Tag Archives: Travel

Scottish Scenes

Some of these images are exercises in poor-weather photography. Overcast sky. Threat of rain. Absence of shadows. The last image stands as proof that the sun can indeed shine in Scotland, though not reliably. All these images, regardless of weather & lighting conditions, have at least one thing in common. They all break a basic “rule” of photography: don’t run the horizon line through the centre of your image; place it on one of the lines dividing the image into thirds. It’s a tiresome rule and I recommend breaking it. The reason for the rule is valid enough: a horizon line through the middle of a photograph can make it look static and bland. But there are plenty of other ways to introduce a dynamic feeling into a photograph without manipulating the horizon line.

Loch Lomond, Scotland

Tree on Milarrochy Bay, Loch Lomond

Detail of valve on steamship, Sir Walter Scott

Detail of valve on steamship, Sir Walter Scott, on Loch Katrine

Shot near Kirkintilloch, Scotland

View from towpath, Forth & Clyde Canal, near Kirkintilloch

Beach south of Dunure, Scotland

Rock In Water, beach south of Dunure, Scotland

Near Maidens, Scotland

Culzean Castle

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Glasgow Street Photography

Over the past year, I’ve had the good fortune to find myself in some of the world’s best locales for street photography: Manhattan, Hong Kong, & Singapore. Although Glasgow is much smaller by comparison, it shares the vibe that makes these larger cities such great places to shoot. From a technical perspective, Glasgow works well because the weather sucks; on any given day it’s even odds the weather will be overcast which means you don’t have to contend with deep shadows; and rain turns pavement into a reflective surface that produces a feeling of intimacy. The city also has great high-traffic public spaces. Only an hour away, in tourist-infested Edinburgh, the people are genteel; they tuck away their idiosyncrasies. By contrast, Glaswegians are blunt; they won’t leave you in doubt about who they are or what they’re thinking. Chutzpah is a phrase that comes to mind. Bluntness cuts both ways for street photographers. On the one hand, if they don’t want you taking their photo, they’ll tell you. On the other hand, pointing a camera is a blunt communication in its own right, and more often than not Glaswegians will respect that.

Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Scotland

Woman With Canes, Sauchiehall Street

Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Scotland

Think Before You Step Out, Sauchiehall Street

Glasgow, Scotland

Bus On Ingram Street

Argyll Arcade, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland

Setting Out Jewelry, Argyll Arcade, Buchanan Street

Argyll Arcade, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland

Idle Beadle, Argyll Arcade, Buchanan Street

Mitchell & Gordon Streets, Glasgow, Scotland

Pedestrians at Mitchell & Gordon Streets

Walking In Rain along St. Vincent Place, Glasgow, Scotland

Texting & smoking in the rain on St. Vincent Place

Glasgow, Scotland

Woman Smoking In Rain, Looking Down Exchange Place to Buchanan St.

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Last week, we stayed overnight at a beach south of Dunure on the west coast of Scotland. At low tide, we were able to walk along the sand to Culzean Castle. If we’d been more ambitious, we could have continued along to the village of Maidens where Donald Trump has lent his name to a luxury resort. If we’d been really ambitious, we would have duffed golf balls through the windows, but why waste perfectly good balls?

Algae & Seaweed

What caught my attention most were the jellyfish washed onto the beach. It gave me the perfect opportunity to play with new gear. I was putting a Sony Alpha A7 II through its paces and brought along a Metabones adapter so I could use my Canon lenses with it. Yeah, whatever. I used a 100mm f/2.8 macro for the jellyfish. The great advantage of the Sony body is that the rear LCD monitor tilts so that you can place the camera on the ground or, in this case, on the wet sand, and shoot low without getting a soaker every time you try to frame a shot.


I took my first shots in the late afternoon. I shot into the light. The translucent jellyfish bodies acted as a natural light filter, adding a tinge of purple to the images. Reflections from the background water produced a nice bokeh effect. As an aside: in some places there were so many jellyfish, we had to watch where we were going. Stepping on a jellyfish is a bit like stepping on a cow platt.


The effects of backlight & bokeh were more pronounced when I went out at 9:30 pm as the sun was setting. That introduced oranges to the purples.


Shooting jellyfish seems a far cry from my street photography but, maybe, from a jellyfish point of view, these are candid portraits capturing life in the raw. I walk along the beach like some gigantic—I don’t know—two-legged oppressor?—and all the jellyfish scream in terror as they catch sight of me. I capture the panic in their, um, eyes, or whatever. Oh the humanity! Oh the snot-like goo!


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Long Shadows

The light is different in Thunder Bay. That’s someone from Toronto—a southerner—talking. I’m used to the moderate light of Toronto’s gentler seasonal variations. In Thunder Bay, during the summer, the evening light lingers and casts long shadows down to the lake.

But let’s put things in perspective here. While we from down south tend to think of Thunder Bay as somewhere way up in the north, viewed on a globe, it’s apparent that Thunder Bay sits at a latitude between Paris and London. Meanwhile Toronto, way down in the south, is in line with Cannes on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. All of which is to say that although places like Toronto and Thunder Bay are in Canada, that fact alone doesn’t place them particularly north of anywhere.

