Sometimes you just have to head up the road to catch the sun rising over the horizon at a favoured castle ruin.
I’ve had my eye on the Raspberry Shake seismometer for a couple of years now. Last week, I finally succumbed and bought both a new Raspberry Pi (just a 4B 2GB RAM – cheap yet more than adequate) and a Shake 1-D.
The 1-D is a simple seismometer, responding only in the up/down direction. Other products are available…
Mine arrived as a kit, that even I was able to stick together in under half an hour (thanks to a youtube video showing what most of the screws and things were for).
I installed and levelled it on the downstairs windowsill and plugged it directly into the main ADSL router – when you’re uploading a hundred samples per second, minimizing latency is essential.
Obviously, being based in mainland Scotland, I don’t expect to see that many significant earthquakes. We get a handful of ~magnitude 2.5 around the country every couple of years if we’re lucky. However, recently YouTube has sent me down a rabbit-hole of geological analyses of goings-on in Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula – the recent sequence of volcanic eruptions alternating with tiny earthquakes as the magma chamber refills.
The very first night, I spotted a magnitude 3.6 quake in Iceland.
Since then, the live data stream has sadly been unavailable for about 5 days, but when it works, the ability to select a quake event and then click on a station and see the station’s raw data really rocks.
There was another magnitude 3.7 earthquake along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge offshore a few miles south-west of Grindavik yesterday. The live-data view is currently working in the mobile app, leading to this analysis – showing the P and S waves propagating from the event.
As monitoring equipment goes, I’m impressed. It’s a wonderful device, very sensitive yet easy to set up and works well. I’ll continue to watch for all quakes nearby and larger ones further afield, if only to be able to say “I saw it” 🙂
I spent a happy 25mins yesterday evening biking around the outskirts of town at golden hour.
Full video – 25mins compressed down to 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fF4MYvQ-IDQ
A few years ago I discovered a pleasant gentle walk route around the Water of Ruchill outside Comrie. Almost entirely flat, it follows a loop from the village centre through scrub woodland (ideal shade on a sunny day!) along the side of the river past fields formerly occupied by a Roman fort, down to Cultybraggan PoW camp and back along the main B-road for a bit before taking a detour along a path from a standing stone over fields into the southern end of Dalginross and back along the streets to where it started.
In the town centre, the White Kirk stands out for its architecture with prominent tower and spire. Formerly the parish church, it is now home to a community centre.
Scrub woodland detail: a plethora of small gnarly trees amid a sea of wild garlic. Taken on a stroll around the Water of Ruchill walking route. Taken on a stroll around the Water of Ruchill walking route. One of a handful of standing stones in the West Cowden farm area, hinting at possibly being a stone circle, the cup-marked “Roman Stone” sits beside the B827 south of Comrie. One of a handful of standing stones in the West Cowden farm area, hinting at possibly being a stone circle, the cup-marked “Roman Stone” sits beside the B827 south of Comrie. A striking building with its tower and spire, formerly the parish church but now home to the community centre. A striking building with its tower and spire, formerly the parish church but now home to the community centre. A striking building with its tower and spire, formerly the parish church but now home to the community centre.
Finally, a drone overview of the whole town – to the north, Dalginross, Comrie, Melville’s Monument and Glen Lednock; to the south, the Highland Boundary Fault runs from Glen Artney in the west right along the field across the road from Cultybraggan through Cowden Loch, Mill of Fortune and Newburgh Wood.
I wouldn’t be the only person to favour Scotland’s west coast – its beautiful landscape, impressive geology.
After a day exploring outside and around Mallaig, I stopped at Arisaig to catch the sunset and was not disappointed.
First, a couple of obvious scenes at the end of the road, the low warm light skimming lines of rock
A favoured location – can’t beat a day on the west coast of Scotland, the beautiful landscape, impressive geology. After a day exploring, I stopped at Arisaig to catch the sunset and was not disappointed. This was an easy composition to find, the lines of psammite rock zig-zagging through the vertical frame, all illuminated by the bright warm/orange sunset light from the west.
