Pictures by Walter

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A Winter’s Month – January 2010

Nikon D300s

A New Year, with two new photographic toys Santa had very kind left at Christmas. A New Nikon D300s with a Sigma 150-500 Zoom.  It had become apparent that I needed a larger zoom than the 28/300 for some of my animal shots at zoos.  Unfortunately (if I recall correctly) there were not many third party lens for Pentax fittings.  I was contemplating buying a Sigma 150-500 for Canon but a hint was dropped to forget that.  Christmas revealed why.

January 2010 (at least in West Lothian) started off with a lot, and I mean a lot of snow, along with a big freeze.  Yet the sun did shine – it shone but not a lot of warmth.  To test my new outfit I took my normal walk to my place of work getting to know the camera and lens.  This took me from Craigshill to Almondvale and the (then) new Civic Centre where |I was employed in Legal Services, West Lothian Council. Susan, Sid and I headed off to Linlithgow – which shuts down over the festive season, and had a walk around Linlithgow Loch to feed the birds.  It is a nice walk round the loch (see WalkHighlands) and popular, even on the 1st of January.  Being a loch there are lots of waders as well as gulls.  Most popular are the Mute Swans and Ducks (Mallard, Tufted Ducks etc.)  Regretfully we had to wait until we got home to have a warm soup – as I said Linlithgow closes down at Festive Season.

Where else would one test out the combination of large Zoom lens  and new camera – Edinburgh Zoo sprung to mind.  In a previous blog I mentioned that we were once members of the Society but no longer.  However the Zoo was the ideal place to test the outfit and I captured (to my mind) some great shots of Tigers, Lions etc.  I forgot to mention that Sid had purchased a Nikon D300s and Sigma 150-500 from Jessops in Edinburgh.  I thought he would have twigged and brought it with him to the zoo.  Silly man forgot them, mind you that was the last time he did so. Nowadays he carries the D90 and D300s with a small zoom and the 150-500.

I did not realise it at the time, but the year that started off so well would soon become the year from hell as far as my personal life went.  My mother lost her battle with cancer and soon after my partner was fighting for her life against pneumonia.   In all 2010 was a year of change and led to a bigger change in 2011.

Video/Slide show “A Winter’s Month”


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Wandering with a Pentax K200D – 2009

In 2008 I had two cameras – A Pentax K200d to act as a Second body to my K10D it eventually became my main camera of choice.  It was rated as a beginners camera but had weatherproofing.  However, by 2009 I owned 6 DSLRs.  I had bought a Canon EOS 50D, EOS 500D, Nikon D90, Nikon D300s.  I was spreading my wings testing the myth about which is the best camera.  Whilst I still retain the Pentax K10D, Canon 50D and 500D I no longer have the Pentax K200 or Nikon cameras.  I had fun that year taking 13,900 images, learning to cope with RAW files and Lightroom – having given up Photoshop as far too complex for my simple needs. The breakdown per camera is:

Pentax K10D – 4021 images, Pentax K200D – 2800, Canon 50D – 1974, Canon 500D – 1915, Nikon D90 – 1508 and the Nikon D300s – 571, a total of  12965 pictures the remaining 931 taken with unknown cameras. As you can see I preferred using the Pentax K10D closely followed by the  K200D.  The Canons came second and the Nikon last.   I still have not solved the which is best dilema as I use Pentax, Canon and Nikon for different tasks.

Anyway I digress 2009 I took the K200D on my travels around the UK as it was lighter then the K10 and a lot lighter than the Canon/Nikon. My Partner (Susan) and our fellow Intrepid Sid had fun traveling around Scotland, Down to York and looking through the images brought back the adventures.  My highlights were – Photographing inside St Giles Cathedral (actually the High Kirk of Edinburgh), Catching the moment the 1 o’Clock gun was fired, our trip to Inchcolm Island in the River Forth and my night shot of the Forth Bridge (rail bridge) at night from North Queensferry Harbour, at the time the bridge was undergoing a lengthy restoration and paint job – started in 2002 and finished in 2011.

