Category Archives: Edinburgh

Urban Impressionism: Edinburgh Tour Buses

The use of camera movement and/or zooming during a long exposure is a technique I learned from one of my photographic heroes, Bryan Peterson. It takes experimentation to figure out which photographic subjects are likely to produce interesting images.

Edinburgh tour bus, impressionist photography using zooming and camera rotation

I really like this old style tour bus and I was delighted I could capture an impressions picture of this wonderful subject.

So a while back, I decided to try out this technique in an urban setting, namely central Edinburgh. I was quickly intrigued by the many colourful tour buses going by.

Edinburgh tour bus, impressionist photography using zooming and camera rotation

I love the colour red as it is an attention grabber in photographs.

The images in this post were taken with an exposure of 1/8s, turning the camera while holding the zoom ring. It takes quite a bit of practice, and I had to try my luck on a lot of passing cars and buses to get the three images you see here. I really look forward to trying this technique on other urban photography subjects.

Edinburgh tour bus, impressionist photography using zooming and camera rotation

This tour bus seemed to go by at a higher frequency than the others, and I therefore had multiple attempts at a “bus impression”.

Music Photography: Diving Station

Manchester based band Diving station are releasing their first EP today at Aatma, 14-16 Faraday St, M1 1BE. I was fortunate to photograph them last August when they visited Edinburgh.

Manchester based band at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh

Diving station at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh. From left to right, George Burrage, Sean Rogan, Anna McLuckie, Barny Kimberley.

I really love long exposures of seascapes, because of their effect on water and clouds. I had dreamt of combining a long seascape exposure with people in the shot, and when I proposed this idea to Anna McLuckie, the lead singer, she was very enthusiastic. The picture above consists of two photographs, one with a relatively short exposure to get the band and a second frame taken without the band but with a two minute exposure. It was a typical Scottish summer day (that was the only day where the band was available for a shoot), but I knew that if we waited until after sunset, the light would be soft and there would likely be some colours in the sky. I’m quite pleased with my first attempt at a photograph of this nature.

Manchester based band Diving Stattion at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh.

I like unusual compositions, and since the sky over Silverknowes beach looked really interesting, I decided to give it the lion’s share of the frame.

Manchester based band Diving Stattion at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh.

More conventional composition this time. I always shoot these.

The band logo has a lot of blue in it, so I wanted to give the other beach shots a blue colour cast. This is easily done by setting the white balance of the camera to tungsten and lighting the band with an off camera flash and CTO “orange” gel on it to give them proper skin tones. I worked a number of compositions with two of them shown above.

The photo shoot started earlier in the day, in a stairwell, believe it or not. These kinds of locations are a blessing and a curse at the same time. I’m sure you get the curse part, but the constraints imposed by locations like these allow one’s creativity to be pushed, and one’s frame of mind to be stretched. I’m always up for a challenge.

Manchester based band Diving Station group shot, straight on

The more people in the picture, the harder it is to get everyone looking good. Fortunately, every band member liked this photo.

I always need to warm up at the beginning of a photo shoot, and so we started by taking very straightforward band photos.

Manchester based band Diving Station group shot, from above

I always try different angles, either from above or below.

Then I started looking for different angles.

Manchester based band Diving Station, "behind bars".

I always look for elements of design such s lines. The stair railing offered an opportunity to frame each member of the band. I also liked the pipes above their heads and therefore included them in my composition.

And compositions.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

Adding smoke completely changes the atmosphere of the location. Pun intended.

I had brought with me a smoke machine, because I thought this could really add some atmosphere to the photos. One light behind to backlight the smoke and a light in front for the band.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

I love silhouettes, so I just had to try to light the band just with the backlight. I really like this moody pic.

After I get the “obvious” shot, I like to ask “what if..?”. For example “what if I switch off the main light?”

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

When I sense I’m running out of ideas, I just try something. Anything. So I put a bare speedlight on the stairs, camera right, just to see what would happen. Lucky me.

