Family Ties

black and white, urban

Hamiton Gibson BellOne of the fantastic things about so much infromation being available  on-line is that one can piece together stories of those in cemetries. Perhaps it takes away from just imagining their lives, but personally I find it adds to the story.

Helen Cecilia Thomson, married Benjamin Bell in 1827. Her brother, James Gibson Thomson, married her sister-in-law, Grace Hamiton Bell in 1831. Benjamin died in the Isle of Man in 1843, with Helen living until she was 73 in the 1870’s.

James ran the family’s wines and spirit merchant business based at The Vaults in Leith, now the home of the Scottish Malt Whisky Society.

And now for something completely different

Blogging, Still Life

This is not the type of photography I’ve ever really thought about before. But I was inspired to give it a go following an article in the April edition of Digital Photographer.

I decided to go for something safe. This is a long way from good, but it did make me think! I wanted some strong sharp verticals that caught the light, and some contrasting colour and softness below. I was able to get that using a wide aperture. I’m quite happy with the apples and mango low down, even the pineapple and vagueness of texture in the material at the bottom was what I was looking for. But the bottle shows my lack of appreciation of  light in the moment.

There was a long window to camera left, three high level windows behind the camera, and a Manfrotto Lumie low to camera right. All of these sources have created distraction on the bottle. I should have repositioned to take advantage of the long window creating some edge light, somehow diffused or blocked the high level windows, and improvised a snout on the manfrotto to stop that horrible highlight hitting the glass above the label.

You live and learn!

Still Life1/250, f2.2, ISO160



Blogging, colour, urban

Another from Warriston Cemetry. This family name is well known and lives on with generations of Edinburgers. Sir James Young Simpson (1811 – 1870), or at least his surname, is best known for it’s association with Edinburgh’s principal maternity hospital. This tulip, I think – I’m not very good with flowers, almost radiated light from it’s centre, and sat within the monument that marks Simpson’s grave.

Simpson                       1/250, f/11, ISO160.

Simpson was a pioneer in the use of choloform in obstetric anaesthesia and at a time before the NHS would provide support to the poor. However even as a well to do Baronet and Obstetrician his family were not immune to the harshness of the age. The grave shows three of his children dying at ages 2, 3 and 15 years.

When Simpson died, it is reported that two thousand mourners followed the cortege, and 50,000 people lined the streets of Edinburgh.

Adam Black

colour, urban

These old cemetries are the resting palce for the entire social spectrum from a traceless mother with no name and a simple stone, through to this family, whose legacy appears in substantial stonework, the public record and in the history books. In this case, quite literally in ‘history’ books.

adam black1/200, f/5.0, ISO160

Adam Black created a publishing firm A&C Black (now part of Bloomsbury), that in his lifetime published three editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica and Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, twice served as Lord Provost of the city and was it’s MP for nine years. It’s little wonder his grave is marked with somewhat more panache than the unknown mother. But his legacy is perhaps not the most significant of Warriston’s residents. More about who that is in a couple of days.


Warriston Cemetry

black and white, Blogging, Uncategorized, urban

Tucked between the Water of Leith and Ferry Road is Warriston Cemetry. It is an overgrown cemetry with many ruinous stones and monuments. This was an unusual stone, simply saying “MOTHER” on a plain cross. It long ago had fallen off it’s plinth and is now embedded in the undergrowth, and there were no other clues of who mother was.

Warriston one1/250, f/5.0, ISO160

Edinburgh has a few overgrown cemetries. A number of cemetries were created under private ownership in the 19th Century. Many of these fell into disrepair during the 70’s and 80’s – all to be compulrsory purchased by the city council in the 90’s.

Allowing these sites and memorials to become so dilapidated is disrespectul, however I find them uniquely contemplative spaces.