I flew the drone a little way out over Loch nan Ceall for a more elevated perspective. The light was turning red, catching the rugged hills nearby
The view out west directly toward the setting sun was particularly impressive
A favoured location – can’t beat a day on the west coast of Scotland, the beautiful landscape, impressive geology. After a day exploring, I stopped at Arisaig to catch the sunset and was not disappointed. So I flew the drone out over some small islands just off the shore of Loch nan Ceall – the imaginatively named Sgeirean Buidhe (“yellow reefs”) and caught the sunset over Torr Mòr
The 360º panorama is one of my favourite art-forms: for best results, the optimum workflow is:
- choose a location directly above some non-uniform structured area – not just directly above the sea but over a reef, so the panorama can stitch properly
- think about the contrast-ratio from brightest to darkest areas of the scene; if the sun is visible, use a narrow aperture (f/10 or thereabouts) so the diffraction-spikes cling closer to the sun; choose an exposure such that the brightest part of the scene is just beginning to overexpose – typically you can recover 2/3EV highlights in post but the shadows get noisy fast and with a direct into-the-sun shot the shadow-side can easily require a 3EV shadow-lift
- shoot RAW DNGs and ignore the JPEG
- use RawTherapee to convert the JPEGs – apply lens distortion correction and a small amount of tonemapping, maybe even the dynamic-range-reduction module
- use Hugin to stitch the panorama: optimize for position, barrel distortion and view but not translation; use equirectangular projection and auto-straighten; ensure the FoV is 360×180º (it may be out by 1, ie 179º); use blended+fused output for noise-reduction, unless it introduces stitching edge artifacts
- finish, including toning and noise-reduction/sharpening, in darktable.
[sphere url=”http://soc.sty.nu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/PANO0001-PANO0026-v2_blended_fused-0-0017-scaled.jpg” title=”Arisaig sunset over Loch nan Ceall”]
Finally, just as I started the return drive, the sky provided yet more drama to see me on my way:
A favoured location – can’t beat a day on the west coast of Scotland, the beautiful landscape, impressive geology. After a day exploring, I stopped at Arisaig to catch the sunset and was not disappointed – the sky provided these beautiful parting shots of the sunset fading to twilight just as I was driving away. A favoured location – can’t beat a day on the west coast of Scotland, the beautiful landscape, impressive geology. After a day exploring, I stopped at Arisaig to catch the sunset and was not disappointed – the sky provided these beautiful parting shots of the sunset fading to twilight just as I was driving away.
A selection of the above photos are available on my gallery website as prints, cards, masks and other products: Arisaig on ShinyPhoto.
On a whim, I spent my August bank holiday out and about exploring a new location: on the far west coast, Mallaig is home to the ferry port connecting to Skye.
Just to the south of the town lies Loch an Nostaire – a lovely shallow loch of clear pure water and indeterminate name etymology: the current spelling is clearly anglicised, although there are no mentions of the more obvious Gaelic Nostaraidh, but rather variations include “Nosaraidh” and “Nossery” according to the 1852 Admiralty Charts. One option is for the name to date back to Old Norse naust, a ship; an alternative derivation might be via Gaelic nòsar, juicy, sappy, white. This would be cognate with nòs, cow’s milk, which sits well with one of the tributary burns being called the Allt a’ Bhainne.
The Mallaig Circular walk leads from Glasnacardoch just off the Rathad nan Eilean inland to the loch, then up between the hills Creag a’Chait and Cruach Mhalaig before descending to Mallaig.
The view down the loch, especially from higher up, is beautiful: to the east the hills of Cruach Clachach and Cruach Bhuidhe are quartzite outcrops forming a backdrop behind an unnamed island on the loch covered with native Scots Pine trees; along the opposite side of the loch runs a prominent ridge where Morar schist pelite changes to psammite.
Classic landscape: small rocky boulders in the foreground, an expanse of grass, and the loch and hills beyond under a clear blue sky. A view down the length of the loch to thet south, small rocky hills with clusters of Scots Pine and other native trees. An impressively clear prominent ridge running along the west of the loch: to the west, the Morar Schists Formation – Micaceous Psammite And Semipelite; in the plain of the loch, Lower Morar Psammite Formation – Psammite. Metamorphic Bedrock formed approximately 541 to 1000 million years ago and covered with a layer of peat. As landscape goes, the Mallaig Circular route is beautiful even on a sunny day. It has a little bit of everything – some isolated native Scots Pine trees (could use more!), clear water in Loch an Nostarie, and stunning geology – a quartzite-topped mountain to the south-east and prominent ridge where the bedrock changes from pelite to psammite along the west edge of the loch. An idyllic setting: a clump of Scots Pine trees on an isolated and sadly unnamed island in the loch
[sphere url=”http://soc.sty.nu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/PANO0001-PANO0026-0-0005.jpg” title=”%title%” navbar=”yes”]
[sphere url=”http://soc.sty.nu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/PANO0001-PANO0026-v3-0-0011.jpg” title=”%title%” navbar=”yes”]
Last weekend it was ludicrously hot around home – 25ºC after lunchtime – so we drove all the way up north to the Black Isle for a stroll around Fortrose and neighbouring areas. We started with a stroll down to Chanonry Point where the lighthouse looked good in black & white.
