Colin McPherson

Photographer and Visual Artist

Posts tagged ‘colour’

Where the Berlin Wall once stood

'Warschauer Strasse, 2015.' Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

‘Warschauer Strasse, 2015.’ Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

Last week saw the 26th anniversary of the historic events of November 1989 when a popular uprising by citizens of the German Democratic Republic led to the opening of the Berlin Wall, which had stood and divided friends, families, a city, Germany and Europe since it was constructed in 1961.

I started photographing the Wall in 1985 during a visit to the city and have returned at regular intervals over those 30 years to look at the changing natural and built environment along the course of the Wall. No-one could have dreamed 30 years ago that the Berlin Wall would fall in such dramatic and sudden circumstances. But rather than looking at those momentous events, my photographs show how the Wall occupied the physical space between two halves of the city and now, years after it fell, where the traces and scars can still be seen on the landscape.

Berlin Now and Then is an ongoing project and has been exhibited and published down the years. I am currently in Berlin and once again have set out to capture the the continuing changes which make much of the Berlin Wall nothing more than a distant and barely visible memory.

 

 

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Football Landscapes of England

With the football season in full flow and gathering pace, I am delighted to announce the launch of a new creative venture in partnership with one of north west England’s finest and most historic non-League clubs.

Greetings from Marine

With the help and cooperation of Marine FC, I have created a special souvenir postcard, depicting the club and its supporters during a match this season against Ilkeston at the Marine Travel Arena in Crosby. The first in a series called Football Landscapes of England, the postcard reflects what I love most about non-League football: intimacy and informality mixed with passion and commitment.

Chairman of the Marine Supporters Association, Dickie Felton, was instrumental in supporting the venture and getting it off the ground. He told me: “We are thrilled to work with such an acclaimed photographer as Colin on this project which captures the unique atmosphere of our club. The images on the postcard are wonderful and they will be a big hit with not just our fans but anyone who loves the beautiful game.”

From my base in the North West, I have covered matches at home and abroad for the monthly magazine When Saturday Comes for the last decade. And although there’s little that beats the thrill and excitement of internationals or Premier League football, non-League football is the game’s beating heart and the environment I am happiest photographing.

A first edition limited run of just 250 postcards costing £2 each will go on sale at Marine’s FA Trophy match against Kidsgrove Athletic this coming Saturday, 14th November, kick-off 3pm. It will be available exclusively at the club shop and social club and the aim of this partnership is to promote Marine FC and my own football photography.

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Germany divided again?

AfD supporters listening to speeches in Berlin. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

AfD supporters listening to speeches in Berlin. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

One of the immediate consequences of the gathering refugee crisis engulfing Europe is the effect it is having on the reunified Berlin.

Echos of 1989 permeate the city. For those, like myself, with an intimate knowledge of the modern topography of the city, the slowly-healing scars of division are still visible. After the fall of Berlin Wall, the city came together. But that sense of reunification didn’t immediately translate to a mass movement of the population from East to West, or vice versa. Indeed, as they say here, there are many people who still haven’t visited the other side since those fateful days of November 1989.

Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

AfD supporters on the march. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Into this comes the question of the refugees. Arriving in their hundreds every day, they are dispersed to around 90 locations city-wide which accommodate them in varying degrees of comfort and security. The whole question of how Germany integrates some one million additional people is starting to be raised. There are answers, but not enough to satisfy some.

And into this mix comes politics. And on Saturday, November 7, a march by 5000 supporters of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) took place through the Berlin streets. Whilst not massive in number, it was another symbol of the concerns some have about the process, and a chance to wrestle German patriotism from the political centre. Opposing this odd assortment of activists was a coalition of anti-fascist campaigners determined to expose the rhetoric of the right as dangerous and xenophobic.

An AfD supporter gestures to protesters. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

An AfD supporter gestures to protesters. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A protester gestures towards AfD supporters. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A protester gestures towards AfD supporters. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Trading on the notion that Germany is being re-divided for the first time since the Wall came down, these flag waving nationalists had one target in their sights: Chancellor Angela Merkel. Speeches and chants all laid the blame on Germany’s response to the current situation at her door. And whilst they talked of one, united Germany, like so many – both left and right – the rhetoric was of chaos and division.

