in science and technology. Sofiat, supported by students and staff at the University of Glasgow, has set up an initiative to teach and empower young scientists with the skills they need to help drive innovative research in the African continent. Sofiat, a PhD Computing Science student at the College of Science and Engineering in Glasgow was great fun to be with and really enjoyed her photography session in the covered area of the quad at the old university building.
Getting Legally Wed
I had a real laugh in the mock courtroom at University of Glasgow. Academics are developing a board game to help the public negotiate the complex legal world of marriage. The new board game called Legally Wed has been inspired by the work of academics at the University’s School of Law. The academics have drawn on their research in Family Law and the personal wedding stories of family and friends to create the game’s tasks and challenges, which mirror real life wedding mishaps on the way to the big day. Players will have to race to plan their wedding and be first up the aisle to win the game. Along the way they have to choosing venues, food, outfits and the other trappings of a modern day wedding. When I was asked if I wanted to play the game I said “I Do”
Raising The Roof
I had a great night at the The Pavilion Theatre production of The Real Glesga Dance Mums 2. What a laugh! Some great humour and also some fantastic tunes. Boy can those girls sing. Oh and yes there was some pretty good dance moves too.
Size Is Not Everything
My new 100mm macro lens was in good use this month. Sitting in the back garden I noticed a beautiful ladybird. I got out my close up macro lens and added a 25mm extension tube, it’s like a lens with no glass which has the effect of moving the lens further away from the camera to get in closer to the subject. The result was stunning with the fine detail of the insect. It made a nice addition to The Herald newspapers Picture of the Day on the letters page.
A Look Into History
I had a really interesting assignment this month. I was involved with the exhibition Call and Response: The University of Glasgow & Slavery. It was fascinating and featured a selection of items with links to slavery, many of which might not at first glance seem to be related to the slave trade. The exhibition, which is on within the University of Glasgow Chapel is part of the University’s proactive program of reparative justice after a yearlong study found that it had derived financial support donated from profits made in the slave trade.
The Exhibition showed a selection of items and invited members of the public to offer their thoughts and responses to create an open dialog about the slave trade and modern day reparation. My photographs with different people choosing objects that struck a chord with them where featured in a six page feature in The Herald Magazine. My two favourite photographs were of Professor Sir Geoff Palmer, Jamaican Honorary Consul to Scotland holding the plans to a sailing vessel known as the Jamaica, which was built on the Clyde in 1854. My other was of Glasgow City Councillor Graham Campbell with a rare Slave Bible. It was pretty unbelievable that there was such a thing. Have a look at the University website on this link.
The piece in The Herald Magazine looked brilliant and the words by senior feature writer Russell Leadbetter explained the whole story. I loved the main opening picture in The Huntarian Library archive.
Chivas Graduates Looking Good in Tartan
I was back up at Old Meldrum House for the graduation of the students from the Chivas Graduate Program. They were all looking stunning ready for the celebration ceilidh at the picturesque Strathisla Distillery. This is one of the occasions when the guys in their kilts really overshadow the girls. After this they are off to various countries around the world to have the most amazing experience. I don’t think I would have had the confidence. I take my hat off to them all.
Who Called A Taxi
Glasgow taxis are always good for a picture and I have photographed many of them over the years with various people as passengers. This was the first time I had a waitress, a distiller, an academic, two footballers and a mad professor. It was all the representatives from Glasgow’s Leading Attractions who were launching ‘Things To Do In Glasgow’ new branded taxis. We had The Willow Tea Rooms, Celtic FC, Hampden Football Museum, Clydeside Distillery, The Huntarian Museum and The Glasgow Science Centre. It was a bit of a squeeze but I think we could have got a few more in there. Perhaps we need a roof rack.
Going with a Bang at the Glasgow Science Centre
I was at the Glasgow Science Centre covering their celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. Like all of their events they are great to photograph. They had lots of fun things from 1969 like games, clothes and a 1960s living room. All the activities were all related to the moon landing in some way. I loved being in the science theatre photographing gas being ignited. It literally happens in a flash and it is very easy to miss the magic moment. The staff always have load of patience with me, as I try to get the perfect shot.
Flying High In Tiree
Usually when I am up on Tiree on holiday I am looking at landscapes. However this year I was asked to photograph Tish MacKinnon at Tiree Airport for Loganair. She has been working at the airport for 40 years. Her father had worked at the airport also. We had to wait until the plane came in to get our pictures. As we waited we had a trip to the control tower and a walk out to the main runway. It was fascinating seeing a small airport at work after doing so much at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. Mind you they do take everything very seriously and the same rules apply. After the pictures we spent some time chatting about the island and its history. They have a small history cabinet with some old artifacts and photographs in it. I came across an old Evening Times from 1927 when the paper announced they were the first newspaper to be delivered by aeroplane. The papers still come in by plane to this day.
I did find another high flyer in Tiree. The Oyster Catcher is one of my favourite birds. I caught this one hiding in the machair or wild flower fields.
Sailing away to the Women’s World Cup
At the start of June I found myself on board the Cal Mac ferry the MV Bute with Scotland Woman’s Football star Jane Ross. Jane from Rothesay, on the island of Bute, was heading off to France as part of the Scotland women’s squad for the World Cup taking place between June and July.
As a youngster Jane was a regular passenger with CalMac as she headed to training with her teams Paisley Saints and then Glasgow City.
Her career has soared with a successful spell at Manchester City and now West Ham United in London.
I photographed Jane on the bridge of the MV Bute with 3rd Mate Marino Giorgetti. I found the experience of being on the bridge pretty cool too. I was told not to push any buttons except on my camera.
My First Book Illustration
Back in 2005 Glagow was about to have its first book festival, Aye Write. The brilliant crime writer Denise Mina was commissioned to write a short story to be published in The Evening Times, which sponsored the event at that time. I was asked to take some photographs to illustrate the book. I used various members of staff and even my own car to tell the story in pictures. The story was in the paper over five nights and then published as a book. I was so please with how it looked and was delighted to meet author Denise. This summer at Oran Mor the book was turned into a play for ‘A Play, A Pie & a Pint’. It starred Elaine C Smith. I dug into my library to find the book. It’s still is a good read. The pictures still stand up as well.
A Royal Cup of Tea
A natural laugh always makes a great picture. I was photographing HRH Prince Charles at The Mitchell in Glasgow. He was was meeting the volunteers and service users from Macmillan Cancer Support at Glasgow Libraries. Craig Menzies, the Macmillan Program Manager at the library, was showing him up the stairs, which is quite a climb. At the top he met one of the catering assistants who passed him a cup of tea. I have no idea what has been said between them all but it clearly caused some hilarity. We photographers always have to keep a respectful distance between the Royals and ourselves and we do not often hear what is being said. In this moment we didn’t need to. The laughs said it all.
Back to the Future with a Classical Touch
The RSNO are a known for creative picture opportunities. After the Harry Potter and Star Wars concerts next on the list was Back To The Future. A full symphony orchestra performing the music from the iconic movie both in Glasgow and Edinburgh. We had an original DeLorian car with the gull wing doors outside the Concert Hall with violinist Susanna and Jason on trumpet posing with the car. I was amazed at how much interest the car’s appearance attracted. There was a small crowd all looking for selfies with the musicians and the owner who was a Marty McFly double. We were going to take it out around Glasgow for some pictures but it’s only a two seater and one of our musicians would have been left behind.
Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair
I was working at the Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair at Kelvingrove Art Gallery at the start of the month. The event was to showcase the best of Scottish and international creative talent. Sometimes the choice for a photographer is who to choose as a subject for the photograph to put out to the press. I love the work of Ryan Mutter, an award winning Glasgow based artist, whose work depicts the Glasgow shipyards. Ryan was setting up his work on the Arteries Gallery stand. It was nearly all done but I wanted to illustrate him actually in the middle of the guddle to show the chaos of getting one of the events together. I asked him to sit on the floor with all the cardboard and bubble wrap from the pictures around him. I put on my 15mm Sigma fish eye lens, which gave a nice distortion. I also tried my old favourite idea of a person up a ladder.
Trix The T Rex Comes to Glasgow
Glasgow got a new visitor last month. Trix the Tyrannosaurus rex arrived at The Kelvin Hall. The 66 to 67million year old T. rex is 39-foot long, around 13 feet high and weighs a colossal 5,000 kg. This grand old lady with her ferocious teeth and short arms, is probably the most well known dinosaur in the world. She certainly gave this young lad a scare when he saw her for the first time. I remember the Kelvin Hall was famous for the elephants at the circus, which I used to see when I was a youngster. There was a rumour that there was always a place that you could still smell the elephants from those days. At least Trix is house trained and scent free.
A Drag in the Dark/Killer Queens
Here was a sight you don’t see often in Kelvingrove Park. Drag Queens Frans Gender and Kiko were in rehearsal for their Drag in the Dark-Killer Queens event coming up at Curlers Bar on Byres Road. It is part of The West End Festival 2019 and is the first ever drag queen murder mystery in Scotland. They were such a good laugh. The actors had lots of cartoon type weapons, which they use in the show. I have been to a murder mystery night before but never one performed in drag. We did get a lot of interested looks as we were doing the programme launch pictures. The programme itself has over 350 events coming up in June.
Sky’s The Limit at the Sportsman’s Ball
This month I was covering the Princess of Wales Hospice Sportsman’s Dinner at The Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. Sky Sports presenters Jeff Stelling, Matt Le Tissier, Phill Thompson and Charlie Nicholas were the stars of the night. They were joined in my picture by hospice chief exec Rhona Baillie. It was a great night, Jeff and the guys were brilliant and some of the stories they came out with were fantastic. I’ve known Charlie Nicolas since his playing days and I had to laugh when he said “I didn’t think you were still going big yin”. It was a night for some top class patter. There is a very serious reason for an event like this and everyone dug in deep, raising a huge amount for the hospice funds.
A New Look for Post Graduates
Not every job I do is photographing people. Sometimes I get locations to photograph too.This particular one was on the top floor of the Sir Alexander Stone Building at the University of Glasgow. It was one of the hardest jobs I had this year as there was no lift and I had to carry my equipment up five floors. I have done a few make overs at the university for the super cool furniture company Alpha Scotland. They used my photographs really well on their website. Have a look at their page here
All of the University of Glasgow locations are my photographs. It can be fun having the huge spaces to yourself. I do love the modern design. Do you think I could ask them to do up my own office !
St Enoch Centre Renovations
I have been doing jobs in the St Enoch Centre since it opened in 1989. Actually I used to park in the old railway station for family shopping trips when I was in school. It does not seem like 30 years has passed.
In the space left by BHS there is going to be a lovely new cinema and cool restaurants coming. I got a sneak peek at the space now it has been hollowed out.
It was quite something to see the scale of the building with nothing it it. The two workmen looking up really show the scale of what a huge space it is. I was with General Manager Anne Ledgerwood, Glasgow City Council Leader Susan Aitkin and development manager Graeme Jones.
Hold On To That Owl
I love setting a scene. I had been in talks with the people at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra about a picture to illustrate the new performance of The Music of Harry Potter that was going to play in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. We had chatted about how we needed a Harry Potter character, young junior chorus member Zak Hilferty was perfect fo the role. He loves Harry Potter. We needed another character, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Ron or Hermione. We discussed it and then thought what about Hedwig, Harry’s owl. Danny from the RSNO knew where we could the loan of an owl. The Scottish Owl Centre came along with a beautiful snowy owl. We spent a long time setting the flashlights and lighting the inside of the theatre with the help of the Cottiers lighting tech. The RSNO principal double bass player Ana stood in while we did a few test shots. When Zac arrived with his mum he got dressed in Hogwarts robes, put on his lighting scar and was introduced to Hedwig the owl. As he held on to the owl, got in position, the owl flapped it wings right on cue. Bravely he held position and only blinked once. We had the shot in under 10 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. Sometimes you can just be lucky.
