The Edinburgh August Walking Challenge

I originally posted this a few years ago on a different site. The workshops during the festival period have been really busy and it is a challenge getting around the city with so many people visiting. Here is a tongue-in-cheek guide to the way that tourists block the streets of Edinburgh to prevent us getting around. In my research I have identified the top 11 (top 10’s are so passee) tactics that I have seen working well. Feel free to let me know if I have missed any and I’ll add to the list.

1. The Walk Apart

This is the simplest of the tactics and involves the tourists walking side by side. There are two key elements to the walk though, the first is velocity which will be at dawdling pace and the second is spacing – it is key that the distance apart is just insufficient to allow the local to cut between the two tourists and also sufficient to ensure that the gap between roads and buildings doesn’t allow a sidewards overtaking manoeuvre.

Fig 1. The Walk Apart

2. The Chicane

This is a variation of The Walk Apart and is again a dawdling paced tactic. Here the tourists not only create a gap that is impossible to cut between, they also create an added dimension of one walking slightly ahead of the other, making the overtake much more difficult.

Fig 2. The Chicane

3. The Diamond

We are now getting into much more complicated patterns and using larger groups of tourists. I have noted that this one is particularly popular with the latin tourists (possibly due to the size of families) and is a combination of The Walk Apart and The Chicane. The tourists create a diamond shape which contains all the blocking difficulties of the first two tactics and brings them together into one of the hardest formations to beat.

Fig. 3 The Diamond

4. The ‘Look, Edinburgh has a Castle’

This tends to be a Princes Street tactic, and is most successfully deployed by the asian tourist. They lure the unwitting local into thinking that the tourist is ‘one of us’ by walking at a good pace – this is the case until they spring the surprise manoeuvre of stopping instantly to stand and stare at the Castle that suddenly appears from nowhere. The effect is almost impossible for the local to avoid.

Fig. 4 The ‘Look, Edinburgh has a Castle’

5. The Crab

A variant of The Walk Apart which requires the tourists to walk in the same slow pace, however, as the local approaches for the attempted overtake, the tourists start to veer toward the road forcing the local to either slow down or move into the road and face the wrath of the Lothian Transport driver.

Fig 5 The Crab

6. The 90 Degree

This isn’t too dissimilar to The ‘Look, it’s Edinburgh Castle’ but can take place on any street that contains the tourist tat shops. As the tourist is drawn to the shiny things (or more likely tartan and ginger things) in the shop window they create a much larger obstacle as they stop and turn. The key element here is that one of the tourists will stand in the middle of the pavement whilst the other one stares.

Fig 6 The 90 Degree

7. The Umbrella

Really only used during the Fringe period when the annual monsoon season arrives. Here the cunning tourist uses the umbrella as a weapon to prevent any local brave enough to attempt to overtake The Walk Apart. There are, of course, many variants of this tactic as it can be used with any of the other manoeuvres.

Fig 7 The Umbrella

8. The Child

Here the weapon of choice is a small child. The tourists look to have created The Walk Apart poorly and have left a gap large enough for the local make the cut-through overtake. However, at the last minute this is blighted by the appearance of the small child who will invariably undertake their own Look, Edinburgh has a castle and stop sufficiently quickly to allow the tourist to plough into the child who is able to deploy the head to the groin.

Fig 8. The Child

9. The Suitcase

This tactic tends to be deployed close to Waverley Station and requires the tourists to find the busiest time of the day and drag an over-sized suitcase through the streets. It is always good for the tourist to deploy this in conjunction with The Crab. This is another manoeuvre which can result in physical injury to the local and is therefore highly popular with the tourists.

Fig 9 The Suitcase

10. The Street Performer

The next two tactics are generally deployed on High Street (or Royal Mile as the tourists prefer to incorrectly call it) and are aided and abetted by performers. The first is the large crowd that will gather around yet another person creating a tight-rope by two of said tourists and then walking across it whilst juggling sharpened knives or fire. The tourists gather in droves to ensure that there is no way for the local who has to walk along High Street to perhaps collect a parking permit from the council offices (no local would choose to walk along High Street in August).

Fig 10 The Street Performer

11. The Drama Student

Again a High Street tactic, this time involving a second year drama student who believes that the most innovative way to hand out flyers is to lie in the middle of the street or stand on a bollard, after all, nobody has ever thought of that before.. The tourist will interact with this display and cause an impossible blockage for the council office attending local to pass.

Fig 11 The Drama Student

I am sure that now the tactics of the tourists have been revealed that there will be some new ones that will appear. I urge any resident of Edinburgh who identifies either a way to combat the above tactics or identifies new ones to be deployed so that I can provide a public service to the locals of Edinburgh.

