The Beast of Calder Water


Tonight was the night of this week’s big photoshoot. The brief was simple “an outdoor portrait in twilight lighting” for a make up artistry student’s portfolio. And the model? A cave dwelling man eating mutant! What could go wrong?

After packing my kit bag and checking, double checking and triple checking that I have batteries, memory cards, flash triggers and flashes I set of to pick up my assistant for the shoot, David Brown. I did pack my camera didn’t I?

On route to the location a light smear of rain starts to splatter on the wind screen. By the time we get to the secret location of the cave dweller the rain is a full on torrential rain storm.

I parked the car and we began to survey the area for a good shooting location. Luckily we found two great locations within 150 yard walk from the car – ideal and somewhere to shelter all my kit from the rain – perfect.

Scouting work done, the make up artist Susan Hardman and her brave model arrived for the shoot.

As it is such a cold and damp evening we set up a couple of the shots with the model still in his clothes to get the lighting and framing set up. On reviewing them I think they make for some pretty creepy images in their own right.

Of course every man eating monster needs a hug sometimes.

Thanks to Susan Hardman for selecting me as the photographer for this project and thanks to her husband who suffered wind, rain, rocky terrain and rough gravel paths in nothing but a loin cloth – you’re a trooper!

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Back to the Marsh

I’ve been making a concerted effort this past week or two to get out with my camera as often as is reasonably practicable.

This morning I could have seen it far enough when I woke up and felt the cold biting at my toes but I got up and looking out the curtains I thought they sky looked hopeful for some nice morning light.

By 7:5 I was sitting in the observation hide on Cathkin Marsh under a flat grey sky without the slightest bit of interesting lighting or shadow.

The poor lighting forced me to crank up the ISO on my Nikon D600 to get any usable shutter speeds with my Sigma 150-60mm sports lens.

I persevered for an hour or so but came away with little for my efforts, just this Canadian Goose playing peek-a-boo in the long grasses.


It’s quite amazing just how much the marsh changes from week to week, a real difference in the length of the grasses today and not a sign of the frog spawn in the ponds that I photographed last week.

Now getting prepared for a pretty interesting shoot tomorrow evening, an outdoor model shoot for a make up artist’s graded unit on prosthetic horror make up…should be good.

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Glasgow Architecture

Back to the daily theme today. My incomplete theme from Wednesday was “architecture” and today I had time to get out on my lunch hour in an effort to fulfil the brief.

I was spurred on by a fabulous lecture by Simon Butterworth at Queen’s Park Camera Club last night, in particular his architecture series of skyscraper images. You can find more of his project at his website

Simon was very generous with his photographic knowledge and brought home the importance of working on projects to produce a coherent set of images rather than just having a collection of individual shots.

But, back to the theme…Glasgow presents lots of architecture opportunities and where better to start than the Lighthouse (, home to the MacIntosh Centre.

I made my way breathlessly up the helical staircase to the viewing area at the top of the old water tower to capture some panoramic shots of Glasgow city centre, and capture a full vista of Glasgow architecture.


Making my way back down the stair case I shot up wards to get some interesting abstract shots but I was shooting hand held at ISO 6400, so perhaps another visit with a tripod is required.  Having said that, one of these shots is my favourite of the day:


I managed to satisfy my brief for the day entirely within the Lighthouse and got a few interesting shots of architects card models which introduced a twist to achieving the theme.

Remember that to see the 3D anaglyph at the end you’ll need to pop on a pair of red/cyan glasses.

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Another day, another photographic challenge.

Well, nearly.

Charged my camera batteries and formatted my memory cards in anticipation of another lunch hour of photography.  However a lengthy lunch time meeting put that idea to rest.  So today’s challenge theme of “Architecture” is on hold.

But I do have a new image to share today.  An abstract flower triptych.

A few weeks ago photographer Steve McGonnell was the speaker at Queen’s Park Camera, where I am currently serving as president (  Steve showed a large selection of his flower photography.  It’s something that I hadn’t really tried for myself.  So the following weekend I picked up a bunch of supermarket flowers and had a go at some table top flower photographer.

