Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Scenes from Brad Pitt’s new movie, World War Z (pronounced ‘Zee’ I’m told) are being filmed in Glasgow, which is standing in for Philadelphia. A section of the city centre around George Square has been closed to traffic and given a special makeover for the part.

Yesterday afternoon I headed for the centre of Glasgow and walked through a Hollywood film set with my camera. That’s not something you can do every day, is it? OK, Brad wasn’t around and neither was Angelina, but it was still a lot of fun.

Philadelphia is a city I know pretty well. I’ve been over about a dozen times over the years and can see the logic for my home city doubling for the City of Brotherly Love. The architecture of the two cities is similar, the grid pattern of the streets is almost identical and both have a square featuring the main civic headquarters at their heart.

So if you take Glasgow and repaint the roads, replace the familiar street signs with Philly ones, then fill the streets with yellow cabs, PAPD vehicles and the odd fire truck you really could be on the streets of Philadelphia.

Glasgow has scored a major coup by bringing Brad Pitt and co. to this side of the Atlantic. And the filming will bring several million pounds into the city’s economy. A few streets may be closed but we can live with that for a couple of weeks.

But on the other side of the pond they are not happy at all. Philadelphia lost out to Glasgow for the filming for financial reasons, leaving many bitter. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper has said that says the decision cost the city tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue and hundreds of jobs.

And the Inquirer also noted that JFK Plaza has been reconstructed in George Square, which was named after George III, the monarch whose intransigence over taxes sparked the American War of Independence.

“The very despot Philadelphia led the Revolution against,” the newspaper observed sourly.

Whatever the politics and historical ironies, Glasgow looks good as Philly and it will be great to watch the film when it comes out, knowing exactly where some of the scenes have been filmed.

Here’s a link to some more pictures of the film set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gordon_j/sets/72157627374871879/


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Winter Photography

In my last photography themed blog I talked about how owning a decent camera is simply the start of a process. At that time I was thinking of acquiring a couple of additional lenses – and after spending another couple of hundred quid or so I now have them.

The first one I bought was a Canon 50mm f1.8. Basically it’s a small lens that works very well in low light and is excellent for gig photography. I attend a lot of shows in my music reviewer role and can usually wangle a photo pass, meaning I can get up close to the stage.

There are quite a few sets from various gigs on my Flikr page – the link is to the right.

The second lens I purchased was a cheap telephoto lens. The really good ones like you see sports photographers using costs thousands, and that’s just not in my price range right now. So I picked up a Sigma 70 – 300mm on eBay recently, and it is decent for both close up shots and landscapes.

The snow is not a lot of fun for many people and causes havoc with the travel system. But for photographers it gives some good opportunities. So on Saturday afternoon I wrapped myself up and headed over to Queen’s Park for an hour or so.

As well as some shots of sledgers and others out enjoying the white stuff I also managed to take a few shots over the city from the higher parts of the park. There are 20 or so of them in total, and they are in this set:


I always welcome comments and tips from those who know more about photography than I do, so don’t be shy!

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Rosslyn Chapel has been the subject of many myths and stories, pretty much all of which have no substance whatsoever. But what is not in doubt is the beauty of the building itself.

I visited it recently, camera in hand of course. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the building, which has an amazing range of detail from both Christian and pagan mythology. But I did manage to get some decent exterior shots that capture the detail of the many carvings that decorate the outside walls.

Rosslyn photos

The Chapel had fallen into a poor state, but a major restoration effort has been going on for some years now, ironically helped by the newfound popularity of the site as a tourist attraction following its use in The De Vinci Code.

A large metal canopy that has allowed the Chapel to dry out prior to essential conservation work has recently been taken away after thirteen years, and although some scaffolding remains, most of the structure is now easily visible.

Built in the mid 15th century by Sir William St Clair, and properly called the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, Rosslyn was founded on a small hill above Roslin Glen in Midlothian.

It has long been associated with the Knights Templar, some of whom were rumoured to have come to Scotland in the fourteenth century following the fall of Jerusalem. There is no proof of a Templar involvement with Rosslyn though, and the story that the design of Rosslyn is a Templar one is false. In fact the design is identical to part of Glasgow Cathedral, and the original plan was for it to be extended to form a much bigger church.

In Dan Brown’s version of events, the St Clair, or Sinclair, family contains descendants of Jesus. The chapel also has a Star of David in the book, which does not exist, is said to be on the same latitude as Glastonbury, which is incorrect, and is said to be named after a Rose Line. In fact the name is a simple statement of location, coming from “ross” meaning headland and “lyn” meaning pool or stream.

There are also rumours of an underground chamber which is said to contain everything from the Holy Grail to the mummified head of Jesus. According to one of the guides, they are looked after by Lord Lucan!

So the stories may be just that, but the building itself is well worth a visit anyway.

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So I’ve now had my shiny new Canon 400D SLR camera for a month or so. Time for an update on my quest to become a decent photographer.

