Rules vs Asthetics

      No Comments on Rules vs Asthetics

I have a second piece published in Landscape Photography Magazine. This time it is based on one of my favorite hangups; photographic rules:

Okay, let’s just admit it, I do have a bee in my bonnet. Well, to be fair and honest, the bonnet’s so full of them It would be difficult to squeeze another one in. But, the one in question is that good old one about compositional rules in photography.

If I was ever going to write a big thick book about photography it would be about composition, and if I was going to write a really slim one it would be about composition. I think I first said that over thirty years ago when I was a very cocky 20-something and it was in a response to someone trying to explain the rule of thirds to an architect and the architect saying “don’t you really mean the 1.1618 golden ratio”. Now I think I have got it down to an essay…

The problem with compositional rules is that we can all meaningfully draw valid construction lines on any reasonably good picture, just as well as we can meaningfully draw similarly valid lines on some truly awful pictures. Indeed, the support for golden ratio of 1.1618 holds up about as much as the da Vinci Code – its downfall is that we, as analytical entities, will see patterns and meanings in anything and everything.

The problem is that we are not actually talking about rules, we are talking about aesthetics. Aesthetics are much less quantifiable than rules because, at the same time, they are … Read more on

Landscape Photography Magazine Article April 2018

Landscape Photography Magazine Article April 2018

Being Exhibited in Athens

      No Comments on Being Exhibited in Athens

I have one of my pictures being exhibited at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens in their International Photographers Fine Art Group Exhibition between the 2nd and 15th February 2018.

It was taken at the same time as the panorama which I use in the Blog and the landing page of the website.

The amazing beach at Loch Nevis

The amazing beach at Loch Nevis

It was one of those perfect unplanned moments, the tide was completely out, the visibility was superb, and the sky just mimicked the exposed beach, all I really had to do was capture it in very wide angle as the kids were running about me more interested in the unbelievable shell bounty that surrounded them.

It is at the end of the day one of my favorite black and white shots, and it is the way that the scene looks best. What the grayscale gives to the scene, that colour does not, is the scale that deep black gives when there is nothing other than white to detract the viewers eye.

What’s 500px worth?

      No Comments on What’s 500px worth?

Well to me its a place where I post up miscellaneous shots and proof of concept shots to gain some insight into their worth. I never really post up anything I consider finished work.

Why this, well I genuinely need some neutral other person insight into their actual worth. Okay, I know what technically makes a good photo, and I know my own aesthetic taste; but, and it is a big but, from my own personal ivory tower I don’t actually know what the not emotionally attached Jo Public opinion of my work is. And that is my Achilles Heel.

That is where 500px is good, it is low on values of social interaction, so the following you have is not based on your sociability with others, it is truer to the body of your photographic worth.

500px is on the other-hand burdened by a natural bias towards the over processed glossy magazine look, which is not really my thing. So I know it would be exceptional if I ever managed to get a fabled pulse of 99.9 with my general work (its not that I couldn’t do this if I wanted to as it is after all it is just technique, it’s I’m not really worried about it).

Having said that however, I have managed to get a top of the Popular for a couple of categories, and I have wallowed in my satisfaction/smugness none the less. Who ever said I wasn’t contrarian.

Petzval Lens shot of summer grass

Petzval Lens shot of summer grass that headed the Pulse scoring for Abstracts on 500px

Landscape Photography Magazine October 2017

Well Getting published is always great thing, whither its just on your craft as a writer or on your skill as a photographer.

This time its is a blend of both.

In Landscape Photography Magazine’s October 2017 edition I have a piece titled “Who Needs Sharpness?” and looks at my project using a Petzval Projection lens to capture images of the seasons without relying on sharpness as a primary tool.

The article can be found on the following URL:

An autumnal image of Katsura leaves in the wind.

An autumnal image of Katsura leaves in the wind.


Ah Iceland

      No Comments on Ah Iceland
Iceland's Strokkur Geysir

Iceland’s Strokkur Geysir

Well lets just say Iceland is on occasion jaw-dropping, but expensive. It is on the level of expensive that when on the return budget airline and you see the in-flight catering then you think “good grief that’s cheep”…

But is it worth it, well yes. Essentially because it is so different to anything else I have seen. But, if it is your first time there, just be the tourist and treat it as a photographic reconnaissance trip – you will want to return.