I didn’t really want to go for a straightforward record shot of the flower, I wanted to create something a little more abstract.  I set about shooting a few images using extension tubes on my 24-70mm lens to get me in close to the petals with a really narrow depth of field.

I processed the and combined them to produce this triptych:


I desaturated the image and am satisfied with the delicate tones that I’ve achieved.  There are a few blown out highlights which would usually lead me to reject an image but in this case I think they work in the context of the image.

I also wanted to try something a bit more experimental and took another flower from the bouquet and planned the shot.  This time I wanted to show the whole flower head and that therefore required a backdrop.  To make the photograph interesting the backdrop would have to compliment the colours of the flower…but I don’t have hundreds of backdrops, so what should I do?  I could have used used coloured gels on a flash gun to light a white backdrop – but I had another idea – use my laptop screen as a background.

I set up a variety of coloured layers in photoshop and flicked between the layers between each shot until I got one I thought worked.


I’m pretty happy with the results – what do you think?

Hopefully I’ll get that architecture shot tomorrow…

If you can’t wait until tomorrow, you can see more of my photography on flickr:


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Green with envy for blue.

Today I set myself the challenge of shooting a photograph with a green subject…

Walking around Glasgow City Centre during my lunch hour I realised just how much greenery there is around our urban environment.  It was certainly a reminder to pay attention to the familiar.

I found myself around the site of the old Rotten Row Maternity Hospital, where I was born and where my Mum worked until she passed away.  The old hospital building has been regenerated or reborn if you will into an open landscaped garden area and I found the source of my images for today.

Just try to burst my balloons!

In the middle of the garden area is a giant safety pin sculpture, no doubt a inspired by the safety pins holding up the terry towelling nappies of yesteryear on this site.  But the point of interest, if you’ll excuse the pun, was the trio of green balloons caught up on the sculpture just waiting to be popped but not with this pin.


There it was an image to fulfil todays brief but I so wished that todays challenge was “Blue”…


…Now, I don’t know Leo, but if I did, I’m sure he would have my vote.

Around the area were another couple of abstract shots that I thought made worthy images, but not on topic.

And finally, I managed to sneak in a little 3D anaglyph image (you’ll need red/cyan glasses for this one)

Green Theme Anaglyph

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Seeing RED


I’ve never been one for taking part in a photo a day challenge, not because I’m too lazy, but life out with photography can be busy, so rather than embark on a task that I know I’ll struggle to complete, I’ve set myself a challenge to take at least one photograph on a topic, once I’ve got one I’m happy with, I’ll move onto the next topic – that might be today, it might be tomorrow or it might be next month.

Today is day one of the challenge with “RED” being the topic.

I took my camera out for a lunch hour wander around Glasgow City Centre. The lighting wasn’t great and the rain was threatening throughout my walk. However within 5 minutes of setting off I found a scene that would let me complete the first challenge; a silhouette of some sort of robot head against a red backdrop painted on a shop shutter in Glasgow’s Parnie Street.

I wasn’t ready to head back to the office just yet so kept wandering a little further. With the rain getting closer I headed down King Street and found a location that I knew would make an interesting 3D anaglyph image (you’ll need red/cyan glasses for this one)–vintage clothing on rails outside a retro clothing store.

Heading back to work I found a second image to meet the challenge criteria, a read fire alarm mounted on a red brick wall…perfect.

Challenge number one complete!

See more of my photography on Flickr:


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Another Morning on Cathkin Marsh

I awoke on Saturday morning determined to add new photograph to my portfolio without interfering with family plans for the day.

At 7:45 I was sitting in the hide at Cathkin Marsh wildlife reserve with my Sigma 150-600 scanning the water looking for something to photograph under the white overcast sky…nothing, not even a duck.

After a while a decided the day was conspiring against me and I gave up on the water and went for a wee walk around the reserve. Halfway towards the pond and the hope of seeing some frog spawn the silhouette of a heron passed over head and settled on the waters edge.

A quick sprint, or the best impression of a sprint I can do with a 600mm lens on my camera, and I was back at the hide in time to photograph the Heron being chased back into the sky by a pair of Canadian Geese.

A few seconds of high speed shooting delivered a barely acceptable shot of the heron flapping it’s way to an escape.

Maybe next time…


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