Usually, a number of mistakes occur when I start working my subject and lighting. Fortunately, some of them turn out great. At the time I didn’t think much of the shot above. I think it was because it wasn’t what I really was after, but the band immediately liked it. And I have to say it has become one of my favourite shots of the day.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell, "behind bars".

Since I liked this composition, I decided to revisit it with a different lighting set up and the smoke.

With the smoke and more moody lighting scheme, I explored some of the earlier compositions. I never thought you could have this much fun with a smoke machine in a staircase.

 

 

Real Estate Photography: Rennie’s Isle, Edinburgh

Rennie’s Isle is a wonderful location in Leith. It is close to The Shore, a lively area with many restaurants and pubs. It is also a short walk away from the Firth of Forth. It is ideal if you, like me, like strolling along the sea shore.

Living room in Leith Edinburgh, with amazing back light.

It was a lovely flat, and I needed to do it justice. With the windows in the shot, it was not possible to capture the whole dynamic range of the image in one picture. It took three photos blended together in Photoshop to produce this realistic looking image.

Professional photography for your property has quite a number of benefits that make it a worthwhile investment.

Bedroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

I really love back light, and this is my favourite shot of this bedroom.

Bedroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

For completeness, I always take a shot from an other angle if some aspect of the room is not visible in the first photograph. In this case, the mirrored wardrobe

The first impression of your property people are likely to get is from the pictures on your website. Showcasing the house or flat with good photography is therefore likely to elect more interest in viewings.

Bathroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

Professional photography can really pay off for bathrooms. You want them to be looking clean and fresh.

The more people you have interested in renting/buying your property, the more likely you’ll be able to rent it at the best possible price. It’s just the law of supply and demand, with limited supply.

Kitchen in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

A nice kitchen can be a wonderful asset in renting or selling your property. It should not be overlooked. And as in the case of the bathroom, you want it to look clean and fresh in your marketing photos.

Kitchen with dining table in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

It wasn’t possible to capture all of the features of this kitchen in one single photo. I therefore looked for another angle.

When you have more candidates, you’ll have more choice in selecting your tenants. Better tenants will better take care of your property, saving you money in maintenance and repairs.

Bedroom with lovely view  in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

The view from this bedroom is clearly a valuable asset. As in the case of the living room photograph, it took a number of shots blended together in Photoshop to create this image.

Bedroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

For documentary purposes, I also took a photo of the same bedroom from a different angle to show the mirrored wardrobe.

While I’m not a landlord looking to rent a property, I imagine that knowing the property management company is going to market my rental flat with good photos signals they are willing to go the extra mile in terms of customer service. And I imaging that the more luxurious the property, the more important to the landlord good photography is. And given that property managers take a percentage of the rent, expensive properties are more lucrative and probably more fun to manage (they clearly are more fun to photograph).

Exterior photograph of building in Rennie's Isle, Leith, Edinburgh

Exterior shots can be tricky, given the temperamental nature of the Scottish weather. On this day, it was cloudy, so I tried to limit the amount of sky showing in the photograph. I also love diagonals, as they give pictures a more dynamic look.

Light Painting a Dancer in Stockbridge: Juan

About a year ago, I had plans to do a light painting session in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, with singer/songwriter Anna McLuckie. Unfortunately  we had to switch to an indoor location due to very poor weather. In a way it was a blessing because the pictures turned out great (you can see them here). But it was also a shame because I really liked the location we had picked for the shoot, McKenzie bridge.

Light painting of dancer framed with one arch of McKenzie bridge, in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Framing within a frame is a favourite composition tools of mine. I couldn’t resist framing my model with one of the arches of McKenzie bridge.

Interestingly, dancer  Juan Barton had expressed interest in my personal light painting project and in Stockbridge as a potential location for the shoot. McKenzie bridge immediately came to my mind and we quickly agreed on the location.

Light painting of male dancer wearing a suit and framed with one arch of McKenzie bridge, in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

I really liked the metal gate and I wanted to reveal it by putting my subject on the right side of the frame.