An AfD supporter listening to speeches. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

An AfD supporter listening to speeches. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Twenty-four hours later a stroll through central Berlin reveals no trace of the marchers and their slogans. On a bright and cheerful winter’s afternoon, Berliners of all races, creeds and faiths go about the city with no outward signs of division. Some even may have made it across the line of the former Berlin Wall!

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Destination Berlin

Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

The disused Tempelhof airport, destination for hundreds of refugees fleeing to Germany. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

The young Iranian refugees excitedly show me footage on their mobile phones of the accommodation they have got used to since arriving in Germany.

With barely a word of English, let alone German, between them they show me a large hall, bedecked with tents, mats and blankets. People shuffle possessions about, men and women share the mixed facility and it’s hard not to escape the impression that these are typical young people on an exciting camping trip. But this is no holiday adventure. This is Berlin, at the chilly beginning of November. The winter may be drawing in, but still they come: from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and north Africa. A seemingly ceasless tide of humanity, washed up by conflict at Europe’s door.

Now their homes are in the cavernous expanses of former hangars at the now-defunct Tempelhof Airport in the heart of the German capital. The famous airfield, constructed in 1923, then expanded and renovated by the Nazis and subsequently used for a million-strong rally, came to prominence after World War II as the site of the American airlift during the Soviet siege of Berlin.

Now partially occupied by a private university and a venue for various cultural events, the city’s administration has begun converting the empty hangars into tented shelter for almost 1000 new arrivals. And it won’t stop there: plans are already afoot to expand capacity at the airfield.

The accommodation is off-limits to the prying eyes of the media. I was given my marching orders by several hefty security guards, but I will return, permission slip in hand and look at the role played by a legion of German volunteers who are keeping the whole refugee situation under control at present.

In the meantime, I spent the day roaming the outskirts of Tempelhof, looking for the signs that the refugee crisis is still very much with us here in Berlin.

Refugees wandering around outside their shelter. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

Refugees at Tempelhof airport. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

The exterior of one of the hangars. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

The exterior of one of the hangars. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

Young Iranian refugees showing footage. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

Young Iranian refugees showing footage. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

Graffiti outside the disused airfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

Graffiti outside the disused airfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

A Berlin residents chats to a Syrian refugee. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

A Berlin resident chats to a Syrian refugee. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

A head scarf dropped by a refugee woman. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

A head scarf dropped by a refugee woman. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

Today's Tagesspiegel shows the hangars. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

Today’s Tagesspiegel shows the hangars. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

 

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At Home with the Hibees

Hibs-05

With almost comic timing, just as a mini-retrospective of my Scottish football photography is about to open, When Saturday Comes magazine commissioned me to cover a match back where it all began for me.

In less than a fortnight, my contribution to Document Scotland’s The Ties That Bind exhibition will launch at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. My project is entitled When Saturday Comes after the publication which has allowed me to cover matches from internationals to non-League over the past decade.

Making their way across the Crawford Bridge. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Making their way across the Crawford Bridge. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

With all the photographs selected, printed, framed and ready to go on to the wall at the prestigious Edinburgh venue, last Saturday was back to business: a Scottish Championship match between Hibernian and visitors Alloa Athletic at the city’s Easter Road Stadium. I have been there many times before: as a photographer, as an away fan (I jumped ship for neighbouring Meadowbank Thistle in 1979) and, as a young lad, an ardent supporter of the Hibees.

Pre-match outside Middleton's. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Pre-match outside Middleton’s. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Set against the backdrop of the forthcoming exhibition, walking down Easter Road seemed poignant and timely. I tried to recall as much as I could about what it was like back in November 1974, when, at my dad’s side, we made our way to see my favourites take on Morton in a top tier Scottish League match. So much has changed, but so much remains the same. The boyish enthusiasm of other young lads is the same as it ever was. Swaddled in green scarves, hurrying over the Crawford Bridge, the raw pre-match excitement is tangible. A whole week’s waiting is over. Seven days’ anticipation since that last game nearly at an end. Conversations snatched, the quickening pace towards the ground, then the shuddering halt and the seemingly endless queueing to get in.

