Weir, Dean village, Edinburgh

September 2021 - Down river

Edinburgh’s festivals fall in August which, in recent years, means one thing… rain. Sure enough, the month started with a series of short, sharp monsoons that caused temporary local flooding but the weather soon dried up to see August out in a mini heatwave. The sun was very welcome as it allowed our bees to find the heather and skies to turn orange at the end of the day.

Photographically, I spent much of the month down on the Water of Leith. Capturing abstract images of moving water has become a bit of an obsession and I spent some time at the weir beside Saughton Park. The river’s low water level made the riverbed vegetation visible and created some unexpected colour. Meanwhile, the in-take pipe to the mini hydro generator on the weir (that supplies power to the park) created some interesting swirls. I posted the images on the Friends of Saughton Park Facebook page. Their website has been an interesting experiment for me. Other photographers have posted excellent pictures of wildlife and flowers from and around the park but there was a dearth of abstract images. Rather than compete with others, I was interested to gauge the reaction to my water-based abstract images and was glad to see that they seemed to go down well. This style of photography requires some understanding of how the water’s flow over a period of time will portray itself in a picture, which can be built up with experience and plenty of ‘trial and error.’

The low water table also exposed the brickwork that supports the Dean village weir on the Water of Leith. Standing a few metres high to create more of a waterfall, the flow is usually constant thereby hiding what lies behind its liquid curtain. The brickwork consisted of neatly laid stone blocks covered in algae and with the occasional fern taking root. It left me wondering how old those blocks might be and, come the next rain, when we might see them again.

A visit to Colinton village gave me some interesting abstract photographs of flowing water and reflections of the Water of Leith. In a quiet spot along the river, it was soothing to have the place to myself for an hour or more and to enjoy the sight and sound of the river as it runs through leafy woodland.

I took a drive into the Lammermuir Hills to find my annual picture of a red grouse in heather. This year’s bloom did not seem as vibrant as last year but the hills still gave off a purple hue. The general consensus is that grouse have struggled this year and I only found a few gathering within reach of the roadside. I posted the photograph on my Facebook page.

My final trip of the month was a walk around Edinburgh’s city centre. It’s amazing how one overlooks what lies on the doorstep and I am now looking to build up a portfolio of images of the capital. It was good to reacquaint myself with some of the closes and viewpoints of this picturesque city, while the Royal Mile was vibrant with tourists and festival-goers. From a photographic perspective, it’s an opportunity I shouldn’t overlook and ignore…