I have wanted to photograph Heather for a long time, but for some reason whenever we are around her there is always something else that takes priority, like family pictures or couple pictures or similar! On Easter Sunday we were walking back from Leith’s favourite cakery, we were in no rush and the sun was out and lovely. Heather agreed to let me take a few pictures and I was a happy photographer indeed!


I was naturally keen to put the sun behind Heather and it has worked its rim-lighting magic. Even the basic pop-up flash built into your camera is good enough at close range to light your subject’s face. It is an amazingly easy trick but so counter intuitive for inexperienced photographers. Too often people believe that you should let the sun light up your subject’s face resulting in the classic squint and runny eyes if you persist. I used to do it too!


Heather is a very warm and intensely funny person. I like that these pictures capture at least a little of this!

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Yesterday I had a day off work. I travel around the Clydebank area as part of my work and recently had spotted this water tower in the distance, but didn’t know anything about it. My free time yesterday was therefore employed in trying to find the tower from my best guesses about its location. When I did find it,  the private approach road revealed this amazing and frankly disturbing view of the tower  and its associated, now derelict works.


The private road signage clearly said that no vehicles were permitted, so I walked the road around the building, and found this view on its other side. What a disturbing aspect this amazing building presents from every aspect. The grassy pathway provides a strong leading line to the dark, block building. (It reminds me of something darkly industrial from wartime Germany).


This shows the same side of the building from a different angle. You can see the edge of the little secluded row of houses who have this eerie backdrop to their lives. I chatted to an elderly man who was in his garden wondering why I was wandering around with my camera. He explained that the tower was not to pressurise the domestic supply but instead to provide water pressure for the treatment works. Sadly when I observed that this was an amazing thing to have on your doorstep, he said that the local youths used it as a drinking-hideaway and that that was distressing for the residents. In fact the ladders to the tower had been cut off to stop kids climbing up and further vandalising it.


Here are a few of the tower itself. I have included more than I might usually simply because the architecture is so interesting.




This last one is from the side of the building showing the view that the residents have from their back doors. All a bit depressing, however, there is something fascinating about this kind of architectural heritage and it seems sad that we couldn’t make something of it as a local heritage centre.
IMG_6309Photographically, what was interesting was the sheer simplicity of my ageing 500D with my 24mm f2.8 pancake lens. It is making me think a lot about Canon’s strategy for smaller DSLRs and just how good it would be if they would make a small rangefinder to use with the small pancake lenses. The sharpness of the pancake lens seems great.


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  • Patrick Hopkins

    Matthew, just saw your website while on some downtime. About 6/7 years ago i discovered this water tower and it’s had me captivated ever since. It’s nice to hear of someone with your eye appreciating what I thought was an amazing example of architecture gloriously untouched. I’m sure whether if it was in the middle of Clydebank or its fringes it’s decline would be accelerated, and I still belive it is.
    The story goes- from the same old man you were talking to I presume- is that in 1993/4 approx it was bought by some Iranian fellow with the intention of ‘low impact residential housing’- an old folks home- situated across from the Watertower and waterworks. All for the hansome sum of £43,000- a steal in my opinion. Occasionally he visits the area and as recent as last year he confirmed to the old man that the green light had been given for his plans to go ahead. His intention of demolishing the water tower has been shown to be more costly than renovating it. I nearly choked on my falafel when I heard about what he planned to do with it. Anyway, keep up the good work, shifts about to end! Regards

  • george smith

    Sad to say the tower is no more, I watched it being demolished today 19th October from my bedroom window

  • Pedro

    My daughter came in round about that time to say it was gone, only to say she was kidding, but there were a lot of machinery in the area, so it didn’t bode well in my opinion. Needless to say, a week later or so my worst fears were confirmed. Razed to the ground, and no one batted an eye. Not even the local newspaper, a spurious, know- nothing rag, usually known for knee jerk reactions (if recent developments in the town are anything to go by) failed to be interested in its demise. A truly tragic development in the name of ‘progress’. I though Glasgow City Council had no soul when it came to preserving identity, but West Dunbartonshire Council really have excelled themselves in ripping out an architectural icon, far more worthy of survival than the individuals who helped bring it to its knees. So long Water Tower, you were there the stuff of dreams!