Easter Road, the main artery which brings columns of fans to the game is eerily familiar. The difference is the colour and light spilling on to the pavement from assorted shops and stores. Back then, everything save the pubs would have closed down Saturday lunchtime. The smell of ale from Middleton’s reminds me that football was much more a man’s game in the 1970s. Denim flares, swearing and a hard-but-silent aggression permeated the air. Trouble lurked, not in fixtures against Morton, Clyde or Arbroath, but games against Hearts, Rangers and Celtic which would be off-limits to me for the time being.

Turnbull's Tornadoes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Turnbull’s Tornadoes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

I am reminded of how Edinburgh and Scotland continues to change. Mobile phones, kebabs, penthouse flats. If we could even imagine what these were in 1974, it was because they inhabited the realms of science fiction, Tomorrow’s World or the sort of exotic holidays few people ever ventured on. There’s a mix of peoples too. The Polish deli is busy, black and Asian faces punctuate the crowds, as supporters mix with locals at the corner of Edina Place. The past unfurls in front of me in a whiff of tobacco smoke, another habit changing with the times.

The stadium gleams, bathed in autumnal light, a temple of modernity and functional design. Gone is the corrugated, dark green main stand, a menacing hulk stalking the touchline. And swept away too is the vast open terracing, so large it once helped accommodate 65,000 people at a 1950s derby match. Today the crowd is a much more modest 7,774, including 79 boisterous away fans from Clackmannanshire, housed in splendid isolation at the old ‘Dunbar’ end. This is second tier football, a recognition that this club which eternally promises much and should deliver more, has but a couple of League Cup successes to its name since those heady days of my youth and Turnbull’s Tornadoes.

The Green Army gathers Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Green Army gathers Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

As with some many clubs I visit, the past is repackaged in a constant reminder of sweeter times. There’s a Famous Five stand, populated by unregulated and unruly kids, who spend most of the match running up and down and imploring the Hibs substitutes to sign autographs. Nostalgia is in plentiful supply, but fans of Hibernian FC still demand that things are done in a certain way: winning is not enough, it never was. Hibbies demand victory with panache and style.

Today they get the former spiced with a little of the latter. At times it’s like a training match as Hibs cocoon their opponents in their own half, and but for some profligacy, the winning three-goal margin would have matched the five-star performance of Pat Stanton and co. that day in ’74.

Hibbies heading home. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Hibbies heading home. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Proceedings complete, we shuffle along Albion Road into blinding sunlight. Happy Hibbies heading home. I reach the corner of Easter Road and remember the sweet shop which once stood opposite. Much to my bemusement as a 10-year-old, it sold its wares by the ounce, not in packets. It was charming, old fashioned and slightly eccentric. Not that different from the football team it shares Easter Road with, really.

The match will feature in the November issue of When Saturday Comes magazine, which will hit the newsstands around 10th October 2015.

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They’ll Never Walk Alone

Flowers in memory of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster on display at Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Flowers at Anfield today. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Twenty-five-years ago today, I, like tens of thousands of people of all ages across these islands, was making my way to a football match, to watch and cheer my favourite team.

It had been a ritual I had performed year-in, year-out since my early teenage years and nothing on that spring day in 1989 made me think that my routine would ever change. That day, however, would change football forever. We weren’t to know that at the time, as we made our way through to Glasgow as part of the Meadowbak Thistle Brake Club.

Try as I might, I simply cannot recall anything about that particular away day to Partick Thistle. I have scoured the internet and discovered that my team, battling grimly to avoid relegation from the second tier of Scottish football, lost 2-1. I cannot even find the identity of my team’s goalscorer or team line up. And even though I search through my memories of my Meadowbank days, I can recall virtually nothing of what happened before or during that match.

