The Online Darkroom Store

Wednesday, September 16

Google Fun

Stoer Lighthouse - a black and white conversion in Lightroom.

Sometimes, when I can't get inspired by my local surroundings, I look further afield to see what parts of the world might be nice to photograph. That leads me, via Google Maps, to places such as Rio where I'd get through roll after roll shooting the town scenes just outside the city centre.

Occasionally, though, my wanderings are a little more down to earth - my own country, for example. The west coast of Scotland is an area of great beauty and grandeur but I haven't been there for more than 30 years. In my late teens, early 20s I had a Bedford CF caravanette and would take off to the other side of the country once or twice a year. My photographic skills weren't up to much then and I've nothing really to show for these travels other than a lot of memories.

The Bedford CF on the Isle of Mull where I'd spent the night before getting
up at the crack of dawn for some photographic therapy.

So last night I decided it was time to fire up Street View and check out some of the coastal scenes north of Plockton. Cath was engrossed in some crappy soap on the TV and had to keep turning round to view the computer screen whenever I found another spectacular view around a corner of a winding road or cresting the brow of a blind hill. She was very patient.

I came across the scene at the top of this post - Stoer Lighthouse - and just about stopped in my tracks, if that's possible on Street View. Where had I seen that before? I then realised that it had some of the elements that I find readily lend themselves to a nice composition. Just to show my daughter, Freya, how talented I am, I screen-shotted the scene - that's it below - and footered with a black and white "conversion" for a couple of minutes in Lightroom. She was impressed - and so was I, to be honest. What a nice shot!

The original screen shot of the lighthouse.

Needless to say, I'll be adding Stoer Lighthouse to my list of things to photograph up the west coast. If you're familiar with Scotland, you'll get an idea of where it is from this map. That's Skye on the bottom left. It's just west of the middle of nowhere.

A quick look on my "files", revealed some similar shots that I've taken in the past, a couple of which are below. The first is Longannet Power Station in Fife which I took on an M42 Mamiya body and a 39-80mm zoom when I was 18 and had just started working as a reporter. The similarities are quite striking.

Longannet Power Station

The last pic is closer to home, a hill called Craigowl just north of Dundee. This was taken on the Rollei 2.8F when I was in my 20s. Again, it shares the same compositional elements as the other two. I like to have the sides of the road emerging from the corners of the frame if possible - something that I couldn't do on the Google shot without unbalancing the composition but could probably correct if I was actually standing on the road.

By coincidence, I'm planning a trip up Craigowl on Saturday morning with the old Rollei Standard and a couple of rolls of Tmax 400. You'll not find the Craigowl scene on Google, though, as the road up to the top of the hill is private and protected by a gate that isn't always open. I'm not too interested in re-creating the shot below, although I like it a lot, but I noticed some potentially nice scenes when I took my mother up to the top of the hill a couple of weeks ago.

I'm not sure if the Tessar lens on the Rollei Old Standard will be the right one for the pictures I saw but I want to make more use of the camera. Time to leave the mouse and keyboard behind and get some boots on the ground, I reckon.

Craigowl Hill


Donato Chirulli said...

The last pic is the proof that man's aging is not the same as vine..... :-D :-D :-D
That's in fact... one of the best pic you posted ever......! Just Great!

Bruce Robbins said...

I'm still trying to work out if that's a compliment, Donato. :)

Mike. said...

I love the West Coast of Scotland. Your house is for sale Bruce so maybe you should buy a house there?


Donato Chirulli said...

For sure is a compliment Bruce.... ;-)
Btw.... I'm aging too..... OMG! ;-)