Because of my previous attempt at shooting there, I already had a number of ideas for photographs, so we got started right away. I really liked this arch and the metal gate, not only for the elements of design they presented but also for the light painting possibilities. We did three poses before moving on to the next set up.

Light painting of male dancer wearing a suit and framed with one arch of McKenzie bridge, in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

The first two poses above would not signal to you than Juan is actually a dancer. So for the last pose with this set up, I asked Juan to assume a more dancer-like stance.

I always ask my subjects to bring a variety of clothes, but typically leave the precise wardrobe choice up to them, although I do stress that I like colourful outfits.  When Juan mentioned he had brought a set of hot pants and a red boa, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect!

Light painting of dancer wearing jeans hot pants and a red boa at McKenzie bridge, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

It was a good thing the location was relatively secluded, as we would have likely drawn a lot of attention given Juan’s outfit and the rather chilly weather.

Since the shoot took place in November, I had to do these last two light paintings quite fast as to not end up with a frozen dancer!

Light painting of dancer wearing jeans hot pants and a red boa at McKenzie bridge, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

I prefer the first pic of this series, but Juan chose this one as his Facebook banner!

Light Painting a Dancer: Kenna

In Edinburgh, the Royal Mile is the street connecting Edinburgh castle to the Palace of Holyrood, the official residence of the Queen in Scotland. Photographically speaking, the Royal Mile and the areas surrounding it offer great opportunities.

light painting of model with brick columns, with blue background

Lines, shapes and texture. Some of the elements of design I look for. Adding colour with creative use of white balance (tungsten) to add colour contrast with Kenna’s purple top.

Kenna and I walked about quite a bit to scout the areas around the Royal Mile. Then I spotted a set of columns near St Giles Cathedral. Lines, shapes and textures aplenty, so I knew there was a photograph there. Because of Kenna’s purple top, I decided to use the tungsten white balance to give the stones a definite blue cast, to provide good colour contrast.

Light painting of model in front of St Giles cathedral on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland

The entrance of St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile is another location replete with photo opportunities.

We didn’t have to move far for the next set up. The stairs to the entrance of St Giles Cathedral is a location I spotted way back then as I was taking an online photography course.

Light painting of model in front of St Giles cathedral on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland

The vertical composition better showcases (in my opinion) the lines and shapes of the background.

As Bryan Peterson, a photographer I really admire, is fond of saying: “What is the best time to take a vertical photograph? Right after you take the horizontal”.

Light painting of model in a close by  the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland

I really like the urban feel of this building, with the pipes and textured walls.

One of the great lessons I learned from top class photographer is to “work your subject”. Usually, I have some limited time at a given location with my subject, and I therefore like to revisit locations I have used before. That give me the opportunity to work my subject some more. Since I learn new things in between visits, that gives me the opportunity to improve upon the photographs previously taken at that location.

Light painting of model in a close by  the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland

I prefer this shot over the previous because of i) the pose and ii) the sign over the door is better “light painted”

I had used the building in the above photograph in a shoot with another dancer, Jennifer. I wanted to try a different composition and new poses with Kenna. The picture above is my second favourite photo from the shoot. My favourite picture from the day is the first picture in this post.

Light Painting a Dancer in Leith: Lucy

Leith is a district to the north of Edinburgh, and the area is replete with photographic opportunities. In particular, the surroundings of the port of Leith, the largest deep water port in Scotland, provide a number of good locations for photo shoots.

Light painting of dancer, standing, with a blue steel bridge in Leith, Edinburgh

We started with a simple pose. I had to move in and around the bridge to light paint her face and then her body and the background.

I had noticed ‘the blue bridge in Leith’ a while back, but hadn’t had an opportunity to shoot there until I met Lucy, a dancer who happens to live nearby. I like the colour (blue is my favourite colour), lines, shapes and textures of this location. I’m sure I’ll go back for other shoots.