One thing, if you do go don’t skimp on the hire car, there is only so much a bottom of the line hire car can comfortably do – and don’t forget to get good damage waiver insurance before you go. The roads are excellent on the whole, but you can suddenly find you have gone from a full width paved road to an unpaved one with just 100m notice.

A bodgers guide to using projection lenses

Copyright Scot Gillespie 2017

Copyright Scot Gillespie 2017

There are a few ways to make effective use of projection lenses on DSLRs and system compacts, the simple and the complex. I’m somewhere in-between.

My favourite interchangeable method is to make use of a relatively cheap Chinese M42x1mm to M52x0.75mm focussing helicoid, with the M42 end going into a AF confirming adapter for the camera.

At the M52 end I use a step-down ring, with the inner reamed down to fit the shaft of the projector lens. When the lens is aligned correctly in the step-down ring, the ring is glued to the shaft of the projector lens.

This then gives you a system where one focussing adapter can be used with multiple M52 mounted lenses.

Some lenses have shafts that limit their ability to reach infinity by this method, and I have used a pipe cutter to trim the shaft close to the last element, this way a more practical range can be achieved.

Dam rules about nothing

      No Comments on Dam rules about nothing

Copyright Scot Gillespie 2015

If ever I was going to write a big thick book about photography it would be about composition, and if I was going to write a really slim one it would be about composition. I think I first said that over thirty years ago and it was in a response to someone trying to explaining the thirds rule to an architect and the architect saying “don’t you really mean 1.1618”.

The problem is that I can meaningfully draw construction lines based on any composition philosophy on any well framed picture, almost as well as I can meaningfully draw similarly valid lines on some truly awful pictures.

Essentially I generally now tend to blissfully ignore composition rules completely, as I have come to the decision that they are pure bunkum – indeed a little bit of research can even show up how much the golden rule of 1.1618 holds up about as much as the da Vinci Code.

What bubbles your bokeh

      No Comments on What bubbles your bokeh
Purple Maple and Bokeh

Copyright 2016 Scot Gillespie

It is fair to say there is an awful lot of nonsense talked about bubbly bokeh, so I think I’ll just add to it…

This is not some mystical preserve of Meyer Trioplan lenses, nor is it just limited to the preserve of triplet lenses, it is simply a characteristic where the lens gets the chance to reflect back in on itself halfway down the lens barrel.

Most of the time this effect gets simply blocked out by the placement of the iris mechanism, so the edge ring of reflection never gets formed. Generally most lens designers would frown on this undesirable effect, but some just thought of it as a trivial matter, as who in there right mind would want to use the lens wide open anyway.

But trioplans reputation is unfortunately a bit of hype, and they really just inhabit the no-man’s land in this category; they are not the sharpest, they are not the best made, and they don’t form the best bubbles – and oh yeh, and they are ridiculously overpriced.

My favourite solution is to use triplet (or triplet derived) slide projector lenses, These, depending on the maker, will give you bokeh to die for and in some cases better sharpness than a wide open trioplan.

In the above shot (sharpness was not the aim, light and texture was) I used a Chiyoko P-Rokkor 75mm f2.5 lens from a ​ Minolta Mini projector. However, the key to the effect is not the lens, but highlights of the correct luminosity in the background, so foliage in the woods is always a good place to start..

A good deep panorama

      No Comments on A good deep panorama
Copyright Scot Gillespie 2016

Copyright Scot Gillespie 2016

Where a panorama is good is where you take a wide sweep of around 180 degrees (or more) to convey an extreme letterbox of what is in front of you, capturing the full essence of what you wish to convey. The problem you have when you view becomes so wide angle is that you loose a lot of scale and grandeur that hills and mountains in the distance naturally give you.

This can be frustrating, very frustrating. In my head there is a panorama of the Skye Cuillins from Sligachan Bridge, in reality have I ever been able to capture anything like this – nope not a chance, not even close. The problem, is monocular photographic reality, not how you visualize it in life, or recreated thought, As most of us are blessed with stereoscopic binocular vision, in consequence we don’t actually need visual markers in the picture to give us depth or in consequence scale.

The panorama above has tons of depth in it due to the remains of Bad Eddies Boat in the foreground, without this or something lesser in terms of contrast or size then the shot would be very two dimensional, and as a panorama it would just simply have been lacking.