I feel like I’m beginning to get to grips with the very basics. I can talk about things like aperture priority mode or ISO settings without sounding like a complete idiot. I can compose a shot and take it without taking forever to set the camera properly. And I’m even beginning to touch up my photos a little using Adobe Lightroom.

I’m reasonably happy with my outdoor photographs now. Not saying I’m an expert or anything, but I’m making progress. The CQN Golf Day ones came out particularly well. But my indoor ones are not so great. My white balance is still a bit off at times.

The next thing on my shopping list is a new lens or two. I was told that I would end up spending money on more than just a camera and that’s what’s happening already.

I want to start with a good fast lens to improve my gig photography. The basic kit lens that came with the camera struggles in low light and I want something better. So I’m scouring various sources for cheap kit and looking out for a good deal on a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens at the moment.

I’m always happy to get advice from the many good photographers I have amongst my friends. And several have already given me some very useful tips. I’ve also been reading a great deal, and finding out what a complicated business this photography lark can be.

For now, here are a few samples of my work. I’d hesitate to call it a “Best Of” collection; it’s simply some of my favourite shots from the few thousand I’ve taken so far.


Any comments are of course more than welcomed.

And I’ll continue practicing in the hope that I can improve my skills over time.

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Yesterday I made three predictions: Brazil to beat Holland, Murray to beat Nadal and the Celtic Quick News Golf Day to be another brilliant day out.

Well, I got one out of three correct.

We arrived at the course early and it looked in great condition. The sun was shining and all seemed well with the world. There were even bacon rolls and coffee available. And steadily the golfers arrived, all dressed in green of course.

The view from the first tee is terrific. For non golfers that is. Those playing didn’t seem to appreciate the downhill par three surrounded by water and played into the wind as much as I did. According to those who know the course it was playing two clubs longer than usual, which I don’t think is a good thing.

Over a period of two hours or so the intrepid golfers made their way out to battle with the course. There seemed to be a deal of apprehension and no one was predicting a good score, or were they just managing expectations?

Once everyone was out I made my way to the 11th tee where there were a couple of large buckets of beer and cider to refresh the golfers. And on arrival no one seemed too confident. The combination of high winds and fast greens seemed to be the downfall of many. But I think that at least some of our players scored better on the closing holes after a wee drink.

The clubhouse was the place to be in the afternoon for the aforementioned football and tennis matches. Enough said about that really.

The evening saw dinner, speakers and the prize giving.

The beneficiaries of the money raised by the day told of the tremendous work they do. Paul Brennan, or Paul67 to his friends, looked forward to the new football season. And Tommy Campbell told stories of his career in football coaching, many of which seemed to involve taking on the establishment of the SFA. It was a great night as always.

This was the sixth annual golf day and the organising committee deserve all of our thanks for the tremendous work they put in every year. I’ve ran enough events in my time to know just how much goes into making a day like this go so smoothly. Brilliant effort guys.

I took a couple of hundred photographs over the day, and the best of them are available here:

Flikr – CQN Golf Day 2010

I know I managed to capture all of the golfers and hopefully most of the evening participants too.

So, same time, same place in 2011? Put my name down please!

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My New Camera

It’s been a pretty busy week one way and another. Things got pretty interesting down Celtic Park way. And I got a new camera!

I’ve had an interest in photography for many years. But I’ve always restricted myself to simple point and shoot type cameras, and haven’t really gone into the subject in depth.

Until now.

After a couple of weeks of reading, investigating and seeking advice I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought a digital SLR camera – a Canon 400D for those who know about these things.

One of the key reasons for my latest purchase is that I attend a lot of live shows. My little Samsung L301 compact digital camera takes very good shots most of the time, but it really needs a flash to be any good in low light. And most bands don’t appreciate a flash being used right up front and in their faces.

So, once I get the hang of ISO settings and the like, I should be able to get some good shots in my favourite venues without using a flash.

I also like to do tourist shots whenever I’m away and have a hard disk full of snaps from previous trips. Attending a variety of events with a camera can also give opportunities for some good shots. And Glasgow has some great buildings that I’m looking forward to taking some photos of too.

For now I’ve just about started to master the basics. But I know I have a great deal still to learn. There are just so many different settings that can be adjusted for different effects. Aperture, focal length, shutter speed, white balance and so on. The jargon alone takes a bit of getting used to. Thankfully there are loads of resources on line to help out a confused novice

But I’ll give it a go and hopefully it will all fall into place in time. Maybe practice will make perfect – or at least competent. That seems a reasonable goal to start with.

Look out for some links to photographs when I get confident enough to share them on my blog. I know that I have some excellent photographers amongst my friends so I shouldn’t be short of advice. And I’ve been told that photography can become more of an obsession than a hobby – which isn’t necessarily a good thing for me.

Now that the rain has stopped I’m off into the city centre to try out a few things.

If anyone has tips for an eager beginner I’d be grateful.

And if anyone wants to buy a very nice little 12MP digital camera, complete with 2GB memory card and a leather case, then give me a shout.

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