2015: A year of achievement

Let’s not bother with the humblebrag and just get straight to it: I’ve had a f**king good year when it comes to photography. And I’m going to relish it!

But let’s not get too carried away here; I’ve undoubtedly had my fair share of good luck this year, combined with some planning. But at some point, lucky shots happen too often to be just flukes. And I have been getting better at taking photos and being critical of my own work. God knows I’m my harshest critic! But this post is my celebration of how well I’ve done this year, and this is my pat on the back to myself.

The year started slowly: it took my over 2 weeks to get out with the camera after New Year. I decided to sign up for a workshop at the start of February with Grant Ritchie at Real Edinburgh to try and get my mojo back. And oof! Did it ever…here’s one of my photos from the night, which made it onto the BBC News website (twice), is currently my most popular photo on Flickr (18,500 views), and was the first photo I sold commercially. You can see Forth Ports using it on their website as one of the carousel of background images.

Forth Rail Bridge Sunset Feb 7th 15

The following day I was inspired to go out and get the sunset again. That resulted in this image, which I liked but didn’t think anything of at the time.

Salisbury Crags sunset

However, I ended up entering the photo into the Ordnance Survey’s OS Photofit competition to have winning images on the covers of all the OS’s refreshed paper maps. Well, turns out I won the competition for the Edinburgh Explorer (1:25,000) map! I couldn’t believe it! So anytime you buy Explorer 350 then you’ll see this photo on the front. Not only that, but the image was chosen to go into the OS’s 2016 calendar, along with 11 other very fine photos. You can buy it here (https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-2016-calendar.html) if you wish. I also see today that OS have used it as their daily Instagram photo to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Then, in July, a rare lightning storm rolled across Edinburgh. Again I have to thank Grant Ritchie for alerting me to this. I was off work, and tracked the lightning strikes all day, until finally at about 1am we had lightning over the southern and eastern parts of the city. I had a great view from the living room window, and captured a whole load of lightning strikes over Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill. I ended up combing around 13 images into a blend to make a truly dramatic photo, and at 3am I posted it to Twitter and went to bed.

The tweet went mental, including a retweet from J.K. Rowling. It’s currently sitting at nearly 60,000 ‘impressions’. Small fry by Twitter standards, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re phone won’t stop buzzing all day! That photo netted me an interview on Boogie in the Morning (a popular local drive time radio show), a TV interview for STV News (watch here), publications in four Scottish newspapers, and thousands of views on social media. It was pretty intense! I ended up selling some prints through Real Edinburgh too, which was nice.

The remainder of the year was much calmer, mostly due to cracking on with writing my PhD thesis. I ended up selling some more photos, including one to Schlumberger for an ad campaign, and various to friends. The cash raised from these and newspaper sales allowed me to upgrade my camera (twice) and so looking forward to making the most of it in 2016.

Amongst all that, I was a finalist in a competition run by Yelp for Edinburgh Festival photos with this picture:

RoyalMileFireworks-26.08.15 And generally have had lots of love on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr for my photos through the year. Two things capped off the year: firstly, I had asked friends if anyone was interested in buying a calendar I had put together to help me get a bulk discount. The response was, frankly, amazing! I wanted to sell 15 and sold 60! So thank you to my friends for supporting me at the end of the year (keep an eye out for the 2017 calendar). And secondly, just before Christmas I was contacted by a researcher for National Geographic, who want to use an old photo of mine in one of their books! I will believe it when I see it, but nonetheless, it would be a great honour for me to be published by such a venerated institution. Fingers crossed that this happens next year.

All in all, an amazing year for me photography wise. A Happy New Year to you all, and see you next year!

Britannia Fireworks


Happy Birthday Forth Bridge!

Today marks the 125th anniversary of the iconic Forth Bridge’s official opening on the 4th of March, 1890. She’s a magnificent structure. According to the BBC Scotland New site this morning, the BBC have received more photos of the bridge than any other Scottish location. And Scotland is stunning, so I think that shows the allure of the structure!

It doesn’t have the longest span of any cantilevered bridge in the world (that record goes to the Quebec Bridge) but it is definitely the prettiest.

I can’t claim that the Bridge has always been part of my life, but some of my earliest memories are of the view from my granny’s house in Dalmeny, where you could see both bridges from her kitchen window. My parents grew up round Dalmeny and South Queensferry, and it’s a place that I suppose will always be part of home in a little way to me.

Forth Rail Bridge 2

I’ve taken a few photos of the Bridge over the years myself, including during a recent incredible sunset, but yesterday I got a fresh and rare perspective. As part of the 125th anniversary celebrations, Network rail offered 250 tickets for members of the public to be taken up to the top of the North tower of the Forth Bridge. All of the money raised – some £30,000 – went to The Prince’s Trust, a charity which helps disadvantaged young people get their lives back on track.

So I bought my ticket last year, although to be honest I felt more like Charlie winning a golden ticket to see inside Wonka’s Chocolate Factory when I showed up yesterday. After a quick safety talk and some history about the Bridge, and a short ride up in the hoist on the outside of the North tower, the reward is a breathtaking view of not only the surrounding landscape (including Edinburgh, North and South Queensferry), but also of the Bridge herself. She really is a work of art, as well as a feat of Victorian engineering.

Forth Rail Bridge 5 min exposure

Many thanks to Network Rail for their organisation, and they clearly love their bridge. It was an incredible experience, and all down to them. And well done to them too for raising so much money for The Prince’s Trust!

So these are the views from the top. It was windy, cold and inbetween flurries of snow, but then it is Scotland so what else was I expecting! More photos are on my Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gingerfox/

Many happy returns of the day to our beloved Forth Bridge; here’s to another 125 years!

Forth Bridge 125-00150

Forth Bridge 125-00135

Forth Bridge 125-00081

Forth Bridge 125-1

Forth Bridge 125-00141

Forth Bridge 125-00116