Glencoe, Scotland


“Glencoe – Raging glory” is one of the all-time favourite Fine Art images I created in over 10 years of work on Glencoe’s spectacular landscapes. In this article, I’ll tell you what the idea behind it was as well as what it took to create it, in terms of physical, artistic and technical challenges. In short, this article is about the passion driving me, the force that makes me go out day after day chasing that elusive, perfect image.

“Anger. Rage. Fury. Emotions without control, glorious, triggered by external events. A rainfall of the soul, a snowfall of the heart, a hailstorm of the mind. Stopped and blocked only by an internal drought.

The mountains stand tall, they call them the Three Sisters. They are the unwilling, unaware cause of the water fury raging down the valley below, shaping it, modifying it, changing it, building and destroying it. They cause change and change causing such change, their shapes constantly sculpted by the same elements.

Raging waters, gloriously shaping the world around them.”

In February 2020, I flew to Scotland for the first stop of a one-month trip that would then bring me to Iceland, back again to Scotland and then to England before going back home to Italy. On a side note, I have been very happy to complete the full trip without any problems despite the advent of the infamous Covid-19 epidemic. Back to Glencoe, reaching this location is fairly easy, even though it involves a bit of a scramble to get down to the water level where this image has been taken. A good pair of boots, and a good sense of balance, will help preventing you from falling into the raging waters.

Like many rivers in Scotland, River Coe is short, and its flow can change dramatically according to the weather. There are many possibilities for compositions along the river, so before starting to work I always walk along the edge to find the composition that would work best for that particular day’s weather, water level and so on. This makes photographing River Coe always interesting and surprising; no matter how many times I did that before, working on River Coe is always very inspiring for me. In this particular case, the main focus of my composition here is obviously the relationship between the waterfalls and the mountain behind them. To balance the different visual weight of the composition’s element, I created a radiating composition originating where the sun is.

On this particular day, I found the river as full and powerful as I ever saw it. The raging waters, together with the low clouds, created an incredible atmosphere. Visually, the white mass of water perfectly balanced the mass of the black mountain behind it, made lighter by a powdering of snow.

Many photographers think that blurring water is enough to create artistic images. To me, exposure control when photographing water means much more than that. Shutter speed is one of the most powerful tools we have available to both create mood and express the feelings that a scene awoke in us.

In this particular case, I needed a shutter speed long enough to soften the water, transforming the messy waterfalls into smooth lines and soft masses complementing and strengthening my composition, balancing the visual weight of the mountains behind them. At the same time, I needed a short enough shutter speed to keep structure in the low, misty-looking clouds.

As mentioned in previous “The story behind” articles, I much prefer to get everything as close to right in camera as I can. In this case, to create the image I wanted I needed the help of various of my trusted filters. Fist, a polariser helped me control the reflections on the wet rocks. Then, a carefully positioned Grad ND filter helped me darken the sky to balance the exposure.

Glencoe (Scotland, 2020)

Last, a mild ND filter helped me bringing the exposure down to 5 seconds, perfectly creating the water effect I envisioned. 

Processing my images, I never create things that weren’t there, I just do all I can to enhance the mood the scene awoke in me. In this case, I was interested in exploiting the contrast between cold and warm tones in the image’s colour palette. The camera I used to create this image outputs files in 4:3 format; however, image ratio for me is a very powerful tool to realize our images’ true potential, and for this photograph I chose a classic 5:4 format, which often works well for me when photographing in portrait mode. As a side note, for visual discipline and Portfolio consistency, I always stick to predetermined image ratios (4:3, 5:4, 1:1, and so on) rather than cropping freely.

For lovers of Fine Art Prints, “Glencoe – Raging glory” is available in Collectors Edition of just ONE copy per size, 4 different sizes, following the link here: RAGING GLORY. Unlimited Open Edition are also available following the link above.

For NFT lovers, “Aqua #001 – Glencoe” is available as 1/1 edition NFT on Foundation following the link here: AQUA #001 – GLENCOE.

Join us for one of my GLENCOE & ISLE OF SKYE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS to create your own amazing photographs of Glencoe and many more spectacular Scottish locations while learning all I know about Fine Art landscape photography. Attendance limited to just THREE people!

Glencoe & Isle of Skye Photography Workshop

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