People walking in front of a banner commemorating the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster at Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

People gathering outside Anfield today. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

The small details I can recall seemed to have been overlaid subsequently in response to the tragic events south of the border that afternoon at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. Did we receive radio reports of deaths at an FA Cup semi-final as we clambered aboard our supporters’ bus at 4.45pm that day? Or had someone in the crowd relayed to us news of some incident as we settled down to watch the first half? In those days before we could conceive of the internet and social media, let alone mobile phones, news filtered around so slowly that it often made events seem distant and irrelevant to our lives.

In the aftermath of Hillsborough came a realisation that change had to happen. The cramped, dangerous, Victorian stadia were gradually replaced by modern temples to a national religion. Where once we all stood, now most sit. Even at the lower levels of the game, the grounds we visited in the 1989 (and I attended every one of Meadowbank’s fixtures that season) have either been vacated and/or replaced. It is with some irony, that my team no longer exist, victim of the new rapaciousness which infiltrated many spheres of football post-Hillsborough. But my loss is nothing compared to what happened at Hillsborough.

Scarves from various football clubs tied to the Shankly Gates outside Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Scarves tied to the Shankly Gates today. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Ten years ago, I moved to Merseyside. Renting a flat on the banks of the mighty Mersey, with the Liver building and its famous flightless birds in the distance, I became acquainted with a city I had previously known little about. The longer I have lived here, the more I have understood the place and its people and it’s almost all-consuming love and passion for the game of football.

In my capacity as a photojournalist and a citizen, I have met and befriended scores of people whose lives were touched intimately and directly by the tragedy which engulfed Liverpool Football Club on that April day in south Yorkshire. I have photographed the families of those who never returned from the match and heard eyewitness accounts from friends and acquaintances about what they saw that day. There’s sadness, there’s grief and there’s anger as well.

Women signing on the Kop during the Hillsborough memorial service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Women singing on the Kop during the service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Much is assumed about Liverpool and its people. Lazy, shorthand cliches about the Scouse character and about how people in this great city live their lives. But the characteristic most prominent when it came to securing the truth about the deaths of those 96 football fans is determination. During the long campaign to establish what happened at that football match on that day, there has been a constant search for answers, and a longing for truth and justice. That campaign is ongoing and not yet concluded.

“You should go. You’re a football fan,” Terry, a self-proclaimed ‘mad Red’ had told me last week. “It’s not just about Liverpool, it’s about all football fans, everywhere.” So today I went to the Hillsborough memorial for the first time. Wearing the same scarf I’d worn 25 years before I joined the throng of supporters from numerous clubs making their way to Anfield Stadium and took a seat on the famous Kop. I watched and listened to the men of faith, to the soft hymnal singing, the music, the prayers, to the dedications and thanks. I reflected on what this annual event means to an oft-maligned city and clapped as loud as anyone when Everton manager Roberto Martinez stated that they – the establishment, the authorities who’d betrayed Liverpool – had “picked on the wrong city.”

Red balloons being released during the Hillsborough memorial service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Red balloons being released. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

As we filed safely out of Anfield, I reflected on what this disaster was really about for me. At its core, it was the loss of 96 lives, taken away whilst doing something that I took for granted each week: supporting my team. But what divides us in football also unites us as fans, no matter what team we follow. This is not just about those lives lost. It’s not just about football either. It is about justice. ‘Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied’ read one of the banners attached to the gates outside Anfield today. If, in the end, the victims of the tragedy and their families get the justice they deserve, then we as football supporters can truly go to watch our teams week-in, week-out with hope in our hearts.

In the meantime, their fight goes on. And it’s our fight too.

Fans linking arms after the 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Fans linking arms after the service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

 

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Hearts surgery

Photograph

The storm clouds have been gathering over Heart of Midlothian FC all summer.

The venerable old lady of Scottish football is frail and in ailing health. Having befriended a rich Lithuanian, she finds all her savings gone and day-to-day life is a struggle. Can she carry on on her own? Might she be forced to move out of her home of more than 100 years? Can her family and friends come to her rescue?