Light painting of dancer, sitting down, with a blue steel bridge in Leith, Edinburgh

I try, as much as possible, to shoot both vertical and horizontal photographs. I asked Lucy to give me an interesting pose I could frame horizontally.

I had asked Lucy to wear colourful clothes, and I was delighted to see her outfit. And in hindsight, her hair colour provides a nice contrast with the blue background.

Light painting of dancer, sitting down, with a blue steel bridge in Leith, Edinburgh

I was worried that in the previous photo, Lucy’s left hand would be a bit too prominent in the frame and that the camera hadn’t properly focussed on her face. So we did another light painting with this set up and a slightly different pose.

Dancers are very comfortable with their body, so I let Lucy try a number of poses. Apart from the first photo above, it was clear to me I would not have gotten the same type of photographs with a model rather than a dancer.

Light painting of dancer, standing and bending backwards, with a blue steel bridge in Leith, Edinburgh

I like to start the light painting session with poses I know the dancer can hold for some time without moving. Once I have a couple of shots ‘in the bag’, I like to try more demanding poses. Lucy did an incredible job standing still during the whole shoot.

Finally, on our way to the bridge we noticed the bronze statue and I knew there was a photograph there. As we walked back we made a quick stop for one last picture.

Light painting a dancer in Leith, Edinburgh next to a statue.

In this photograph, I used the ambient light for the background and only light painted Lucy, the statue and the bench.

Light Painting a Dancer on Calton Hill: Amy

Calton Hill is one of most popular locations in Edinburgh, because it offers a spectacular view of Princes street and the castle. It is where Amy wanted to get photographed and I was delighted to try out Calton Hill for light painting.

Light painting of dancer on Calton Hill with the city of Edinburgh as backdrop

Calton Hill offers a great view of the city of Edinburgh that I used as a backdrop.

One of the things I hadn’t anticipated is that some areas are closed to the public at night. In hindsight it makes perfect sense, for safety reasons. The problem was that I had a number of shots in mind that were now off limits.

Light painting of dancer on Calton Hill with the city of Edinburgh as backdrop

The big rocks provided a great combination of shapes and textures (elements of design), and I immediately knew I could use these as an interesting foreground.

While on some level it was annoying, I like to be thrown a challenge or two when shooting my personal projects. It is good to practice improvising because that is something that can happen on a job. And the more experience I have overcoming the hurdles the real world throws at me, the better prepared I am when it really counts.

Light painting of dancer on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

Another location with lines, shapes and texture to use as a background. We tried some different poses, but this is my favourite.

The picture below is one I had I mind before the shoot and was the last set up for the night.

Light painting of dancer on Calton Hill, Edinburgh with the Balmoral Hotel as background.

The Balmoral Hotel is one of the landmark buildings on Princes Street, Edinburgh. Using a telephoto lens, I was able to compress the perspective and effectively use the building as a background.

Light Painting a Musician: Finlay Hetherington

I got to know Finlay though a mutual acquaintance and I was delighted he was interested in taking part in my light painting project.

Light painting of musician and education Finlay Hetherington in front of a graffiti wall with his trumpet

A very simple background can be made interesting by light painting. We both immediately noticed and liked the word ‘love’ on that part of the wall.

Urban settings can work very well for light painting, and I’m always on the lookout for new locations. Typically, I want as many elements of design as possible, i.e lines, shapes, textures and colours in my backgrounds.

Light painting of musician and education Finlay Hetherington in front of a graffiti wall with his trumpet

I like to try a number of variations for each backdrop.

A dancer introduced me to the the graffiti wall and the old building seen in the first three pictures. We never collaborated on a light painting project, but I always kept these locations in mind.

Light painting of musician and educator Finlay Hetherington with his trumpet in an urban location

This location was challenging to light paint because of the street lights nearby that forced me to use a faster shutter speed than I would have liked.

