Glen Affric trip – Day 3

Day 3 of my Glen Affric trip saw a varied menu of photographic subjects, including a ruined Victorian mansion, woodland, and a raging waterfall.

The basis of my walk was the “Plodda Falls” route outlined here on the Walk Highlands website, but extended beyond Plodda Cottage to Guisachan House.

Guisachan House (pronounced Goose-a-kin) was built by Lord Tweedmouth in the nineteenth century and is known as the birthplace of Golden Retriever dogs, as his lordship was the first to breed them. Although now a ruin, the house is the site for gatherings of golden retriever owners from around the world.  You can see what the house looked like in 1897 here

2011-11-10, RZ67, Provia 400X, Guisachan, 1
Guisachan House, Mamiya RZ67 with Fuji Provia 400X transparency film

Guisachan House, Mamiya RZ67 and Provia 400X
Guisachan House, Mamiya RZ67 and Provia 400X

Guisachan House with the Holga 120WPC pinhole camera and Fuji Acros film Guisachan House with the Holga 120WPC pinhole camera and Fuji Acros film

After spending some time at Guisachan House I made way through the forest:

2011-11-11, RZ67, Back 1A, Provia 400X, Glen Affric 16
On the forest floor. Mamiya RZ67 and Provia 400X

My visit was timed a week too late for the best of the needles on the larch trees, but I liked the effect of the needles lining the path in this image:
2011-11-12, RZ67, Back 1a, Provia 400X, Glen Affric 15-Edit

Last photo stop of the day was at Plodda Falls, which was running very full after heavy rain. The path I took approached the base of the falls first. I would like to show you what that looked like, but their was so much spray coming off the falls that the lens (or at least the filter) was soaked within a second of taking the lens cap off and there was no way I was going to get a decent image. So I climbed up to the top of the falls where there is a viewing platform, for the image below.

2011-11-12, Plodda Falls, RZ67, Tri-X Rodinal stand 1+100 1hr, 2_

The topography here makes a fascinating sight, as the river below performs a 270 degree turn and the falls from a sidestream tumble in. The fallls were created artificially, by Lord Tweedmouth again.

Getting this shot was a real challenge with the Mamiya RZ67. Using a digital camera with an angled screen would have been helpful, to hold the camera away from viewing platform (so that the platform wasn’t in the image) and still be able to compose using live view. But, I don’t own such a camera and the Mamiya is normally used on a tripod. I struggled for a while, trying to arrange the tripod right up against the wooden barrier – but then I couldn’t see through the waist-level viewfinder. I went back to the car to get the prism finder, which I don’t normally carry around for weight and bulk reasons. Still not ideal.

I then decided to try holding the camera at arms length beyond the barrier, and guess what was included in the composition. However I didn’t fancy dropping the heavy camera over the edge, and the neck strap wasn’t long enough to hold the camera that far out. So I combined elements from the tripod carrying strap and the camera strap, to make a long strap. Now if I dropped the camera, it would probably bounce off the wooden barrier, but at least it wouldn’t drop into the river below. Finally, this arrangement enabled me to take the image shown here, on Kodak Tri-X film.

As well as the Tri-X, I took a couple of shots on Provia and Portra. The Provia couldn’t cope with the wide dynamic range which is a common problem when shooting a bright stream of water against a dark canyon. Portra 400 did better but,  for waterfall images, I generally prefer black and white. The image above was scanned and exposure adjustments, then toning, added in Adobe Lightroom. I’m not entirely happy with the result though, and I have this image scheduled for a future darkroom session to see what a silver gelatin print would look like.

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