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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Fife funeral for ‘Father of modern Scottish photography’ Joseph McKenzie

July 14 2015

Internationally-acclaimed photographer Joseph McKenzie, who established the photography department at Dundee University’s Duncan of Jordanstone Art College, has died. Known as “the father of modern Scottish photography”, Mr McKenzie was one of the most ambitious and prolific post-war photographers. He only used black and white images and his most famous and sometimes controversial work focused on urban decay. Born in London in 1929, he was educated in Hoxton and then, during the war, at Cranborne in Dorset. After conscription and regular service in the RAF as a photographer from 1947 to 1952, Mr McKenzie studied photography at London College of Printing from 1952-1954. He was invited to introduce photography as a lecturer to St Martin’s School of Fashion, London, in 1954, and was later appointed lecturer in photography at Duncan of Jordanstone, a position he held until he retired from the post in 1986. Throughout his career Mr McKenzie won international recognition and was elected an associate of the Royal Photographic Society in 1954, a position he held until he retired in 1973. He was one of the first photographers to put on a purely photographic exhibition in the UK. In 1965 he embarked on a series of major exhibitions, Glasgow Gorbals Children. This was followed by Dundee a City in Transition the following year, a series made to commemorate the opening of the Tay Road Bridge. Famously it captured images of the city before it was transformed by developers who, he said, “wiped away” much of its architectural heritage. In 1970 his Hibernian Images exhibitions caused controversy after it compared the lives of young people in Northern Ireland and Scotland. An attempt to censor his catalogue led Mr McKenzie to withdraw from public exhibitions of his work for many years. His work is represented in a number of public and private collections, such as the V&A Museum in London, the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland and the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. Mr McKenzie’s funeral will take place at Our Lady, Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Tayport at 9.30am on July 24.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Angus & The Mearns

Much-loved photographer Jim Ratcliffe’s life through a lens on show at Signal Tower

March 12 2016

The work of well-known Arbroath photographer Jim Ratcliffe will be the subject of a special display next week. Mr Ratcliffe, who died aged 78 in January, donated more than 75,000 negatives to the Signal Tower Museum’s archives in 2015. On Tuesday at 2pm, Fiona Scharlau, Angus Archives manager, is hosting a Jim Ratcliffe Collection drop-in at the visitor attraction. Visitors will have an opportunity to view a slideshow of photographs taken by Mr Ratcliffe in Arbroath during the 1970s. People are asked to come along and help identify people and places which were captured by Mr Ratcliffe’s lens. The freelance photographer operated in Arbroath since the 1960s and catalogued every picture taken in that time.


Dundee University podcasts: The Photography of Michael Peto

May 8 2017

In the Dundee University archives sits one man’s collection of 130,000 prints and negatives that provide an extraordinary glimpse of life in the mid 20th century. This was no local photographer, but Michael Peto, the son of a village shopkeeper who escaped the Nazi occupation by fleeing his native Hungary weeks before the borders closed in 1939.   Listen to the podcast:   The career that had begun at home continued and by the end of the 1940s his first published work appeared in The Observer. His images were eclectic in subject and location, from candid shots of music and theatre, including iconic shots of The Beatles; to photographs of Welsh mining communities and Indian villages. The fact that the university is custodian to such an important body of work is testament to the role photography has played in the city of Dundee. The first photographic studio was opened in the Nethergate in 1847 by a Mr E Holmes. Although in its relative infancy the public interest in photography was great. While a guest of Lord and Lady Kinnaird, Sir David Brewster heard from William Fox Talbot about a process of capturing images with light. Kinnaird was fascinated and became patron of the first calotype studio at Rossie Priory in Perthshire. Lord Kinnaird and Brewster were also on the committee for the first photographic exhibition, held in 1854, where Fox Talbot was an exhibitor among international names. Commercial photography flourished in Dundee thanks to James Valentine. He had studied photography at St Andrews University and established Valentine & Sons Ltd in 1851. At this time, he added portrait photography to engraving, printing and supply of business stationery. His sons William and George joined the firm, bringing experience of landscape photography and eventually leading to the postcards that put the firm on the map. The commission to photograph the Tay Rail Bridge for the Court of Enquiry after the disaster in 1879 led to a set of images that were re-examined in 2003, and allowed researchers to see more clearly why the bridge had collapsed. At Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design the photography department was established by a man regarded as “the father of modern Scottish photography” – Joseph McKenzie. Born in London, he specialised in capturing real life in the inner cities, always in black and white. There was a groundbreaking series on children in the Gorbals in 1965 and another set depicting Dundee as a city in change in the run-up to the opening of the Tay Road Bridge. He continued to document Dundee throughout the following decades. In 1964 he had moved from London to Dundee to the nascent photography department at DJCAD and there he stayed until retirement in 1986, teaching numerous generations of nascent photographers, including, in the mid 1960’s the renowned Albert Watson and myself in the 1980’s. So, not only was the father of modern Scottish photography a Londoner, but one of the most iconic images taken by a Dundee photographer was of a London landmark. Truth be told, it only became a London landmark because of the image – four men in single file on a zebra crossing. It was the cover image of Abbey Road by The Beatles. Iain McMillan was the photographer. A Dundee High School boy from Carnoustie, he worked in a jute mill on leaving school in 1954 before moving to London to study photography. The Book of London from 1966 brought him into contact with The Beatles, through his friendship with Yoko Ono. From there John Lennon invited him to photograph the iconic Abbey Road cover. He remained close to Lennon and Ono, and revisited the famous crossing with McCartney in 1993 to shoot the Paul is Live album cover, a sly reference to the urban legend of Paul having died in 1966. Ian returned home in the 1980s and continued his passion for photography, often it is said with a borrowed camera. The photographic department at Duncan of Jordanstone in the University of Dundee continues to this day, students and staff making work in multiple forms, from the digital to the analogue, as part of a wider practice, or an art form in it’s own right.   Calum Colvin is professor of fine art photography at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, at Dundee University.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Kirrie photographer’s Glen Clova snap wins Jura whisky’s ‘Wish you were here’ competition

