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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

St Andrews through the camera lens

I really like photography. Unfortunately, I don't get a chance to do a lot of it, for a variety of reasons, and my camera isn't the greatest - it's a four-and-a-half year old Canon PowerShot SD600 that has taken a fair amount of beating (most recently, it was dropped on my mobile. The camera survived. It's a tough little bastard. My touchscreen phone, sadly, is a delicate flower, and has since been consigned to the mobile heaven in the sky). My camera only has a 3x zoom lens, which constantly drives me mad. Perhaps more importantly, it takes lousy night shots, and though the macro feature is really surprisingly good (which is important, as I really love detail shots), the camera often refuses to focus on whatever it is I'm trying to take a picture of. I make no claims to be a great photographer - I take pictures for fun, and because it makes me happy when I occasionally get a picture that I think looks quite good. And because in my spare time (ooh! spare time! ...what's that?) I make cards, and cards of the places I've been and the things I've seen always turn out nicely. :)

So! I thought perhaps it might be time for me to do a blog on pictures of St Andrews. I haven't got a lot - studying for a master's takes up a surprising amount of time. Shocker, I know. These come from the day after Halloween, which was absolutely glorious. I need to get back out and take more, since it has since snowed and St Andrews in the snow is absolutely adorable and looks like it belongs on a postcard or a tin of biscuits. Sadly, I haven't had the time. Essays tend to suck up time and energy like great big vortex in space. Ooh. A black hole. Yes. That's what essays are like. Black holes. Anyway.

This is the castle, viewed from the path that leads down to Castle Sands (beware: that path looks like a lovely little ramp, but it has sneaky little steps at annoying intervals that will trip you up when you least expect it). If you have a red gown, you can get into the castle for free. Otherwise I think it's about £5 per visit. I haven't been yet, which is unusual for me. The last time I was around a castle I went romping around the entire thing, including everywhere I wasn't meant to be. It's that black hole again. It's consuming my life...

Castle in its entirety, as viewed from the path towards East Sands. Yes, I know the castle appears to be missing bits. I never said it would be an especially warm place to live...

Cathedral tower. I'd put up a picture of the wall at the end of the cathedral, but I epically failed to get a decent shot of it. I love the cathedral. It's walled and there's gravestones everywhere and there's lone walls standing in mute testament to the once grand building that used to dominate this piece of land. If I recall correctly, it was mostly pulled down during the Reformation. About two years ago, I got trapped inside the cathedral with a couple of friends - we didn't realise that the gates shut at half 4, and since no one bothered to come around the grounds and make certain everyone was out, we got back to the front and discovered we had a problem. We ended up hopping the wall to get out...

There's a tiny little garden plot in the cathedral that still had flowers on the last day of October. It also had flowers in mid-March, so I'm kind of curious if it's a year-round thing. I haven't been there recently, but I'm guessing it would be fairly difficult to manage roses when the temperatures have been down in the 20s recently...

Another flower in the cathedral garden. I love taking close flower shots, but getting my camera to focus can be a bitch.

Another flower in the cathedral garden. I'm especially fond of this one - I like playing with shadow and light in composition, and the way the light works on the upper flower turned out fairly nicely. If I recall correctly, I had issues taking the picture without my shadow falling on the flowers, as the sun was behind me by that point in the afternoon.

I love this one. It took forever for my camera to focus on the right thing, but it turned out well in the end. I really love working with close-up detailing contrasting with something out in the distance - I have a similar photo from Blarney Castle, in Ireland, of a sprig of heather in the rain with one of the castle towers blurred in the background. The shape of the cathedral spires works really well for this kind of photograph, because even though the focus isn't on the building, the shape comes through really well.

Back part of the cemetery, overlooking East Sands.

Cathedral, viewed from the path along East Sands. You can see the fishing boats that seem to live in the canal. The first couple of times I went down to East Sands, it must have been low tide, because there wasn't any water in the canal, and so the boats were just lying there, sprawled on one side, appearing to the untrained eye as though they'd been abandoned. It was a depressing sight. But! Now I know better, because when the tide is in they float, and aren't abandoned at all. The things one learns...

View of East Sands and the cathedral from the path up the hill. If I'm headed out walking, I tend to go to East Sands, rather than West Sands, though West Sands is bigger and you could probably walk to Dundee if you didn't mind fording the river (your oxen would probably die, but never mind...). I think East Sands is more of the locals' beach, but I like it. There's usually people there with dogs, and small children, and though I am neither a dog person nor a child person (this seems to suggest I would want to avoid East Sands...), I like the feeling of the beach better. It feels less commercialised. And there are tide pools. How cool is that? The path this picture was taken from is part of the Fife Coastal Trail, which apparently, should you feel so inclined, will take you all the way along the Fife coast. That's a bit too much of a hike for me. I stopped once I got past the mobile home park and hit the sign that said something to the effect of 'Warning: Entering area of golf course. Beware of flying balls'. But it's a nice walk along the beach and up the hill. The weather's been pretty cold lately, though, and between that and the soul-eating black hole of essay doom, I haven't been doing much walking. But I know it's there.

I would really like a new camera, one that is more reliable with its macro shots and one that actually will take pictures at night instead of doing grey shots with dim pinpricks where there might be light, if one used their imagination. But cameras are expensive, and I'm a student. And I also don't know very much about cameras, or photography, and if I got a new camera, I'd like it to be worth my while. So I suppose I'll stick with my little PowerShot for now, and just smack it occasionally when it refuses to focus, and think longingly of night shots. It mostly does what I want it to. Mostly.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I think your camera does a fantastic job, even if it is a bit temperamental. And while my own camera may be fancier, it is also much older. And temperamental too; we'll just put it down to the artistic temperament of cameras, shall we?
    These are stunning photos (which is of course down to you, not just your camera! ^.^), and just beg me to do something with them ... when I've finished with the Romans and the Indians and the portraiture and the .... but one day! =D

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