National Mining Museum Scotland

Abandoned Hope
Abandoned Hope

These photos are from a visit I made with about 20 other photographers yesterday to the National Mining Museum Scotland, which is based at the Lady Victoria Colliery at Newtongrange, south east of Edinburgh.

The Creative Photographers Meetup Group were able to arrange access to the tangle of abandoned buildings behind the museum that were left standing after the colliery shut down in 1981.

Although I am a member of the group for a while, this was the first meetup that I have been on and it was interesting to go photographing with such a large number of people.

At one point in the afternoon I took a step back to see other members of the group bent with their cameras over this or that object or setting up their cameras and tripods, or scanning the scene for things to photograph.

I felt like we were a group of archaeologists who had travelled through space to document the remains of an ancient civilisation.

As you can see, I captioned the photo at the top of this article, ‘Abandoned Hope’. I imagine the building was a manager’s office and that the people who worked there would look down and survey the industry going on around them while making decisions about what was to be done next.

Flowers and Abandoned Buildings

It’s a long time since I have photographed anything unattractive. I mean, I don’t go out of my way to photograph abandoned buildings and the wreckage of times past. I don’t do it because I find it very hard to produce anything worthwhile.

What’s more I get such a kick out of ‘reading’ flowers and photographing them, that I find it hard to even know what to look for in a scene such as that at the colliery.

I looked for graphic lines, but it didn’t really help. Maybe the iron steps in the shot below are graphic in the way I wanted, but it still doesn’t necessarily make for a good photograph.

In the end, I kind of found a way in by making the images gritty and unnatural, but I am not sure about them.



What Was This Used For?

One of the feelings I had as I walked around, was that I knew next to nothing about what the buildings were used for.

I could see that there was a boiler house and the pit head, but what was the purpose of this cute little corrugated shed sitting on a rotunda of concrete?

I guess I could have asked someone, but it just didn’t occur to me at the time.

So if anyone knows…

A Room With A View
A Room With A View

The Pit Head

Here’s a shot of the pit head. On a purely personal level there is something wonderful about the fact that I have visited a colliery in Scotland.

The reason is that when I was boy of maybe seven years old at school, our teacher was ill one time.

The temporary teacher was Scottish and he described a pit head and how the wheel at the top of the scaffold whirled around to raise and lower the coal and the miners.

Except that to my Yorkshire ears, I thought he was describing the edifice itself and I dutifully marked up the wheel at the top as a ‘worl’.

Not A Worl In Sight
Not A Worl In Sight


Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monunments Of Scotland

Dating from the 19th century, Lady Victoria Colliery ceased production in 1981 and is now the home of the Scottish Mining Museum. The colliery was named in honour of the wife of the Marquis of Lothian, who also built the neighbouring village of Newtongrange to house the miners from the pit. Originally, the shaft was sunk to a depth of 530m and, for a while, it was the deepest pit in Scotland. Later in its working life, the colliery also served as an engineering centre for the area.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable


It’s the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

This is much more than your opportunity to flood the internet with cat photos (although the internet’s ability to absorb cat photos is infinite, so one can never have too many). Your companion might be a pet, or your partner or progeny. Maybe it’s an object you unconsciously fiddle with as you work, a view that keeps you company, an album that helps you stay grounded, or a hobby you use to unwind at the end of each day. (If your companion is actually a low-ranking knight, you win.)

As it happens, I was working on these views of Edinburgh when I looked at the Challenge to see whether the images would fit.

And the view does keep me company because it is the dominant skyline as I walk across the Links and the Meadows into Edinburgh.

I remember the first impression I had of Edinburgh. We’d parked the car in the Travelodge on the south side of the city and took the bus into the city centre.

As we passed the High Street/Royal Mile, I looked up the street and was knocked back for a second.

It looked so strong and dark and brooding and powerful and heavy and – and not somewhere to cuddle up to, which is kind of what I like in architecture – somewhere to be comfortable with – to soothe the soul and ease its passage through the day.

But the people here make up for the dour buildings.

At the top of the High Street/Royal Mile there is the castle – and that is what you can see in these views – peeking out from behind the terrace at the lower end of the Links.

I shot this with a 300mm lens (450mm equivalent in full frame) so the view is foreshortened and compressed. But as I walk into town, my eyes leapfrog the buildings and settle on the castle, so the long lens mirrors what my eyes do.

Why There Are Three Versions

I did the black and white conversion because I wanted to check how the dust spots would appear with different treatments. (Laurie noticed that the image in a previous post had spots on it.)

So I tried different blending modes between the monochrome and coloured versions and it occurred to me that while I didn’t particularly like all of them – we are all different.

So which do you like best?



Exporting Data From Google Reader


What with Google Reader shutting down on July 1st, I decided to download all of my Google Reader data via Google Takeout, and I thought I would share the info on the page for its humour.

Control your data
Grabbing a copy of your data? Great! We think it’s really important that you have control over your data. If you have time please let us know why it is important to you and how we can improve.

If you have decided to take your data elsewhere, please take a minute to research the data export policies of your destination. Otherwise, you might import your data into a service that doesn’t let it out.

If you ever want to leave the service, you may have to leave important stuff like your photos behind.
Remember, your data is important! Do not download archives on public computers.