Portobello beach, Edinburgh
I love wandering along Portobello beach. It’s only a short trip from Edinburgh city centre to get to the coast. Despite that, it sometimes feels as if you’ve travelled miles to a distant holiday destination. And it does look particularly beautiful when the sun is out and the sky is blue.
I’ve learnt to always take my camera along when I’m heading down to Porty – there’s often an unexpected photo moment to be had somewhere along the shore!
Besides the beach itself, there’s a variety of events happening during the year on Portobello beach. The promenade is part of the Edinburgh marathon route in May. In August, the Big Beach Busk hits the shore, with hoards of musicians, singers, poets and more, taking to the prom in a festive day of music and fun. And there’s the regatta in July. Row Porty is part of the Portobello sailing and kayaking club, and is based on the shore. Members can often be seen training out on the sea in their distinctive self-built turquoise rowing skiffs.
And if you’re heading down that way, it’s well worth dropping in to the Beach House cafe on Portobello prom. It has recently reopened after a big refurbishment, and is twice as big. Just remember to keep me a seat!
This photo is one of a selection of Edinburgh prints available to buy from the Photography Scotland website shop.
Bedroom tax protest in Edinburgh
Today saw people taking to the streets in protest against the so called ‘Bedroom tax’. In Edinburgh. After assembling at St Andrews Square, the crowd of over 1000 marched to the Scottish Parliament building.
Snow in Princes Street
There’s been plenty of snow in Scotland this spring. After the warm spring of 2012, it’s been bit of a surprise to find that we have snow lying as we head into Easter weekend. I can’t remember when that last happened!
But it does make the city look pretty so I’ve been out and about with my camera again.
Woods in Stirlingshire
A couple of weeks ago I went on an impromptu short jaunt to Craigieburn woods in Stirlingshire with a couple of friends. The woods are near Bannockburn, not far from the M9. It’s a wonderful area of mixed deciduous woodland, on a hill overlooking Stirling to the north. It’s a fairly small area of woodland, which has recently been split into several plots for individual private sale.
It was a beautiful sunny February day – perfect for meandering through the trees with my camera. The light was beautiful, filtering through the trees!
This woodland photo is available to buy as a print through the website shop.
Bike under the moonlight
Last night was a full moon, and clear skies – perfect for some photography in the moonlight. So I headed out on my bike to take some photos. My original plan was to take some shots of Edinburgh castle with the moon overhead. Timing wasn’t great or that shot, though, as the moon was still too far over to the east for a good composition. It was cold enough that I didn’t fancy hanging around to wait for it to move to the right place!
So instead I cycled up onto Calton Hill. I immediately realised that the trees beside the folly were going to make for some interesting silhouette shots. I took a couple of those, before deciding to get down a bit lower to the ground, and add my bike into the shot.
Here’s the result:
The Scottish parliament building
The Scottish parliament building has caused a fair amount of controversy since its design by Eric Miralles was first announced.The choice of a non-Scots architect, the design itself, and the delays and spiraling costs of the building kept many journalists busy for several years.
Construction of the building started in the summer of 1999. After several increases in the building costs, and after a three year delay, it was finally ready for the first parliamentary debate in September 2004. The building was formally opened on 9 October 2004.
Despite the mounting controversy while it was being completed, the building has received numerous architectural awards. These include the Stirling Prize, the Edinburgh Architecture Association ‘Centenary Medal’ and the Scottish Design Awards ‘Best Publicly Funded Building’.
It’s certainly an unusual building, and worth a visit if you are in Edinburgh. Free tours can be arranged through Visit Scotland.
This photo shows the ‘think pods’ on the west side of the building. These little window areas are each part of MSP’s offices, and were designed to create a small space for MSPs to sit and think.
If you go to visit the Scottish parliament building, I’d love to know what you think of it!
Edinburgh Hogmanay funfair
One of the things I love photographing is the Edinburgh Hogmanay funfair which appears in Princes Street each year. There’s a real sense of energy, colour and movement, and a buzz in the air with so many visitors to the city enjoying themselves.
When I first got my digital SLR camera, one of the first things I did was to experiment with using a long shutter speed to capture the movement of the fairground rides. This is one of the chair o’ plane ride, which is set up beside the Scott monument. I took this one in 2010, which was a particularly snowy winter in Scotland.
