Sept 2017
September 2017 - Ballistics, bees, badgers and bridges.

The weather was mixed during August and really quite wet at the start of the month; without fail, the Edinburgh Festival always receives its fair share of rain! For three weeks the city swells vastly with festival visitors and the streets become clogged with fringe performers selling their shows to anyone and everyone. While some residents find it all too busy, I think Edinburgh comes alive during festival time. Clearer weather came in during the back end of the month and it was thankfully dry for one of the festival highlights - the Virgin fireworks display. Every year I remain amazed by this incredible spectacle - 45 minutes of continuous fireworks launched from Edinburgh Castle and set to a live musical score performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra - and this year did not disappoint. I have previously thought of trying to photograph the event but concluded that I would focus too much time on the camera and effectively miss the firework spectacle so the camera once again stayed at home.

I made a couple of short visits to the Cairngorms last month and with sunrise approaching a more reasonable hour was able to set the alarm for some pre-breakfast photography. The soft sunlight broke over Insh marshes with a glorious yellow hue for a pleasing atmospheric image that went onto Facebook. I also enjoyed two sessions in a pine wood for some macro photography and managed several plant shots. Pine forest habitat provides a rich source of material for all manor of creative close-up images of plants, berries, leaves, bark and lichen - or any combination of the same. The drawback is that they are invariably damp and sheltered environments where midges can bite relentlessly!

At this time the heather was also out and looking superb. The carpet of deep purple over open moorland cried out to be photographed and I managed to snatch a ‘shortbread tin’ style image. It appears to have been a good year for heather and our bees in Edinburgh have certainly thrived from the bloom on the Pentland Hills. Heather honey has such a wonderfully rich colour and taste; the bee boxes have been harvested from the hives and honey now awaits extraction and bottling.

I had a couple of sessions with the local badgers in the month and it was good to see them doing well. I saw one cub so the family unit seems to be expanding. The resident fox still remains elusive and wary so has been hard to photograph; I suspect some camera-trapping during winter will be the key to securing images of him. With the nights cutting in that bit earlier now, it was less of a wait for the badgers to emerge and I was able to return home with pictures already taken at a more reasonable hour.

I continued my weekly visits to the East Lothian coast to capture the late summer sunsets. Nature provides such amazing displays of colour and form and I found the remarkable images of the eclipse in America simply breathtaking. Along the East Lothian shoreline, vehicles still turn up in the car parks during the evening to witness the colours and spectacle of the setting sun. It is reassuring to see humans still have a connection with and awe of the natural world.

A trip to the Scottish Borders allowed me to detour past the Leaderfoot viaduct - a sandstone railway bridge standing 38 metres over the River Tweed dating back to 1863 (see image). I was hoping for some sun to make the sandstone glow but sadly the cloud-base never let up. Meanwhile another trip took me over another bridge on its first day of opening - the new Queensferry Crossing over the Firth of Forth. With the old road bridge ailing beneath the weight of traffic and a capital project required to boost the Scottish economy, the new bridge was constructed. It has been interesting watching it progress but I will not miss the traffic disruption that the construction phase has caused. Alongside the rail and road bridge, it now provides three crossings dating from three different centuries. I guess a photograph beckons...