The industrial end of Glasgow is not somewhere I can say I’ve yearned to visit, but that’s where I found myself earlier this year. And, much to my surprise, I spent much of the walk from the city centre to my hotel – along the River Clyde – counting up photo opportunities. I was staying in an old dockland area on North of the river bank in an area called Finnieston.
The buildings in the area now make it more of a commercial and cultural centre, but it still has an industrial feel, and the mix of architecture was too much for my photographic temptation to bear. I had just one evening for photography – I was there for business rather than pleasure. I had to choose my subjects.
I started at the Clyde Auditorium – a cross between the Sydney Opera House and a steel armadillo – which was literally outside the door of my hotel. 24 mm was the widest lens I had, and this wasn’t wide enough to get the whole building in with a sensible composition, and the sun was low so that parts of the building were in shadow. So I concentrated on framing sections of it, using the lines to create pseudo-abstract compositions. Getting really close and looking up also allowed me to get across the size of the building to some extent. I love the photo on the right below – the seagull acts as an (admittedly unintended) anchor point, and the lines of the building lead your eye to it.
Across from the Clyde Auditorium is the SSE Hydro arena, a futuristic, silvery round building that was catching the evening light just beautifully. I spent a long time photographing it from different angles, close up, far away, and taking sequences to create a panorama that captured the whole building. The first image below is one of these panoramas, although the honeycomb pattern on the outside of the building created havoc with stitching the individual images together and necessitated some work in Photoshop for it to be passable.
Retracing the steps I’d taken along the river when I arrived, I next turned my attention to a disused dock crane sitting on the bank. I just love the straight and crossing lines of structures like this, and I thought at the time it would make for some great black & white images, although when it came to processing them, I preferred the muted colours. It was difficult to find an angle to get the whole structure in without having a huge empty slab of sky in the frame. For the stretched portrait image, I stood directly underneath the crane and took a sequence of landscape shots to stitch together. I didn’t think this ‘vertical panorama’ would work with the perspective exaggerated by the straight lines, but Lightroom made surprisingly easy work of it.
While I’d been photographing the crane, grey clouds had rolled in and there was no more sun, so I made my way to the end of the route I’d planned, to an impressive bridge that carries the M8 over the River Clyde and onto a flyover way above the river bank. The flyover is supported by two rows of massive concrete pillars, creating a striking city location. I’m sure that many a dodgy dealing has been done under there, and I didn’t fancy hanging around very long, but I wanted to get a picture or two that captured the atmosphere. I was initially annoyed that there was car parked there, because I wanted a very simple symmetrical, geometric picture, but I think it sets off the scene nicely and adds a size reference.
On my way back along the river to the hotel, I had one last subject in mind – a bridge known as the Clyde Arc (or colloquially the ‘squinty bridge’) with a characteristic arch structure. I wanted to make a feature of the arch, although the light really was grim by this point. Having taken a few massively underwhelming shots, I decided to try and get some traffic movement in, but I didn’t have a tripod so I had to try using the slow shutter speeds hand-held. Needless to say, I didn’t get the shot I wanted – if the whole image was sharp, the traffic wasn’t blurred, and if the traffic was blurred, everything else was too. One for Photoshop then – after combining three images in some layer work, I came up with this image.