Even so, the light is different in Thunder Bay. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with latitude. But I feel it. Me and my camera know that it’s true. We step outside after dinner and the light blazes down from the northwest. It tears straight down Red River Road and throws shadows over everything.





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Katherine Cove

When I drive up the eastern shore of Lake Superior, I usually pull into Old Woman Bay. With its wide vista stretching out into Superior, it’s a perennial favourite with the tourists. However, photographically speaking, she’s a bitch. Maybe not a bitch. She’d be interesting as a bitch. Mostly, she’s boring. It’s all very beautiful, scenic, expansive, colourful, etc. But so what? Far more interesting, to my mind, is Katherine Cove which lies a little to the south on the same shoreline.

I first stopped at Katherine Cove in May of last year. There were chunks of ice still washing ashore, as I documented in an earlier post. This year, I visited at the same time, but the winter had been too warm. There was no ice. In fact, the water was much lower, and more of the granite outcropping was exposed.


As an urban soul, I don’t do a lot of landscapey stuff, not unless it supports my general aim of exploring the divide between the natural world and our cultural accumulations (e.g. Tim Hortons cups discarded in the forest). I think these shots qualify if I anthropomorphize the scenes. The granite (ancient lava flows later worked over by glaciers and waves) has a sensuous quality. Where it’s worn smooth, it suggests a form that’s vaguely human. Where threads of hardened magma remain, they look sinuous, like exposed muscle.



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Traffic in Hong Kong

When people ask me if I would ever consider living off the grid, I sometimes think they’re talking about traffic patterns. I’m used to living in a city where streets are laid out in straightforward north-south, east-west lines. It’s hard to get lost and traffic is predictable. But grid planning is contingent upon physical geography. In a city where the coastline winds around bays and inlets and where mountains slope almost to the water, grids are impossible. Add to that the whole right-hand drive thing and, for a North American visiting Hong Kong, traffic is bewildering.

View of Island Eastern Corridor

View of Island Eastern Corridor

Percival Street at Night

Percival Street at Night


Tram on King’s Road

Zig Zag Steps to King's Road, the end of Oil Street

Zig zag steps down to King’s Road at the top of Oil Street

Boat In Causeway Bay

Boat in Causeway Bay

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Hong Kong Street Photography pt. II

The title for this post implies that I shot these photos in Hong Kong. In fact, I shot them in Kowloon. I’m not sure if that matters. If I lived in Hong Kong, I suppose it would. Last week, I spoke to friends who grew up in Hong Kong. He grew up on the island; she grew up in Kowloon. They way they told it, you’d think he was going out with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. I don’t know if it’s true today, but a generation ago, people from the island looked down on people from Kowloon. They were working class, rough around the edges. Anybody who lived there could tell you were from Kowloon by the way you carried yourself and by the way you spoke.

Wizard, Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Wizard on Nathan Road

Jordan and Shanghai Roads, Kowloon

Taxi driving through the Jordan/Shanghai intersection

Alley off Jordan Road, Kowloon

Alley off Jordan Road, Kowloon

Man on Bicycle, Dundas and Shanghai Streets, Kowloon

Man on Bicycle, Dundas and Shanghai Streets

Flower Market, Kowloon

Flower Market

Vendor at Flower Market, Kowloon

Vendor at Flower Market

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Hong Kong Street Photography pt. I

Note the Buddhist left-facing swastika

Face Masks: note the Buddhist left-facing swastika

Sleeping Child With Face Mask

Sleeping Child With Face Mask


Woman with meat cleaver

Bowrington Road, Hong Kong

Man & Fish Head, Bowrington Road

Man on Jordan Road, Kowloon

Man (in pajamas?) on Jordan Road, Kowloon


Showing off in Stanley Market

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Singapore Street Photography pt. II

South Bridge Road by Mohamed Ali Lane, Singapore

Tending flower pot, South Bridge Road by Mohamed Ali Lane

Chinatown, Singapore

Man on Scooter, Chinatown

Wisma Atria, Orchard Road, Singapore

Repairing steps, Wisma Atria, Orchard Road

Little India, Singapore

Riding bicycle in Little India

Woman With Umbrella

Woman with umbrella, School of the Arts, Bras Basah Road

Woman In Red Dress

Woman in red dress walking up Orchard Road

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Singapore Street Photography pt. I

Man and Woman on Scooter, Orchard Road, Singapore

Man and Woman on Scooter, Orchard Road

Girl waits from rain to stop, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Girl waits for rain to stop, Gardens by the Bay

Mother Holding Daughter

Mother Holding Daughter

Joyful Man, Marina Bay, Singapore

Joyful Man, Marina Bay

Boy shoots father with toy gun on the Promenade, Singapore

Boy shoots father with toy gun on the Promenade

Power Washing Steps, Parkview Square, North Bridge Road, Singapore

Power Washing Steps, Parkview Square, North Bridge Road

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