Up For The Cup
A picture that is defiantly a modern trend is photographing the selfie picture. Nicola Sturgeon does it all the time. The delight shows in the face of winning president Alex Brock of the University of Strathclyde after they won the annual Glasgow Taxis Cup, the inter university multi-sports competition between Glasgow, Strathclyde and Caledonian Universities. Alex was so delighted as Strathclyde had broken the University of Glasgow’s eight year winning streak. I saw Alex doing the selfie at The Emirates Arena in front of some of the equally delighted Strathclyde cheerleaders. I thought that this is more emotional picture rather than standing in a row holding the trophy.
The Young Indiana Jones at Govan
Sometimes a story just sparks the imagination and runs and runs. This is young Mark McGettigan from Lourdes Secondary school. He was helping out on the Stones and Bones community archaeology dig at Govan Old Parish Church. The fourteen year old found some long lost gravestones from the Middle Ages. The carvings were from the time of the Ancient Kingdome of Strathclyde. He was delighted with his find as were the others including Professor Stephen Driscoll from The University of Glasgow Historical Archaeology department. I used my 15mm fish eye lens and had the camera at ground level to get the angle down on the stone and the strong sunlight lit up the cross on the stone. I had a flash off camera to the right to fill in the shadows on Mark’s face. The wide angle distortion from the lens really adds to the picture.
The story has been all round Britain across to La Vanguardia in Spain and now over to the USA in the New York Post.
A Smile Can Make The Picture
I was photographing the Marie Curie Great Big Daffodil campaign at the Gyle Shopping Centre in Edinburgh. People were writing memories and tributes to loved ones on the petals of the giant flower. Young 18 month old Minnie Mortimer had a go at drawing but settled for a dance around the display. She gave everyone a big smile as she ran around the huge daffodil. She really made my picture. It was the Picture of the Day in that afternoon’s edition of the Edinburgh Evening News.
Much To Talk About
With the new BBC Scotland TV channel starting this month I was delighted to be asked to photograph the first ever Debate Night at Napier University in Edinburgh. It was hosted by Stephen Jardine who is a total professional. I used to be interviewed by him on The Hour on STV when I had my monthly photography slot. He and co-presenter Michelle McManus were a great support, if I dried up or started to ramble on they would just ask me another question. I will be forever in their debt.
I am still always amazed at how much goes into making one of these programmes. The amount of people involved, the organisation and focus they have to put in, to get a show like this on air. The production team had all been in long before me and were there long after I had left. Another thing that I really love is the lighting set up. I would love to take along the lights they use. Its always a lovely flattering soft light.
The audience really seemed to be on board. The discussions were interesting and wide ranging but with a Scottish agenda. It is also amazing the amount of humour that comes out. The interaction is lively between Stephen and the audience, as well as the panel. I was monitoring the twitter reaction and it seemed very positive. It was a really good first line up too: Sir Tom Hunter, Monica Lennon MSP, Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Murdo Fraser MSP and poet Jenny Lindsay.
Benihana’s Japanese cuisine with Glasgow Style
I was commissioned to photograph the new Benihana restaurant in Glasgow city centre. I am usually either a curry of burger fan. This was a whole new experience for me trying out Japanese cuisine. Menus featuring signature dishes like Hibachi steak, chicken and shrimp, as well as sushi and sashimi. I loved the decor and the murals on the walls. This was my favourite one I photographed with one of the skilful chefs that prepare the food at your table. The mural has the Finnieston Crane, Glasgow Cross, the Clyde Auditorium, the statue the Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head at the Gallery of Modern Art and a few other well known Glasgow landmarks.
Up For The Cup
More than 600 students in Glasgow will don their university colours as Scotland’s biggest inter-University sports tournament returns. Teams from the University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde, and Glasgow Caledonian University will face off across the city on Wednesday 20th March, vying to win the Glasgow Taxis Cup. I was asked along to the Emirates Arena in Glasgow to meet the three University Sport Presidents. Netball has been added to the games so the guys met with some of their netball team members with professional netball player Gia Abernethy of Strathclyde Sirens. The guys did have a go an putting the ball in the nets but the girls certainly had the edge.
A Lovely Night For A Dram
I was asked up to Crieff Hydro for the last night of the Chivas Graduate Summit. They were gathered from all around the globe to get together and to report on what they had been doing and learning as brand ambassadors. The day I arrived, there was cocktail training. I had no idea there was so much to it. There were professional mixologists there teaching them everything from cooling glasses, serving and of course mixing. I have never seen such cool teachers in my life. They were making whisky and gin based cocktails using Chivas Regal and Beefeater Gin. I did try a sample or two. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it. At the end of the day we had the ceilidh. As you can see it was a big gathering, they are such a great bunch. It was my son Mark who was assisting with lighting on this job and we were both made to feel really welcome.
Here’s Looking At You Kid
I have had a couple of visits to one of my favourite venues this month. The Glasgow Science Centre has had their mid-term programmes on and the increasingly popular Little Explorers events. I came across this guy staring out of the science lab. He was hilarious and really created a lot of interest with the youngsters. I guess he hasn’t been to the cafe to try their delicious home baked cakes. I must confess I have had one or two. Although my personal favourite in the cafe is the chicken tandoori roll. I know is sound strange but I am hooked, I find myself going in on my day off for one.
May The Force Be With You
One of my favourite film characters, Darth Vader, came to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra HQ in Glasgow for a photo call. The press release had a few great lines, which really made me smile. I wish I was as clever as some of my writing partners. “The force was strong with this one” and “dark side of the movement” were just a couple of the witty lines that stood out. Darth Vader and colleagues were in preparaing for their RSNO debut as part of the Scottish orchestra’s Sci-Fi Spectacular concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow. They were performing some of the best-known science fiction soundtracks from the past forty years. The only thing I found off putting was the machine that made Darth Vader’s breathing heavy and loud, just like in the movie. I kept thinking he was out of breath.
Memories of John Martyn
John Martyn was one of Scotland’s most amazing singer songwriters. I have seen him many times and there is never a week goes by when there is not some of his music playing on the stereo. During the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow his first bass player Danny Thompson had arranged a tribute concert with loads of artists all performing some of his best loved songs. Paul Weller was on of the bigger names. I was called by John’s bass player (from the 1980’s) Alan Thomson. He was looking for a picture I took at the Sub Club around 1988. I spent ages looking for the negatives. For some reason they were missing. I finally found them and made a new copy. It looked better than the original print. The pictures were to be projected on the back of the stage with loads of others during the gig.
A Song For The Bard
Still on a musical theme. I was photographing the talented Eddi Reader who was working with the pupils from High Park Primary in Glasgow. They were filming and interviewing her with BBC’s The LAB education unit. The best bit was Auld Lang Syne. It was just like the bells all over again. Check out the pupil’s interview.
Burns Night with Tam & Isa
I joined TV presenter Des Clarke with Jane McGarry and Mark Cox, alias Tam & Isa from Still Game. They were all together to present the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice Celebration of Burns evening at The Radisson Blu hotel.
I have known them all for years, Jane and Mark since working at the Tron Theatre in the 1980’s and it is always a delight to see them again. When I look at them and then see myself in a mirror, I think the years have been kinder to them or perhaps it’s because I am used to seeing them as pensioners in Still Game.
Des had a magnificent tartan suit which he carried off to a tee. There are some that can carry that off, but I am afraid I am not one of them. Mind you I think it would have looked good if they were all in Tartan suits.
Spreading Christmas Cheer
I had the privilege again this year of photograhing Heart of Midlothian and Scotland striker Steven Naismith who with the Loaves & Fishes Charity sponsors a Christmas Lunch for Glasgow’s Homeless at Renfield St Stephen’s Church Cafe in Glasgow. The Glasgow charity, Loaves & Fishes is an organisation that helps the city’s homeless and operates a food bank in East Kilbride. For Steven who sponsors the event this is not a one off. The lunch is now in its 8th year. He very much gets involved with the whole day laughing, joking and pulling crackers.
Christmas Pop Up
Some jobs for just right up my street. Anything involving food is up there at the top of the list. I did risk life and limb photographing the front of Martha’s new pop up restaurant on Byres Road by standing in the middle of the road and hoping the busses took pity on me and stopped. As it’s December, Christmas jumpers were the order of the day. Afterwards I did try a couple of their dishes which are tasty and healthy. They do the food for the Glasgow Warriors rugby team.
Pavilion Front Door
I enjoy seeing my work on display. I love the way the Pavilion Theatre have used my pictures bigger than life size on the front doors of the theatre. I have also seen the cast pictures on the back and sides of busses. However I am in the car and can’t stop to get a picture but I’ll keep trying. I might need to go into the bus station and risk looking like a bus spotter.
Light Up A Life
A Christmas Carol concert is a really lovely thing to go to at this time of year. I was at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice Light Up A Life Carol Concert at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Clyde Street. The singing was led by The Kilbarchan Singers who sounded absolutely amazing with the acoustics of the building. I was sending my pictures form the back of the church where I took this picture. At times I just closed my eyes and listened. It has a super show in the Evening Times.
Lighting the Way Down Byres Road.
I was in front of over 500 people walking in the St Andrew’s Day torchlit procession from The West End Festival. From the Botanic Gardens down the west end’s Byres Road and finishing at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, with the public lining the streets. Actor David Hayman was leading the parade on behalf of Spirit Aid with Glasgow Lord Provost Eva Bollander. The event, part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, is designed to be an opportunity for people across Scotland to celebrate our Patron Saint, St Andrew. The event has a real sense of community and brings different people from across Glasgow and beyond, together for this patriotic occasion. This was the third Torchlight Procession and it is now a permanent feature of the winter calendar.
Reading Comics In The Huntarian Museum
I used to love comics and I was asked to come along to the photo call for A Night at the Museum, The Art of Comics. The University of Glasgow was hosting a special one off Night at the Museum. I met young Anna Smeaton who was reading one of her favourite comic sitting below a plesiosaur. Joining her were Professor Laurence Grove and comic artist Frank Quitely. It really shows that comics these days are not just for kids. The worlds very first comic was there too. ‘Glasgow Looking Glass’ was on public display. No eating crisps and dips allowed reading this one.
Santa Coming in To Glasgow Central Station by Train
Even in November the Christmas photo calls start. I met my first Santa with Virgin Trains as he arrived at Central Station to be collected by buggy. It did cheer up a very dull November day with the passengers enjoying the sight of Santa racing round the platform.
Fright Night at the Science Centre for Halloween
One of the best nights of the year is the Halloween Party at the Glasgow Science Centre. The enthusiasm of the staff getting into the spirit of the night is fantastic. Some of the outfits were out of this world. I met these zombie scientists in the space beneath the Science Centre Tower. They were taking visitors on a total immersion experience on how to find a serum to protect against zombies. I watched as every group came running out screaming. What a laugh! There was plenty going on upstairs for all the really young scientists. I am always amazed at the fantastic outfits the parents and youngsters come along in. It makes a great night for photographs.
Former Irish President Mary McAleese
I was in the beautiful cloisters at the University of Glasgow to photograph the former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, who joined the University of Glasgow as a Professor of Children, Law and Religion. The professor’s lovely magenta coloured coat really stood out against the brown of the sandstone. The cloisters always look magnificent, leading off into the background, framing the professor on her first day at her new job.
A New Look for the Library
It’s not always people I photograph, occasionally it can be an object or a room. This is not always an easy task. The Joseph Black Library at the University of Glasgow has had a make over by Alpha Scotland, the super cool furniture company. I has to spend a bit of time balancing the natural light, the lighting in the room to my flash lights. It was nice to see so much colour in a library. Have a look at some of the other cool locations at The University of Glasgow and West of Scotland I have been working on with Alpha.
