Some nights out with a camera are just special. Christmas Day 2014 was one of those nights. The sequence of images below were all taken within a 30 minute period as a thin crescent moon dipped behind Edinburgh Castle lit up in Red for Christmas. The whole sequence is now available for order. If you fancy something a bit more special check out the limited edition version of one of the shots currently available.
Finally got around to adding a stack of new images to the website print collections. These are pretty recent work and some of the best I’ve done (I feel anyway!). As usual, all are available now in matt photographic print or canvas.
Click the image to see print and canvas options.
A very new shot from Calton Hill on St Andrews Day, hence the Castle lit up in Blue with the Christmas attractions, the Star Flyer and Big Wheel to the right of the Balmoral.
One of my favourite Forth Bridge images, taken from the beach at South Queensferry to the East of the bridge.
An amazing sunset from the lower slopes of Arthur’s Seat, amazed the people sat still so long.
Taken from a part of Arthur’s Seat us photographers call “Magic Corner” and you can see why…
A very blue Twilight at the Forth Bridges from Port Edgar
A large zoom image on a section of the Forth Bridge, Dalgety Bay in the background.
This unique view of the Castle was taken from the rooftop of Central Library.
Twilight Kelpies lit up in red.
A low mist over the West of the city from the summit of Arthur’s Seat.
Sun setting directly behind the Balmoral Clock.
Twilight on the Forth Bridge from Dalmeny Station.
More often than not, chasing a Moon rise or set is a frustrating experience in Scotland. Cloud nearly always get’s in the way but just now and again you get that little bit lucky. Just a little bit as you had to be in the right place to start with but every so often the weather gives you a little break. This was one of those times!
So, in part 1 of this blog post we dealt with the major city centre locations you don’t want to miss so let’s venture a little further out to some more must see locations, all within easy reach of the city centre.
Site of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and the place where you always hear about high winds being recorded in Edinburgh, the anemometer that records Edinburgh’s peak wind speeds is about half way up the hillside.
Blackford is a large sprawling area with loads to explore but for our purposes it’s the hillside we’re interested in. Assuming you are coming from the car park area next to the Observatory there’s a small paved path that leads up the hill. It’s not that hard going thankfully! About a third of the way along just past a grit bin there’s a path that leads off to the right, follow this up the slight incline and you’ll get the city view. Don’t stop there though, follow the path past the benches where it will curve to the left past another bench, about 30ft beyond this you get good open views to the Castle and Arthur’s Seat. It’s also pretty sheltered so in reasonable winds this is the place to be.
The other option is right at the top of the hill by the trig point. It’s a bit more walking and best done if the winds are light. Blackford is a very windy hill as it’s largely wide open to the East and West. So, continue up the path till you get near the communications mast, now you can either cut up one of the many little paths to take you to the top or continue on past the mast and follow the path uphill to the right which will take you to the west side of the hilltop.
From up here you have full panoramic views in every direction. The city lies to the north, east and west, to the south Braid Hill and the Pentlands. A stunning view no matter what time of day you choose to head up here.
Sitting to the North of the city centre on the Forth coastline, in the shadow if it’s bigger neighbour, Leith Docks, is Newhaven Harbour. Newhaven is the top sunset location in Edinburgh through the summer and by the number of photographers that flock to it every night the sun drops you can see why. Newhaven has a proper lighthouse to the north west edge of the harbour and it’s this that makes the location.
As a small harbour, Newhaven is also remarkably well sheltered especially from an East wind which means the reflections in the harbour are usually pretty good. In fact, Newhaven works well regardless of low or high tide. Time to visit is certainly sunset but that doesn’t mean a daytime visit won’t be productive as well!
Sticking to the Forth shoreline just a couple of miles upriver from Newhaven we find the historic village of Cramond, once the site of a Roman settlement in Scotland. Cramond has 2 main attractions in Summer, firstly the mouth of the River Almond which empties into the Forth here. The river mouth is home to dozens of small sailing boats in the summer which makes it particularly photogenic. Just half a mile upstream on the Almond there’s also a particularly nice man made waterfall well worth a look.
