The Falkirk Wheel

Last weekend I finally visited the Falkirk Wheel. This amazing and unique structure uses clever engineering and counterbalancing to lift barges between the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals. It is so well constructed it achieves this amazing feat using the kind of energy that you or I use to boil a kettle. Since each gondola and barge weighs about 250 metric tonnes, this is cool!

Photographically, it was overcast and the light was anything but magical; once again I have sold my soul to the demons of monochrome to help me focus on the form and majesty of the boat lift. Often, strong shapes look better defined in black and white as distracting colour elements are removed.

Here’s the lift from the front. (Sigma 10-20)

If the light is dull, it’s nice to pick out interesting details of the structure. It’s kind of like macro photography on a grand scale.

For this angle on the boat lift, the clouds parted enough to allow a brief use of colour; don’t be deceived into thinking the light made an honest photographer of me, the blue saturation has been thrashed to within an inch of its life here to force some colour drama. The yellow and orange has also been pushed to add warmth to the steel structure, emphasising the hints of rust.

These ones show the aqueduct that carries barges from the Union Canal to the boat lift. They are classic Falkirk Wheel views, and I’m sure the world has plenty of them already; its fun for a portrait guy like me to reproduce the standard landscape stuff for a bit of practice. Humour me please. The second and third using my 17-85 on telephoto to compress the upright supports.

I would certainly urge a look if you are in Central Scotland; beautiful engineering.


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