Autumn colours reflected
It’s heading into one of my favourite times in the year, with plenty of opportunities to capture shots of autumn colours in Scotlands amazing landscapes. Here’s another photo from last weekend’s trip north. I’d decided to head to Loch Awe to capture the autumn colours reflected in various lochs along the route. It was perfect weather – still, and largely sunny, but with wisps of mist in the morning and early evening.
I was determined to stop on the stretch of road approaching Crianlarich. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve admired the fleetingly glimpsed views through the trees to the loch to the north of the road. On the journey North, this was all still swathed in a heavy mist, but by the time I was wending my way home, the air had cleared and the sun was out.
For all the times I have gazed longingly at the reflections here as the car whizzed southwards, I hadn’t even realised it was a separate loch from Loch Lubhair, just a short distance further east along the road.. I pulled into a layby and squelched down to the side of the loch, to be greeted by a completely perfect mirror-like loch surface, reflecting some vivid autumnal colours, and skies with white puffy clouds.
The hills and golden trees on the opposite shore took my interest for a while, but it didn’t take me too long to gaze up to the right, and admire this view.
Autumn colours from Scotland
On the return journey from last week’s trip to Mull, I was blown away by the autumn colours as we drove down the road. The whole journey was a feast of oranges, golds and reds. There wasn’t a chance to stop to take pictures, so I had a wee idea to take a trip back up that way on Sunday. I checked the weather forecast on Saturday evening – it was due to be still, with patches of mist in the morning. That looked perfect for some loch reflection photos.
So I headed back up the same road first thing in the morning. I was spoilt for choice with possible pictures! I headed back to Loch Lubhair near Crianlarich first. I haven’t had a chance to take photos there before, but have often noticed flashes of stunning reflections in the loch on trips home from Oban. It’s a small loch, at just under 1.5 miles in length, but being fairly sheltered and surrounded by trees, it has plenty of possibilities for some cracking photos of autumn colours.
One thing I wasn’t too well prepared for was the conditions underfoot. I’d packed my walking boots, but would definitely have been better off in wellies, or maybe even waders!
Everything around the loch are just beginning to turn autumnal. The sun was darting in and out from behind the cloud, resulting in tantalising patches of sunlight on the lochs and hills. I was lucky to catch this brief patch of light on the trees.
Saltires in the sun certainly make a good photo subject! I love those chance opportunities when photos present themselves to you unplanned. I was stunned to find out that there was a march on today, coinciding with a photography workshop I was running. It’s the second time it’s happened – we were treated to the Pedal on Parliament march when I ran a similar workshop in April.
On both occasions, the marchers assembled in the Meadows and marched up George IV Bridge, right past our front door. And on both occasions, we were treated to warm sun, blue skies, a great atmosphere, and plenty of photogenic activity.
Today’s march was a rally for Scottish independence, so it was the saltires in the sun that dominated the event. It was blue and white in every direction. And of course there were a few sets of bagpipes too! the march was busy and very good natured, and certainly gave the workshop participants an interesting challenge to round off the day.
If you’d like to learn about improving your photography skills, find out more on my photography workshops page.
Edinburgh’s Olympic athletes
One of Lothian buses fleet had a complete makeover for today’s parade in Edinburgh celebrating our Olympic athletes. The bus had been completely resprayed in gold for the 30 minute drive from the City Chambers to the Assembly Rooms in George Street.
Highland piper Louise Marshall Millington was on the bus, and played outside the Assembly Rooms, welcoming the athletes into the city’s reception, where sir Chris Hoy will be given the Freedom of the City.
Despite a persistent drizzle starting almost at the moment the athletes boarded the bus outside the City Chambers, the crowds lined the streets and cheered the medal winners round the route. Some lucky fans in George Street were rewarded for their patience. There were brief opportunities to be photographed with athletes as they signed autographs amongst the crowd, before heading into the reception in the city’s newly refurbished Assembly Rooms.
Edinburgh festival fireworks
I’ve never been to Princes Street gardens for the Edinburgh Festival fireworks before. It’s a brilliant event to photograph, being visible from a huge number of vantage points across the city.The event is one of many fireworks displays that are set off from Edinburgh castle each year. During the Edinburgh Festival there’s a display every night as part of the Edinburgh tattoo event. Edinburgh is also host to one of the largest Hogmanay events in the world, which has the Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party as its climax. The Edinburgh festival fireworks are unique, though, in that the firework display is set to music, played live by the SNO, who are in the Ross Bandstand in the gardens, immediately below the castle.
