Thursday, December 03, 2020

Covidopoly cartoon

Loved this cartoon, by Blower, in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. 


Tuesday, December 01, 2020


Back in 2013 I was shooting a photograph per day for the Blip Photo sharing website. Think Instagram  on a very small scale.
Notice how the traffic light is Red, Amber and Green at the same time and it is not faulty.
The exposure time was half a minute (30 seconds) at f8 on ISO 200 with a 28mm lens. As usual there was no tripod and the camera was supported by the bridge parapet as it would be too long an exposure to hold in your hand.
Before I took the picture I had a good idea how it would turn out.
The ghostly bus was in the scene for about 15 seconds not long enough to become solid. The car lights become a streaky blur as even 30mph is fast in 30 seconds of exposure.
Because it was daylight there was a 9x neutral density filter on the lens to allow the 30 second exposure.


Monday, November 30, 2020

Lighting a stained glass maestro

Black and white was ideal to photograph stained glass artist the late John Lawson in 1999. 
Removing colour stops hues distracting the eye from the design.
The forecast was for sun. It has illuminated the window in the background which was designed by John's father William to mark the end of World War II.
Mr Lawson is holding his design for a Millennium window at the same church, Shoreham, in Kent.
A Vivitar 283 flash is mounted on the camera and another 283, fired by flash sensitive, peanut slave, is sitting in the crook of John's arm behind his design.
Not having digital I was unable to check that the exposure had worked. 
It was shot on Ilford HP5 black and white film and processed and printed at Sevenoaks Chronicle darkroom.
It was digitised by photographing the print with a 50mm lens.
It is a shame I did not have access to the internet in 1999. 
When Mr Lawson passed away in 2009, after losing his battle with cancer, there were a number of obituaries in the national press. 
He was one of the leading stained-glass artists of his generation. 
He designed glorious windows not only in Westminster Abbey and many other British cathedrals and churches, but also in mosques, palaces and hotels as far afield as Dubai, Oman and Brunei. 
For the last three decades of the 20th century he was chief artist for the internationally renowned Goddard and Gibbs Studios. 
He was much in demand by some of the world's wealthiest rulers and princes. 
In the Ramada hotel in Dubai, in 1980 he finished, an awe inspiring stained glass mural, which, at 41 metres high and nine metres wide, was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest stained-glass structure in the world. 
His work can be seen in hundreds of churches around Britain, and includes a hanging glass panel depicting Christ the judge in Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire, and the windows of the Oratory in Elmore Abbey, the Benedictine monastery in Newbury, Berkshire.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The FT recommends: McDonald's for a birthday tea

If it's good enough for 'Lunch with the FT' it must be good enough for a birthday tea.
The Weekend FT featured McDonald's chief executive, Chris Kempczinski, being interviewed by Andrew Edgcliffe-Johnson for Life and Arts 'Lunch with the FT.'
We had already decided to take life in our hands and do my birthday at McDonald's Galashiels and the FT copied us. 
In his story, Mr Edgcliffe-Johnson wrote: "I have been handed one of the least appetising assignments in 'Lunch with the FT' history.
"If you judged such things by the 65 million customers his 39,000 outlets feed in a day you could call Kempczinski the world's most successful restauranteur. But few gastronomes rhapsodise about his prix fixe and we will have no wine list to savour."
He adds a line from the 2014 film Kingsman in which Samuel L Jackson tells Colin Firth: "A McDonald's cheeseburger goes well with a '45 Lafitte." The cheapest bottle of that vintage Mr Edgclifffe-Johnson could find is $2,999!
Our meal was good and the French Fries are great, as always, which is exactly what Mr Kempczinski says but he eats there twice a day! 
Plus due to the uninvited Covid guest we had the advantage of table service.

McDonald's Galashiels

Friday, November 27, 2020

Sunshafts seal final Dawyck day

Dawyck Botanical Garden shuts during December and January. Leaving this afternoon we
spotted orange sunlight on the hills opposite. 
We drove up the Dreva Road for this view looking west of Scottish Border hills at sunset. Photographed with the manual focus 135mm/2.8 telephoto lens.


One second shutter speed for silky soft water

During our last Dawyck Botanical Garden, visit this afternoon, spent a 
few moments playing with short shutter speeds off a Scrape Burn Bridge.
This exposure, with the D800 + 24mm/2.8 lens, was made by balancing the 
camera on the wooden handrail. 
I am too lazy to carry a tripod.
The one second shutter speed has made the water silky soft. The aperture was f22.


Maradona heads to the 'park in the sky'

Football's Marco Pantani, Diego Maradona, headed away on his final journey yesterday.
His passing led Campbeltown Pupils' footballer and former Courier reporter John McCallum to pen the following words: 
Maradona was only 60 years old but lived to excess for a long time. However he never really wronged anyone, universally popular and with every teammate and club president he ever had. 
Maradona took the "dirty Southerners" of Napoli, embracing the north-south cultural and economic divide of Italy, to domestic and European success in the 80s, when they hadn't done anything for decades against the powerhouses of Turin and Milan. 
Maradona was a real legend of the game there's no doubt and perhaps the greatest player ever. 
My dad, Peter McCallum was there at, and still has the programme from, Maradona's only appearance in Scotland as a player, in autumn 1979 at Hampden Park. 
Maradona mesmerised the Tartan Army as an unknown teenager. 
Maradona seemed to like Scotland. 
England was another story but that's sporting AND political/emotional. 
Peter Shilton, still bitter about the hand of god moment, never came across well amidst the eulogies of yesterday.

Maradona far left at Hampden Park in 1979. Picture The Glasgow Herald.

Thursday, November 26, 2020


The half moon seen through silhouetted trees at St Boswells on Sunday afternoon.
Nikon D800 and 135mm.2.8 manual focus.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Masked greetings for birthday boy


When Max's Uncle Howard turned 60 during the first Lockdown Sophie, Geraldine and I donned masks for a video wishing him happy birthday.
Yesterday we repeated the act on Zoom for Max's 33rd birthday. Click on the image to enlarge it, unless viewing on a phone.
From left: Siân's drawing of Max as Richard Branson, Max holds a picture of himself while young in a Fireman Sam outfit, Geraldine and Mark are Fireman Sam and Sophie is just plain Scary.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A great view immortalised in watercolour


We have converted Max's old bedroom into my study. His desk was in the far corner facing the wall. 
I have always liked the distraction of a view. Today it is of boiling clouds and mist racing across the sky. 
One autumn day when I was away Geraldine took the chance to paint this watercolour sketch of the study window view on a good day. 
I was inspired to add her picture to the blog after a friend raved about the injustices of life yesterday.  
The hill in the background is the Drover's Way ridge running to Kailize Hill. 
Geraldine and I have often walked this route. Sophie joined me for the mammoth 17 mile horseshoe excursion starting on this hill in April.