Open Doors at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice
Glasgow’s new £21 million Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice opened its doors for the first time this month. The super new Scandinavian inspired building, based in Bellahouston Park, will care for over 1200 new patients and families every year. The building was in honour of Sir Arnold Clark, one of Scotland’s most celebrated businessmen and entrepreneurs. Cutting the ribbon is Lady Clark with Glasgow Lord Provost Eva Bolander. I loved the fact that the front door is the original door that was at Carlton Place, which people have been coming through since the hospice opened many years ago.
Glasgow Girls Doing It For Themselves
I was up in the roof terrace of the new section of the Theatre Royal. What a great view right over to the Campsie Fells. I was with the cast of The Glasgow Girls, Cora Bissett and David Greig’s life affirming Scottish drama. The show is to run at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow in January next year. We all got together for the photo shoot to show an urban city scape location. The high flats looked really dramatic in the background. These are really nice flats, really popular and nicely laid out. A good pal of mine lives in one and I had been leaning out a windows in a few when I was photographing a lady abseiling down the side. The show was an Edinburgh Festival Fringe sell out in 2016 and winner of the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.
Up a Ladder at The Boat Builders
I love a ladder and I have mentioned on my blog before how much I like ladders. Even though I don’t like heights I find ladders can really make a picture. Whether it’s the subject or myself that’s standing up them. Helen Bellany, partner of internationally acclaimed artist the late John Bellany CBE, unveiled one of the key works of his career, ‘The Boat Builders’, which is now on show the Scottish Maritime Museum. The painting rarely seen since it was painted in 1962 is a huge 3 metre by 5 metre oil on board. A painting of this size is hard to photograph with someone in it as the sides of the frame will not be straight. With Helen up a ladder and myself up another ladder I managed to keep the sides of the painting straight. I also loved how natural it was for Fiona Greer the museums Curator of Art taking Helens picture. It really made me smile.
Grand Opening Night at The Pavilion Theatre
I was invited along to record the opening of the Pavilion Theatre after the huge fire at Victoria’s Nightclub. The fire caused a fair amount of damage but when the team at the Pavilion eventually got back in, a big clean up operation was under way. The Celtic Story was the opening show and it was packed with lots of people commenting how brilliant it was to have the theatre back and looking so good. The place was packed and I had loads of folk waving to me delighted to have their pictures taken.
Home for The Glasgow Time Trials
On Wednesday 8th of August all our surrounding roads were closed for Glasgow 2018 European Championships Time Trials. I was not best pleased as I could not get to work but I must say I enjoyed the day. Nearly all our village was out in force cheering on the competitors. I had a great view as the cyclists whizzed by and got a great shot of every one. All the neighbours came down to watch at the side of the road and after the bikers passed we went by we all came into the house to watch the rest on the TV. We got the sunshine and at Glasgow Green it was chucking it. I think we had the best of the day. I loved the colours of Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania and his cool sunglasses.
If The Hat Fits
The Designer Room at G12, Marie Curie designer label charity store, was the location for one of the #FrockDrop photocalls for this year. We had a really super one last year at The Buchanan Galleries with celebrity Cat Cubie. See March 2017 blog. This shoot was for Marie Curie’s The Designer Rooms annual Ladies Evening where customers can pick up everything from a Prada dresses to Mulberry handbags. Buchanan Galleries donated many celebrity items from their #FrockDrop event given by high profile personalities such as Amy Macdonald, Megan McKenna and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister’s bright pink coloured jacket certainly stood out in the picture along with Megan’s hat.
Chivas Brand Ambassadors
I had a lovely visit to Meldrum House, at Oldmeldrum past Aberdeen. I was working with the Chivas Brand Ambassadors. What a great bunch. They were full of enthusiasm, charm and energy. The knowledge they have about their product is amazing. I do not think I would have had the confidence at their age to travel around the world, go to a strange city, start organising tastings and events. I loved this shot of everyone on the last night of the course in their finery. The guys looks terrific in full Highland dress kilts.
Watching The Sunset
Sometimes taking time out is just the thing. Sitting watching the sunset can be really therapeutic. Also it is not something you can really set up. It happens or it doesn’t. I have sat there many times and as it is about to happen the sun pops behind a cloud and it is lost. This one at Balevullin on Tiree was one I had confidence about. What really made it for me was the couple that just sat on the rocks to my left. No one asked them. They unexpectedly appeared and sat down. Lucky me!
Glasgow Cocktail Weekend
I had an afternoon with some of Glasgow’s top bartenders at the launch the Glasgow Cocktail Weekend. The picture we decided would be at the North Rotunda ahead of the festival, which ran over the 2nd weekend in August. Some really cool places were represented. Nonya, The Finniston, McPhabbs to name a few. I was lying on the pavement at the Hilton Garden Inn below the giant Finniston crane. I was telling the folks there how I used to come to a great roll and sausage van on this very spot for years long before the Hydro and all the other cool places opened up.
Glasgow Looking Like Rome
I was in the magnificent Hutchesons City Grill on Ingram Street for a photo shoot. I remember going in many times when it was the Hutchieson’s Hall. We has a couple of our NUJ meetings there. The building started life as Hutchiesons Hospital until 1805. In its new life is as Hutchesons City Grill I met restaurateur Louise Rusk who was in great form and was quite happy to hang out a Glasgow black cab holding the giant gift card. The light had a lovely warm summer look to it and filled in with my new PIKA200 flash units the picture looks as if it could have been taken in Italy with the tall pillars and statues in the background.
Cycling With Cake
I am no stranger to a cake or two as many of my photographic colleagues will testify. I was down at Quarriers Village near Houston to photograph Nichola, Gillian and Linsey of The Three Sisters Bake as they celebrate the installation of new bike rack facilities at their Three Sisters Bake countryside café. The sisters had sponsored a mile of the local cycle path in an effort to encourage customers to leave the car at home and travel to the café by bike. Everyone including myself was in shorts as it was in the middle of the really hot weather. It was an occasion for me as I have never worn shorts to work before.
Sleep In The Park
I met the delightful and low key Josh Littlejohn, co founder of Social Bite at Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Such a quiet guy and yet he must have such a drive to get all his projects off the ground. It was the launch of Sleep in the Park 2018, the world’s biggest simultaneous multi-city sleep out, which will take place on the night of December 8 in Scotland’s four largest cities.The first one last year saw 8,000 people sleep under the stars on the coldest night of the year in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. It became the world’s largest ever sleep out. This year it returns to Edinburgh’s Princes St Gardens, as well as simultaneous events in Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow. I really like it when people like Josh take the time to give all the photographers what they need for a picture then move on to the writers and then telephone interviews. When I left he was still at it.
Up a Ladder
Occasionally I do need to keep my fear of hights in check. Even going up a rather tall ladder gives me some concern. I was on top of such a ladder in front of over 250 City of Glasgow College students in the cloistered gardens at The Riverside Campus. The students from all across the globe, together with their fellow students from SUNY Maritime College in New York, were all getting ready for their graduation ceremony in Glasgow Cathedral. As I explained in a loud voice for them all to look at the front and not to laugh at my discomfort my phone went off. All of them to a man and a woman burst out laughing. It’s nice to make everyone smile.
The University of Glasgow Settlement Exhibition
I was delighted to be asked to do some photographs for The University of Glasgow Settlement exhibition which on at The Wolfson Medical Building just now. The University of Glasgow Settlement Exhibition tells the stories of different forms of student social action. It is organised in partnership with the University of Glasgow Archive Services. The whole history of The Settlement is an interesting read. Here is a link to the web page http://gusettlement.org I was so impressed with it all but I was amazed at the size of the exhibition boards with my pictures on them. They really looked great. So much so I wondered if I took them. When you see a picture on a computer screen its easy to forget how a photograph can look really good as a hard copy print. When a picture is blown right up to poster size it is easy to see all the flaws. Soft focus and pixilation really stand out. Big is beautiful but it can bare all.
A Full Moon
One of the most amazing things I had to photograph this year has to be the extraordinary art installation, called ‘Museum of the Moon’. It made its debut in Scotland at the Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church in Garscube Road, Glasgow. It was part of the Take Me Somewhere Festival and also for this year’s celebrations for Mackintosh 150 – the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth. The Museum of the Moon is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface. To show the moon’s scale in the church I had Stuart Robertson, Director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society standing in the centre looking up as I shot the picture on a 15mm fish-eye lens.
Harry Benson at Pollok House
I was invited along to the opening evening of Scottish born photo-journalist Harry Benson’s new exhibition at Pollok House in Glasgow. Harry worked alongside some of my old Evening Times and Daily Express pals. I have met him more than a few times over the years and a couple of times in The Press Bar. I took this picture of Harry signing copies of his new book. Harry went over to America with the Beatles in 1964 and has photographed every U.S. President from Eisenhower to Donald Trump. Unbelievably he was just feet away from Bobby Kennedy the night he was assassinated. Harry has done pretty much everything and his back catalogue of pictures is something else. I have a couple of his books, but this new exhibition also featured some of his less well known works. It is certainly worth a visit. Harry Benson: From Glasgow to America runs until December.
Celebrations With Fizz
The Prince & Princess of Wales Brick by Brick Appeal hit their £21m target this month to create a new purpose-built facility in Bellahouston Park. Lord Provost Eva Bollander popped open the champagne at the Hospice’s base in Carlton Place to celebrate the fantastic news. The hospice launched the appeal in 2012 to find the money and after six years of epic fundraising from individuals, groups and corporate hospice supporters all across the country the incredible figure of £21m has been reached.
Champagne spraying up with everyone cheering always looks an easy picture to do, but it is not. Quite the opposite in fact. You have to be careful that the spray does not cover any faces, the cork doesn’t go the wrong way and hit someone also you don’t stand too close and get covered, which is not good for the cameras. Also another tip is always have another bottle to try it again.
The Bigger Picture
Glasgow based painter Annette Edgar has put herself under starter’s orders to find a new home for a huge painting of a running man, which she created in the 1990s. The painting, called Spirit, measures six feet by four feet and was created as part of a series of paintings of runners.
Due to the pressure of space in her home she has decided to sell the work. I didn’t realise how big it was until I got there. We only just got it out the door for the photograph and then very nearly didn’t get it back in again. Any offers?
Brigadoon Comes to Edinburgh.
I had the pleasure of photographing the wife of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly, Patricia Ward Kelly, who was being treated to a dressing by one of Scotland’s most celebrated contemporary kilt makers Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts. They were doing a press launch for ‘Gene Kelly-A Life In Music’ with the RSNO at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Gene Kelly visited Scotland in 1952 to scout locations for the filming of the 1954 classic Brigadoon, a movie about two American tourists who visit Scotland on a hunting trip and discover a magical village that appears only once every one-hundred years. The Edinburgh cobbled street was the perfect location and they both broke into a highland dance along the road with no instruction from me.
Painting The Town Radisson RED
Once and a while a really cool new place opens up. I spent a day at the opening if the new Radisson RED hotel beside the SEC Hydro. They have a mascot. Buster, a Boston terrier puppy who will be welcoming guests with open paws to the dog friendly hotel.
The staff were great for picture a really cool bunch who could not do enough to help.
For the group picture we had to time opening the champagne with the confetti canon and make sure everyone was cheering at the same time. Baxter did his part on the check in desk posing for his picture.
Kiltwalk at The Riverside Museum
The Kiltwalk is an annual event that just makes me smile. Everyone that gets involved just smiling form ear to ear, however the kilt is always the star. Some kilts do really stand out. I was working with Glasgow Taxis who on the day of the kilt walk were donating 50p from every cab ride that day to boost the STV Children’s Appeal. Showbiz reporter Laura was with a couple of taxi drivers down at The Riverside Museum. As well as the kilt being the star we now had the bright pink taxi as a colourful co- star. Bright colours do make good pictures. We were lucky with the weather, half an hour I after I took this the heavens opened.