It was pretty chilly on the night of these light paintings, and Finlay’s trumpet was freezing cold and thus really hard to hold while standing still. But after some time warming up in the car, Finlay still had some energy for a final setup. So we headed out looking for a location near the sea. The lighthouse in Newhaven would have provided a great backdrop, but unfortunately, it was too late by then and the sky was just too dark. But I knew of a location nearby with lines, shapes and colours (mostly red) that could work just fine. The photograph below is the last light painting we did on the day, after which Finlay and I were just too cold to carry on.

Light painting of musician and educator Finlay Hetherington with his trumpet sitting on a flight of stairs in an urban location

Lines and shapes abound in this location. I only needed to paint my subject and the stairs because I used the ambient light for the background.

iPhone Photography: Portobello Beach

There is a saying, attributed to Louis XVIII, that punctuality is the politeness of kings. I take being on time very seriously and because  I’m usually afraid to be late for an appointment, I’m often early.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

I decided to include a little bit of the beach and Firth of Forth in my composition, reserving the largest part of the frame for the sky, because it was the most interesting element.

I used to rue the time I wasted waiting for the meeting or appointment because I was ahead of schedule. Not anymore. Now that I’ve learned to use the camera that is always with me, in my iPhone, I spend the time waiting for my appointment honing my iPhone photography skills.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Same composition and texture as in the first photograph, but with a different set of birds from the DistressedFX app.

On that day, I had a meeting in Portobello, and not surprisingly I was early. The light was good so I decided to stroll down to the beach to take some iPhone photographs.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

This time, I left the originals colours more or less untouched and tried a different DistressedFX texture for a more somber mood.

I do like to add textures to my photographs, and one of my favourite apps is DistressedFX. With this app, not only can you easily overlay a wide variety of textures on your photographs, but you can also add a flock of birds.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Now for a different composition, excluding the sand beach from the picture.

I really recommend the DistressedFX app, but  I do  offer you this word of caution: it is very addictive!

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Yet a different flock of birds for this last picture.

Maria at the Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh

In people photographs, you should never underestimate the importance of the background, even for close-up pictures.

Smiling model with Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh as background

Maria probably is the most photogenic person I’ve ever had in from of my camera.

The Innocent Railway Tunnel in Edinburgh is one of my favourite locations for photo shoots. This locations has lines, shapes, textures and with the proper white balance setting on the camera, colour. In other words, shooting at the Innocent Railway Tunnel allows you to incorporate a lot of the elements of design in your photographs.

Introspective model with Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh as background

Since we’ve done a number of photo shoots together, I trust Maria do give me many different expressions for each set up.

I had promised Maria that we would shoot there someday, and after a longish wait, it finally happened. Since it was rather late in the evening and the place was therefore relatively quiet, I could really work my subject and try as many poses and framings as possible.

Model with Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh as background

Finally, a more serious expression showcasing Maria’s blue eyes.

So I tried vertical as well as horizontal frames, and symmetric (see below) versus asymmetric (see above) compositions.

Model with Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh as background Close-up shot using a 400mm telephoto lens.

I had to use the symmetry of the location to frame my model Maria for a whole series of picture. This photograph was taken with a long telephoto (400mm focal length).

My 80-400mm zoom lens allowed me to quickly shoot quite a few variations on the composition above. Starting with a close-up and then zooming out for a couple of different looks. Note that I also had to ‘zoom with my feet’ but there was no need to interrupt the flow of the shoot by having to change lenses.

Smiling model framed by the arches at the Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh

Zooming out allowed me to show more of the interesting background.

I also had to take a full length photograph to complete the series.

Full length photo of model at the Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh

Close-up, medium shot and full length to complete the series of vertical compositions.

While a vertical composition feels more natural with the model and background as in the pictures above, it is always good practice to find a horizontal composition of the same subject.

Horizontal composition of model symmetrically framed by the Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh

Similar pose as above but framing the subject horizontally gives one an extra option.

Horizontal composition of model smiling and symmetrically framed by the Innocent Railway Tunnel, Edinburgh

We did poses with and without the jacket on, so it was time to try a variation without the hat on.

Note that for all of these variations, the model and camera only had to move a few meters. A great location like the Innocent Railway Tunnel can give you many options.