"𝐷𝑜 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑔𝑜 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑡ℎ 𝑚𝑎𝑦 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑑, 𝑔𝑜 𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑛𝑜 𝑝𝑎𝑡ℎ 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑎 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑙." - 𝑅𝑎𝑙𝑝ℎ 𝑊𝑎𝑙𝑑𝑜 𝐸𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛
Whilst out in the old Carrick Forest in South Ayrshire searching for a Neolithic chambered cairn that I’d missed on a recent commission, I found that the hills in the surrounding glens had a nice dusting of snow on them. I decided to abandon my search for the cairn & climb Rowantree Hill instead. I’d visited this hill before, making photographs from the road for future reference - but today I was going to scale it!
I started my ascent by trudging through a sodden peat bog, there is no path up & the near vertical hillside was slippy & arduous. I slowly scrambled up in a zig-zag formation for better grip; there were points where I had to grab hold of the bracken to physically pull myself up, but I eventually reach the plateau of Glenapp Hill wherein it was a simple slog to the summit of Rowantree Hill. As always, Coops led the way, bouncing up & down the hillside in the knee-high snow whilst I struggled along… The first 3/4’s of an ascent is always challenging, but on the final leg you experience a second-wind when you realise that you’re almost there.
I took the opportunity to rest on a glacial boulder, sipping on a refreshing drink whilst soaking in the 360 degree views, from the Galloway Forest to the East, the Carrick Hills to the North, Ailsa Craig to the West & the hills to the South. The wind had a chill factor of -2 degrees & my boots were soaked through thanks to the moss & the snow, but I was still glowing from my ascent & I was feeling great!
Once I’d re-energised I began to explore the summit, knowing that I wanted a composition that would compliment the side-lit range to the North, namely the Rig of the Shalloch. The snow clouds were moving along beautifully & were very dynamic - the light was changing all the time. I found a small Loch in a section of peat-bog, with beautifully frozen edges & I set up my camera to make my exposure.
Settings wise, I knew that I wanted to capture the dynamic scene in sharp focus with a well balanced exposure to capture the detail in both the highlights in the sky & the shadows within the bracken. I chose an aperture of f16 & focused a third of the way into my frame for optimal focus throughout & applied a circular polariser to dial in the reflected light on the Loch’ surface & to bring out more detail in the clouds before adding a 0.8 soft edged filter just to balance the exposure a bit more. Nothing too drastic!
I made a series of photographs as the light developed across my scene so that I had a good selection of exposures to choose from once I got down off of the hill. I wasn’t leaving this one to chance. My descent was slow as I had to tread carefully on the snow - I actually ended up sitting down & sliding most of the way, though I very almost lost control. I eventually reached the bottom of the steep slope & drank from the Brandy Well - a thoughtfully placed freshwater spring.
Standing at the top of that hill, I considered the mostly unseen beauty of Carrick & South Ayrshire. Not many people really explore what is around them & it’s a shame, because there is so much to discover. Many think that they have to travel to the Highlands to find vast glens & mountain passes - but what they don’t realise is that if they just travelled for an hour within the area they’d discover a whole new world; without the crowds!
Camera & Optics by Sony / Samyang.
Elite Filter System by SRB Photographic.
Tripod by Manfrotto.
Bag & inserts by Karrimore UK / Lowepro.
Outdoor Clothing & Boots by Jack Wolfskin / Karrimore UK / Decathlon.