I’ll leave you to enjoy (or not as the case may be) a short video of my wanderings with the Pentax K200D


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The Jacobite – A Memory from 2005

from Amazon for reference purpose)

During recent data housekeeping I came across a memory from July 2005.  Earlier that year I had bought my first ever Digital Single Reflex Camera (DSLR). It was a Pentax  *istDS, a 6 megapixel DSLR as a step up transition rom Pentax SLRs.  As a relatively new digital camera user I refrained from using RAW images.  on 31st July 2005 Susan (at the time a work college)  took a trip on one of the most scenic railway routes in Scotland.  Long before “Harry Potter” and flying Blue Ford Anglias the line from Fort William to Mallaig was famous as the “Fish Line”. Built to facilitate the transfer of the fish from the busy port of Mallaig to all points south.  In its

Ex-LNER K1 – 62005 “Lord of the Isles”

heyday in the 1960’s Mallaig could bost to be the busiest fishing port in Scotland.  However all that changed in the 1970s. Overfishing led to depleted stocks and a  four year ban on herring fishing was enforced.  The railway line was in constant threat of closure despite the importance of the new tourism industry.  In 1984 the then Scotrail introduced a steam hauled train from Fort William to Mallaig – which continues to this day as “The Jacobite” under private operator West Coast Railway. However, the whole route known as the West Highland Railway covers from Glasgow to Mallaig or Oban.  This was our first outing as a couple and we left Livingston by Car at 6 am a two hour drive to Fort William driving across Rannoch Moor, through Glencoe to Fort William.  If my memory is correct we had not booked a seat on this train, we learnt from that and have since always booked seats.  We were lucky as there was two seats available and we got on.  Mind you we spent most of the time on the outward journey standing the the space between the coaches, with me popping me head out with camera getting pictures of the scenery as we made our way to Mallaig.  My only disappoint was the fact that the engine, ex British Rail, 62005, K1 loco was travelling Tender First.  Still I would get shots on the return of the train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct loco first. Travelling behind a steam hauled train adds to the adventure  – the scenery is always superb in good weather and travel by normal train is a lot cheaper than by steam hauled, but a lot less romantic.  I took 193 photos on that trip and relied on the camera to produce the results.  As I said at the beginning I rediscovered the images and edited them using Lightroom CC using the skills I have gained in 13 years.  I selected 39 images to make into a small photo video omitting 1 image, that of my companion on that day – she is now my partner and this is dedicated to her Susan – it was a perfect day to start our adventures together.


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Japanese Garden – Cowden

Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie of Cowden (1861 –1949)

Extracted and summarised from cowdengarden.com Image linked from  cowdengarden.com.  

1963
Teenagers broke into the garden and burnt the teahouses, bridges and knocked the lanterns and shrines into the water during a night of mayhem. They were witnessed fleeing. This act of vandalism destroyed the work of  Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie of Cowden (1861 –1949).   

She had created Shãh-Rak-Uen, ‘the place of pleasure and delight’ in two months with the help of Taki Handa. Between 1908 – 1925 Professor Suzuki, 18th Hereditary Head of the Soami School of Imperial Garden Design, came regularly to prune the many imported shrubs and trees. In 1925 Shinzaburo Matsuo, who had lost his family in an earth quake, came to Scotland and worked in the garden until he died in 1937; he is buried in Muckhart churchyard. 

2008
The garden was handed over to Miss Christie’s great, great niece (Robert’s daughter), Sara Stewart.

2010
Taki Handa’s granddaughter visited the garden.

2011
Two new bridges commissioned by Robert Stewart.

2012
The pond was dredged in order to clear the weeds and find
the missing pieces from the lanterns. Inclusion in the Historic Environment Scotland Inventory of Designed Landscapes.

2013
Professor Masao Fukuhara, from Osaka University of Arts, Japan, was appointed to restore the garden.

2014
Start of restoration.
Formation of the charity The Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle, Charity No: SC045060.