HB and I were killing time in the Buchanan Galleries, and one of her pleasures is a babyccino while I have a cappuccino. We had a pleasant chat, she had a little game on my ipad, and then she got the much awaited babyccino. It came made beautifully by a lovely barista with lots of smooth foam and about 15, (HB and I counted), mini marshmallows. This picture was taken while she was demonstrating her unhappiness that her mum had gone solo shopping. (Don’t be too upset for her, it lasted until marshmallows and fruity bites arrived). I love this image because of the stillness and focus on her while the legs and people in motion behind the waist-height barrier create a feeling of a snatched moment. I also love the leading-lines of the table edges taking your eye approximately at least to HB. Finally I love the very transparent seat and background making HB seem improbably substantial against the almost invisible structures.


Here comes part 2 of the little story. HB loved the babyccino so much that she asked if she could have another. I handed her the money and asked if she would like to go on her own and ask the man if he would give her another babyccino please? Her little face lit up hugely, and off she went as proud as punch to be going like a big girl on her own to buy a drink. I watched her the whole way and there were two pleasures, one, her little happy “I am growing up walk”, two, the incredibly generous and sensitive treatment she received from the prince-among-men that was the barista; he was fantastic with her and she was so thrilled. Thank you to that man.

As a lesser issue, I love the colours and the slightly old-fashioned pastel tones. The lighting too is lovely; the reflection on the table is actually a soft leading line to the subject, looking back for reassurance as three year olds will.


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HB and I went to the bookshop this afternoon and we bought some lovely bedtime stories. As we walked back to fetch our car, I asked her if she would let me take a quick photo of Sauchiehall Street in the darkness. She kindly assented, but then surprised me by saying “Dad, take my picture”.  Two things strike me about this resulting snap.

1. How big must grown-ups seem to only-just-three-year-olds?

2. How like a little space-suit and space wellies this clobber seems! (More signs of her astronaut potential). Actually, Yoda thing also there going on is!


The actual street image. (How odd is the spotlit overhead cable)?


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I was lucky to get this one sharp at all. It was dark and very rainy as well as getting into twilight. (The clock confirms this of course!). I selected ISO 1600 and only got 1/20th of a second using f10. I adjusted ISO up for my next few shots but luckily this one worked anyway, perhaps as I was leaning against a shop window and hopefully using decent technique in not jarring the shutter as I clicked.

The rule of thumb is don’t use a shutter speed less than 1 divided by the focal length lens you are using. (This is complicated by the fact that many of us use crop sensor cameras such that my 24mm lens here is actually acting as roughly a 40mm lens) I therefore really needed a speed of roughly 1/40th of a second, so I only had half the speed I needed.

I have wondered this before, but if a moan is a good one, it is always worth repeating! My camera body knows the focal length of the lens that is on it, it indeed encapsulates this info in the EXIF data it bakes into the image, it knows I have a half-depressed shutter to lock focus, couldn’t it throw up a camera shake warning in the viewfinder? You’re welcome Mr Canon!

What is interesting about photographing townscapes at this time is a feature called “crossover light”. The lights on the building itself are roughly the same brightness as the sky, this feature of a townscape usually lasts for about half an hour and most photographers adore it; I know I do.

The actual way to take these pictures would have been with a tripod, and a remote shutter to ensure a really solid, no-shake platform, but Princes street at that time on a Saturday would have constituted reckless behaviour. It would have been a trip hazard on such a busy street, with wet miserable pedestrians who might not be paying attention. Anyway, this is academic, I was going to a social event, not carrying a tripod. It is only because my Canon pancake lenses are so itty-bitty that I had a DSLR with me at all.

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