I was working at the RSNO’s ‘A Day at the Museum’ concert at The Mitchell Library Theatre, a venue I really love, having spent many happy days as a backstage crew member with the Capricorn Players amateur theatre group there. The Herald Cafe also does a great scone! During the concert the kids were really engaged in the whole thing. Some musicians make better pictures than others. Violins are great as you get the light of the sheet music light reflected up in their faces and they keep their heads up. Drums and percussion are not so good as they have their heads down most of the time playing. The conductor always makes a good picture. The light here was really low but there was enough just to pick out conductor Holly Mathieson. Putting the picture into black & white I thought really added to the atmosphere.
A Love of Books
I visited an amazing venue for the first time last month. The Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh was a former swimming baths. I knew Infirmary Street, as there is a great folk music venue there called The Royal Oak Bar. I was covering Scottish Book Trust Awards. I met two lovely people there author Vivian French (on right) with her Outstanding Achievement Award and Head Teacher Eileen Littlewood with her Learning Professional Award. The location made a really super background. I loved the old swimming pool roof. It really made the picture.
A Sea of Daffodils
I was at the unveiling of Marie Curie’s amazing ‘Garden of Light’ at Glasgow’s Central Railway Station. It was to mark the charity’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal, the charity’s biggest fundraising drive which happens in March. The idea was to shoot the daffodils from a low angle to really make it look like the whole floor of the station was covered with flowers. The light from the individual flowers lit up the faces beautifully. Marie Curie nurse Liz Arnott with service users Linda and husband Robert, were on hand to admire the display. As we were in the famous Glasgow Central Station it was important to show the stunning iconic iron and glass roof.
Jaguar Video Blog
I was helping a very good PR pal of mine who was doing a video review of the Jaguar E Pace. A very cool car although a bit out of my price range. ‘Laura from Aura’, as she is best known, had got this amazing 4×4 on loan from Taggarts Jaguar. We took it up to Loch Lomond to do some pictures and then I tried out my new DJI Osmo, which holds an iPhone to give the cinematic type effect when shooting video. Here is the link to some of the scenes I shot with is using my own guitar soundtrack.
And to finish this month, another video. The Beast from the East storm cut our village off for three days. It made for some amazing pictures which, I hope to eventually make into a video slideshow but for now here is a short film of our road been cleared.
Sir Bobby Charlton
I was covering the visit of Sir Bobby Charlton to the synthetic bone project at the University of Glasgow, which is funded by his charity Find A Better Way.
Sir Bobby is with Eva the Munsterlander who, for those who remember my June post, was the dog whose paw was saved and became the unplanned beneficiary of the project to save land mine blast survivors. Inside the lab the set up was amazing. The 3D printer, which actually grows the bone, really is a miracle. Eva, happy with a few doggie snacks, was totally unaware of her very famous friend.
All Aboard for the Taxi Cup
The annual Glasgow Taxi Cup will see more than 700 students from Glasgow, Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian Universities compete to be Glasgow’s best sporting institute. The cup is a beautiful trophy and very heavy. The three folk in the back of the cab are all the University sport presidents and are being driven by Robbie Wishart of Glasgow University. Last year Glasgow University won the trophy. The cup competition is now in its 15th year and the competition is a firm fixture in the calendar. I always feel the taxi itself is just as much as the star as the students and trophy – so it’s always essential to make sure it has a staring role.
The Lighting Is the Thing
Sometimes you have to visit a location before an event to get a look at rooms and equipment that might make a picture. Scottish Government Innovation Minister Paul Wheelhouse was visiting a lab in Strathclyde University’s Technology and Innovation Centre to announce funding for the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics in Glasgow. The non-profit centre specialises in photonics, or laser technology. Lasers always sound great for pictures, but in reality they can be small and inside protective casings for health and safety reasons. On an earlier visit we found the huge TV screens in the board room and then looked through a bank of images to find the one would look the most effective as a background. When the minister arrived we were set up, ready to go and the job was done in about 15 minutes. He could then get on with the rest of his visit.
LAB/ River City Project
I was on the set of BBC Scotland’s weekly drama River City with Actor Aisha Toussaint, who plays Jules Belmont in the program. She was working with BBC Scotland’s L.A.B (Learn At BBC Scotland) and pupils from Lourdes Secondary School in Glasgow to create original drama content, focussing on mental health. The pupils write, act in and film the short drama as well as making a behind-the-scenes documentary about the process. As well as Aisha the youngsters worked with well known TV script writer Stuart Hepburn who, as well as River City, has written many of the Taggart episodes. It was good fun watching everyone mucking in, even the school teachers got parts in the show. It was a great learning opportunity for the young people, I wish school had been like that in my day. I have posted a link to watch their drama on Instagram.
Scotland’s Hospices Together
I was at Glasgow Centre Station for Valentines day with staff from many of the local hospices handing out chocolate hearts. It was for the launch of new national partnership called Scotland’s Hospices Together and spread the #hospicelove with the commuters. The chocolate hearts did prove to be really popular with commuters some asking for more. It was a freezing cold and I did feel guilty in my hat and scarf, but the colourful hospice T shirts did make for a nice group picture.
My first job of the year is always on New Years Day. The Loch Lomond Water Ski Club take to the chilly waters of the loch for their annual sponsored Fancy Dress Water Ski Event. The year it was in aid of Race Against Dementia. It’s a day I really look forward to. It gets you up and into the fresh air and what could be more lovely than Ben Lomond with a bit of snow on the top. Racing up and down the loch on a speedboat certainly is a good way to blow away the cobwebs.
A Year In Pictures
With the new year started I was keen to do another slide show, ‘2017 A Year In Pictures’. Please click on the link below and have a look.
The Coolest of Cool Cars
I came across one of the coolest designed cars to photograph when the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour were out on the road celebrating their 20th anniversary. One of the stops was at Shawlands Primary, where the youngsters came out to welcome them to their school. When I saw the fantastic drawings all over the outside of the car I knew this is going to make a great picture. One of the students volunteered to chauffeur children’s writers Lari Don and Ross Collins, sitting in the back seat. As she was only eleven our driver could not actually move the vehicle but it did make for a good fun picture.
Monday the 15th of January is officially the most depressing day of the year seemingly. However I was out bright and early with the Buchanan Galleries promo staff who were turning the Glasgow commuters frowns upside down with their Blue Monday voucher give away. We were on the platform at Queen Street Station and people were looking pretty miserable. They really cheered up with their unexpected gift. It was nice to be a part of the event and seeing the public’s reactions.
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
The large snowfall we had in January made for some amazing weather pictures. I found Wee Blue the Blue Tit waiting patiently to get on the bird feeder. I think his feet must have been getting cold. I am glad I was inside. It made a nice Picture of the Day on The Herald letters page on the Saturday of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I always enjoy taking part on the day and I am sure I saw Wee Blue and his pals at the feeder again.
Its That Time of Year Again
As we are coming up to Christmas all the pantomimes are getting in to full swing. I have been working a lot with the Pavilion Theatre on their production of The Wizard of Never Woz. Photographing the show is such a laugh. Its easy to miss a shot as you are in stitches with laughter. The other super show on just now is Jack & The Beanstalk with Greig McEwan of Gary Tank Commander Fame.
I actually took this a while back for the press call to publicise the show. Greig was really up for it. There were a stack of press photographers all looking for the shot looking right down the camera lens. Panto season is always great for pictures. The colours really jump out. It must have been so hard in the old black & white days. I love black & white but this is one occasion where the colour wins hands down. It was nice to with Greig again having done pictures for the Gary Tank Commander show last year at The SEC Hydro.
Ready For Take Off
I found myself standing on the runway at Glasgow Airport this month photographing Glasgow Airport’s Managing Director Amanda MacMillan who is leaving the position after ten years. Its always pleasant to work with Amanda as I have photographed her many times. However was one of the most tricky assignments. You only get a short space of time to stand at what is called ‘the piano keys’ on the main runway. What you don’t see behind me is a big pick up truck with the engine running and a guy with a walkie talkie listening to the air traffic control. We only have about a minute to get out of the way before a plane comes into land. As soon as he shout to us we are in to the truck and away to the side of the runway at top speed. It is pretty strange to watch the wheels of a huge plane running along where we stood only minutes before. The Herald’s new Business magazine Business HQ used my pictures on the front cover and on two inside spreads.
I have been working with the Scottish Maritime Irvine Museum over the last year or so. One of the highlights is ‘Illumination’, Irvine Harbour’s Festival of Light. It made for brilliant pictures and it looked so amazing that I wanted to add a couple of pictures to my blog. It is not easy as there is a lot of work to figure out the best exposure and shutter speeds on my camera. Walking along the harbour was the Light Trail part of the event. Illuminated buildings and boats out in the water with lights stretching across the harbour. I loved my picture of a local youngster with the world’s first, music-making Illumaphonium. The look of joy in her face said it all. The sounds it made were amazing. In order to get a good picture the timing had to be right so that the white light came on to light up her face.
Inside the listed Linthouse building , a former shipyard, was the gravity defying acrobatics of Spinal Chord. All the movement was done to amazing live industrial rock music. It was quite a sight. The misty dry ice and the strong colours of the lighting made it hard to focus, but the more you try the luckier you get.
A Peaceful Christmas Scene
Sometimes pictures just come to you as your walking by. I was helping my better half with her JoJo Gnome Christmas workshop at Mugdock Country Park. We had a great day and I got to wear my news Santa hat. We had just taken a picture of ourselves in the JoJo Gnome T shirts and as we walked away I realised how quiet it was. All the kids were in watching the Panto in the small theatre and we were going for a coffee into Charlie’s Bar. I had never seen this place with out a soul in it. I liked the Christmas tree in colour and turning the rest of the image to black & white. There was a bit of blurring to the edge of the frame which I thought added a bit to the atmosphere.
To everyone who has read my blog this year, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to sharing more pictures and stories in 2018.
Singing In The Rain
I had one of my most tricky lighting situations this month in the old street at The Riverside Museum. It is one of the places with the lowest light which gives an old fashioned look to the naked eye but for photography it is one of the more problematic locations . I was photographing Patricia Ward Kelly, she is the wife of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly. The photo shoot was for Gene Kelly: The Legacy, which was playing at The RSNO Centre at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. I had four flash guns all pointing at various spots in the room. One on Patricia herself, one on the street cobbles, one on the shop and one on RSNO violinist Patrick Curlett. It was defiantly worth all the effort and Patricia herself was lovely.
I was back at The West End Festival St Andrew’s Day Torchlight Parade again this year. It was an amazing event as always. This year there was the addition of actor David Hayman, from Spirit Aid, who was leading the procession. There were the members of Glasgow Hula Hoop group doing some of their fantastic fire stunts.
One of the hard things about photographing the procession is how dark it is. You do need a very high ISO to catch the light on the faces of the of the crowd and get a good exposure of the people. Also the low illumination makes it very hard to focus on the subject. The light on David Hayman’s face came from the shops on the main road shining on his face which balanced out the torch light.
The other hard thing is is keeping ahead of the procession. You would not imagine that the crowd move as fast as they do. Especially when you have to run up to the car park above Waitrose and then run backdown stairs and get ahead of them for another picture from a pair of step ladders half way down Byres Rd.
Time For Tea
The Willow Tea Rooms in Buchanan Street is one of the loveliest settings for a photo call. I was in The Blue Room on the second floor of the Buchanan Street restaurant. The square shapes of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh design, with the strong blue colour, really make a lovely image to launch the new ‘Willow Tea Rooms Recipe Book’. The book which provides 40 recipes for the perfect afternoon tea, while also telling the remarkable and inspiring story of owner Anne Mulhern and The Willow Tea Rooms. In a press photograph sometimes it’s better to show a whole scene rather than just focusing on the book alone.
