Usually my photoshoot trips go without a hitch and I don’t have much to say about them other than where I went and what the scenery was like. The fun ones are when things go wrong somehow, just to add a bit of adventure to the proceedings. Bonus fun comes from being dressed up in a way that can’t be ignored.
I went back to the engineering marvel that is the Falkirk Wheel and the towering sculptures of The Kelpies for some night photos – when they’re lit up, they look like something that’s landed from the planet Zog, so I figured they’d be ideal for another outing in my retro spacesuit.
It’s been a very long time since the Falkirk Wheel opened, and the whole thing about lighting it up at night doesn’t happen much these days. We didn’t have a tripod with us, so long-exposure photos where I tried to freeze my pose weren’t an option – and using the flash is a great way to bugger up the lighting conditions. I figured if I was going to Photoshop in a space helmet, I may as well go batshit with special effects to hide the washed-out face and crisp shadows.
It took a fair bit of trial and error, and we went exploring on the other side of the upper canal (my torch lit up a fence that I was all set to climb over until I saw a gigantic NOPE of large spiders scuttling about. Instead, we went to the canal tunnel and took some shots avoiding the graffiti on the walls. Anything for a location that looked faintly science-fictiony!
On the way in, the road to the car park was open and accessible. What I hadn’t foreseen was a large, long gate that was now padlocked shut, preventing anyone else from walking about after dark. It now prevented us from leaving. As Admiral Ackbar once put it, “IT’S A TRAP!”
Fortunately there was a number to call the canal control room in case something had gone wrong. I figured that a transvestite in a silver space suit unable to escape the canal car park counted as something going wrong, and eventually got to speak to a harassed guy with a ton of alarms blaring in the background.
I explained I hadn’t seen the gate and didn’t know it would be locked at 8pm – could someone possibly help, maybe, if it isn’t too much trouble, sorry to interrupt your evening (etc).
“Aye, I can send a manny tae let ye oot, but we’re huvin’ a wee spot ae bother,” said the guy at the other end, “Can ye gie us half an hour?”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“Aye, right enough.”
The thing about cross-dressing in public is that you have to make yourself immune to feelings of embarrassment. A canal engineer in a high-vis jacket taking time out from his siren-filled office emergency to free the numpties who didn’t drive off when they were supposed to would make most people feel foolish.
Not at all.
Consequently we got to the Kelpies car park with not much more than half an hour left until it shut too. There was another car park but I didn’t fancy the long walk; so we had to do a rapid run around the sculptures taking photos, and I had to make quick decisions about what angles might work, and the kind of shots I was after. (Sometimes I can plan it out in advance, sometimes I have to adapt.)
Things were made a lot easier by the epic lighting and the slow phasing of the lights through the spectrum. The only downside was the couple of dozen people still wandering about.
The whole deal about ignoring what other people think of you comes in quite handy when they’re all wrapped up in their warm winter coats and boots, and I’m prancing around in lycra and go-go boots. Maybe they feared my beauty; maybe I scared them off; or maybe they just wanted to get back to their cars and leave before the gate was shut and locked. Who knows?
So it was a slightly more eventful evening than I’d planned, but I got the shots I wanted. I just needed to find a spot with some epic lighting and an interesting background and strike a pose for a bit.
Any fool could do that. Surprisingly few fools do!