Noctilucent (“night-shining”) clouds are the highest in the atmosphere, at around 76-85km altitude. They only appear in the summer months at latitudes from 50-70º (north or south), when the sun is more than 6º below the horizon. Formed in the mesosphere at very cold temperatures from ice, dust and water vapour, their gossamer threads undulate and shimmer in shades of electric blue.
There was a particularly decent display on Friday/Saturday morning – I nipped out and spent a happy hour making the video:
Timelapse: Sony a7r3, Sigma 14-24mm lens, SkyWatcher StarAdventurer tracking mount for rotation
Stills: Fuji X-T4, 16-80 f/4 lens
A selection of the images are available as prints, masks, cards and other products (even socks and jigsaw puzzles!) from my main website: ShinyPhoto: Noctilucent Clouds
One of my favoured local woodlands, just a few minutes’ drive from home, is Dunning Glen. Starting from the village, stroll up the road, round the corner and through the small doorway into the woods where trees and rivers play.
There are some steep bits, but plenty of the oak trees in particular have a gnarly character.
Herewith, some photos:
Appreciating shape and form: strong lines of an oak tree. Appreciating shape and form: a large oak tree standing amidst a sea of green grass and bracken. Appreciating shape and form: a dead branch Appreciating shape and form: the base of a split oak tree in a sea of green grass, white daisies and purple blebells. Appreciating shape and form: a split (coppiced?) oak tree. Appreciating shape and form: strong lines of an oak tree
My favourite from this particular afternoon was this oak – some of its branches having rotted and fallen off:
The latter is available as prints, cards, masks and other products, via my main website: there is a pleasure in the pathless woods.
This past Saturday was the Word-wide Photo Walk; as has become an occasional habit, I attended the Inverary walk.
There was a trip around the Inverary Jail:
It’s ALIIIVE!! Rather too-closeup detail of a wax model at Inverary Jail. Winter is coming(TM) Two sides of a barred doorway Inverary Jail, taken on the Worldwide Photo-Walk 2019 What shall we do with this one? Looking back it does seem somewhere between crazy and barbaric, acts that were considered crimes in previous centuries, their understanding and severity fuelled by basic superstition. Detail of keys on a keyring, Inverary Jailer’s uniform closeup Black paint, white plaster: original piping for gas lighting installed in 1841. Technologies come and go… Our illustrious host for the Worldwide Photo Walk in Inverary, 2019 One of the challenges for the group was to take a photo of someone we spoke with on the day.
and around the town front and Castle:
Detail of a fallen leaf amongst stones in the River Ary with Inverary Castle in the distance An ornate stone bridge over the River Ary in the grounds of Inverary Castle. An awesome grey stone lump in Gothic Revival style – dating from 1743, replacing an earlier castle of a couple of centuries previous. Scotland’s last working Clyde Puffer, the Vital Spark of Glasgow, berhted at Inverary harbour.
and early-autumn scenery around Dubh Loch:
The beginnings of autumn: no rich leaf colour yet, but shades of yellow and green (equal parts conifer needles and tree-beard lichen) taken across Dubh Loch. Small boat parked above the jetty beside the boathouse, Dubh Loch. A mostly overcast grey end of the day, but with a little subtle direction to the light illuminating the underside of the bridge beautifully.
Some of these are available as prints over on ShinyPhoto.
In general, lacking high pointy mountains, Angus always strikes me as one of the less dramatic parts of the country. However, I’ve visited the Lunan Bay area a few times and it makes a good escape for an afternoon.
There’s quite a nice beach…
Pebbles amongst sand Decaying lump of tree bark on sand A small floral life-form amongst the pebbles and sand. Signs on a shed on the weay to Lunan Bay beach Sweeping leading lines – where the Lunan Water meets the sea Beach details: dead tree trunks/branches embedded in the sand, pointing at a hut amongst the dunes.
and the ruins of Red Castle stand out stark sandstone against blue skies – ideal with high-flying cirrus cloud in the background.
Pleasantly contrasty light illuminating the castle ruins, against a dramatic cloudy sky. Pleasantly contrasty light illuminating the castle ruins, against a dramatic cloudy sky. Quite an impressive ruined castle atop a small hill. Mouth of the Lunan Water outflow through the beach below Red Castle.
It also looks quite good from the air.
Red Castle, Lunan Bay Red Castle, Lunan Bay Floor plans Lunan Water Estuary Red Castle, Lunan Bay
And finally, I’m experimenting with a different art form – composite overlays, controlling visual information by selectively retaining structures. Essence of Lunan in one.
Can’t beat Scotland’s West Coast in summer. Saturday was spent exploring a new place to me, Smirisary in Glenuig, Lochaber.