A Visit to Hogwarts
Scotland’s oldest public museum, the Huntarian Museum in Glasgow, was the venue for a photo call involving one of my favourite characters Harry Potter. The main hall of the museum is very like ‘The Great Hall’ at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary. The Hunterian, will be playing host to the exciting event which will celebrate the world of fantasy fiction. Stories involving the legend of King Arthur or what real life creatures inspired the Loch Ness monster legend. Playing the part of Harry was Katarina O’Dette a student who is studying Fantasy at The University of Glasgow. She was joined by a great bunch of S5 pupils from Hillhead High School. Everyone really threw themselves into their parts. I managed to make things a bit more spooky by putting green coloured gels on my flash lights which gave a filmic look to the scene.
Always Up A Ladder
Scottish artist Lachlan Goudie was hanging his new exhibition ‘Shipyard’ at The Scottish Maritime Museum. This is a remarkable exhibition capturing the work, vibrancy and renewed optimism in the shipyards on the Clyde and Forth. The exhibition, which has been supported by BAE Systems, draws on hundreds of images from the renowned artist, and broadcaster, created during a seven year study documenting construction of the next generation of Britain’s naval vessels. When I met him he was up a ladder hanging the work, no sooner had he come down then he was up another one. It only seemed fitting to ask him to climb back up another ladder to pose for my photograph.
Burns In Braille
I had another visit to The University of Glasgow this month. A rare braille collection of the complete works of Robert Burns was presented to the University by Joan Muir, from Ayrshire. She had gifted them to the local Irvine Burns Club. The Club wanted to pass the books to the University, where they will be on permanent loan. I loved the picture of Joan reading the books watched by President of the Irvine Burns Club Allen Paterson. It was guide dog Elma who really made the picture by sleeping contentedly under the table.
Look What We Caught in The Clyde
This month I was covering the BBC Good Food show at the SEC in Glasgow. We had chef Ryan James of Two Fat Ladies restaurant holding a giant hake with Anne Mulhern of The Willow Tea Rooms with her tea set cake and James Kemp, bartender at The Finnieston with one of his super cocktails. Sometimes you just cannot beat a huge fish as a prop, especially at the River Clyde. Some one is always going to ask if we had just caught it. It was a scary looking thing.
Lighting up a Pumpkin
I was in the giant pumpkin patch at Arnprior Farm which was opening for Halloween. I have never seen so many pumpkins ‘in the wild’ before. All the kids were loving the experience. I got this young lad wondering how I managed to light up the inside of the pumpkin for my photograph. Simple, put the flash in a polythene bag to stop it getting all covered in bits of pumpkin and use a flash trigger to set the flash. It always looks good.
Another amazing thing is that my grandmother came to this farm during the war after being evacuated from Glasgow. When I told my mum she asked was it the McEwan Farm? I said that was the name of the lady who organised it. It seems the McEwen family has farmed Arnprior since 1936. How is that for a small world.
There are some pictures we call hardy annuals. Burns night, switching on of the Christmas lights, fireworks night, this is another of these assignments that I look forward to coming round every year.
Two years on and still going strong with Mackintosh
I cannot believe that time has passed by so quickly. My last job on staff with The Herald & Evening Times was a Charles Rennie Mackintosh look a like at The Willow Tea Rooms. Now on my second year anniversary I am back celebrating the world renowned architect and designer at The Queens Cross Church for The Sixth Mackintosh Festival. To be honest, I have been doing many photo calls of the ‘man with the moustache’ over the months and I love the subtle colours and shapes of Mackintosh. My picture ended up on the front page of The Scotsman as well as in The Evening Times, The Times and The Metro. The one thing I never get tired of is seeing my work in print. It still gives me a buzz to pick up a newspaper and see my photograph on the page. The front page is always a real thrill. I have had many front page pictures over my career and I still remember going into the newsagents and having the front page on nearly all the newspapers. It was not unusual for all the Nationals to pick up on a story that we had done earlier on the day in the Evening Times.
Take Care of My Bear at Glasgow Airport
I had a really fun assignment last month with Glasgow Airport’s new Teddy Tag. Every year hundreds of teddies and soft toys get lost and left behind on planes. The airport are now issuing tags for youngster’s cuddly toys. Putting all the toys on the trolley and add to that young Christopher’s great expression, really made me smile. It made people around the world smile too. The picture and story went all around the globe and hopefully the world’s cuddly toys can fly with confidence in the future.
All Smiles and Painted Faces at Specsavers
I was at the opening of the new Specsavers store in Newton Mearns. They had cake, balloons and a face painter. Optometrist student Caroline Reilly tried her hand at drawing a pair of glasses on young Alistair. I wanted her to paint them on as a real pair of glasses but he wanted Spiderman. So we had a compromise. A wee pair of specs then the full Spiderman face.
Roaring in to Autumn
This month started with a bit of a roar. I was at the Jurassic Kingdom launch photo call at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. The effects were amazing. You could hear the sounds all around the park. Looking at these huge dinosaurs stretching up into the trees was certainly a sight you don’t see every day. I had a young explorer on hand to add a bit of fun to the picture. Some dinosaurs don’t have teeth but we found one that wasn’t too tall and decided to let him meet his match. However we all got a fright when the motion sensor in the creature kicked into life and the thing lifted it’s head and gave one almighty roar, but it was good fun on the day.
A Big Red Bus
I had a great bus trip around Glasgow. Red Bus Bistro and the National Autistic Society had organised a tour which took in the Glasgow Cathedral, People’s Palace and The Riverside Museum. The trip included adaptations to the bus such as a chill out zone, sensory toys and no music playing in the background. Alison the MD of Red Bus Bistro and son Bradley were my models for the photo shoot along with dad Stuart, who was driving the bus.
The whole thing lasted about an hour and there were tea and cakes with some sweets for the youngsters. The old Routemaster Bus is such an iconic sight. As we drove through the streets there were people all looking round to see us driving past. The trip made the following day’s Evening Times on Page 3.
The Lucky G
The G postcode of Glasgow is one of the luckiest postcodes to have in Scotland it seems. I was out in George Square with a giant golden G. It was creating a buzz about the square. Locals and tourists alike were all taking selfies and posing with it. However ‘Wee George’ the French Bulldog was one of the few not giving it a second glance.
Life Can Be A Beach
Landscapes are a part of photography I really enjoy. You have no control over the subject and you just have to choose your moment. Whether it’s a beach, or green fields how the light falls is an important factor. Sometimes you can just throw a curve ball at it and change the whole look of a picture. I used my 15mm fisheye lens which I find works really well in science and industrial assignments. The huge sky and the unusual curve of the beach at Gott Bay on Tiree gives a really unusual look about the photography. Another good thing about a fisheye is that it has such good depth of field everything is in focus.
Part of the fun of this year’s trip to Tiree was having my own postcards for sale in the local gift shop Chocolates and Charms. Last year I was really pleased with my photographs and I thought I would get some printed up. I had a pal who was up a few months ago and told me he had brought one. The first batch had almost sold out. There is about six different ones with some in black & white. The thistle and the highland cow proved to be the most popular.
Six Black CandlesTheatrical photography has long been a favourite of mine and takes me back to my student days. Working in the Tron Theatre in the bar and occasionally doing the cast pictures. Watching the action happen in front of you and just catching the actors in full flow of emotion. It is like hard news but no-one gets hurt (which I usually say about politics). Sometimes someone has a vision and you have to interpret it. Six Black Candles is the Pavilion Theatre’s latest production. The idea was to photograph each member of cast holding a candle and put them together in the one frame like the image of the band Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody. Uplighting the faces and with a flash behind to give a hair light like in the video was fairly straight forwards but the designer put them around a pair of underpants on fire. That’s why I love working with designers. I was delighted when I saw the poster.
I had the opportunity to photograph a couple of really nice guys from Together Energy who are very proud to have their base in Clydebank. It is hard to convey this fact from inside an office. Clydebank has a great local landmark of the Titan Crane at the old John Brown shipyard. Having the subjects with this iconic structure really brought the whole photo shoot to life and located the business right in the heart of Clydebank. I love business assignments. The days of getting two gentlemen in suits shaking hands in a room is really less common as business want to show more of their personality with more imaginative and creative photography.
The Big Yin
I had the pleasure and privilage of watching Billy Connolly’s first reaction to seeing his portraits that were created for his 75th birthday by Jack Vettriano, John Byrne and Rachel McLean after they were enlarged onto the side of Glasgow buildings. He said he was ‘flabbergasted’ at the massive images. It was shown on the BBC Scotland Billy Connolly : Portrait of a Lifetime. I actually watched it twice. It was hard to pick a favourite image. They all had something special about them. I think Rachel McLean’s image really came to life through the documentary with all the details that were in her photograph that were part of his life. Every time I looked I could see more and more. I have photographed him before but not one to one and I was a bit nervous. He was delightful and laughed when I told him I bought a Dry As A Bone long coat like his after watching his World Tour of Scotland program.
Give Us A Paw
I met Eva, a 2 year old Munsterlander whose leg was saved from amputation by an amazing new regenerative medicine project at The University of Glasgow. The research is funded by Sir Bobby Charlton’s landmine charity Find A Better Way. Owner Fiona was so delighted to watch Eva running around the grounds of the University’s Small Animal Hospital in Bearsden. She is pictured with William Marshall who performed the operation. The research will be used to treat civilian land mine blast survivors. It was one of the really good news stories of the month. Another photographer and myself were making woofing and meowing noises to get Eva to look at the camera. We did get some strange looks but it worked.
Takin’ The Biscuit
Hamilton Park Racecouse was promoting it’s Saints & Sinners evening and I was asked to come along to create an image that would work for the newspapers and social media. We had a local girl Eilidh MacDonald wearing a fascinator made out of Tunnock’s Tea Cake and Carmel Wafers. It was a great idea to feature these local and famous tasty treats.
The red colours really work from the hair, to dress and the wrappers really stand out from the white background of the racecourse buildings.
Last month I was photographing Josh Quigley his team who all taking part in The Great Big Walk. I caught them at The Clyde Arc bridge crossing The River Clyde in Glasgow. They had been all around Scotland and they was them passing through on their way to the Kelpies at Falkirk. We did some pictures of them crossing the bridge but I quite liked this image of them walking beside the river with The Finnieston Crane and the Hydro in the background. I love having lots of iconic buildings in my pictures.
The Scottish Parliament
I had never been to the Scottish Parliament building before. After 25 years at the papers I had seen the the Scottish Parliament coming into being, the building plans, photo calls with the architect and scale models with Donald Dewar. Well this month I had the pleasure of seeing around the building with Marie Curie and the National Autistic Society. We were meeting MSP’s to get them on board with pledging support for autism and encouraging the Great Tea Party charity event for Marie Curie.
I was so pleased to see how enthusiastic the MSP’s were to get involved.
I must say being freelance I was missing being part of the political news photo opportunities that usually go on at election time. The election count in Glasgow was the first one I had missed in over 20 years. Even the First Minister said she had not seen me for ages. She also could not believe I had not been through to Holyrood before. All the party leaders were in good form. The group picture was taken just after First Ministers Questions. I guess it went well that day.
This month I met a group of walkers at The People’s palace in Glasgow. They were all taking part in The Great Big Walk. Josh Quigley and his team were walking and still are at this time of writing. The Great Big Walk sees five teams of walkers over the UK connecting people and celebrating community. Every day, the walkers and their supporters visit different community projects and spend time with people who go the extra mile to bring communities together.
