Christmas, Hogmanay and Long Exposure Experiments

Nah, Christmas isn’t big in India. Diwali is India’s Christmas”, I was explaining to a fellow PhD student over lunch break. As much as I love Diwali I think I have become fond of Christmas here. I find it utterly amusing that the public decorations and lights turn on more than a month before Christmas eve. So every evening of the entire month of December feels like a big celebration. More than Christmas itself, the arrival of new year is a bigger event in Scotland. In local tongue however, the new year’s celebration is known as Hogmanay. There are many local customs and festivals associated with Hogmanay and it’s a fun-filled visual treat. I hope to catch on with more of these next year.

Glasgow Christmas Market
Glasgow Christmas Market

However, here’s a short compilation of my Christmassy photos and some experimental shots with long exposure photography that I have finally managed to edit. Do tell me if you like any of these!

Guy Fawkes Night

First test shot, overexposed
A test shot was fired. As expected, it’s overexposed. Regardless, has a nice feel eh!

There are so many references in films and TV about this interesting festival yet surprisingly remains a relatively unknown event outside of the United Kingdom. I remember this every year only and only because of the legend adapted in V for Vendetta and V’s famous dialogues in the film.

Remember, remember the fifth of November; the gunpoweder, the treason and the plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

The story of why and how the 5th of November became a festival is albeit weird and yet interesting. What used to be a religious feud remembrance has over the centuries pleasantly toned down and is now a family event of fireworks! These days the “end of year” and “Christamas” fever begins with this event celebrated across the island nation. People gather in big spaces on the night of 5th of November to watch the mesmerising fireworks. Some (e.g. me) keep complaining “Oh this is nothing compared to our Diwali fireworks” but such people should be promptly ignored. 😀

Guy Fawkes Night is very  much a family event in the modern times. A little girl on the shoulder of her dad being photographed by her mother.
A little girl on the shoulder of her dad being photographed by her mother. Guy Fawkes Night is very much a family event in the modern times.

Glasgow Santa Dash

Young Santa?
Young Santa?

Imagine thousands of runners in santa attires flooding the streets! Sounds like fun eh! Apparently, this charity event happens in other cities in UK as well. One of the Sundays in December, thousands of people dressed in various Santa costumes gather at the central square in the city and run 10 kilometre for charity. For me it was an interesting photo opportunity. I had missed this previous year, so this year I made sure that I will be at the right location. As a bonus, it was an exceptionally warm and sunny day

A streetful of Santas
A streetful of Santas
A mother-son duo participate in the run
A mother-son duo participate in the run
Glasgow Santa Dash
Glasgow Santa Dash

Glasgow Christmas Market

Christmas market in Glasgow is great for tasting international food
Christmas market in Glasgow is great for tasting international food

This is the only best thing about Glasgow in December. Well, apart from the busy city centre streets in the suburbs. No seriously, Glasgow isn’t really a happening place when it comes to Christmas/Hogmanay celebrations. But Glasgow sure has a fantastic celebratory vibe throughout the year. For me, the Christmas market has been a photography playground. It has the best location and environment to try long exposure photography which I have recently fallen in love with. So here are some of the shots taken at the Glasgow Christmas Carousel and the Ferris wheel.

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas

The moment you step into the market all the smells make you hungry and you forget that you were there to shoot and not eat 😀 . There are stalls selling Belgian waffles and crepes, sausages and burgers, Asian food and paninis, and of course flowing beer! Every time I have entered the market I had to control the urge and focus on the objective: Light trails!

Light trails. I have many variations in the same frame but I will avoid repeatition.
Light trails. I have many variations in the same frame but I will avoid repetition.
“Jingle Bells” playing on the streets of Glasgow
Christmas Carousel
Christmas Carousel

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

I like Edinburgh more than Glasgow and I am clearly biased about it for many good reasons. I have written about my first impressions about Glasgow here and its industrial legacy here. It definitely isn’t a lone opinion. I have met many, mostly non-Glaswegians, who agree with me. Take the festivities and the mood of the city in year end for example; they just don’t match. Edinburgh >> Glasgow.

Calton Hill before the fireworks begin
Calton Hill before the fireworks begin

Torchlight Parade

For one, I am in absolute love with this city and its medieval charm and secondly, the hogmanay celebration in the city is a spectacle! For some reason, people seem to have this craze to visit London for new year’s eve, at least among the international student community here. Sure, it must be amazing watching the fireworks over the London bridge, but Edinburgh’s hogmanay celebrations are no less exciting. It’s almost a weeklong party fever in the town and there are lot of firework events throughout the month. One of the events that excited me the most was the torchlight parade along the Royal Mile.

Setting the torches aflame
Setting the torches aflame

The participants in the parade gather at various locations. As the night falls over the roaring sounds of drums and high pitched bagpiper they start marching down the Royal Mile. Royal Mile is the cobbled street that starts from the Edinburgh castle and continues downhill for a mile and is a popular tourist attraction in the city.

Braw and the brave leading the march
Braw and the brave leading the march
Torchlight parade progressing on the beats of loud drums and high pitched bagpipes
Faces. Emotions. Lights.
Faces. Emotions. Lights.
Light trails again!
Light trails again!
Music playing as the torchbearers arrive in the park

Fireworks from Calton Hill

All the torchbearers gather at the open space in the park at the end of Royal Mile. After that, the fireworks begin from the opposite hill: CaltonHill. This is one of the best fireworks event I have seen in last 1.5 years that I am here. So I’d definitely recommend visiting Edinburgh for New Years Eve. The NYE’s fireworks are held from the Castle premises.

Fireworks from Calton Hill with torchlights sprinkled in the dark
Fireworks from Calton Hill with torchlights sprinkled in the dark

When I took some of these shots in the freezing cold weather of late December more than an year ago, I was literally running in the dark for a better angle! I am smiling when I think of that now. It cost me one of my gloves (because I needed to remove it to click) but the memories are totally worth it.

From Calton Hill, the city of Edinburgh
From Calton Hill, the city of Edinburgh
Ice rink in the city centre
Ice rink in the city centre

Happy New Year folks

I hope you liked the Christmas tour of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Stay tuned, more of Scotland coming soon…

Happy New Year!!
Happy New Year!!
Photography Tips
How to capture light trails: idea is to keep the shutter open longer. Lowest ISO, longer shutter speeds, wide aperture work well together. A little practie and trial helps.
earthling

earthling

I am an earthling. I am an explorer. I like to keep my own pace, conquer new territories, meet new people, try new things and write stories about my experiences. I blog at bhingri.in. Tell me if you like it!

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