Dun na Cuaiche, Inveraray

This weekend Julie and I walked up to the lovely Dun na Cuaiche folly above Inveraray castle. At 248 m high, not a major hill-walk, but with our near-10 kilo baby, (yes really!) in a backpack carrier, it turns into some serious exercise. To my shame, despite visiting Inveraray for 8 years on a regular, (like twice weekly) basis, I have never walked up to the folly, (Dun na Quaiche). Anyway, it is a lovely walk, if steep, of about an hour taken easily. These are two views from inside the folly, which I believe was always decorative, not functional. The first is a tripod shot using my smaller EOS 500D and my carbon-fibre Giottos tripod. The point I think might be interesting to photographers is that the first shot uses the extensive adjustments now available in Lightroom 4 to create a virtual HDR effect from a single exposure. (ISO 200, f16, 1/25 sec, 22mm (x 1.6 crop factor))

This next similar picture is a genuine 3-exposure HDR from the same tripod and camera. The three exposures were blended in “photomatix pro” and exported back into Lightroom. I chose monochrome mainly because I love monochrome HDR images, but also to give variety in my post, but the point is that using a Raw file on a tripod exposure, Lightroom is now good enough to get close to an HDR look, without the “ghosting and softening” of real blending of exposures. The first is arguably a better, truly sharp, High Dynamic Range image; Lightroom just gets better and better!

Stepping out of the tower, this is the lovely view of the planned town of Inveraray. (Really worth a visit if you haven’t been there). Loch Fyne is the adjoining loch. The very gothic Inveraray castle, the seat of the Campbells I believe, is obvious on the lower right.

And now using my 70-300, fully extended, I thought you might enjoy the sheer gothic wow factor of the very striking castle from above.

The 70-300 employed now to frame the promontory town that is Inveraray. Am I the only person who sees a vague resemblance to Ullapool in the way it juts into Loch Broom in the Highlands.

These are some really straight and tall trees by the path on the ascent. I love the effect of a wide-angle lens and very straight trunks with nice warm light striking them.

This one is an abstract, picked out from the folly, 250 m above using my 70-300 again. I love the simple curves of the shore against the trees.

Here’s a snatched shot of Hannah’s gorgeous mum using her beloved 500D and Sigma 18-70 capturing Inveraray as well!

Back at the castle estate on the way down, I realised that you could see this unusual little Doocot (dovecot) in the distance along one of the avenues. I thought it would be interesting to try the 70-300 again to compress the distance and to allow the road to lead you to the building. Just as I was focusing a grouse strolled across the path forming a blurry moving silhouette against the shockingly white building. (read about it here).

 That’s it from our stroll, but there is on more thing to relate of great importance to a photographer. Julie kindly gave me these pictures which she took to illustrate an important point. As we were ascending, the buckle in the waistbelt of the baby carrier parted, and my camera bag, which was held on that loop fell to the ground. It is in my right hand in this picture and is a Lowepro SLR plus single lens bag with decent padding, ideal for keeping at your waist while having a somewhat inconvenient-for-nipping-into-your-rucksack baby on your back. Anyway, despite the padding, the UV filter which was on the front for protection in accidents just like this, shattered.
However, despite the glass dust and shards, the front element of the Canon 17-85 IS behind is largely, if not totally unscathed. The moral of the story is that all of those photographers who advocate keeping an optically useless UV filter n the front of your lenses as a sacrificial element in case of accidents, are very wise. I was able to unscrew the broken part, (taking it home for safe disposal), and use the lens for all the wide angle shots in this post. I will get a new one to replace this one in case it happens again. This lens is currently on Amazon UK for £325. The 67 mm UV filter (Hoya) is listed at £30. An expensive droppage, but only slightly less than 10% of what it could cost. You might consider a filter if hillwalking just for peace of mind.

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  • Dianne McGee

    Your first photograph from the folly is excellent, Matthew. I’ve always wanted to do that walk. Also like the photo of the dovecote.

  • Mary Gilies

    Really enjoyed viewing your portraits and reading about the people you photographed. What I was most ompressed with was the fact that you hadused some really interesting backgrounds for the portraits particularly those of Melanie where the scene behind said so much about her.

    Superb images , didn’t know you did this kind of photography.
    Thanks for telling me about your website, will pop in now and again to see and learn more about portrait work as I tend to go much closer for portraits.
    Regards Mary

  • Kees Slings

    Hi Matthew,
    I’ve never been up to the folly but have visited Inveraray and the castle a few times as a Scotland loving Dutchy. I didn’t know anything about the dovecot on the castle grounds until I read the first chapter in ‘The New Road’ by Scottish writer/journalist Neil Munro yesterday evening. An excellent beginning of what promises to be great historical novel. The dovecot figures in a gothic creepy crawly scene in which the main character and the castlekeeper’s daughter are holed up inside in the dark of night, when suddenly the door opens and an unseen figure stands in the dark doorway, breathing heavily and trying to sense their presence. Very suspenseful.
    I’m not a photographer but happened on your site googling the dovecot, the castle and the town itself. I’m very much into Scottish history and the town and castle are indeed the seat of the ancient Campbells, Dukes of Argyle, since the 18th century. The New Road is available 2nd hand on amazon.co.uk for one penny (plus GBP 4,02 dispatch) and another book of essays on Munro (Exploring new roads, essays on Neil Munro) has a cover that’s an exact replica of your vista picture of the town and Loch Fyne taken from the folly.
    kind regards,
    Kees Slings

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