Rafael Rojas Photography

Blog of Rafael Rojas Fine Art Photography

Photo of the Week: Fire and Ice

Fire and Snow - Glencoe, Scotland

Hello all. All my apologies for being away so long. Hectic times keep me doing things I would prefer not to do! Anyway, i am back with the image for this week... This vertical shot was taken in Glencoe, Scotland. One of the good things of staying for a long time in a relatively small area is that you can more or less get to know the place quite well. We scouted this place a few days before. Even if the light was quite dull at that time, I realized the nice vertical perspective given by the elevated position offered by a bridge, the nice rock patterns almost buried under the snow, the geometric convergence created by the river margins and the nice diagonals created by the distant valley. A strong focal point given by the distant peak became the dominant center of interest, and the little cottage by the river added a pinch of scale, to show the huge proportions of the landscape feature. A perfect subject indeed. The only thing missing was the light. Which light? Well, for this specific image I needed some soft light to keep the colour and detail of the foreground rock patterns and do not burn out the highlights in the snow. Also, if possible, I would be happy having a contrast of cold and warm colours-feelings. For that, the use of the reflections in the water would play a major role. Indeed, as this valley in winter almost looks into the sunset, some nice clouds at the west which might get lit by the setting sun would cast nice reflections on the water. These reflections would superimpose warm tones on the surrounding cold bluish hues of the ambient light falling on the snow, creating a striking effect of contrasting hues and feelings.

Some days passed by, and a certain afternoon we saw some nice high clouds gathering at the West, but leaving some big clearings in the sky. That might be a good excuse to try our chances at this location. We came back and waited. Some 20 minutes after sunset, the high clouds started getting some really nice colours, and that previsualized image became reality. The bonus: the streaked clouds radiating diagonally from the peak.

I used a polarizer slightly to make visible the foreground rock formations, taking care not to kill all the reflections of the golden clouds. I also used a graduated filter to keep the luminosity of the sky within the sensor latitude, but just a couple of stops was enough, as the land was covered by a quite reflective snow. A slow shutter speed gave the water a creamy aspect, rendering the water as pure molten gold.

Thanks for reading, and great light to you all!

Nikon D3x, Nikon 24-70 2.8, tripod, semi-polarized, GND 2 stop filter, tripod and cable release