Walking and running pictures happen quite frequently and sometime the challenge can be to photograph it in a different way. I liked the idea of the people up on a grassy mound looking almost like a hill or mountain with the top half of the People’s Palace peeping up over.
A great day I worked on last year was the North Hop festival at the cool venue of SWG3. It’s a mix of craft beers, cool food and music. Their hashtag is #NORTHHOPGLA I took the picture of festival organiser Michelle Russell and Richard O’Brien, from Glasgow-based microbrewery, Out of Town Brewing, in front of one of the amazing graffiti art works at Yardworks Glasgow’s just outside at SWG3. It worked using the GLA of the Glasgow painting to tie in with the hashtag.
Fizz, Jazz & Razzmatazz
Kaye Adams, Nadia Sawalha and entertainer Edward Reid brought TV’s glamour and style when they appeared at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice’s Fizz, Jazz & Razzmatazz ladies lunch at Mar Hall hotel near Glasgow. I was there to catch the moment when the bubbly was opened. The interior of the marquee tent was amazing. I loved all the colours and with the celebrities who were all in great form combined with the lovely soft light coming though the canvas roof made a really super picture for the next days papers.
To light a space that is a 63,000 square foot arena full of trampolines is no mean feat. You need a powerful flash to fill that space, especially when the Glasgow Skyline mural in the background is one of the most important parts of the room. I was at Flip Out, Glasgow the world’s largest trampoline arena. My Ellinchrome flash heads came into their own. A normal Speedlight on camera flash is just not enough. I was fortunate to ask one of the display trampoline team if I could do some shots of her with the Glasgow Skyline in the background. She had to be very precise with the height she would need to jump to. She was really good and every jump was spot on. Then, when I asked her name she told me it was Katie Gallagher, the Scottish Ladies Champion. Talk about good luck in picking the right subject.
Flash Bang What A Picture
I had an amazing evening at The Glasgow Science Centre photographing ‘The Science Lates’ an evening event for adults only. There were live demonstrations, fascinating exhibits, tasty food and drinks. I was tempted to try the cocktails that changed colour as you poured them. I could have filled my blog with pictures from the Silent Disco, Star Wars characters, all the amazing things that you cannot get a hold of as the kids are usually in there first. My favourite image was the flames leaping from the hands of willing volunteers. There was no shortage of participants, as soon as one was done the next was up. The flame happens so fast blink and you miss it. I find my 15mm fish eye always gives a great effect in The Glasgow Science Centre.
Style Is Not Rubbish
I was really impressed with the pupils from Hillhead High School who were celebrating the launch of St. Enoch Centre’s new Atrium Food Court. They had a special design of their own, fashioned entirely from food packaging.
Model and presenter Jennifer Reoch looked amazing in the dress which was constructed using materials from a selection of the food outlets in the centre.
I loved the distinctive design and colour of the wall behind the model. All the colours worked really well together. For once I did not need to use my flash as all the natural light was pouring in to give a lovely natural skin tone.
A Moment Of Quiet In Rome
When I take a few days off I still I love to take my small Canon G7x compact. It makes such a change not to carry two or three camera bodies with lenses and flash – only one camera, no flash and a short zoom lens on holiday. I love shooting in black and white, just taking time to watch what is happening. I saw these two young people sitting looking at the pictures they had taken on their phone. The light from the roof bouncing up off the floor lighting up their faces in this stunning church. It was so quiet and peaceful while outside Rome goes past at 100mph.
Looking Up With a Smile
This month I was working on the FrockDrop campaign at the Buchanan Galleries for Marie Curie with top TV presenter Cat Cubie. FrockDrop aims to encourage people across the country to have a spring clear out and donate their pre-loved clothes. We had dresses donated by a number of high profile personalities including The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Lorraine Kelly and Myleene Klass.
I wanted to show Cat with a couple of the outfits. We chose Myleene Klass’ and Lorraine Kelly’s dresses as the most colourful and Spring inspiring pieces. Rather thank just holding them up by the hangers I thought it would be nice to shoot the picture from the 1st floor balcony looking down to the ground floor. We had some bright yellow daffodils and a nice grass effect carpet. Leaning over and looking down, which is always a bit scary as I don’t have a head for heights, Cat looked amazing. Sometimes a different angle can really make a picture.
Style At Sea 1930’s
I was back down in Irvine to shoot some publicity shots for a new exhibition called Style at Sea, at the Scottish Maritime Museum. It tells the story of the Cunard Line and Clydebank shipbuilder John Brown & Co, which gave the world some of the most famous and luxurious liners of the 20th century. We had a great couple of volunteers dressed in period costume. I had them dancing on the floor beside the ships. The whole thing has an amazing 1930’s feel. There is even an evening event called A Night of Cocktails, Dancing and Glamour. I loved this shot of them in front of a giant picture of the QE2 with the welder working away in the background. I am glad it wasn’t real – health & safety!
My grandfather worked at Yarrows and my dad worked at Stephen’s Shipyards in Glasgow. They had many stories to tell of the exploits of what the men would get up to. I think the workers on these ships would have had a very different experience from the glamour of being a passenger going over to New York. Mind you, it’s making me think of a cruise for this years holiday.
A Dram by The River Thames
I have been to London working many times for the newspapers but last month I had my first trip as Martin Shields Photography. I was down to photograph the young Chivas Regal brand ambassadors. This was part of their graduate program. What a bright, articulate and friendly bunch they were. There is nothing more rewarding than to see youngsters bursting with confidence.
My main picture was to be taken with the M.D outside the company HQ in front of Hammersmith Bridge. Getting 50 people down a set of stairs, speaking nicely to the facilities staff to borrow a sturdy health and safety passed ladder and hoping the rain stayed off…..taking the picture was the easy bit.
All Light Now
This year I treated myself to new studio lights that I can use outdoors as well as inside. They are Elinchrome Quadra Action which sound a dramatic and exiting. Maybe I should have used that in my business plan. Somehow ‘Martin Shields Quadra Action’ does not have the same ring to it.
My first assignment with them was photographing the talented singer Jill Brown. She is based near the Campsie Fells and and I wanted to capture the spirit of her music and personality that would also reflect her roots. Musicians have a image that good photography can bring out. Talking to the artist about what kind of look and feel they want with their photographs is so important. It is about trying to realise what is in their heads and adding a bit of creativity. It was a great shoot to do and I really enjoyed working with Jill. I feel it looks like a musician’s picture, even without a guitar or any other musical instruments.
Art In The Galleries
There are some pictures that I love to take that I hope will make the viewer look twice. Finding an unusual subject in a familiar location is usually a winner. This is what I did with The Glasgow Art School fashion show, which is taking place next month on 21st and 22nd of March. It is worth trying to catch. I have covered it many times over the years and it never fails to disappoint. I was in the Buchanan Galleries the other day with three of the talented designers who had brought their creations along with models to show off in the shopping centre who are supporting the show. We had thought about putting the models on the escalators but we were a bit worried about the pom-poms getting caught up in the mechanics. Health and safety at all times!!!
I am a great fan of Apple products. They just seem to work and are lovely to use. You can imagine my delight at being asked to cover the Apple CEO Tim Cook receiving his honorary doctorate of Science from The University of Glasgow. The pictures were for all the worlds press. I was very proud to be trusted with the event. It was nice to see the pictures well used over the papers and websites. I was particularly proud of my front page in The Herald. Even though Tim Cook is such a major player in global industry he was genuinely delighted with the whole event.
This month I spent some time at BBC Pacific Quay with Shereen Nanjiani and Glenn Campbell on the set of their new TV show Timeline. Like all these shows you rely so much on the good nature of the lighting technicians. Again this time they did not disappoint me. A set is lit for the presenters standing in a certain spot and usually I am being a pest moving them around. For a press picture I do need a certain type of image. Often the back to back works almost every time.
I was down at the BBC River City set at a photo call for the Rosshall Academy school pupils film ‘ The Costume’ . It was written, starred and filmed by the pupils but with the help of River City writer Stuart Hepburn and actor Gerard Miller. The project was run by BBC Scotland L.A.B, which is part of the learning and outreach team. It was a great event and so good to see the pupils rising to the challenge.
Officer Karen & Bobby
Over the holiday period I spend more time that usual in front of the TV. This time I had extra interest as I had been working with the Comedy Unit on the filming of the hit police spoof Scot Squad. The whole team were really nice and made you feel part of the ‘squad’. Two of the nicest were Karen Bartke and Darren Connell who play the long suffering Officer Karen and the lovable but incorrigible Bobby.
The picture above was shot for The Herald Magazine. We did the shoot at the very swish Citation Bar at the former Sheriff Court in Glasgow. They were totally different looking from their TV personas (right) where I photographed them in a local Tenants Hall which is dressed as a Police Station. The crew really help you out. The lighting is set by some of the best lighting guys in the country. It is nice not to have to use my flash.
I was really proud to see my pictures used on the BBC iPlayer and in the national press. Jack Docherty, who plays the Chief, is lovely and a real pro.
He has been acting with a few cool celebrities for this new series. I was in stitches watching him with writer Ian Rankin. In this episode the Chief was trying to show the top author his own crime novel with no sucess. Ian plays it straight which makes it all the funnier.
I love watching the show. I even had a bit as an extra when they needed a press photographer for a press room scene.
On Hogmanay I always stay in and watch Only an Excuse. I had the privilege of working on the show this year. I have watched it for years and think it really should be on more. I was on set to photograph Jonathan Watson doing his send up of Frank ‘Macca’ McAvennie getting tennis lessons from Judy Murray. It was fun watching the one liners flying back and forth. I think Judy enjoyed is as much as I did.
Never work with children or animals, that is what we were always taught at college. However I know these university students are certainly not children but Dublin, the huge white horse at Busby Equestrian Centre certainly falls into the animals category. The horse did everything he was asked in return for a couple of Polo Mints. The University Sports Presidents were all coming together for The annual Glasgow Taxis Cup photo call. The cup involves over 700 students representing Glasgow, Strathclyde, and Glasgow Caledonian universities to see which will be Glasgow’s best sporting institute. Dublin was there to represent the Equestrian section of the competition. When Lauren Ramage of Glasgow Caledonian asked him for a smile I think his answer was ‘ neigh chance’.
With the festive season in full swing I thought I should include at least one Christmas picture. It was the staff and volunteers of The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice all wearing their Christmas jumpers on Christmas Jumper Day. They were celebrating the achievement of raising £19.25million so far for the Brick By Brick Appeal.
Finally I wanted to put a selection of some of my pictures on a YouTube video. I have enjoyed all of my assignments during 2016. I could not put them all so here is a selection of what I got up to over the past year. Have Happy New Year and all the best for 2017.
Lighting Up The Night
November is my least favourite months as we say goodbye to autumn, lighter nights, milder weather and hello to cold grey days leading on to colder grey nights. As a photographer I think its the lack of colour and light that gets to me, after Guy Fawkes night thats it. Thank goodness for the inspirational events like the Scottish Maritime Museum’s Illumination: Harbour Festival of Light and the West End Festival’s Torchlight Parade. Pictured above is Gloria Ronchi as she put the final touches to On the Wings of Freedom, a kaleidoscope of glowing butterflies that was featured at Irvine harbour next to the museum.
It can be a challenge at these events to catch the colours and the light. As bright as it is to the human eye the camera is not as forgiving. These days digital cameras are much more sensitive than film cameras. With the glowing butterflies I had to drop my shutter speed down to about 1\20th.
Fire performer Annie Minnaar of Glasgow Hoola Hoops was wowing the crowd at The West End Festival’s Torchlight Parade. I could not shoot that at such a slow speed so I had to shoot at 3200ISO to freeze the movement in the flames.
Another thing about November is that Christmas is coming and all the events that go with is come around again. A job that I enjoy is going down to George Square to join Glasgow Lord Provost Sade Docherty hanging decorations on the Christmas tree.
