The image I chose to share was taken a few weeks ago at a magical place that not many tourists visit and can also be quite a challenge to climb down too. The place is called The Devil’s Pulpit, located in Finnich Glen. This surreal magical place is cut 70 feet deep into a dark red sandstone gorge, Nowadays, people often refer to the glen itself as the Devil’s Pulpit. However, that name, in its original usage, did not refer to the glen, but to a feature within it: more specifically, it was the name of a particular rock. The area from which this picture was taken can be reached by means of a flight of steps which has been nicknamed Jacob’s Ladder or the Devil’s Staircase.
That flight of steps was made 200 years ago and are in a very bad state, take some ropes and hiking boots as it is more of a climb down to get into the glen than any sort of safe passageway. On entering the gorge you are immediately struck by the vividness of the moss and ferns contrasting with the Dark red water. I would suggest you head southwards towards the running water and make sure you have some walking poles for when you tread through it as it becomes so dark with tannin that you can’t even see the bottom and i can assure you it is very deep in places so stick to the edge.
A dry bag would be another good accessory and please leave your dog / children at home for this location and don,t take any food etc into the glen, this needs to be kept pristine. Ideally I would suggest you take a 10-16mm f1.8 if you can or get creative and produce some vertical panoramas, the walls of the glen are nearly vertical so i suggest getting there early in the morning so you can get the reflected light beaming into the chasm.
Get up early in the morning before sunrise and head out to a location you have never photographed before at that time of the day, use google earth and landranger maps to find hidden local gems, you never know there may be several within walking distance. Old maps are a great source of information which can give clues to past uses, place names can often have a historical story of where the name comes from, especially Gaelic place names in Scotland where I live.
The Devil’s Pulpit Location
I would also suggest that you study compositional rules to get the best image possible and throw some ND8/16/32 and CPL filters as well as a sturdy tripod for long exposures, these can really make an awesome difference to the visual impact of the final images. Shoot in both Raw and Jpg , use the Jpg as a guide for editing your raw image in software like Lightroom or Affinity Photo, copy the original and work on a copy, try and recreate what you saw when you were at the location, do another version in mono, use lens profiles, clarity and sharpness, selectively dodge and burn with not only exposure but shadows and highlights, zoom into areas to see if there is hidden detail you can bring out.
Don’t whatever you do let the weather rule you, get wellingtons, waterproofs, umbrellas, a flashlight, speedlite. Think of the worst kind of weather you may encounter and set yourself challenges to conquer those things, make a point of going out in bad weather, be careful and be safe, bring a friend and let people know where you are and when you expect to be back but most of all have fun.
Follow Steven McDougall
Destinations are supplied for information only and the information is used at your own risk. Always take proper precautions when out in the Mountains and make sure you are equipped for all weathers. It is wise to let someone know your route before you head out. Do you have a favourite photographic location, why not submit your own adventure.