Hidden Door

Spent saturday night at this year’s Hidden Door event on Kings Stables Road.  The basic premise is that a bunch of artists take over some abandoned building in Edinburgh, install some art, open a bar, get some bands on and generally have a thing.

The scale this year is bigger than last, which was held in Market Street Vaults.  This year it is tucked away in a courtyard and in what were at one time Council works buildings.  The art is interesting, and impressive to differing degrees. You can go for free during the day, or pay in the evening where there are also bands and a bit more of a buzz. Check out the programme for the week here.  You have until the 30th to check it out, i would say it was worth a look.

Added bonus, the band headlining Saturday called Numbers are Futile were pretty great.

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(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

Back on the horse

Looking at my last entry it’s been six months since I posted, and I’m pretty sure it has been at least four since I properly picked up a camera.  I don’t know why this has (hasn’t?) happened. I’ve been busy, but that hasn’t stopped me before. I’ve not been anywhere on holiday recently, but there is plenty to photograph every day in the street. I’ve been training pretty hard for the half marathon and few other races, but not every day. It’s not like I’m an athlete! I guess I just drifted away from photography until I got to a point where it wasn’t immediately second nature to pick up a camera as I walked out of the door. Well tonight, now that I’m a little injured and need a rest from miles and miles of running every day, I did pick up a camera and went for a little walk around the Old Town.  You don’t forget it but I do feel a little rusty.  Need to get back in the groove, got stag weekends, holidays and a week long wedding celebration for two of my best friends in France over the next few months.



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Perhaps disc pain and lower back muscle spasms aren’t such a totally bad thing.

(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

Light times


Over the last few years I have moved almost exclusively into black and white photography.  I’m not that great with colour.  I’m not colourblind, far from it, but for some reason when it comes to capturing images black and white is the way I see the world.  In some ways it is a cop out, I don’t need to worry about things like colour balance and time of day doesn’t effect the colours.  Black and white however requires a real understanding of how the light in an image is working, how your are capturing it, where it’s coming from and going to and how it reflects off surfaces. Composition too benefits from simplicity and graphic quality that is shown up more in mono.

Anyway, enough chatting. Was in Argyll at the weekend on the West coast of Scotland. Plenty of light, plenty of chances to play with composition. As ever, not much colour in the way I saw it!









(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

Taking Stock(bridge)

When things get busy with work, your miles on the bike begin to increase and (thanks to an excellent osteopath) your long term hip injury begins to feel better and the running is less painful something has got to give.  In my case it has been the time spent with the camera. In fact it seems to be a theme this year that I don’t get to spend as much time behind the lens as I did last year.  Today was a rare occasion where I was able to grab a camera and take it with me for a lovely Edinburgh morning with the lady and a bunch of friends down at the market followed by a late breakfast (including a delicious Bloody Mary, there are perks of being grown up!)

Getting the hang of Lightroom over Photoshop now, to the point that most of my basic processing is being done solely in Lightroom. Don’t have as much control, but you do seem to get a consistency over a range of shots.  Always found that Photoshop made you work as if every shot was an individual piece, which could often make it hard to link things together if you were telling a story. Lightroom makes this seem easier at least.











(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)


The name from this blog is cribbed from an old Edinburgh set police drama starring Mark Strong called Low Winter Sun.  The name always appealed to me, and must have appealed to some American TV producer too when they decided to remake it, again with Mark Strong, but this time set in Detroit.


Always thought they missed a trick moving the remake to the other side of the pond.  I’ve seen Detroit, I liked it, and even though it was before I was really into photography I can remember it holding great potential for interesting urban images. The name Low Winter Sun however was never better suited than to Edinburgh in the autumn and early winter.  The light is soft and harsh at the same time, it comes at you from angles you don’t expect and lights up the city, old and new, in different ways even day.  It’s my favourite time of year and when the day is clear one of my favourite things to do is to grab a camera and head out.


Of course it starts to get dark earlier and earlier, and when that happens another part of Edinburgh culture comes to the fore… a group of friends, a big restaurant table, lots of wine and fun times.















(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

Lost and Found


Yesterday morning around 5am I lost my country. Or perhaps it lost me, I’m not sure. All I know is that it feels like it isn’t there anymore. It’s going to take some time for me to find it again but I am pretty certain in time I will, but in the last 24 hours I have come to a realisation that I think will make that search easier and it is this: nothing has actually changed.

I looked around me and saw that my friends and family, the people I work with, the community in which I live and the people I was fighting to help are still there. The things that defined what I believed in, had faith in, was willing to take a leap into the dark for, haven’t gone away.