Cramond’s other attraction is the causeway which at low tide leads out to Cramond Island. The causeway is lined with old World War II small boat defences over it’s entire length making it a very interesting place to photograph. At low tide it’s easy enough to walk the causeway and hop over through the defences to the sand flats to get some new angles. Best time to be here is around 3 hours BEFORE high tide. At that time you can stand on the causeway and watch the tide start to flood it. Don’t go too far down, you risk getting cut off. It floods about three quarters the way along towards the island first and then works back to the elevated part of the causeway.
You can walk back with it and get some great shots as the water starts to fill in around you. Just make sure you get back to the elevated part before you get cut off or get wet feet. It’s easy to watch it but be safe and keep an eye on what’s happening around you. If you do want to go to the Island consult the board at the causeway entrance with the safe crossing times and give yourself plenty time to get there and back. It’s about a mile out so don’t underestimate it and become one of the statistics that have to get rescued by South Queensferry lifeboat every week. Most nights in the summer you can watch the waders who didn’t take note of the tide times in a panic trying to get back. Don’t be one of them!
The Forth Bridges
One of these MUST do locations. If you don’t do anything else, get down to the Forth Bridge. Locations are plentiful to get the best from this magnificent structure so here’s a few of the best.
If you come to South Queensferry by train you won’t fail to see the shot from Dalmeny Station, right down the tracks from the end of the platform. Best done at night it’s not one to miss.
Down in South Queensferry itself, the Hawes Pier offers many opportunities, be careful as it can get slippy especially right at the very bottom. Off to the east of the pier is a small road, follow this round for about 50 meters and you’ll see a small clearing with a good view to the Bridges, this is a top sunset location from April to October, well worth a look. You can get down on the beach here as well, again pretty slippy to be careful!
Using the Hawes Pier as a reference point, the car park area to the left is a good classic angle of the Forth Bridge and again, you can get down on the beach here quite easily. Following the road into the High Street will give you a good few locations with opportunities and once you reach the Orroco Pier, head down the little lane to Queensferry Harbour a small harbour with loads of photographic potential. If you’re driving, park in the Binks carpark for this location. Just to the west of the harbour there’s a tiny bit of beach, at high tide this is a nice location to catch the road bridge.
Still feeling fit? Come back up to the main street opposite the Police Station and head right. Keep going and after a few hundred meters you’ll find Port Edgar, the main harbour area. Walk in past the guard hut (they may be on duty at odd hours but usually happy to let you in if you explain why you are there) and turn down to your right. At the bottom of that road go right again past the toilets and then left and left again past the boats. You’ll see an area of grassland to your right, head over here and look up to the right, there’s a large gap in the fence, this is the area to get the Forth Bridge under the Road Bridge shot. A real Forth Bridges classic.
Well, it was worth the hanging about, didn’t rise quite where I thought it would, had it been a few degrees to the west it would have been incredible right into clear sky but for a moonrise I’ll take what can get. Taken from the top road of Arthur’s Seat just after 10pm tonight.
An early twilight and remnants of sunset over Leith, love that view. Just took a quick run out to see if there was a hope in hell’s chance of the “supermoon” rise which there wasn’t. There were a few breaks in the cloud to the south east, just not at the right place. If you have clearish sky where you are, ie not anywhere in Scotland right now, take a look at the moon will look massive just now.
On a sidenote, cut through the Cowgate on the way there, wish I had the GoPro on the front of the car as that was the most entertaining part of the night!
So you’re coming to Edinburgh during the summer are you? Good choice and no doubt you’ll be looking for a SD card full of killer pics to take back with you as well? Well, read on as I’ll tell you where the best of Edinburgh can be found though the summer, or what we Scot’s call a summer at least!