A beach of large psammite outcrops with lyprophyre dykes
Cracks and sedimentary strata lines in an exposed lump of psammite, Smirisary. Erosion in action: an exposed lump of psammite (metamorphosed former sandstone) showing lines of strata and cracks, with gentle folding, yet surrounded by stones and boulders where the sea has eroded it away. Cracks and sedimentary strata lines in an exposed lump of psammite, Smirisary. A perfect subject for an abstract art: dense close strata layers of psammite (mid/coarse-grained metamorphosed sandstone) tightly packed.
Signs of habitation – old (but possibly still in use) croft/houses just above the shore in amongst the caves
Signs of settlements – Smirisary forms a small cluster of houses down around the shoreline, nestling amongst the rocks. Evidence of former habitation. Just because the west coast has its culture and traditions does not mean we should refrain calling out an example of litter for what it is in the context of environmental pollution. Discarded metal bath-tub and other crap in a cave-mouth, Smirisary. A beautiful beach – ideal for a paddle in the shallow seas with Dog – surrounded by rocky cliffs.
Beautiful landscapes – wide vistas via light on the sea out to the islands of Eigg and Rùm on the horizon
Sunlight playing on ferns in the foreground, looking out to the islands of Much, Eigg and Rum with their distinctive mountain outlines on the horizon. Sky meets sea in an atmospheric haze of glowing light. Very ethereal. Dramatic light: crepuscular rays emanating from dark clouds over the islands of Eigg and Rum across the water. A variety of types of cloud billowing gently over the distinctive outlines of Eigg and Rum on the horizon.
And on the way back home we called in at Loch Eilt by the roadside – partly to wash the salt water out of the dog, but also to admire the symmetrical reflections. The midges were out in force, pesky and biting as ever, but the photos were worth it…
Pure green: Scots Pine trees on an island across Loch Eilt. Pleasant clear and pure water. Shame about the hordes of midges – some flying so close to the lens I could see them larger than life on the live-view screen. A combination of long exposures sufficed to remove them, however – this is a combination of HDR (5*±0.7EV) and pixel-shift (4*1px offset) for optimal dynamic range and resolution. Scots Pine trees on an island across Loch Eilt.Pleasant clear and pure water. Shame about the hordes of midges – some flying so close to the lens I could see them larger than life on the live-view screen. A combination of long exposures sufficed to remove them, however – this is a combination of HDR (5*±0.7EV) and pixel-shift (4*1px offset) for optimal dynamic range and resolution.
A few photos from Sunday afternoon’s explorations around Loch Rannoch.
We walked through the Black Woods; whilst flying the drone near Camghouran I discovered remains of a building – a pile of stones and hints of mounds in the earth possibly in the shape of a former but’n’ben croft? – in a clearing in the forest.
Walking along the path through the woods, one comes across this clearing just off to the south; quite photogenic from ground level, it becomes even more interesting from 100m up in the air as the beautiful pale tree is apparently stuck on the end of a pile of stome rubble, the remains of some kind of building. The impressively tall fir trees of Camghouran / Croiscraig from above the Black Woods of Rannoch
Sunset on the shore was beautiful; contrasting deep blue ominous dark blue clouds and vibrant orange sunset across the water.
Beautiful glowing colours: warm yellow, orange and red sunset light contrasting with the thick passing clouds near Camghouran, Loch Rannoch Beautiful glowing sunset gold and blue colours, near Camghouran, Loch Rannoch Beautiful glowing sunset gold and blue colours, near Camghouran, Loch Rannoch Beautiful glowing colours: warm yellow, orange and red sunset light contrasting with the thick passing clouds near Camghouran, Loch Rannoch Beautiful glowing sunset gold and blue colours, near Camghouran, Loch Rannoch
Prints of some of these photos will be available through my ShinyPhoto website: photos around Loch Rannoch.
I’ve been over 3000′ twice before now – but for one I stopped short of the summit, and for the other we took the ski-lift up, so neither really counts as Munro-bagging.
In the Christmas/New-Year holiday week, friends and I spent a happy day climbing Schiehallion – a mountain we’ve known and photographed for a long time, but actually climbing it was a first, at least for some of us.
We couldn’t have asked for better conditions: fresh but basically dry, all the way up with mist blowing around the summit.
The top third is a tricky scramble over large boulders, but the view was totally worth it – my first Munro, my first glory and Brocken Spectre all in one.
On the way down we paused to admire the surroundings – an interplay of light, mist, undulating lochs and landscape and more mountains.
Views found whilst descending Schiehallion: abstract patterns of large white fluffy clouds catching the sunlight. Hints of misty cloud blowing gently away across the landscape. Views found whilst descending Schiehallion: abstract patterns of large white fluffy clouds catching the sunlight. Sunlit Rockery Views found whilst descending Schiehallion: abstract patterns of large white fluffy clouds catching the sunlight.
Bring on the mountains – I have climbing to be doing 🙂