March 15 2011

A Kirriemuir photographer has won a masterclass from a legendary National Geographic snapper after emerging victorious in a worldwide photography competition. Malcolm McBeath (67) saw his image of the autumn leaves at Glen Clova, and its caption, emerge victorious in the UK category of Jura malt whisky's competition, run in partnership with VisitScotland. Budding photographers were offered the chance to win a trip to the island of Jura, a once-in-a-lifetime photographic experience on Jura with expert advice from National Geographic's Jim Richardson, and an Olympus E-PL1 to capture images from their visit. Three "inspiring moments" were chosen from more than 3000 entries over eight weeks and Malcolm will join the two other winners, from New York and Italy, for his stay on Jura. Malcolm, a retired pharmacist, captured his image of Glen Clova last autumn while walking by the small loch where he has spent much of his time since retiring. His winning caption read, "Glen Clova, one of the beautiful Angus Glens, has been special to me for almost forty years. I have walked in it, fished in it, often with my family, and photographed it in all seasons and weathers. I have often admired these lochside silver birches." Malcolm said, "I took this particular picture last autumn to capture the extraordinary palette of colours in the trees. As I was walking by the loch, the wind suddenly dropped and the reflections on the water were simply stunning. In one moment, it just seemed to sum up the affinity I have developed with Glen Clova from over 40 years of visiting. "I've always been interested in photography, but only since I retired have I been able to devote more time to it. For many years now I've been a member, and formerly the president, of the Dundee Photographic Society and also a member of the Royal Photographic Society, so as a hobby, photography is keeping me very busy. "I'm absolutely delighted that my entry was chosen amongst the thousands of other entries. I can't wait for my first visit over to Jura and the chance to improve my photography skills with help from Jim." Mr Richardson said, "The golden glow that washes over Malcolm's image invites us to share the magic the photographer has felt in this place for 40 years. In some ways it is a simple image, just trees and reflections. "But there is more there, in the harmony of the colours, of the gentle roll of the hills, and the beckoning hillside." The other winners are Frederika Kat from New York, with an image of three young performers in India, and Marica Casolari from Italy with her photo of a hot air balloon rising above the desert in Namibia.


From the East Neuk to Skye: How former printer Keith Fergus turned his photography hobby into a full-time living