2018 On the 6th July 2018 the Garden was reopened to the public.   On 10th August 2018 Susan and I visited the garden after reading about it on Facebook.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  Getting there was not so easy, in fact it was to put it mildly “Bl**dy frustrating”.  We finally found the turn and headed up a steep one track, very few passing places, to what looked like the semi demolished entrance to a contractors site.  Following the route we came to a newly set up parking area. A short walk took us to some porta cabins – Visitor Centre (shop and cafe), Toilets and at rear an outside seating area for cafe.

On paying (a reasonable) entrance fee you are stickered with a badge and may  now freely roam the restored areas of the once proud gardens.   As I said I felt very frustrated and in a mood after taking nearly 2 hours to find the gardens.  However, being met with politeness and having consumed an excellent home baked cake and filled up with coffee I was somewhat mollified.  We crossed the road from the porta cabins and took a left to enter the Gate to the Garden.

Once again, as I experienced in the Japanese Friendship Garden at (Lauriston Castle), a feeling of tranquillity slowly settled on me.  The garden was living up to “the place of pleasure and delight”.  Much needs to be done to fully restore this lost gem and the team are working hard to achieve the aim of fully restoring Shãh-Rak-Uen .

 


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Cats and Dogs – with a Difference

Everybody like Awe Photos of cats and dogs at play. I know I do and I have two cats Felix and Loki.  No folks this is not a blog about them :).  I took (what is now-a-days) an older generation DSLR fitted with a 18-200 zoom and  backup 150-500 zoom, the camera came out in May 2009 , fitted with a 15.1 Megapixel sensor, with me, when Susan and I had a day out at the park. The camera is, of course, a Canon 500D, one of my 4 canon cameras, the others being 50D, 60D and the 5DmkII all pretty long in the tooth compared to today’s digital marvels.  Yet they are just as good at taking an image as they ever were.

The cats and dogs I refer to may be seen at the Highland Wildlife Park, near Kincraig, Scotland Wikipedia describes it:

The Highland Wildlife Park is a 105-hectare safari park and zoo near Kingussie, Highland, Scotland. The park is located within the Cairngorms National Park. Wikipedia

We had four objects on this visit, see:

  1. Lynx and Kittens
  2. Tigers
  3. Wolves
  4. Snow Leopards

In fact we had bonus sights on this visit.

First of all was a bonus – every other time we have visited the safari park the Arctic Fox have been asleep, curled up nose to tail and in the land of nod.  This time one was very frisky and they other… You guessed it sleepy.

20170916-_MG_9954-Edit (1) Arctic Fox

A stroll up the hill brought us to the stunning Snow Leopard

20170916-_MG_9964-Edit (2) Snow Leopard

On our way to see the Northern Lynx and hopefully the kittens we spotted another elusive creature – the Wolverine

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(3) Wolverine

First time we saw them out – we were surprised to see not just one but two!

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(4) Northern Lynx Kitten

Another one of the list – We got lucky not only seeing the kittens but the Adults as well. (See Flickr Album).  A stroll back down hill took us to the Amur Tigers, which had just been fed
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(5) Amur Tiger

20170916-_MG_0014-2-Edit(6) Grey Wolves

Last but not least

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(7) Male Polar Bear

Click on Image below to see Flickr Album of Visit

20170916 - Highland Wildlife Park


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20170806 – Steam to Tweedmouth

Fife Circle to Tweedmouth and Back

Outbound

SRPS (Scottish Railway Preservation Society) Railtours Fife Coast and Border’s Railway steam special. Hauled by Sir William Stanier’s iconic Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier.

We set off at 08:50 from Linlithgow on time. Our train of 10 passenger coaches + 1 service coach was headed / hauled by Ex LMS Stainier Black Five 44507 “The Lancashire Fusilier” and tailed by a type 37 diesel.  The day promised to be interesting and hopefully the weather would be mild with no rain.

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(1) Our train arrives

(1) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm,  Shutter 1/100th sec ISO 100

On this trip we would cross the river Forth four times. Twice outbound and twice return.  We would travel round the Fife Circle picking up passengers  at  Dunfermline Town (Photo Stop), Kirkcaldy, Dalgety Bay

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(2) Crossing the River Forth for 1st of four crossings.[/caption]

(2) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f7.5, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 20 mm,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 100

There was a planned photo-stop at Dumfermline Station whilst we awaited our path on the circle. Most photographers stayed on the same platform. As we would be here for some time I opted for a different less crowed photography point i.e. The other platform.

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(3) Dunfermline Photo Stop

(3) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm,  Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 100 

From Dumfermline made our way around the Fife stopping for passenger at Kirkcaldy and Dalgety Bay before making our way to Edinburgh Waverley to pick up our final passengers.  Then it was full steam ahead to Tweedmouth and the Borders Railway

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(4) Gathering Speed towards Edinburgh[/caption]

(4) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 110 mm,  Shutter 1/160th sec ISO 100

We arrived at Tweedmouth on time and made our way to lunch at Abbotsford.

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(5) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm,  Shutter 1/100th sec ISO 100

 Return

We depart at 15:15 from Tweedmouth, this time we were hauled by the Type 37 Diesel as far as Newcraighall triangle where “The Lancashire Fusilier” one again hauled the train in Edinburgh Waverley.
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(6) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm,  Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 1000

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Unfortunately due to a signal check we lost our right of way and had to wait for a suitable space in traffic.

(7) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 1250

We reversed our Outbound route Stopping at Dalgety Bay, Kirkcaldy, Dumfermline and a 45 minute water stop at Winchburgh Junction.

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(8) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm,  Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 1000

Despite losing time on the return journey prior to Edinburgh we had made up time and arrived back at Linlithgow as scheduled. Throughout the journey the volunteer SRPS staff had provide a very professional service to the passengers.

20170806-There and Back Again

Gallery – click on image


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20170724 – Stroll Around The Loch

Livingston, formerly Livingston New Town, is situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh and easy to get from west and east.  Being sited next to the M8 and the A71 gives Livingston good road connections to North, South East and west.  Linlithgow (Historic Town) is the other side of the Bathgate Hills and is approx 30 minute drive from my home.

St Michael’s Parish Church

(1) St Katherine’s Aisle Window

Churches dedicated to St Michael have traditionally been placed on high ground and St Michael’s Parish Church, Linlithgow, is no exception. Built on the rise between the town of Linlithgow and Linlithgow Loch, anywhere else this large church would command instant attention over a wide area. But here it shares the stage with its larger neighbour, Linlithgow Palace, which lies immediately to its north.

(1)  St Katherine’s Aisle Window – Technical details: Canon 500D,  f4.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 28 mm,  Shutter 1/40th sec ISO 100

(2) The Choir Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

 

Stroll Around Linlithgow Loch

A circular walk 2.25 miles around Linlithgow Loch is a nice way to while away some time.  Dependant on how you treat the walk it can take 30 minutes for joggers to an hour for the stroller, even more if you stop to enjoy the wildlife and views etc.  Feeling somewhat housebound Susan and I decided to go feed the swans and ducks – taking seed not bread, and my camera.

(3) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f85, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 100

 

Swans, Ducks etc.

The loch is well known for the water fowl, ducks and swans.  Whilst used to humans around them they are still untamed wild birds, and if you get too close you get one warning, especially from a mute swan.

(4) Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

(4) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

As we walk around the loch the terrain changes to a wilder less maintained landscape.  This of course allows the wild flowers to bloom and prosper much to the delight of the bugs, butterflies, moths and of course THE flower of Scotland – The Thistle.

(5) Bee and Thistle

(5) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Sigma 150-500mm Zoom @ 500mm,  Shutter 1/840th sec ISO 200

Royal Ruins – Linlithgow Palace

As we walk around the loch the ruins of the once Royal Place of the Stuarts attract the eye.  Birthplace of the last Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart the ill fated Queen.  James V before he died is reported to have said “it came wi a lass, it’ll gang wi a lass” (meaning “It began with a girl and it will end with a girl”).

(6) Cross of St Michael’s and Linlithgow Palace Ruins

(6) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 100 mm,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 125

Gallery

Click on image for Gallery