A little over two years ago I posted a series of images taken on the Glasgow riverside around the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and in particular the Norman Foster designed auditorium (The Armadillo). I had little time available to me then, needing to squeeze in my exploration between the end of the working day and meeting colleagues for dinner. Looking back at the shots now I’m still pleased with what I produced given those time pressures.
This week I was back in the city for just a day, and surprisingly for October enjoyed a comfortably warm evening where I had enough time to be more relaxed in my choice of imagery. I had another tool at my disposal too, a tripod, which meant that even though I didn’t arrive until just before sundown I was able to go on shooting knowing my camera would be steadied when I needed to opt for longer exposures.
Normally this would also have the benefit of smoothing out the waves and ripples of the passing water to an ethereal smoothness, but on this occasion there was no need.
Arriving first at Pacific Quay I shot the Science Centre there and was amazed at the mirror-like surface of the waters in this offshoot. It’s a rarity for there to be so little wind as to produce no disturbance so I spent some time here as I expected the River Clyde itself would be disappointing by comparison.
Appropriately for a Science Centre I think the resultant image has a sci-fi feel to it, and for the purist and those who know the area I will confess to flipping the image horizontally for the simple reason that I think it “reads” better rising up from left to right.
Happy with my results here I moved on a few hundred yards to the river proper and the scene of my earlier visit, though this time on the opposite bank which meant none of the detail shots that I’d enjoyed last time (though with a couple of footbridges to choose from it wasn’t an insurmountable problem). Still, why repeat yourself when you have an alternative possibility before you. More mirroring from the silently flowing waters; the Clyde was as unperturbed here as in the small dock nearby.
There have been some changes in the intervening months. The Hydro building which was nearing completion last time has since been completed, including catching fire and being repaired, and was a host venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The river frontage is therefore free of the visual clutter of a construction site now and is a visual treat, so much so that I wasn’t the only photographer out to play; a French student cycling by stopped to capture the ‘Armadillo’ on her iPhone, a young Glaswegian woman was setting up a tripod by the Clyde Arc, while a man of similar age to me was shooting handheld with his Canon. A short conversation produced a surprise. Not only was he about my age, but he too was a visitor to the city. He was from Darlington, just a short distance from Jane, and the town where I will be working for most of the weekends this month.
I wasn’t too worried about the competition there was plenty of inspiration to share.
In processing my images I adopted some extreme colourings, feeling that this might add to the futuristic feel of the buildings in a way akin to the jacket of a science fiction novel.
One shot however, earned a more painterly treatment which brought out the hues of the setting sun and made me think more of the history of this stretch of water. The colossal Finnieston Crane is a reminder of the past, when this area was far more industrial; a dockland landscape with a multitude of warehouses. Unlike Little Germany in Bradford where the old building have been restored, here they have been swept away to create room for a new vision. Much as I appreciate that vision, I can’t help but wonder what was sacrificed to achieve it.
One final irony. In 1980 the French film director Bertrand Tavernier (renowned in my mind for the jazz film Round Midnight) released Death Watch, a science fiction tale where the vision of the two main characters is central to the plot. Where did he choose to film this? In and around Finnieston, but BEFORE it took on its present futuristic look. Now that is vision.