I am certain that over the last two years and more everyone who made that decision to mark the box next to “Yes” on their ballot in Thursday’s referendum for Scottish independence underwent a certain amount of introspection. We all know a little bit more about ourselves than we did at the beginning of the process.

Personally I had to question much of what I would have previously used to define myself. My heart has left the football club that I grew up with, finding the behavior and beliefs of too many of its support incompatible with the future I wanted to live in. My head has abandoned the party I have voted for since I was able, its values and actions moved too far from the principals which formed the basis of my support for it. An institution which I grew up trusting and believing, using it as a yardstick for truth, and seeing it as a beacon of democracy in the world has so fundamentally disappointed me that I may forever assume the worst of it despite wishing I didn’t have to. I have learned things about family and friends which has caused me to see some in new lights, both positively and negatively. Much of the core of what I thought was ‘me’ had to change and I know that this happened to so many of those who yearned to use that new knowledge to build a better place for themselves, their children and those around them.


I as stood by Holyrood on the evening of the vote, taking pictures and taking in the warm feeling of anticipation of the birth of a new challenge, a new nation, I truly believed that enough of us had gone through this journey too and that we were all ready to move away from our assumptions and unquestioned beliefs but it was not to be. The majority of us had either gone through this journey too and come to a different conclusion, or decided that the road was not worth traveling.

Its tough when all this work feels like it has come to nothing. Its hard to know how to react, what to do next, whether it is worth going on. Personally I am going to have to take some time to figure out what to do with my newfound self. I need to pick apart the knowledge of this setback, separate the true reasons for hope from the platitudes and wishful thinking. What I will say is this. Where you live, the people you live with and the problems you saw and wanted to solve are still there, they haven’t changed. The reasons for embarking on the journey are still there so don’t turn back.

Take a new road, try a new path, keep striving. Don’t take heart from the nature of the defeat, forget the defeat altogether and remember why you played the game in the first place.

I can’t promise you its a solution, but its a start.




(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

Solidarity? Aye.

I haven’t been writing here as often as I thought I would do.  After I posted “An Open Letter” a few months ago it started to do the rounds online and I thought maybe I would start to write more often about the Scottish Independence referendum. The problem is that I have a full time job, I like to spend my spare time running or on the bike, and have no inclination to be starting crowdfunding campaigns, spending hours online chasing sources or arguing with minor Labour Party functionaries on Twitter.


I have however been doing a lot of talking to people and reading of views on both sides and have been becoming increasingly frustrated at a line of argument that I am coming across again and again.  This argument, usually from No voting Labour supporters, is summed up by this blog post by broadcaster Tom Morton. It essentially boils down to saying a combination of the principal of old fashioned left-wing solidarity is combined with an inherent distrust of what is termed ‘nationalism’.

I am in no way attacking Tom Morton here, he is entitled to his opinion as everyone is, even if I totally disagree.  I reference his post here only because it was while reading this that I was tipped over the edge into needing to write my response.

It is important when thinking about this to distinguish between ‘nationalism’ and ‘nationality’.  Everyone has a nationality whether they like it or not, it is about identity yes, but on a basic level it is just administrative. In Scotland some see themselves as Scottish, others as British, but whatever side you are on you have a nationality and under the current arrangement we are all living in the ‘UK’ at present.

Next Stop Brazil

But what if my nationality being ‘UK’ leads to me living in a political and economic system which I consider to be increasingly unequal, undemocratic and illegitimate? What if I look at how things are arranged and run where I live and feel that to continue the way things are going the possibility of changing these things is an increasing impossibility? What if in that in my desire to change that political paradigm I see the best and most viable (in fact only possible) way to do that is to vote Yes in September?

What if most of the arguments that me and many like me put forward for this course of action are based on this desire to remake the way we are governed and that the definition of ‘we’ includes anyone who lives, works and resides in the area we call Scotland? Because THAT is the case that is being put by so many of those who are dismissed as ‘nationalists’.

Tom’s blog (and so many others, including those in national newspapers) are full of evocative language designed to create an emotive response to something that in my experience exists primarily in the minds of those like Tom Morton who are fighting an enemy that isn’t there. It is argument full of big and scary words that is swinging into thin air because the problem most Yes voters have with being part of the UK isn’t based on pride, nationalism, separation or hatred, but in a desire to create fundamental change in the way the decisions that shape our lives are organised.