I was invited to join a group who go along every year – they were well organised, and had an advanced party who went early to find a good spot for our group. By the time I arrived, Princes Street Gardens was thrumming with excited peaopl, all busy setting themselves up in almost every available space in the park. Picnics were being spread, and cameras set up. I was amazed at the size of the crowd – there was hardly enough room to walk across the grass! It turned out to be a fantastic evening – perfect weather and good company. And what a fireworks display!
Edinburgh Mela festival photography
Today has been a long day, taking photos for the Edinburgh Mela festival. It’s also been a huge amount of fun. I love the atmosphere at the festival. Despite it’s size, it retains a really friendly approach throughout the weekend. There’s a sense of the crowds being relaxed and enjoying that atmosphere. But also behind the scenes, it always seems as if everyone is having a whole lot of fun. There’s a huge number of people involved in making the festival happen, including festival, staff and volunteers, catering staff, stall holders, performers and security staff. It’s no mean feat to be able to create such a welcoming atmosphere every year, across such a diverse group.
The day quickly became a blur of colours, dance, music, and amazing food smells! The festival had organised two photographers to take their official photos for their website this year. With the enormous programme they had on over the weekend, covering the full breadth of the event certainly kept us on our toes!
I was delighted when I found out the Mugenkyo Taiko drummers would be playing on the main stage. What an act! Their drumming rhythms are tight and compulsive. They also have an amazing stage presence, and are well choreographed. They were a great act to photograph, and definitely a highlight of the weekend for me.
Rama and Sita
I was taking photos for the Edinburgh Mela tonight, at Rama and Sita, their opening event on Leith links. The evening started with the local Samba band ‘Pulse of the Place’ playing as the light faded, and drawing the crowds in. Rama and Sita was the main event. It’s a spectacular piece of shadow theatre, with plenty of pyrotechnics too. In the Diwali festival, Hindus celebrate different aspects of the story of the relationship between Rama and Sita.
I had been down at Leith Links last night, for a run through of the whole show. It was really useful to get an idea of what would be happening, and gave me a chance to work out some possible vantage points for taking photos on the night. It turned out to be a beautiful evening – just as well, for an outdoor performance!
Were you there? What was your favourite part of the show?
Edinburgh Mela festival in Leith
I’m really looking forward to taking photos for the Edinburgh Mela festival again this year. This is a photo from the dress rehearsal of Rama and Site, the Mela’s opening show down on Leith Links. Usually the festival starts on Saturday, but this year they have taken the decision to put on a free show. There will be pyrotechnics and fireworks involved in the performance. And they’ve even scheduled in a full moon for the night, too!
The Edinburgh Mela is a riot of sound, colours and tastes, based on Leith Links in Edinburgh. There’s non-stop music, dance and theatre going on throughout the weekend, as well as food and other stalls, a fashion show, and childrens’ area. From a photographer’s perspective, it’s a great fun event to photograph. The colours and continuous activity certainly keep me on my toes, and provide opportunities for all sorts of shots I wouldn’t normally have a chance to take. The event always has a wonderful atmosphere, with thousands of visitors, and a real family friendly feel to it.
I’ll be down at Leith Links taking photos for the festival again this year. Here’s a few of my Edinburgh Mela photos.
Every August, during the Edinburgh Tattoo, we have a fireworks display from the castle six nights a week. The Tattoo is a world famous spectacular show, which takes place against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, right in the heart of Scotland’s capital city. Performers and the audience come from all over the world. The first Tattoo took place at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens in 1949. The Edinburgh Tattoo has grown enormous since then, and now has performances every night for 3 weeks during the festival, and fills the castle esplanade with a riot of colour and music. As a major attraction to visitors to Scotland, the Tattoo’s full run of performances regularly sell out well in advance of the event.
It’s another great opportunity for taking photos. I went into Princes Street tonight to take some shots. I have a favourite wee spot where there’s a big enough gap between the trees to get a good view of the castle. When I arrived, there was already another photographer waiting to take some fireworks photos. But there was enough room for the two of us, and he proved to be good company!
