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Thread: Lawers Dam

  1. #1
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Lawers Dam

    Went out this morning to Highland Perthshire, the area of the county to the north and on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. The weather was absolutely awful.

    The biggest problem was grabbing a moment to jump out of the car and get a few shots off before the lens (or the filter) got covered in rain.

    I did a 150 mile round trip and had great hopes when I set out, as it's an area where there are many magnificent images to be made. Oh well! Another day.

    This was the only one I felt was worthy of keeping. I sat in the car for about 30 minutes with the tripod up and ready just outside waiting for the rain to subside just a bit. A couple of minutes before this and a couple of minutes after, you could not see those towers half way across. The cloud just closed in ... and the rain got heavier.

    I like this one because it tells the story of my country, in the same way as this one did. Hydro electricity has, arguably, been the single most important thing that made the Highlands of Scotland a viable community in the second half of the 20th century, both in terms of the amenity it provides and also the employment it provided in the building and ongoing maintenance of these dams and the associated power stations.

    Your views are always welcome.

    Lawers Dam
    40D, 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM @ 17mm. ISO100. 1/30@f5.6

  2. #2
    shreds's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Donald,

    There is something desperately austere and almost threatening about this dam.

    Maybe it is the fog and angle of the arches?

    Nice picture though.

  3. #3
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Quote Originally Posted by shreds View Post
    There is something desperately austere and almost threatening about this dam.
    I take that as a huge compliment, Ian. That is exactly what I felt as I was taking it. As I drove down on the road towards it (coming from the side where all the water is), it did indeed look mightily intimidating, looming out through the mist (this is at about 2000 feet). I tried a few shots from the 'other' side, but they didn't work. So I parked up on this side of the dam and waited for the rain to ease off.

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    Markvetnz's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Donald

    I always enivsage thie highlands shrouded in mist and sort of cold and foggy. I thing this picture captures that really well.

    Isn't it amazing how a photography expedition very rarely goes exactly according to plan. Luckily the only limitation is our imagination. I drove about 150 km yesterday and also only got a few shots. I'm starting to relalise that good landscape work takes a few trips to be familiar with the area, plan the shots and then hope like hell the weather plays its part.

  5. #5
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Quote Originally Posted by Markvetnz View Post
    Donald

    I always enivsage thie highlands shrouded in mist and sort of cold and foggy. I thing this picture captures that really well.

    Isn't it amazing how a photography expedition very rarely goes exactly according to plan. Luckily the only limitation is our imagination. I drove about 150 km yesterday and also only got a few shots. I'm starting to relalise that good landscape work takes a few trips to be familiar with the area, plan the shots and then hope like hell the weather plays its part.
    Mark - I think you're absolutely right on both counts. We do get more than our fair share of rain, mist etc. But, I still argue that for the photographer it adds immensely to the atmosphere.

    And I also agree that you really do have to check out the location a few times. Images then start to form in your head and you can go back to that location clear about what it is you are after.

  6. #6
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    I like the extra space you gave at the top of this image. It really adds to the entire image...

    At first, I thought that my father had posted this. He was always saying, "Lawyers, damn them!"

  7. #7
    Sam Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    I like it. It makes me think it is something Steven King would describe in one of his books.

  8. #8
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Donald, you sure do get some serious, somber and gorgeous black and white photographs. I enjoy them all and am always impressed.

  9. #9
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Donald, I pretty much always like your work, but this.....this is truely one of my favorites.

  10. #10
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Hi Donald, you only need one image that really works to make a photo shoot successful and you have certainly done that in this case.

    Are the curved arches some sort of buttresses?

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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Love all the lovely tonal qualities of this image, but I am bothered that I cannot tell it is a dam simply through observation. Had you not mentioned its name, I might have thought it was some abandoned viaduct or the like. I guess I am of want to either see water at the top side or a spillway at the other...still, though, it is a nice shot.
    Last edited by MiniChris; 11th September 2011 at 01:05 PM.

  12. #12
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    I also really like this one. You feel like you are looking back in time in a way. I appreciate that in all your photos you put so much information about how you shot them. I like to really look and try to understand how the numbers work, as a newbie, and learn from it.

  13. #13
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Thank you all for your comments. Every one of them is helpful.