1. Calton Hill
Lets start with the obvious one shall we? Calton Hill, found at the end of Waterloo Place to the east of Princes Street. It’s a mecca for tourists and when you walk up here you can see why, the views are stunning. For the fitter among you walk up the steps from Regents Road and turn right up the steep steps and slope. Once you get your breath back you’ll be able to enjoy the views while you mop your brow.
The informed will ignore the steps and carry on up the much more gentle slope to the north side of the hill where they’ll be treated to panoramic views over the Edinburgh coastline before heading around to the Castle view side.
Calton at any time of year is good as the views are spectacular but if you happen to be here early enough then treat yourself to a walk up the Nelson Monument, for £4 you can get incredible 360 degree panoramic views of the entire city and free wobbly legs thrown in when you finally get to the top.
Try hanging around up near the observatory into the twilight and the views over Leith can be incredible. Wait for the city lighting up and see why this is probably one of the best city photographic locations in the world.
2. Princes Street Gardens
When the madness of city centre shopping has finally ground you down to a weeping wreck head to the gardens for a spot of tranquility in the centre of the city. The west gardens have great views to Edinburgh Castle and are incredibly photogenic no matter where you are. Look out too for the Ross Fountain, Ross Bandstand and the Gardner’s House when you’re over this side.
Crossing over the Mound you will find the East gardens where the Scott Monument is the imposing iconic sight. Feeling fit? You can pay to get up here as well, be warned though, it’s a lot of steps and the top part might not be suitable for the “fuller figured” person.
3. The Royal Mile and the Closes
During August, the madness of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes over the centre section of the Royal Mile, the High Street. It’s packed with tourists, street acts and performers. It’s great for a photographer as you’ll be spoilt for choice where to point the lens next.
Don’t forget to explore the closes as well, there are some incredible glimpses into old Edinburgh to be seen, especially up the top section of the Royal Mile, the Lawnmarket.
When you’ve had enough of the Fringe pop into St Giles for a moment of peace and quiet. The cathedral interior is incredible and for the sum of £2 you can take as many pics as you like, you can even use a tripod. Don’t forget to check out the Thistle Chapel to the rear of the Cathedral and check to see if the rooftop tours have opened where you’ll get right into the bell tower.
Finally the bottom section of the Royal Mile is the Canongate, a less busy section but again packed with history. Look out for White Horse Close near the Holyrood end especially.
4. Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags
If it’s an elevated viewpoint you want then you simply cannot beat Arthur’s Seat Salisbury Crags. Of course, you can use one of the many paths that criss cross the hillside and go all the way up to the top where the view is jaw dropping but if that’s not your thing there’s a couple of better options that require a little less legwork.
The first is a spot on the high road around Arthur’s Seat, if driving, simply enter at St Margaret’s Loch and keep driving round, past Dunsapie Loch and continue until you get to the viewpoint towards the city. You’ll know it when you get there, from there there’s a little path that leads uphill past a little bench. Head up here and you’ll get to a low peak and a great spot to get the sunset from most of the year and a great spot to photograph the castle. Keep walking and you’ll get great views over Duddingston Loch and East Lothian as well.
Your other option is the Radical Road on Salisbury Crags. Of course you can go up to the top of the Crags but it’s hard going and the path up isn’t that great. From the East side of the high road park up just before you come to exit the road. The Radical Road is the path that runs up in front of the Crags cliff face. It’s about 50ft lower than the very top but the view is more of less the same and the walk up from this side MUCH easier. You can walk up from the Holyrood car park but it’s a very loose and very steep surface.
This is an all year round sunset location, incredible in twilight and darkness and just as good during the day. There’s no time that walking up here will disappoint. Top spot for the Festival Fireworks as well.
Good evening from a rather wet Edinburgh tonight. The rain that threatened has finally arrived. Looking at the rain radars there’s a fair bit to come as well. Wellies on at T in the Park…
A throwback to yesterday’s weather, a shot of the Scott Monument looking all fantastic. The big wheel is just behind me here, making a comeback for the summer season in Edinburgh, same one that was here in Winter by the look of it.