From Beijing to Balloch

I took a wander up Balloch Park today, and whilst I was up I came across these fine looking duckies!

“they are funny looking duckies”

Turns out I wasn’t the 1st in the household to see them, as number 1 child had noticed them the other day, firing off a barrage of questions and statements to her Mummy: “look at those duckies”, “what are those duckies”, “they’re funny duckies”, “where did those duckies come from””those duckies would be good in a plumb sauce…”. Ok the last one I made up, but the visitors certainly were a talking point.

The funny duckies, or Mandarin Ducks to give them their Sunday name, originally hail from East Asia.  Clearly they have a poor sense of direction, often mistaking Balloch for Beijing.  

“Alright Hen?”

In all seriousness, the ducks are a symbol of love in Asia, and it’s easy to see why. The males, with their technioloured dream coats, proudly puff out their chests to vie for the attention of the slightly less eye catching female.

Although originally coming from 5,000 miles away, it seems our feathered friends are adapting to life well in Balloch. In the wild, they tend to breed in densely wooded areas, next to a lake or pond……they must have seen the Backroom at closing time on a Saturday night and recognised some native behaviours.

If you are about Balloch Park anytime soon, take a wander and see for yourself. They are currently a bit of a locally celebrity, appearing in the Daily Record last week!!

“Why did the duck cross the road?”

Project 365

New Year’s Day and my brother in law had suggested he was going to do a 365 project this year.  The idea is to take a picture every day and share, along with its story.
I thought this was a great idea (he doesn’t often have them), so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do my own.
I am starting mine today and will endeavour to complete the next 365 days. I’m still working out the best way to share them, but will look to update my blog periodically, with some of the best ones.  You can see all of them on my Instagram page.
I think this will be quite a challenge, but will let me devote around 1/100th of a second every day to my photography!  I’ll post the shot and the story at some point, but each shot will be on the day.
Let me know if any of you guys are doing anything similar.

Lights, Camera, Kids!

My life is over.  I’ll never get out again.  I’ve got no chance.

At least, in the run up to the 1st July this year, that’s what people would have had me believe.  For those of you that don’t know, on the exact start of the 2nd half of the year, we were delighted to welcome our twin girls into the family….2 little sisters / dolls for Lexi, and a whole new world for us.  A whole new world for us but, as I see it, not the end of the world!!  Far from it.  I have lots of thoughts about this, but here are my top 3 over the past few months (with some tenious links to photography!!)
1. There are LOADS of twins out there.  Like, seriously loads.  I am amazed at how many people stop us in the street – people we don’t even know, to talk and look at the girls.
 “Oh I’m a twin you know…”     “awww, I have twins…it takes me back…”    “My Daughter has twins too..”
I really didn’t expect this, but funnily enough when I think about it, we do actually know quite a lot of twins so I suppose we should have realised that double cuddles are a lot more common than we thought
2.  Life doesn’t stop! No definitely not.  I tell you what I mean.  Photography is a big passion of mine.  Ever since getting my 1st camera from my Wife (bet she regrets it 😉 ) I have immersed myself in learning about shooting technique, composition, processing and the rest.
Practice, Practice, Practice – that’s what it has all been about.  Rushing out to grab a sunset, going out to capture a meteor shower, or simply wandering about trying out some street photography, I often had my camera with me to try my hand.  So has that changed?  Well, yes.  I don’t want to be out at 1am in the morning shooting stars – I would much rather be at home with the girls.  But I do still want to photograph.  What a better opportunity do I have then, with 2 new and willing (?!) models.  A whole new photography world has opened up in front of me, and has given me a new genre to practice in.
Instead of a sunset across Loch Lomond, my go to set up is now a portable studio in my dining room. Sweet!
3.  The Support.  I’ve talked about “We” and of course that includes my Wife.  Where would I be without her….well 3 less children for a start!  I do often think that not much changes for the guy.  Really, it doesn’t.  Or at least, it doesn’t in our house.  Why is that?  Well that’s down to Lynsay.  She is what keeps the show on the road.  And me at the gym.  And on the trails.  And on the roads.  And everything else!
“oh hen, you’ve got your hands full with those 3…” to which the standard response is often “with those 4 you mean!”
Not only is there 2 12 week old’s and a 3 and a half year old to look after, there is a 36 year old to look after too!  I come home from work every night and my dinner is on the table, and my lunch ready for the next day (except for Burrito Friday, a well earned treat!), the girls all bathed and the dishes done.
It’s then ok for me to go for a run. Or do some work at night (some stuff going on just now that is really interesting which I could spend hours on!!.) Or to go to the gym – recently I have been training 6 times a week.  I have never trained 6 times a week.  Yet at what is potentially the busiest points in out lives I have managed to up the game.  What’s that all about??  Lynsay, that’s what it’s all about.
I do my bit, of course I do,  but make no mistake, the successful upbringing of the girls, and the successful functioning of me, rightly or wrongly, is in the main down to Lynsay.  I recognise that and love her for it.  Maybe it’s worth a hot tub at some point……..:-)
I’ll finish up by saying, that the last few months have been an amazing time.  I have loved every minute of being a Dad of 3, and Husband of 1, and oh I nearly forgot an Uncle to 1, 1 month after our girls arrived.  A busy time all round.  But that’s what is important to me, and if something is important to you, you make it happen, with the love and support around you.
My life is over?  Nah, it’s only just beginning!!!!

