Single image: pool below the Buchaille Etive Mor

I meant to include this image in my previous post “in and around Glencoe” but accidentally missed it out so it’s been promoted to the “Single Image” category. 

I’ve previously remarked that, whilst most of Scotland is fertile territory for landscape photography, to judge from social media you would think that Scotland consisted of five miles surrounding Buchaille Etive Mor, the mountain with a triangular face that overlooks the edge of Rannoch Moor. 

So it was a little ironic that, after resisting the lure of the area for some years and taking photography breaks in other parts of Scotland, I spent a week in October 2018 within … five miles of Buchaille Etive Mor (BEM for short)

The most popular viewpoint for photographing BEM is at a small waterfall on the River Coupall which is about 50 metres from the road to Glen Etive. It is labelled as “Etive Mor Waterfall” by Google Maps: 

I did take a shot or two at that point; when I visited, during a period of heavy rain, the area was very boggy and it was hard to imagine that this spot is sometimes suggested as a good spot for wild camping.  However I wanted to find an alternative viewpoint and began to explore the little ravine which is upstream from the bridge over the river (which has parking spots either side). 

The ravine looks like this although the river itself was in shadow and the mountain in sun which wasn’t ideal. However I walked maybe 20 metres further upstream and came across the pool in the picture above, seperated from the river by a small bank of grass and rock. 

The greens were so bright that the spot had a fairy-dell feel and the partially-obscured mountain in the background provided contrast.

I took two shots using an Intrepid 4*5 camera, Portra 400 film, which were bracketed two stops apart. I wanted to make sure I had at least one useable image showing the dark pool and the brighter mountain without losing detail, or failing that to exposure blend two images. I used an aperture of f64 and a small amount of tilt. The trees masking the moutain prevented me from using more tilt and a wider aperture to get the mountain face more in focus, as the tops of the tree would then have been outside the plane of focus. A polarising filter was also used. 

In the event, once I had developed and scanned the films, the two images looked pretty similar, which is a testament to the wide dynamic range of Portra 400. 

I’m sure I can’t be the only person to have seen this viewpoint, but I searched through hundreds of images on flickr and couldn’t find another example. This has become one of my most viewed images on flickr, with 39,000 views. 

One comment

  1. Your work with the Intrepid is really inspiring. I keep thinking about doing something similar and your generous descriptions of your experience is likely to push me further along toward that end.


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