When starting these ‘Scotland’ vs ‘Britian’ identity arguments the term that is thrown around so often is ‘proud Scot’, I don’t call myself that, and I likely won’t even after a Yes. What I will be proud of, if we do decide to take control of our lives fully and with a desire to change things, is the people of Scotland for thinking perhaps things can be different.

Donaldson College


The next part of the argument is always that old chestnut solidarity.  If I’m not a nationalist, I hear you say, then how can I not want to stay together in solidarity with all the left thinking brothers and sisters in the rest of the UK who face the same problems as us in Scotland?  I honestly think that for the ‘politically aware’, and certainly liberal/left, at least that is the essential argument between Yes and No votes, and in the end it comes down to your faith in how things can be changed for the better.  Everyone agrees that we need change. Some still think there is a chance that this is possible across the UK and within its governing systems, others think that it is too far gone and drastic change is needed.

I look around the UK and what I see are ruling elites that are so entrenched in the realms of class, wealth and big business that change from inside the current structures has passed the point of no-return. I fully include the Labour Party in this and consider any suggestion that the solution is simply to vote them in again and all will be fixed to be utterly laughable, they are as fully captured by the establishment as any other group. For these reasons I reject the ‘solidarity’ argument as one that is outdated and completely impossible under the current ‘rules of the game’.

The only way to bring about the change is a fundamental undermining of the governing structures of these islands, and I believe in my heart of hearts that the independence of Scotland will lead to a remaking of politics across the British Isles for the good of everyone.


If you still believe that the power of solidarity (whatever that even means), the current Labour Party and whatever other levers of democracy currently available to the ‘people’ have a chance of overturning the decade long march towards corporate/establishment hegemony then by all means vote no. If we all come together we can override the privatisation, the obsession with profit over people, the powered of big business and finance and the City of London, the moneyed elites, the unelected Lords, the gerrymandered and unrepresentative first past the post voting system, the main political parties who are more interested in their triangulated positions in the centre right than following their principles. I just don’t see it, but I see a possibility with Yes.

If Scotland votes Yes then all of these structures will be up for negotiation.  There will be a need to re-examine and remake the structures of governance across these islands.  The United Kingdom is a construct, a system of ruling that has been honed over hundreds of years to protect the status quo, the powerful, the entitled.  No one is saying that Scots are inherently ‘different’ to those in the rest of the UK, that we are more caring, more intelligent, in some way exceptional, but the act of asserting our independence and taking responsibility for our future will be an act of democratic will which can remind those in power who they are really working for.


My No voting left wing friends, that is the real solidarity of the independence debate, that is how the system can be changed in a way that might actually happen, because under the system we have it just isn’t no matter how often you rebrand the Labour Party.

What annoys me so much about pieces like the Tom Morton one because this rampant attacking of an invented ‘nationalism’ is cheap, crass and unnecessary and appeals to the very nationalism it purports to be so afraid of. It paints supporters of independence as something they are so often not and misses the crux of the argument entirely. The ‘solidarity’ he talks of can exist across administrative borders in the same way it supposedly already does internationally. He backs up his arguments with the same emotive language he attacks nationalists for using but offers no solutions to the wider problems. A Yes vote has the potential to push back against the ills that face our (and in this I mean the whole of the UK) society, so far I have seen very little alternatives from those (particularly within Labour) who claim to also want the social justice part but disagree with the independence bit.

A vote for independence may have questions with answers you don’t find adequate, it may be a risk, it may be a leap into the unknown, but don’t try and attack it for not being progressive enough because we can easily see the alternative.



That's a Tram


(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

Time Delay

Modern photography is amazing. You can do pretty much anything with a modern digital image, more than I could ever possibly hope to do or even know I can achieve. Film emulation has become so good now through plugins from Adobe, DxO, VSCO and others that it is even beaching increasingly unnecessary to shoot with film even if you are trying to make your photos look like they were shot with film!


Nothing however beats the feeling of picking up your processed film from the lab and getting to see for the first time the results of photographs taken days, weeks or even (especially in my case) months before.  There has been so much written about the difference in the length of the “feedback loop” film gives you photography I’m not going to go on about it here. I’m just going to post my favoutites



















(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

Spring Clean

So its been more than a month since I blogged or posted any serious photography anywhere.  Haven’t stopped taking photographs, but as happens to us all work, other hobbies and general life have taken over recently.  A lot of the time that in the past I would have devoted to photography has been given over to training for the Edinburgh Half Marathon in three weeks time.

Aiming for a 1 hr 45 minute time so having to take it seriously.  Am running to raise money for two local Edinburgh charities, so if you have a minute please take a look here and think about making a donation.