Telling a Social Story

I ran a different workshop to usual yesterday in the Gorbals with Oatland Development Trust. The aim of the session was to show how you could take more effective photos on fairly simple cameras that can then be used on blogs and other social media platforms. As with most of my workshops there was a small amount of theory and then quite a bit of practice before we reviewed the images taken by the attendees. It was great to see everyone really thinking about the photos they were taking, using all the composition techniques we talked about and then being happy to decide which of their photographs should capture  what happened in the workshop.

I can easily tailor this session to any organisation who would like their volunteers to help provide images that allow supporters to engage more. Just drop me a mail if you would like more information.

Here are a few of the photos from the attendees.

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Wilkie_J001I just wanted to share the progress that attendees on my Switch to Manual Workshop can see in just four hours. This shot was taken today by Julie Wilkie who attended the workshop having only ever used the automatic functions on her Panasonic Lumix Bridge Camera. Yes, in just four hours Julie had gone from allowing her camera to control her creativity to deciding herself how she wanted her image to appear. I think you’ll agree, this is really impressive!

If you’d like to see this kind of improvement in your own photography, book now to attend a Switch to Manual workshop.

Take a photo a day

Just like playing a sport or a musical instrument, the way to taking great photos is to practice. Find a reason every day to capture an image and you’ll soon start to see scenes that people will like to view. This was a quick five minute snap walking to the train station and shows that Edinburgh has superb opportunities for photographs outside of the Castle and Calton Hill.

St James Walkway bridge example of photography practice

Rain won’t stop play

Edinburgh has a reputation for its weather with all four seasons occurring within a few hours. The attendees on the Switch to Manual workshops this weekend experienced sunshine, showers and torrential rain, yet despite this, kept shooting and produced some great images. I find it so rewarding that people attend the sessions with a fear of the M button on their camera dial and leave four hours later with a really good understanding of how to take a well composed and exposed photograph and vowing never to return to the A button.

Thanks to Joyce, Audrey and the two Johns for allowing me to share some of the photos they took over the weekend.

If you would like to learn how to become more creative with your photography there are workshops held most weekends and we shall shortly be expanding to seven days a week. An availability calendar is on the Switch to Manual Workshop page.

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Edinburgh Photography Workshop Switch to Manual attendee image

Sunshine and Showers

It was great to wake up to sunshine this morning in preparation for a Switch to Manual workshop with Angela. However, as can always be the case with Edinburgh, if you want to see different weather wait five minutes. Angela coped magnificently with changing weather conditions and it was brilliant to see her really get to grips with understanding how to expose an image using all the manual controls after expressing her fear of the buttons at the start of the workshop. As you can see, she did a great job after only four hours!

Example of Leading Lines on Edinburgh Photography Workshop

Royal Mile Piper

Example of framing and thirds on Switch to Manual Workshop

Victoria Street Arches

Twelve months of Photographic Lessons

I follow a number of websites on twitter to find really interesting articles. This one tells the story of a photographer who decided over twelve months that he was going to improve his photography and really hits the spot for me. If you are based in Edinburgh the Edinburgh Photographic Society is a great way to do Steps 1 and 2 but I think the most important tip was in Step 3 and 4 – Get to know the basics of composition and learn to use your camera – This is exactly the purpose of my Switch to Manual Workshop, so why spend 12 months getting better when you can fast-track all that learning into three or four hours?

Photography Lesson #2

I’m going to produce videos from time to time that cover topics that I don’t cover in my photography workshops. This is the second video I have added to my YouTube Channel but the first one covering a lesson topic. One of the things I have found is that months after you have taken a shot, somebody asks you for a copy of the image so it’s important to organise your photos in a way that you can find them easily. This video shows you how I load photographs from my camera onto the computer and then mark them so I know which ones I am going to edit.

Please add comments to let me know if you enjoyed the video and any other topics you would like me to cover.


Launch Deals

Hi, and welcome to Edinburgh Photography Workshop. I have previously run my Switch to Manual workshop under the name of Trixta Photography but I think now is the time to rebrand my workshops as I start to expand beyond lessons for beginners to more general workshops that can suit photographers of all levels.

There are two great deals available until 16 January 2014 for two of my workshops. Switch to Manual and Night Photography are usually £75 per person, however, if you book your workshop before 16 January you can attend for the bargain price of £50, a reduction of 33% – you can attend the workshop anytime until 30 June 2014. You can see more about these workshops by clicking above and then specifying the date that you would like to attend on the booking form.

I’ve also added a short video that gives you a flavour of what will be coming soon on Edinburgh Photography Workshop.