Hearts supporters arriving at the Gorgie Suite for pre-match corporate hospitality prior to the match with Hibs. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

Hearts supporters arriving for pre-match corporate hospitality prior to the match with Hibs.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

My phone rings. It’s one of the old lady’s friends. Can I help her? She is in desperate need of a make-over to attract new suitors and I am the only photographer in his contact book. I tell him I’ve never been particularly fond of this old lady, often found her to be be grumpy and bad-tempered, but my motto is never kick a man when he’s down, so I suppose I could extend this courtesy to an old woman.

Former Hearts player Jimmy Snaderson is interviewed at a corporate function at Tyncastle Park before the match with Hibs.. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

Former Hearts player Jimmy Sanderson is interviewed at Tyncastle Park before the match with Hibs..
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

After a few more conversations, I discover that most of the people who help the old lady on a day-to-day basis have been made redundant. Her care is in the hands of a small band of people retained to make sure that the life-support machine stays switched on and have been given the task to see if some medicine can be provided which will allow her to start making a recovery.

Two Hearts supporters watching the first-half action against Hibs. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

Two Hearts supporters watching the first-half action against Hibs.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

The brief for me was simple. Come down to her house on Sunday and take some photographs of her home and visitors. On this particular day she had a visit scheduled from a rather noisy neighbour from Leith and it was expected that the get-together would offer the chance to see the old lady and her friends partying long into the afternoon.

Hearts and Hibs players square up to each other during the match at Tynecastle. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

Hearts and Hibs players square up to each other during the match at Tynecastle.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

And so at the appointed hour I knocked on the rather dilapidated front door of the old lady’s house in Gorgie Road. I could see that she had had some renovations done since my last visit many years ago, indeed three-quarters of her house looks pristine and lovely, flags fluttering, seats upturned and everything ready for a great occasion, the first meeting of the season of these old old neighbours.

Hearts players celebrating the only goal of the game against Hibs. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

Hearts players celebrating the only goal of the game against Hibs.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

And so it was. The old lady extended a welcome of sorts to her neighbour, but then the two of them started their bickering and quarreling about who was top dog in Edinburgh. Back and forward it went with little purpose. I thought of some of the great arguments these two had had down the years, the passion was still there, but the debating skills had deserted them.

Sitting under photographs of former players, Hearts fans watch the closing stages nervously. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

Sitting under photographs of former players, Hearts fans watch the closing stages nervously.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

In the end it was one skillful riposte from the old lady which settled the argument. Her friends and family jumped and leapt for joy. It was just the tonic the old lady needed. She felt much better. There are challenges ahead, but long-term, with the help of all her friends and family – and a passing photographer – she may make a full recovery and be a fit, strong and healthy member of Scotland’s footballing community for years to come. Good health!

Hearts fans react with delight at the final whistle as they defeat Hibs 1-0. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

Hearts fans react with delight at the final whistle as they defeat Hibs 1-0.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2013, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Hardy Annual

Sunset over Mull, from Easdale Island, 2013

‘Sunset over Mull, from Easdale Island, 2013.’ Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

In 2008, I was privileged to be able to travel to the tiny southern African state of Swaziland to explore and photograph the wonderful natural environment and the country’s people. It was an unforgettable experience and one which, by a chance meeting, changed many of my perceptions about Africa.

I encountered Musa, a man then in his late 20s, on a dusty, country road, deep in the Drakensberg mountains. He emerged from the small farm steading he shared with three generations of his family, and we soon struck up a long conversation, during which he told me about his life, the struggle he and his family had with the effects of HIV and Aids and how economic policies of the First World were directly affecting his life and land. I was immediately struck not only by his insightfulness and intelligence, but also his determination to make life better for himself and those around him. He was, and still is, an inspiration to me.

I resolved from that moment to do everything in my limited powers to assist him. Over the following two years, myself, my family and a group of friends helped him attend college part-time to gain qualifications in accountancy. By improving his skills and continuing his education, he would increase his chances of gaining better employment and therefore be able to support his extended family, many of whom were elderly, infirm or ill.