What little I have taken have been primarily 35mm film in recent weeks, rolls of which are away at the lab as we speak.  Should get them back later in the week so will post them when I do, in the meantime here’s some digital work from April.


Shandwick Sky

Grangemouth from Culross



Culross Lane


(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)

How I learned to stop being afraid and love independence…



The idea of an independent Scotland is scary.


Scary enough that sometimes the thought keeps me up at night. We have been part of the United Kingdom for 300 years. In that time we became part of the industrial powerhouse of the world. I mean we invented things, and exported both knowledge and actual tangible stuff! In fact we invented pretty much all of the things. So many things that we had to go forth and share them with the world.


Others at times envied us and our empire. First the French and the Dutch (they were brushed away with muskets and cavalry charges, the Russians in Crimea too). The Americans got a little big for their boots, but we let them go, no hard feelings and all that. Others were more difficult to persuade so we had to fight a couple of the world’s biggest wars and sacrifice an Empire, in reality if not in our minds.

In recent times we have been beset with all sorts of stuff. The liberating of financial markets has shown us that capital is fleeting, and globalisation has proven that jobs are even more so. International terrorism has shown us that the best way to defend against the ‘asymmetric threats’ of this brave new world is by acting first, asserting our authority before they can and maintaining a deterrent that would be just as effective if it didn’t work but we just told folk it did (think about it, those missile tubes could be empty and it would do the job just as well).


At home the economy became the thing. The ‘market’ became all important, and if you didn’t know what that was then you better wise up and learn all about it because the era of the Government deciding how your life would turn out was over. We have new rules now and these rules are irrefutable. We have maths and stuff to back them up, and principals like ‘perfect information’, ‘free movement of capital’, ‘rational actors’, ‘no barriers to entry.’ Don’t worry that they all don’t apply right now. Give us time, we will sort them out. For all of us. It’ll trickle down to you. Just you wait.


We all learned this and we all know this. This is “the way things are”, it can’t be changed. It’s like the laws of physics. They are social structures but they aren’t controlled by people, governments and least of all policy. Even parties who thought that they could control them admitted (late, around 1997) that all we can do is tinker around the edges.


There. Is. No. Alternative.


Except there is. Or maybe there might be.


The funny thing about the independence referendum in Scotland is that it is difficult to pin down what exactly it is promising. There is the party of “government”, the SNP, that is offering us a manifesto of policies, the way they would like to do things if they had free reign over the governance of the country. I, like you possibly, am uneasy with that because it sounds like one group angling for total control. It would sound less like that if one or two of the other major groups/parties would offer a vision too, but that frankly isn’t going to happen for political reasons, so let it go.


So what are we left with?


We are left an alternative vision for a way of doing things differently, offered by lots of people and meaning different things to pretty much all of them. There’s a funny thing about visions, lots of people have them.


We live in a world where Blair promised that ‘things can only get better’. But we also live in a world where JFK promised that we will go to the moon by the end of the decade, where Dr King had a dream and where Dr Beveridge envisioned a National Health Service available to everyone and free at the point of use. There are lots of visions promised for an independent Scotland, and many of them may not come true, but no one ever achieved anything by succumbing to fear of the unknown.


What we do know is what succumbing to the fear will bring, we have evidence from the past for that.


The ‘security’ of the British state has led to the squandering of our natural resources, the decimation of of industry, the subordination of our culture and the loss of of our democratic voice. It arguably may have sheltered us from some of the storms that battered the 20th century but it has made us complicit in just as many.


Now we are promised more of the vicious austerity that has battered the least fortunate. We are promised greater autonomy but not only are the promises muddled they are similar to those we have had before and never been met. Ironically the same people who are feeding us stories of uncertainty and chaos in the event of independence are increasingly facilitating the possibility of leaving the European Union. We are told that something that we have shared for the last 300 years will no longer be ours and we will have no choice over the money we carry in our pockets. So what are we left to do? Do we chose the uncertainty and hope of striking out on our own and giving it a shot? Of trying to do things differently, even if we don’t know what those things might be? Or do we stick with the known, the familiar and the knowledge that while things will be more certain, that certainty brings with it the continuation down a road that many of us do not want to travel.


In 2016 we will potentially hold our first general election in an independent Scotland. That will be our next big choice but it will be a choice we all make together, in our interests and on our terms. That is incredibly exciting, and scary but in a good way. I’m going to take that leap, come join me.




(All photographs copyright Lewis Brown)