Most years we go up on a cherry picker way up high above the square and I close my eyes and hope for the best. Being up so high in a small cage is not a great thing for me so I focus on the subject and don’t look at the ground. This year we did it from a lower point which I was much happier with. Mind you the Provost has never complained and I think quite enjoys the trip for the birds eye view.
The charity photo calls that come up are another group of fun events to cover. It is really great to see people pulling ideas together to try and help others. I went along to photograph the pupils from St. Luke’s High School in Barrhead help Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) launch its Christmas Real Gifts appeal.
Sometimes teenagers are a bit shy and not really up for being in pictures as it is not seen as a cool. However add in a few pieces of tinsel and a Santa hat or two and they were right up for it. As you can see they had a right good laugh.
Look Through Any Window
I love a picture through a window. It is like a picture in a frame in real life. I was at the Leiper Gallery in West George Street, Glasgow to photograph artist Paul Kennedy who curated his own exhibition ‘A Night at The Dogs’. It was inspired by a visit to Shawfield Dog Racing. He was actually working at the far end of the gallery when I asked him to come close to the window. After a few interested passers lingered to watch him work, he decided to stay at the window.
Being a fan of the kilt I was delighted to be asked along to cover the Kiltwalk 2017 launch in George Square. The driving force, Sir Tom Hunter was there in great form as always. Joining him was the former Celtic player John Hartson. I have photographed John many times at Celtic Park but this was the first time I had spoken to him. He was charming and so enthusiastic about the whole event.
One of my other events in October was covering the press photography for the Gary Tank Commander show at The SSE Hydro. I only was there for the first half but, what a laugh. Greig McHugh’s character was hilarious. We went back on the Friday to see the whole show.
His co-star Leah McRae from River City, who I featured in my August Blog, was a scream. One of the other familiar faces was James Allenby-Kirk or Volunteer Officer Ken Beattie from the Scots Squad TV series.
It was like photographing a band. You have to react quickly to the changing lights, get good expressions and you only get about twenty minutes. On the night of the show the place was packed and I think some bands would struggle to get that size of audience to their show.
Flying High but I’m Sacred of Hights
When photographing an artiste you rely on them doing what they do. I can suggest different angles or what lens I would like to use but there are times you just have to let them get on with it. High flying Ashleigh Blair of Spinal Chord, was one example of this. We were working in the superb location of The Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine as she was rehearsing for the country’s newest art and light winter spectacular, Harbour Festival of Light. Ashleigh was hanging from the original girders from the former shipyard for the Illumination Light and Aerial Art Spectacular. I do sometimes have to remind the artiste……….smile.
I had the privilege of meeting Pele at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was an event called ‘An evening with Pele’. The man himself was there with his number 10 shirt. Even thought Pele is such a superstar he spent so much time talking to everyone who patiently waited in line. I always talk about using flash carefully but occasionally you just have to blast it. The strong brightness caught his arm punching the air.
Showing the contrast between old and new is a feature I often use in my pictures. This was the launch of the 2016 Mackintosh Festival at the House for an Art Lover. I loved the wee girl pointing up to the figure of Charles Rennie Mackintosh wearing his virtual reality goggles. I know it is not true in real life but its nice to suspend belief and to make the viewer smile.
The Things You See out Shopping
Coming face to face with Darth Mol from Star Wars at the Film and Comic Con at Braehead Arena was a surprise. The event was huge with loads of comic fans all dressed as their favourite characters. There was Spiderman, well Spidermen as there was a few, a Frodo Baggins, Power Rangers even a Star Wars Stormtrooper in a kilt. I met a young Supergirl who I photographed with Superman girl friend Lois Lane actress Margot Kidder. There was a few other famous faces there too. Colin Baker who was the sixth doctor in the TV series Dr Who, Grado from Scot Squad from and Scottish actor Rony Bridges who was in Star Wars.
I loved the casual way the two stormtroopers where having a coffee with Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings and Catniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.
Buy A Brick for The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice
As suits go I am not a fan. I have only ever owned four suits in my life and I only bought two of those this year. However I loved the red brick suit belonging to Entertainer Edward Reid, there for the launch of ‘Buy a Brick’, for Glasgow’s Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice. He was great to work with and was quite happy to jump up on the piles of bricks brought in by fork lift into George Square.
He was joined by hospice staff, service users and family members who were all in the Buy a Brick TV advert. It was a real feel good event with some lovely people I felt privileged to work with. The event was well covered in the next days newspapers.
I caught up with River City actress Leah McRae who was getting in shape with her personal trainer Kenny Walker. She is performing in this years Cinderella pantomime at Eastwood Theatre. One of the best pictures was when she was doing her boxing practice. She really gave Kenny a tough time. Not quite like her character in the TV soap. I did feel a bit rotten as I put her through her whole training routine in an hour just to see what would make the best picture. As usually happens the best one was the one at the end -when she brought out her boxing gloves.
One of my favourite days this month was being taken out on a speed boat to watch some Glasgow primary children learning to sail with the Royal Yachting Association. It was part of the RYA Sail for Gold Roadshow. Scottish members of Team GB, RYA Scotland were preparing to celebrate the Rio 2016 Games by hosting two days of sailing activites. The kids loved it. To be honest I had a ball too. One of my old friends Marc Turner was the guy ensuring that I would not fall in. It was a roasting hot day with a lovely cool breeze blowing up the River Clyde instead of a gale that usually would cut you in half.
A Walk On The Beach
This summer we decided to visit the Island of Tiree. I was looking at the possibility of creating some cards showing the stunning beaches. One of the beaches near where we stayed was the one at Crossapol where the Tiree Music Festival was being set up. I loved this shot looking towards the big tent where the artists would be performing with the couple walking towards it. The two people really give it scale however they were holding hands which looked great but by the time I got my focus and exposure they had let go. Perhaps they had a fight. I have about 30GB of images to go through to pick out a few for my cards, but that is something for the long winter nights .
One of my favourite things is science fiction and I was at the launch of the Festival of Architecture Adventures In Space exhibition at The Lighthouse. It explored
200 years of science fiction. The picture was our young Sci Fi fan reading her 2000AD comic in front of a drawing from Metropolis (1927) from the film directed by Fritz Lang. The exhibition explored two centuries of architecture in science fiction film and provided an over-view of the whole history of one of the most important genres in contemporary culture.
The exhibition covered sci-fi from the past 200 years, from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein via Flash Gordon and Star Wars, to The Martian.
Staying on the sci fi theme I got to meet celebrated Scottish writer and producer of Dr Who Steven Moffat OBE. We were on the steps of Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church in Paisley where he received his Honorary Doctorate from University of the West of Scotland beside of all things… a Dalek. It was funny as the Dalek was hidden behind a huge plant at the top of the stairs to that it would not distract the students and guests attending the ceremony. I don’t know how they could miss it.
Looking at Life Through a Mirror
I had the privilege of photographing Prince Charles in Ayrshire during the lovely weather we had this month. It was at the launch of the Partnership of Dumfries House and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. His Royal Highness was in good spirits as he toured around watching amazing dancers and musicians form the Conservatoire. I was watching a performance by local children from Greenmail Primary School. However I could not get a good angle on the Royal guest when I noticed the huge mirror. It framed him and the youngsters perfectly.
I had another visit to one of my favourite place this month. The Glasgow Science Centre have a new exhibition called The Crunch. It is all about edible bugs. The picture idea was to have Stephen Breslin the CEO being fed a scorpion. I must say being the boss is not always the best job but he took it on the chin and posed up for the picture. We did draw the line at actually eating the creature. I think that would have been a step too far. It was not as easy a job as I had thought. The big windows mean the light is great for illuminating the subjects but it was the size of the scorpion that was the challenge. It had to be held at the right angle to see the shape of its pincers and a very plain background so that its outline would show exactly what it is – a scorpion.
I was covering Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise Raploch Eighth Birthday Concert at The Albert Halls in Stirling. It was amazing watching the talented youngsters playing and singing together. All the faces we all in deep concentration. I am always looking for a smile but everyone was engrossed. There were plenty of laughs back stage though.
Walking Towards Summer
Sometimes even when you are off duty you are still on duty. I had a day at The Carrick Golf Course at Loch Lomond for a late tea time tee off and these days I am never without a camera. My wee Canon G7x is always to hand. On the 18th I was delighted, if a little nervous to see all these geese with their young wandering around the fairway. I had a bit more pressure that normal not to drop short and knock a gosling for six.
I was invited along to meet Bookbug. A children’s reading character for Bookbug Week at the Bannockburn Experience in Stirling. We had a group of young readers all around the age of four. I must say I have never seen such a bunch with staying power. They were terrific. Usually the youngsters will be fed up after a few minutes and want to wander off for something more interesting than posing for a photographer. Mind you the parents were on hand to offer bribes of sweets and juice.
I had a great afternoon at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice Ladies Lunch 2016 at The Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. Celebrities Karen Dunbar, Clare Grogan , Darius Campbell, Kaye Adams and Gary Lamont
were special guests at charity lunch. They were great to work with. I cannot believe how tall Darius is. He towers above me. The lunch raised over £26,000. The pictures got a great show in The Herald, The Scotsman, The Sun and The Evening Times. It still gives me a buzz to see my work hitting the presses as we say. It is good when you get a group of TV celebrities who can work with a photographer and get a really super picture in double quick time. A natural laugh makes a much better picture.
The Leaders Line Up
This month all the talk is of the election and whats going to happen. I must say I always enjoy election time with all the politicians out doing their thing, smiling at babies, shaking hands and even riding a buffalo. Election night in Glasgow was always a busy one as there was loads of MSPs to get counted in. We always rush about chasing which ever famous name appeared. I must admit I just keep a smile on my face and be nice to them all. We have to keep a professional manner. Once we are in the the polling station at the ballot box then we can make our choice based on politics or how nice the candidate was at the last photocall.
One of the best laughs I had this month was photographing the women from the voluntary organisation Inner Wheel. They were all lined up over the Bells Bridge over to the SECC with over 500 bras they had collected to go to help poor women in Africa. There enthusiasm was amazing. They really had a great bond with one another. This was the first day of their 3 day conference. I would have loved to have been there for the last day party. Right in front is Inner Wheel President of Great Britain & Ireland Trish Douglas.
A really emotional assignment I covered and felt really privileged to be asked to do was the memorial service for William McIlvanney at the stunning Bute Hall at The University of Glasgow. His daughter Siobhan was receiving an doctor of literature honorary degree that the writer had accepted before he died. It seems the acceptance letter was his last piece of writing. His brother Hugh, with David Hayman, Val McDermid and Hugh McDonald all spoke beautifully. I had photographed William many times and always found him so polite, patient and and a great sense of humour. It was really nice to meet the family and an honour to be part of the day.
Here is The Scotsman’s piece from the following days paper. http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/books/william-mcilvanney-awarded-honorary-degree-at-glasgow-memorial-service-1-4089069
Have a look at this months spring video
Whit A View
I’ve always liked a view and with many of Glasgow’s tower blocks coming down there are not so many high points. However with modern cleverly designed buildings we are getting the high views but with a style and beauty from both inside and out.
The new City of Glasgow Riverside Campus on the banks of
the River Clyde in Glasgow is one such building. It is a cracker for pictures and their coffee is not too bad either.
Another stunning interior is the spiral staircase leading up to the Mackintosh tower at the Lighthouse Building in Glasgow. I was there with some young students from Hillhead High School for the Mackintosh art and design competition. They were a nice bunch and didn’t didn’t mind the long climb up to the top.
Lastly but not least I thought I would mention my visit to a school science lab with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale. Now who ever says you should get the picture first time is a bit too smug for my liking. We had one hydrogen ballon for the labour leader to light. It goes off in a flash and is over just as quickly. Yes I missed it. I had to sweet talk the school technician for another one. Thankfully one of my eight frames per second caught it. Oh well… better late than never.