Over the last four years, my principal method of raising money for Musa and his family has been through my participation in the annual Hoylake 10k race, staged in my home town. Through the support of many friends and strangers, I have run and raised over £3000. This money is divided in two: half goes to Musa, to pay for everyday essentials, repairs to his home, or to fund his continuing education. The other half goes to an equally worthwhile cause: the Wednesday Special Needs Club, based at the Hoylake Community Centre (registered charity no. 1015141). They use the money donated to improve facilities for disabled people of all ages who come to use their superb Sensory Garden. I am proud to assist them.

In addition to the money raised through running, my family makes a personal contribution to assist Musa, thereby guaranteeing that the support reaches around £1000 annually. I know from my communications with Musa, that he and his family are deeply grateful for all the help they receive.

So how does my Hoylake 10k fundraising work? Simple: if you wish to support me, you make a guess (or guesses!) as to what my race finishing time will be in minutes and seconds (ie 48:23). The guess which is the nearest inside my official finishing time receives a 20″ x 16″ signed and mounted one-off print of the image displayed at the top of this page. Each year I select one of my photographs to give away as a prize. This year’s image is of two lone figures surrounded by a sunset on Scotland’s west coast. It speaks of the scale and power of nature and how tiny we are as humans in comparison. And yet, we are can make as powerful a contribution to the world as nature itself.

To win the photograph you can guess as many times as you want – each guess costs £5. You can make payments and guesses through Paypal at: amazon@colinmcpherson.co.uk or email me your guesses to: colinmcpherson@mac.com – and I’ll send you my details for payment via cheque or bank transfer. It’s that easy! Remember you can guess as many times as you like for £5 per go.

After the finish of the 2012 Hoylake 10k race.

After the finish of the 2012 Hoylake 10k race.

To give you a clue about this year’s finishing time – I am looking at running the race somewhere between 45-55 minutes. The race takes place on Sunday, 15th September, at 11am.

For the last five years I have made this annual appeal. And each year, I am overwhelmed by the response. I hope that you will be able to support me in 2013 and help me raise money and awareness for these two very deserving and worthwhile causes. Many thanks!

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A Fine Line #1

A Fine Line – Exploring Scotland’s border with England

Part one: Gretna

Slubice, Rasesti, Marienborn, Portbou. Frontier towns have a unique atmosphere; settlements where things start and finish. It’s a cliché to think of them as dusty and desolate, with dogs lying on baking-hot tarmac and indolent guards flicking fag ash while leafing suspiciously through your passport. In 35 years of travelling and photographing, I’ve crossed many European borders, elation and relief turning to suspicion and apprehension as I arrive in one-horse towns with bars of ill-repute and people to match.

Not much of this applies in Schengen-era Europe of course, where borders have become invisible and travel largely unrestricted. Goods and people move freely, unhindered by security checks and inspection. Sometimes the old customs buildings still stand, abandoned and still. The frontier town has taken on a new, less threatening guise.

If Scotland votes Yes in 2014 and becomes an independent nation once again, the historically-significant border town of Gretna might well be an official entry/exit point to Scotland. Famous for eloping English couples and skirmishing Border Reivers, there is an ambitious plan to construct the Star of Caledonia, a 121-foot landform and sculpture which aspires to create a kinetic gateway to Scotland.

All this inspired me to visit Gretna and explore whether the place looks and feels like a traditional frontier town.

 

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Up the Junction in Beijing

 

Beijing on the move. Any time, any place, anywhere. In this sprawling metropolis, ordinary people are going from A to B, all day, every day.

Take any junction and stand there for long enough and you’ll see cameos of life played out. Small vignettes of existence. Slices of lives lived on the move. Where are they going? Where have they been? Are they late or on time? As the lights turn red, they are forced to stop. Pause. Wait. In doing so, we glimpse some lost in thought, some impatient, some carrying out mundane tasks, adjusting bags, making phone calls or in the case of the refuse collector, examining the damage to his cart, clipped by one of the all-pervading automobiles.

Pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes all edge forward in anticipation, jockeying for space mindful of the cars and buses which could appear from any direction. There are rules – of sorts – but there’s little time to obey them.

As the lights turn to green, they are off. They disappear from view forever, leaving nothing behind but a collection of pixels in my camera and a snapshot of a typical Beijing day. In seconds they are replaced by a new intake, and the cycle continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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