Off your trolley…..

I saw this article doing the rounds on Social Media the other day.
I found it quite amusing – firstly at the horrendous photshop effort (zoom in on the plane), and secondly at some of the replies in the facebook thread (John Mclean being a personal favourite!)
It does raise an interesting question around “processing” though.  How far can you go? How far should you go?
Personally, I don’t see the point in this type of processing – why showcase something which doesn’t actually reflect what you captured?  Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that an image should be a representation of what you see, not what you would like to see……..unless of course you are trying to win a trolley case……..
What do you think?  Comment below and let me know.



I recently embarked on an online photography course through “The Image Academy”.  I decided to work through it to learn from the basics up – composition, lighting, white balance, exposure triangle…….
I found the course really infomative, and have since went back and re-read some of the chapters to remind me of some of the core skills required for certain situations.
Part of the course requires you to submit an image portfolio for assessment.  I am pleased to say mine was graded at Distinction level – well chuffed!!
I have uploaded them to a Flickr album, click on the image above to see more.


So I stopped off to visit the Kelpies the other night. I’ve always wondered what all the fuss was over sculptor Andy Scott’s 30 metre structures. Big horses – aye, tourist attraction – surely not!

I have to say though I was pretty impressed. As the 2 Kelpie’s tower above you, you can’t help being impressed at the sheer size and detail of each.

Apparently they took around 4 months to complete. Pretty impressive when you think I started to build a toy box in the house over a year ago and have still to finish it. That says more about my engineering skills than anything else!

Situated on the banks of the Clyde Canal, it is only right that mythical water creatures were chosen to be the focal point of the regenerated Helix Park. Andy Scott goes on to say that the Kelpie (a horse like creature) was chosen to celebrate the horse’s role in Scottish industry and agriculture through the years.

So, big horses – aye, an impressive story and day out, you betcha!



Northern Lights

Last night was another chance to see the Northern Lights or Auroa here in Loch Lomond – Our own Judith Ralston on the telly weather gave us the heads up, so I nipped out around 22:30 to have a look.  I went to Duck Bay, and met a few other like minded souls who must have been watching the same weather forecast!

One thing I noticed about last night is how friendly everyone is – it was kind of funny, I just went up to do my own thing, but ended up chatting away to a few other guys, asking them questions and having a look at what they had captured.  There was an American guy there too.  The airline had broken his tripod so I helped him set up on the wall!  We’re all in this together!  I even got treated to an episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys!

Anyway, back to the spectacle.  Not as much of a spectacle as last week, but still great to see none the less.  Was such a clear night, which made for good conditions, but not quite as much Aurora activity as last time.

Mother Nature is quite something at times, and when she plays along there is nowhere better than home!