Loch Tulla is an established location

The view across the Loch has been taken so often that you almost feel that the tripod holes are set in stone. The weight of my photographic peers always lays heavy upon me every time I ‘m there. This time it was no exception as I was having a crisis of confidence – in my gear and my ability. So naturally I decided to tackle an easy subject…

Ice on Loch Tulla

Ice on Loch Tulla

When the conditions are right Loch Tulla freezes over and these beautiful ripples of water are momentarily stopped. They are extremely delicate and trying to find a place where you can actually set up your tripod is a difficult process: too far and “crack”. This is compounded by the large amount of weed that gets caught up in the ice making. You want nice clean iced ripples!

Still I had spotted this very delicate and rather menacing piece of ice clinging around a few grass stems. The ice has been pushed up the grass as the ripples across Loch Tulla were lapping against the shore.

It’s hard to convey just how small this bit of ice is but I hope that seeing the diameter of the grass stems gives you an idea – it was tiny. And to boot it was all melting. I was in a rush – not an easy thing with when using a Linhof Technikardan. Before I even set up I just knew that it was going to be a compound movement nightmare and before I loose the non-geeky part of my audience basically it means about 10 on the 1-10 difficult rating scale. How to get all of it in sharp sharp focus when the plane of ice was receding behind the grass and the grass itself was going another way. Then there’s the detail in the foreground. Oh and add in the fact that it’s in a bloody difficult place. However I decided that I would allow the complexity of the process to do some of the work for me. I didn’t want the whole frame in focus: there was detail below the ice that I really didn’t want to show.

I choose my “longest” lens (a 300mm or about 100mm in 35mm terms) unfortunately this was going to make all of the last paragraph even more difficult.

The metering was tricky. Enough to show the brightness of the ice but not too much to show the detail below the water. I then had to compensate for the size of the image. So I underexposed it slightly and then pushed it in development. This also had the benefit of increasing the contrast and the water went almost black.

It took about 45 minutes for this shot to be set up and committed to film. By which point I could hardly feel my fingers or knees. Numb knees. Loch Tulla knees. Never experienced it before – don’t want to again.

The scan is bitingly sharp in the places it needs to be and hopefully I’ve got the balance of the image about right. It’s meant to be uncomfortable. Spikey. And cold.

[Shooting info: TK45S, 300mm Nikkor, F32 1sec, Velvia 50]