    With specific reference to comments made by:

    Frank

    Indeed, the arches are the bits between the buttresses. I suppose you could say it was a nice design feature or that they left all these gaps to save money on the building cost! The really big burst of activity in developing hydro electric power was in the 1950s. There are lots of these dams (of different designs) - actually I don't know how many there are, something I've never thought about. Must find out.

    Chris

    Good point re 'What is it?' Because they're so familiar to me I made the mistake of thinking that the story was complete.

  14. #14

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    Re: Lawers Dam

    I've spent many an hour sitting in a car in the Highlands waiting for the rain to stop. You've captured the atmosphere perfectly.

  15. #15

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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Thank you all for your comments. Every one of them is helpful.

    With specific reference to comments made by:

    Frank

    Indeed, the arches are the bits between the buttresses. I suppose you could say it was a nice design feature or that they left all these gaps to save money on the building cost! The really big burst of activity in developing hydro electric power was in the 1950s. There are lots of these dams (of different designs) - actually I don't know how many there are, something I've never thought about. Must find out.

    Chris

    Good point re 'What is it?' Because they're so familiar to me I made the mistake of thinking that the story was complete.
    It's kind of a petty point when one looks at the overall impact of the photographic qualities, but when I view the work of a photographer of your caliber, I tend to look past "pretty" and really start to scrutinize the "story." I commented earlier on someone else's photo of two crows about how a fence post did nothing to promote the "storyline," therefore it had to go. This is a recurring theme I promote on a regular basis - I think my students may revolt some day; I harp on it so much.

    I really do try to tell a story when presenting a photograph. There is another entry from a gentleman in Washington state of a river meandering toward (or away) from a larger body of water. Through gradual tonal shifts, wonderfully curving lines and a well located farm building, the "author-photographer" tells a wonderful story about a farm by the river at the height of summer. I can feel the coolness of the water, the warmth of the sun, and feel the calmness of the area. I want to go there tomorrow.

    The dam shot has all the same tonal characteristics needed for a perfect B&W, and while most of the story's parts are visible, it's that lack of closure that bothers my sense of thinking I've just read a book, or feeling I've just read "To Kill a Mockingbird."

    Mine is but one opinion and I would be the last on this forum to say that everything I submit fits the same billing power, but it is what I strive for and what I think we should all strive toward in a manner which makes us stronger technicians and stronger artists. It is still a wonderful image and I would add it to my collection.

  16. #16
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    This is a lovely image Donald and I'm sure it will evoke many different feelings in different people, however as Chris noted, without your comments I would be at a loss as to exactly what I am looking at and I wouldn't have associated its story with the one you describe. This is just my opinion of course and its what makes photography so exciting so thanks for stimulating my old grey cells Donald.

  17. #17
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    It's a wonderfully moody image Donald! It looks a very bleak place to be!

    I'm not sure whether I'd like to have a bit more of the grassy foreground. Perhaps just a thin strip running the length of the frame. At the moment it just runs out about halfway accross. Not a big issue really though.

    It was well worth the 150 mile round trip!

  18. #18

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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Beautiful image Donald, powerful and to me slightly scarey.

    It reminds me of when I was in Russia some years ago (before I had a camera), and on my travels came across a strange and vast, deserted military installation. It was all giant angular concrete constructions and rusting barbed wire. I didn't hang around to investigate further !

  19. #19

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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Some great post processing on the image, but I find a couple of things that do not work for me

    1 the horizon where the sky meets the brick work on the left as we look, in the middle of the picture, no balance and I then find myself following this imaginary line across the scene and not down the top of the wall.

    2 There is a lot of sky at the top not offering a lot to the picture If this was mine I would crop down about a 3rd.

    By doing the crop it also removes the central horizon and then gives some balance to the picture.
    These are only my humble opinion

    But these little picky things take nothing away from a very good picture which a good range of tones through out.

    Paul

  20. #20
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lawers Dam

    Again, thanks to everyone for your comments. All the ideas/suggestions do get filed away in the memory banks. The problem is that the powers of recall seem to be diminishing over time. However, I'm sure the general thrust of what has been said will be recovered from the grey matter as and when required. Has anyone invented brain backups yet, for when you lose stored information?
    Last edited by Donald; 12th September 2011 at 03:37 PM.

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