Danny MacAskill, a professional street trials rider, shot to fame in 2009 when he put a film on You Tube of his cycling exploits around Edinburgh. Danny was born in Dunvegan on the island of Skye in Scotland. He is now a professional street trials rider.
He was at St Andrew’s Square as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival yesterday, performing some bike stunts in front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic youngsters. Fortunately the rain held off just long enough for Danny to perform his stunts to a very appreciative crowd.
Click on the link to watch the first Danny Mckaskill video, Inspired Bicycles.
Edinburgh Fringe events publicity
I’m often impressed at performers’ ingenuity when it comes to ways to advertise their shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. For three weeks every August, every available space in the city is converted into a Fringe venue. Lack of venues has meant an increasing amount of creativity in developing new spaces. Recent years have seen shows on Salisbury Crags, in shipping containers, and on buses. With 2,695 official shows in every nook and cranny in the city this year, there’s stiff competition for each production to get their seats filled.
I particularly enjoy the folk who manage to turn the whole problem on its head. Rather than finding ever more bizarre ways of dressing and/or behaving to draw attention to themselves, there are always some groups who have focused their efforts on finding ways to make their fliers that bit more irresistible than those being proffered further along the street.
Here are some of the guys from InSTEP Theatre , who came up with a novel way to increase the attraction levels! I wonder how many folk took their fliers?
I took a jaunt into town today, to see what was happening on the Royal Mile. I love taking pictures in amongst the hustle and bustle of an event like the Edinburgh Fringe – there’s always a real buzz about on a sunny day, with all the street performers finding ever more unusual ways of persuading the hoards of visitors that they want to come to their show – or at least take a photo or a flier! The High Street was hoaching with people.
And there’s always plenty to photograph. Many of the groups appear with a strong colour theme, which often makes for great photos. I loved these colourful umbrellas from the folk from Shed Theatre
One day photography workshop in Edinnburgh
I’m looking forward to running my next photography workshop on Saturday 22nd September. The workshops are aimed at people who would like to learn to take better pictures, without getting bogged down in the technical side of things.
We’ll be looking at photo composition, which is a skill that is at the core of taking striking and memorable photos.
As good quality images become more important in publicising events, sharing information on websites and social media, this workshop will get you thinking about how to make the most of your camera.
More information on this and other workshops on the Photography Scotland workshop page. Online booking is also available.
Forth road bridge at South Queensferry
On a recent trip to Fife with some visitors from Australia, I suggested that we stop off in South Quensferry on the way back to Edinburgh . I love the views from the shore, looking north across the estuary, in between the Forth road bridge and the Forth rail bridge.The two bridges create a spectacular site, spanning the Forth estuary side by side. The Forth road bridge was completed in 1964 and is 2.5 kilometres long. In recent years there have been increasing concerns for it’s long-term safety, as today’s traffic levels are far higher than predicted when it was first built. Work has already started on a new Forth crossing, which is scheduled to be completed in 2016.
As we headed down into South Queensferry, I was secretly hoping that the sky might clear a wee bit, as it wouldn’t be long before the sun set. It’s a place where there’s plenty of scope for some superb landscape photos at dusk.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The view was impressive from the pier down by the Hawes Inn, and as the sun went down the Forth estuary turned gold.
I only have a tiny wee garden, but I love watching things develop throughout the summer. I was away overnight, and came home to discover these beautiful crocosmia buds had just appeared from nothing.
Boat trips in the Forth estuary
It’s surprising how a boat trip into the Forth estuary can take you into the wilds in a very short space of time. I went with friends from Australia on a boat trip to the Isle of May recently.We drove to Anstruther and went on the May Princess run by Anstruther Pleasure Cruises.
It’s hard to believe that Edinburgh is less than 30 miles away when you’re looking at views like this:
Boat with red sails
On a recent jaunt out into the Forth Estuary to visit the Isle of May, we were not far from Anstruther harbour when we spotted this lovely wee boat with red sails. The boat was called the ‘Sunset Angel’ (what a cracking name!) The River Forth is a popular place for sailing, with a number of sailing clubs and marinas on its shores.
Here it is sailing towards North Berwick Law in East Lothian.