The Buachaille Etive Mor is an icon amongst the peaks of the Scottish Highlands. Standing proud above the Rannoch Moor and guarding the entrance to Glencoe and Glen Etive, its vertical buttresses and narrow ridges soar like a cathedral high into the sky. The mountain is instantly recogniseable, highly respected and held in affection by the many mountaineers who have come to know it.
'The Buachaille' had been the subject of a lovely image I had captured some years before this but, stunning though that image was, I never felt that it portrayed the mountain's most notable characteristic - its isolation from other peaks and its dominance over the flat expanse of Rannoch Moor, particularly on a wild winter's morning.
I knew this specific viewpoint well, but could only exploit it to advantage when I started using the panoramic format of the Fuji GX617. Compositionally, the scene works very well and the 'The Buachaille' is seen in perfect isolation above the open moor. A convenient bend in the River Etive, where it flows over a wide rock and shingle bed, also provides the bonus of an interesting and detailed foreground.
On this cold February morning, a cold front had passed overnight and a small ridge of high pressure promised a window of fine weather before the next atlantic system was scheduled to move in. In the cold pre-dawn small strips of cloud moved across the summits from east to west - occasionally lying on the mountains but never totally obscuring them from view.
I feared that this phenomenon would spoil the light I intended for my shoot as the lazy winter sun rose up slowly to the east across the expanse of Rannoch Moor. However, to my joy, the cloud worked in my favour and produced a brief spectacle of light which turned the snow and rocks of 'The Buachaille' through colours of pink, yellow and finally cream.
The colour and intensity of the light changed constantly as small banks of thin cloud passed over the sun and my chosen subject; each change requiring a re-assessment of exposure. In what has become a regular and sometimes tricky routine on a bitterly cold morning, I shot nearly a dozen rolls of film in a little over 15 minutes. Each batch of 4 images on a single roll of 120 film contained different settings to ensure that I had achieved the perfect exposure.
More information can be found on my "About the Mountain Prints" page.