January 18 2018

Former printer Keith Fergus talks to Michael Alexander about his move in to full-time freelance photography  and writing– a journey that has taken him everywhere from the East Neuk of Fife to Skye. Keith Fergus was in his early 20s when he got into hill walking – taking in the Arrochar Alps within a couple of hours’ drive of his Glasgow home and taking his camera with him to capture candid pictures of friends and family amid dramatic scenery. It was purely a hobby for Keith, now 45, at a time when he was working as a plate maker in the printing industry. Even when he had a photo of the River Clyde from the Lyle Hill above Greenock published by The Scots Magazine 15 years ago, followed a year later by a hill walking article,  he did not think of it as anything other than a “way to make a few extra quid”. However, by the time Keith was in his mid-30s, he began to realise he could perhaps make a living from his passion. “People had been saying to me I had a bit of a talent for photography, and at that point I was not really thinking of anything as a career at that point, “says the now full time freelance outdoors writer and photographer. “But then one of my favourite photographers Colin Baxter produced a number of postcards. By that point my parents had moved down to Galloway and I produced a number of postcards using my contacts within the printing industry which took off. “Then the year after that I produced a calendar for Galloway as well. “The Scots Magazine was taking a few more articles and the TGO (Great Outdoors) were taking hill walking articles as well. It was then I started to think I could make a living from it.” Inspired by landscape photographers like Colin Prior, he studied how they composed images and used light. He started planning photography trips to more remote areas. “I really began to think about the photography composition rather than just snaps - I started to build up a bit of portfolio,” he says. “I used a lot of maps – working out where the sun would be at certain times of year on certain time of day. If I was on top of Ben Lomond for instance in October the sun would rise at a specific point. This would then allow me to get the best shot at this time of day.” Autumn is Keith’s favourite time for photography. “Even if the weather is not great you’ve got these incredibly vibrant colours,” he says. “They can really work – even in overcast conditions.” His favourite place, meanwhile, is either the mountains of Arran or Skye. “I absolutely love the Old Man of Storr on Skye,” he adds.  “Those are two really stand out places for me that I’ve visited many times. “ His latest project, however, has taken him across Scotland. Great Scottish Journeys: Twelve routes to the heart of Scotland, published by The Scots Magazine, includes various photographic journeys including a route through the East Neuk of Fife from Lower Largo to St Andrews. “The East Neuk is a place I’ve always loved,” he says. “I used to go there with my grandparents when I was five or six years old. They used to stay in the Craws Nest Hotel in Anstruther and my mum dad, brother and myself used to go for long weekend in the summer holidays until I was 10 or 12 years old. "I’ve always really loved the beaches and the feel of the place. I’ve always really loved that laid back feel and lovely little villages – it’s an exceptional stretch of coastline.” Keith explains that a lot of the East Neuk photos had been picked up over the last 15 years. But he had fresh material to add too. “When the book commission came I had four or five I still wanted such as Pittenweem at Dawn and the Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews,” he says. “I really wanted to look at the golf courses in St Andrews as well. “It was just a matter of keeping an eye on the weather – a wee ridge of high pressure coming in over Fife – leaving home about 5am and making my way up to Largo, making my way along the coast, picking up the shots that I needed and possibly a few more I hadn’t thought of and finishing off in St Andrews around 4 or 5 at night just as the sun was setting - a good long day but very much worthwhile!” *Great Scottish Journeys: Twelve routes to the hearty of Scotland, by Keith Fergus, is published by The Scots Magazine, priced £16.99, www.scotsmagazine.com It is available to purchase via the DC Thomson shop: https://www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/our-brands/the-scots-magazine/great-scottish-journeys.html


Festival puts focus on St Andrews’ role in birth of photography

August 2 2016

Snap happy photo fanatics will be setting their sights on St Andrews for the next month. The town is focusing on the past, present and future of life in the picture as it launched its first ever photography exhibition on Tuesday. A host of displays and workshops will take place throughout the town centre area in the coming weeks, with organisers keen to celebrate St Andrews’ links with the lens. Festival organiser Rachel Nordstrom said: “While most people think of St Andrews as the home of golf, or the home of an ancient university, there is a rich photographic history which is often overlooked by many visitors. “Over the past three years we have seen a resurgence in Scotland for the appreciation for historic and contemporary photography. “Our aim is to build on this but highlight the vital role St Andrews played in the earliest days of photography, and the role Scotland played for the following 175 years.” The festival kicked off with a demonstration of classic Calotype photography on the lawn of the St Andrews University library. The technique, which dates back to 1841, is one of the earliest documented photographic processes, requiring a pop-up darkroom to process images. It was the first of 35 events and 18 exhibitions that will be held over the next six weeks. The festival is being hosted by BID St Andrews, St Andrews University and local businesses in a bid to showcase the town centre area and the history of Scottish photography. Keny Drew, a photographer from Crail who prints his work on glass, is one of those displaying his work as part of the festival. He said he hoped that the event would tap into the boom in interest in photography. “There’s not enough photographic exhibitions in this area,” he said. “It tends to be about watercolours and paintings of harbours. “This is great as it has historical photos and documentary photography, which is really interesting, He added: “Digital photography changed everything. “You can take an amazing photograph on an iPhone but to see some of these techniques might enthuse people to go backwards a little bit.” The festival runs until Sunday September 11. See more at www.facebook.com/StAndPhotoFest.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk