The Falkirk Wheel

Taken on iPhone X

Taken on iPhone X

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Scotland, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The lift is named after the town it resides in of Falkirk in central Scotland. It opened in 2002, reconnecting the two canals for the first time since the 1933. Before the Forth & Clyde and Union canals were connected by a staircase of 11 locks which took nearly a day to transit. The design is claimed to have been inspired by a Celtic double headed spear. Work started on the project in 1998 at a cost of £84.5 million.

The plan to regenerate central Scotland's canals and reconnect Glasgow with Edinburgh was led by British Waterways with support and funding from seven local authorities, the Scottish Enterprise Network, the European Regional Development Fund, and the Millennium Commission. Planners decided early on to create a dramatic 21st-century landmark structure to reconnect the canals, instead of simply recreating the historic lock flight.

The wheel raises boats by 24 metres (79 ft), but the Union Canal is still 11 metres (36 ft) higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel. Boats must also pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world. 

I have been trying to get some night shots of the wheel when it is lit up, but unfortunately I haven't managed to pass when it is. But I did manger to get these shots on Sunday,

First Impressions: iPhone X

iPhone X

Although I wasn't expecting to get it for another week or two, my iPhone X (Silver 256GB) arrived on Friday. My excitement of receiving the email on Thursday alerting me that it would arrive on Friday was quickly swapped with the thought of my bank account taking a massive hit.

Yes, it is expensive, the most expensive iPhone yet. It costs about the annual GDP of a small country. I did a lot of thinking about purchasing it before its was released, or whether to go for the iPhone 8 and know that I still had the home button to push that has been the identifying feature of the phone since the original. So was it worth it? Time will tell, but at this point these are my impressions after a weekends worth of use.

  • OLED Screen - Although advertised as a full screen, that's not quite true, there is part taken out at the top for the true depth camera and earpiece. Still, the 5.8 inch super retina screen is stunning. Simply stunning, There is no doubt that it is a cut above the last iPhone.
  • Face ID - So far it has recognised me every time, even with sunglasses and a hat on. Have also tested it in the dark and it still works. It takes a little getting used to but it does become natural after a couple of hours.
  • Wireless charging - now that a standard has been accepted wireless charging has been incorporated: Qi. Belkin and Mophie currently have charger that work and Apple is releasing a charging mat early in 2018 (I shudder to think how much it will cost).
  • Size - It's smaller than my previous iPhone due to the removal of the home button and it feels like a better size, it goes into pockets more easily.
  • Camera - True depth camera on the front (7 megapixels) with two 12 megapixel rear lenses, f1.8 and f2.4 positioned vertically to each other, both with Optical Image Stabilisation. The (beta) portrait modes are impressive and I will post some images when I find a suitable model. Both the front and rear cameras are auto HDR, which was a little confusing when I was looking for the HDR option earlier.
  • Location - Covered by GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS, which if memory serves is the first time that it is covered by four different global navigation satellite systems.
  • Connections - Yep, no 3.5mm 100 year old technology, move on people if it's not wireless your living in the past. Apple decided to still include a dongle for the backward thinking, which personally I think is a mistake it would be better that they made people move on. I cannot see the next iPhone coming with the free dongle.
  • Glass - front and back, i have seen pictures and videos of the drop test. I shudder to think of the cost of replacing this, I would expect painful. It annoys me that I have to cover such a beautiful piece of technology into a leather case to give it some protection from the horror of dropping it. Apple claims that it is the most durable glass ever... but it is still glass.
  • Animoji - I can't even...

In summary, the Face ID has impressed me, and the iOS11 gesturing is natural once you get the idea that there is no home button. The screen has blown me away, in all light conditions it really is stunning. The camera's, as you would expect are better, faster and more stabler than the previous models.

Worth the money? That's a tough question. I think this is going to be the price of the higher end iPhones from now on and that is a serious chunk of change if you are a yearly updater.


Birks o' Aberfeldy

The  next stop after The Hermitage with @alycoste saw us stop at the Birks o' Aberfeldy. This beautiful short walk is extremely popular. The walk up a steep gorge alongside the Moness Burn was popularised by Scotlands Bard (Robert Burns) in a song suitably titled 'The Birks o' Aberfeldy'.

Robert Burns


"Bonie lassie, will ye go, 
Will ye go, will ye go, 
Bonie lassie, will ye go
To the birks of Aberfeldy!"



As you can see from the photo's below, Autumn was definitely going on here! Have never seen so many auburn and red leaves in one place. The beauty of the areas end in a crescendo of waterfalls, The Moness Falls. It's a beautiful area and I was really happy that I got to see it for the first time at this time of year.

I often forget how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful country that is relatively at peace, moderately prosperous and generally safe.

The Hermitage, Dunkeld

Finally posting some photos from The Hermitage from my visit on the 29th of October. Mental note never to visit again when the weather is good...everyone and there dog was there and it felt like the entire population of Scotland was on the road when heading back that evening.

Nestled in the north of Perthshire amid towering Douglas Firs is a pleasure ground built in the 18th century for the Dukes of Atholl. The River Braan runs through this area with many waterfalls the most impressive of which is overlooked by Ossian's Hall. The hall was built in 1757 as the focal point and is a splendid spot to watch the waterfall that roars beneath.



Austin Powers

The word Mojo is a noun originally used to mean a magic charm or spell or an amulet, often in the form of a small bag containing magic items worn by adherents of hoodoo or voodoo, or it could mean a quality or some ability that brings good luck or helps you be good at something. I feel like I left my amulet somewhere and I haven't found it or felt it's effect for a some time.

It's weird how you can be mentally high and be happy with a days photography and come back and just hate everything that was shot. I am sure that we have all had those days when we aren't 'feeling it', not just with photography, but life, work and generally everything. Unfortunately, most of us, don't have the luxury of being able to sack everything off and spend the day with Netflix and a bottle of whisky.

I have had this feeling before and although I can't remember anything that I did to climb out of this 'funk' I know it will eventually dissipate and something will click again and the concrete wall blocking my creativity and self esteem will be broken through.

It's amazing how much 'self help' that you can find on the internet, and after net-surfing for a while the most helpful and most frequent piece of advice was:

"Start with one small win."

Apparently starting with one small win can help restore confidence and if you repeat these small wins you will be able to complete project that seemed impossible. My feeling is that this is probably a good way to start, complete a small task to the best of my ability. But then this advice is more for work, than creativity. More to the point what is a creative win?