It was an early start, deliberately - as I was in Edinburgh and the photography starts in Glasgow; which is an hour’s train journey away. My alarm goes off at 6am. I get a short amount of sleep, a combination of excitement and jet lag (joking!) - but enough to keep me going.
It would not normally be possible to wake at 6am and travel for an hour before you reach your destination, but in October it can be done. This is one of the reasons that I choose to do my ‘intense photography outings’ in Autumn. The light is workable throughout the day, the start time is not so painful and you have to quit when the light fades. The previous year I went to Dorset and Devon, and I have been planning Scotland for six months leading up to this.
I have a habit of trying to do too much, in too short a space of time, and my original intention was to venture out to Glencoe whilst ‘in the area’ - but the prospect of exploring the unknown on my lonesome was a bit daunting. If I had a wingman I would have totally done it, but that didn’t happen, so I am sticking to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
How much Glasgow and Edinburgh is see and photograph is going to be decided by the weather. As I write this as the end of day 1, Glasgow is expecting rain all day tomorrow -which is no good for Photography. Not my kind of Photography anyway. I quickly lose the motivation for taking photos after I have had to clean sea spray off my lens after a few goes - so rain is off limits for me. If the weather report said rain then sunshine, then we have great weather conditions, but tomorrow in Glasgow is just rain. So I am staying out in Edinburgh. Back to today.
I just got on the train, only to realise that I underestimated that Scotland 10 degrees C is colder that Brighton 10 degrees C. I packed lots of clothing, but didn’t bring any thermals, gloves or hats. I haven’t worn any all year, and the weather reports suggested ok temperatures. I arrive in Glasgow, and I immediately fell in love with the buildings here. Straight out of the station I saw a five storey derelict building on a busy and generally well kept street, maybe this is just a Glasgow thing - but it was similar to the scale of a regency property in Brighton or London.
My first location was directly outside the station. It was too early though, the light was flat and there was a coach outside. I go and grab a bacon sandwich and a coffee for breakfast.Now I am set for Photography. I refer to the image I have seen of Radisson Blu hotel online, and they have started to construct a new building next to it. Brilliant, more photoshop for muggins. The sun starts to climb over the opposite building and ruin my only composition. I get the shot and I move on without causing too much of a traffic jam on the pavement.
My next pencilled in location is a Hilton Hotel, but en route I find a few great examples and photograph them. Oh, did I mention that the weather predictions are totally wrong? Instead of a mixture of sun and cloud, we have beautiful uninterrupted blue skies. Up until this point I am still stoked that I am in Glasgow, seeing some awesome buildings, but every photograph I take with a clear blue sky, is a photograph that I am going to have to replace the sky. I am good in photoshop, but no guru.As I have mentioned in previous blogs and videos, my intention is always to get it right in camera, but I am here for a limited time - so there is no coming back to get it right in camera. I have to work with the weather conditions dished up to me this weekend. Sometimes security will hold there massive palms out and say, “no tripods” and this makes the decision for you, long exposures are out of the question. Other times the weather is not on your side and you have to adapt to the situation.
I have been to plenty of foreign cities before, and within reason I prefer to walk and get to know the place, rather than travel by public transport. I have a 25 minute walk to my next location, which I was happy to do. It was even sign posted -being a tourist hot spot. But in October Glasgow is not like being at the Collesium, I had some places to myself. Just the way I like it.
The SSE Hydro and neighbouring Armadillo building did not disappoint. They have generous open spaces around them, which gives the photographer plenty of angles to work from. However. They have put so many posts, flags, bus shelters etc surrounding the buildings that it does start to detract away from the buildings slightly. I am an Architect, I get it - the buildings have to be functional, but I question whether a bus shelter directly in front of the entrance to a building is the most appropriate place for it. Unfortunately you can no longer see the words that say ‘SSE Hydro’ when approaching the building because of the bus shelter.
The above rant aside, I spend the next few hours creative long exposures of the two buildings. They are successful, but there is no action going on in the sky. Not a single cloud. But I create long exposures to remove the odd passer by, taxis etc.
Being from Brighton I cannot resist the water. These buildings that I am photographing here are all on the water, so I cross the nearest bridge and some of the best views of the two buildings reveal themselves. And the clouds arrive. For the first time, I look on my camera screen and see a photograph that I am happy with. No editing required. Below.
From here I walk east, along the river, to the Riverside Museum. Another fantastic marvel of architecture. I have been lucky enough to see a few of Zaha Hadid’s buildings now, and the use of materials and detailing are always great to photograph. The clouds continue to roll in, and I get some awesome long exposures of the Museum.
With the end of the day looming, I jump in a taxi and head back to the Hydro and Armadillo, now that the clouds have rolled in. I get a few shots, but the sun is dropping behind the BBC Scotland building in the other side of the river. This is when knowing your locations and seasons comes in handy. You can’t really photograph this location at sunset without the shadow of another building ruining the shot. You need to get there say 1.5 hours before sunset to stand the best chance of success.
I take one for the team and sit in The Rotunda pub having a pint at a seat window, keeping an eye on the sky and lighting conditions. I fancy my chances as some night shots of the building, during the blue hour. The conditions will different for every location, but you need the ambient light (of the sky - twilight) to be equal to the brightness of the lights in the buildings. Unfortunately the sky was grey at this point. No blue. More like the grey hour.
I call it quits and head back to Edinburgh to write this blog and put my feet up.
Keep an eye out for part 2!