Buchaille Etive Mor
The Kings House website has an enticing glimpse of what can happen on those special occasions in Winter when fresh snow and first light alpenglow combine. I have been hoping to take this image since my first visit in 2000 and eventually got lucky at the start of February in 2010. Fresh overnight snow had given way to a clear dawn to the East with tracery high cloud streaming in from the North. Temperature was a balmy -9c and it was completely still.
Jon Brock and I had specced out this well known shot the previous day when there was no snow and the alpenglow lit every mountain except for the Buch. Returning after snow was quite different and all the potential foreground rocks were covered in snow effectively making it very difficult to get a good wideangle composition. After some initial searching I opted for the classic viewpoint tucked on a bend of the small stream just under the A82.
The key point of my composition was going to be the dawn colour from the Buch running down the stream and giving a strong visual relationship between foreground and background. The right hand side was worryingly heavy due to the lack of snow so I wanted to minimize this effect although it would be partially mitigated by the dawn glow. Many of my images from here suffer badly from a blocked up mid ground due to the formless nature of the Moor so I opted for a mild tele lens (200mm on 5X4, 65mm equivalent) to get you over it quickly. Too much or too little tilt is quite often a problem especially with slightly longer lenses requiring stopping down to see the full effect on DOF. I had set up 3 compositions here of which this is the only one that was in focus and/or balanced !
The alpenglow just illuminated the top of the Buch but still maintained good Earth shadow colour in the North West sky. I had corrected the composition by moving to the left and included the right hand edge of the stream. The alpenglow light only lasts a few minutes so from previous experience I anticipated that a 2 stop ND grad would be needed. I set this up across the mid point of the Buch to cover the tops of the other mountains if they lit up also. A 12 second exposure on Velvia 50 gave the result I wanted.