Have a look at my latest slide show of photographs from the start of 2016 that I have put up.
Getting near to a spring clean
Recently one of my stand out moments was meeting the girls from CSI Biohazard Cleaning team Rhiannon, Marie and Leslie. They were the stars of Grime Scene Queens which was shown this month on BBC Scotland. Their job can be a pretty harrowing one but they carry it out with a huge amount of dignity and thought for the people they find themselves working with. They were hilarious moments in their CIS Biohazard van, but the women would light a candle in respect if they had been working in a place where someone had died. I had to photograph them in their white crime scene suits and also in their Saturday night glam outfits. I thought the picture of them in the white suits with the glam side underneath summed them up perfectly. Have a look at the link to read more about them.
Creative, comedy collective, ‘Witserface’ are set to storm this year’s Glasgow Comedy Festival with their brand new sketch show – “Funny how…?” at St Lukes, in the Calton. It is the new cool venue just minutes along from The Barrowlands. Karen Dunbar from Chewing the Fat, Elaine Mackenzie Ellis, from Rab C Nesbitt and Maureen Carr… ‘pint o Guinness ‘ playing Edith in Still Game are leading the all female, grass roots comedy movement.
What a laugh trying to get them all on the steps of St Luke’s. It was just like a weddin’ but with no groom!
Its been a whirl
Well here we are halfway through January already. I cannot believe how time flies. I spent a day last week going round the Irn-Bru Carnival. Now that was fun. I arrived at the SECC with a tripod, a 16mm super wide angle lens and my Canon 5D. The guys running the rides were great. They had so much patience and ran the machines as long as I needed and one superstar even dismantled a lighting rig to give me better view. The exposure was a bit of a guest-timate but worked out at 3-4 seconds at f22 on an ISO of 100; or 100 ASA as we used to call it. I loved the results but I did feel as if I was doing the cover of the new Pink Floyd album.
I couldn’t let the January blog go by with out a mention of the Loch Lomond Water Ski club. I spent New Years day with them out on a speedboat photographing the hardy souls who were out after the night before blowing the cobwebs away. This is Tom Scott. He was brilliant out in his kilt feeling no pain, well cold. He even had a pint after this. The were raising funds for Dementia UK.
Finally I now have my new Martin Shields Photography Facebook Page up and running. Please have a look and like at https://www.facebook.com/martinshieldsphotography/
Merry Christmas Everyone
This picture was an old one as I am sure anyone looking out a window would guess. It was taken a few years ago looking out my back window at the birds in the garden fighting over the food in the feeder. The thing is with the mild weather it doesn’t feel Christmasy. I have been out photographing Christmas shoppers and I have hardly even seen a Santa hat. In days gone by we would have a couple of the red hats with the white bobble in our camera bags beside the flash guns and the lenses. Mind you when it gets dark Buchanan Street, George Square, The St Enoch Centre and Buchanan Galleries all look amazing with all the lights and decorations. Frasers and Princess Square all look lovely and with a tripod and a slow shutter it can make some amazing pictures. I just wish it was a little cooler.
One of my assignments which was festive and fun was the Santa school at Scotland Street School Museum . It was a laugh watching the teacher showing the kids how to belly laugh and Ho Ho Ho in the correct manner. The sad thing for me is I remember these old desks of days gone by. Cleaning the blackboard was one of my jobs to do in school.
Another one that was a very humbling experience was with Steven Naismith of Scotland and Everton. He sponsored a Christmas Lunch for the homeless. He spent time talking with everyone who was there and making them feel special. Have a wee read at the link below.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Fireworks on Glasgow Green and still going 2nd month in the freelance world.
November started well, well with a bang or rather a few bangs at Glasgow Green. Huge crowds turned up to see this years display. I loved the colours of this shot as it was almost the same colour at the People Make Glasgow banner from the Glasgow City Marketing Beauru.
Photographing fire works can always be a fluid experience. ISO set about 100 and the shutter can vary from 6-12 seconds with the aperture around f11 – f16. It depends how many they send up at the one time. At least with a 20 minute show there is plenty of time to change around the settings and get one to work out.
Joe Sugg at the St Enoch Centre
I had the pleasure of meeting blogger Joe Sugg who was doing a signing of his new book ‘Username Evie’ at WH Smith’s in the St Enoch Centre. What a nice guy. I found he and I use the same compact camera, The Canon G7x. Mind you he did have his work cut out as he had well over 1000 teenagers all waiting to get their books and a selfie with him. Have a look at my video I shot or the crowds. It was shot on my Canon 5D.
Martin Shields Photography hits the road
After over 25 years at The Herald & Evening Times I have opted for a change. I have decided to go freelance. I was last freelance in 1990 which was the Year of Culture in Glasgow. Now that wasn’t yesterday.
I still have very strong links with the newspapers and after nearly 30 years of working in the industry it is very hard not to be a part of it. I am still doing the thing I love, working in features, arts and business but now public relations and commercial photography. I still love the buzz I get when I see my work in print and I will always be around our Scottish press. These pictures are a few of my first months assignments. The Nature of Art Nouveau exhibition at The Lighthouse, Colin Brown MD of Ingles Buchan and Edith Bowman who will be presenting the Scottish BAFTAs.
It’s a very exiting time just now and I’m only three weeks old, well the business is. I’m a lot older.
The Bay City Rollers
I was never a huge Bay City Rollers fan back in the day, although they had a few good tunes. However last week I became converted. What a laugh we had at the Grand Central Hotel with three of them.
Allan, Les and Woody were a scream, drinking their milk and trying to get a sing song going in the press room. When they left in their white Rolls Royce, after really enjoying the day, I heard these kids saying “Who is that?” I wish the boys all the best and I am sure they will fill the Barrowland Ballroom at their up coming gig. Soon many of Scotland’s young kids will know who the Bay City Rollers are again!
The New Billy Elliot at Celtic Park
I had a real fun job this month. I was photographing dancer Jamie Reid at Celtic Park. He is the newest recruit at Scottish Ballet. He grew up and lives in the Glasgow’s East End and is a big Celtic fan. He has said joining Scottish Ballet was like being signed for them. We did get a few strange looks and a couple of fans thought we were taking the Mickey. When we explained that he is a real dancer and a fan they were totally on board.
He’s 19 and has a bit of a Billy Elliot story, didn’t tell his friends at school he was taking ballet classes and even when he went to the Conservatoire to study for three years, told his pals he was doing sound and light engineering rather than ballet. It is great when your subject is totally up for the picture. It was the opening photo for the feature on Saturday’s Herald Magazine. My colleague Jamie Simpson had a great shot on the cover.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo
One of my favourite jobs that comes up every year is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo parade in Glasgow. Some of the top performers come along and march around George square. The spectacle is watched by the Lord Provost, the audience for Piping Live and anyone else that happens to be in George Square. We walk backwards at the front but have to be quick to stay ahead of them as the Military Pipes and Drums that leads the prossesion can move pretty fast. I walk with the marchers for one side of the square and then have to leg it back to the cenotaph to catch the salute. The brilliant red colour of Switzerland’s amazing Top Secret Drum Corps really stood out for me and I think this was my best picture of the day. Although we had the The Lotus Dragon Dancers from Changxing which came a very close second. They were very strict about touching their dragon. We had our orders…’don’t touch the dragon’!
Johnny Beattie Face To Face
I had the pleasure of photographing Johnny Beattie for Monday’s Face To Face page in The Herald written by the very talented Brian Beacom. I first met Johnny in the early 1990’s when I was sent over to the Rothesay Winter Gardens where there was a party for his 50th year in show business. We all had to hide as it was a surprise party. It was hard hiding a dozen photographers and writers in a glass building. There were loads of people from the world of Scottish entertainment. My recollection is of the Alexander Brothers lifting Johnny, who was in full highland dress up in the air. We stayed overnight and I was up early catching the first ferry to take the films back for that night’s Evening Times.
Over the years I have photographed Johnny in a variety of occasions. One of the times he saved me was at the City Chambers in Glasgow where I had to get a picture of him with a bus load of 100 year olds. I had lost my audience and they were more interested in getting a cup of tea. Some were even falling asleep. Johnny came to the rescue, he started a sing song and said ‘are you ready son?’ and got everyone to cheer and look at me at the same time.
I still see Johnny walking in the Botanic Gardens near his home and for his nearly 89 years of age looks fantastic. It must be the two flights of stairs he lives up. The same stairs that had me puffing for breath last week.
First Minister Gives a High Five
I was back at Glasgow Club Crownpoint Sports Complex where they were laying the new running track. It was the same one used at Hampden during the Commonwealth Games and also used by the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. What a thrill for the youngsters to be running in the footsteps such an athlete. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Glasgow City Council Leader Gordon Matheson were meeting the kids after their run. I liked this picture as it had a lot of natural laughter in it and the fun of the First Minister giving a high five. These days can be so inspirational as everyone is in good spirits and thinking back to this time last year as the Games were just starting. The Herald, Evening Times & The National all covered the story as it was a great piece of good news for the young runners of Glasgow’s East End and beyond.
Taylor Swift at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow
I had the pleasure of standing on a stool holding two camera bodies, three lenses and a laptop for two songs at the SSE Hydro on Tuesday evening. The concert for country and pop sensation Taylor Swift was a sell out and there were so many fans all dressed up with Taylor inspired costumes.
We were in with the crowd right at the front and yes I was feeling my age being at least double the average age of the fans we were beside. However the standing on stools did cause a couple of grumps as I suppose we are blocking a couple of views of the paying customers. I did stand back, as being a bigger than average bloke I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. However as soon as she came on there were signs being held aloft which even blocked me on my stool. After the first song their arms must have got sore and the signs came down. Either I need an extra song to let the arms come down or a bigger stool.
Both The Herald & Evening Times gave the concert a great show on page 1 and the Evening Times online page had a great selection of the pictures. To see them click the link here.
Donald Trump at Trump Turnberry
Love him or loath him there is no denying that Donald Trump is a man that is not far from headlines. The multi-million pound refurbishment of the Trump Turnberry clubhouse was unveiled for the first time at a press conference to be hosted by Mr Donald J. Trump, Chairman and President of The Trump Organisation. With all the formality over we were all treated very well on a beautiful sunny day which showed off the landscape to its best. Mr Trump gave us the full tour and was very proud of the new look of the club house however with hints to the U. S presidency and a little dig at wind farms and Alex Salmond the day was certainly not uneventful. Both The Herald and Evening Times gave a good show in the paper with The Herald giving a huge part of page 3.
Women’s 10K Run
There are few events with the feel good factor that can top the Women’s 10K run in Glasgow. I have covered this event more times than any other race. The smiles and emotion come through with every photograph. If I wave someone will wave back. It feels like being on stage. There is a bus we stand on as the runners come up to the starting line and the view is quite breathtaking with the sheer volume of people. After the runners have left I make a bolt for the finish line, the short way. I am usually out of breath by the time I get there and it is not long until the first runners come in. I think we had nearly 100 pictures between my self and Colin Templeton in the next days The Herald & Evening Times.
Sunday Herald Life Magazine
I had the great pleasure of photographing Radio 1 DJ and broadcaster Edith Bowman at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. The beautiful light coming in the windows and the chequered floor made a great location for the shoot. I used a small light set up with a flash and umbrella to add some fill in to balance the light coming in from the window and another flash to add some light to Edith’s hair. The whole operation was fairly smooth apart from a member of the public tripping over my light stand as she was looking at her phone while walking. It never fails to amaze me that any quiet street or corridor turns into a crowd the minute I set up my camera.
I was delighted when the photograph ended up on the front page of the magazine.