The Devil's Cauldron

Just like my first photo I shared, this was taken on a camping trip in the Scottish Highlands, in the Glencoe area in May this year. As I previously mentioned, the weather in Glencoe is made for photography… well that’s if you are patient enough and you can last for long enough:)
On this day I got up for sunrise, unfortunately there wasn’t one- it just got lighter! Then just as I packed up my tent a snow storm hit the area. It was windy and the snow/slate was falling almost horizontally, a perfect way to wash your lens’ front element! I decided to wait it out and finally the sun came out. During the time I was waiting,sitting at a hotel’s bar in my dirty and pretty sure smelly hiking gear, drinking a posh cappuccino, I browsed the net for possible shots in the area.

Just like with my previous shot, I wanted to capture the Buachaille Etive Mor(the mountain) from a different angle. Just google that mountain and you will see the EPIC shot, it’s like Scotland Mesa Arch!

After a while of starring at my phone, I came across this article that briefly mentioned this spot and how to find it. It wasn’t this shot, but I could see loads of potentials and I don’t like copying other peoples shots anyways. So now the sun is out, looking like summer, I set out to find this spot that was actually just about half a mile where I was. After some further googling and checking the map I kinda new where I headed and located the river as well, great stuff! What I did not count with is that previously there were hardly any rain for weeks in Scotland (I know, unbelievable) and all the rivers and waterfalls were pretty lame with hardly any water in them. So when I arrived to this “waterfall” it was actually I tiny ledge, not this growling monster that I imagined! Well I thought since I’m here I work with what I have.

As I was working on my composition and playing around my filters I noticed the weather coming in from the mountains and this meant rain is coming - bringing mood with it! Where I was standing it was like summer and sunny but at the mountains it was dark and gloomy! I only took a few shots here even though I was there for some time and this one was the one liked most. This is actually a second- third edit, I will post the very first one below. As with my previous shot, I for some reason, placed most things to the left! Don’t know why!

I used a Nikon D750 + 18-35G lens on 18mm at f/9, 1/15th sec ISO 100.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any comments on composition are always welcome, also I am happy for post processing tips as well!

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Pertinent technical details or techniques: This is a single shot, no stacking etc.

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

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You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

This was the first edit(as far as I can remember)

I enjoyed reading your, very recognizable, story! And you found an interesting spot. Comparing both edits I like how you adjusted the blues in the sky in the new one, and the small crop from the right also works for me. I preferred the big stone in the front uncut, even though it does get close to the edge that way. I guess it’s personal preference.
The midground is a bit empty, I think that’s where you needed your extra water, that would’ve looked completely different I guess. But what can you do, right? Maybe some added dodge/burn in the mg can lead the eye a bit more to that nice dramatic mountain in the back.

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Thanks Ron, I agree with you on the bottom stone, I will see if I can make it work. I am planning to re-visit this location in the near future, hopefully all the conditions will work out. I don’t think I will be able to shoot the same composition as if there were water, I would be standing in the river lol I will put a bit more work into this for sure as I like the mood of it.


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Waders! :smiley: But I guess the stone will be invisible too, but other possibilities will emerge.
It’s great to be able to revisit a location to try and get those perfect conditions; that’s not always possible!

I have to go with first image, Zoltan. At least to me, the composition has a nicer balance, and the sky has less cyan the edited version. I could see the image brightened up just a bit more, since still appears a little dark to me.

Looks like a grand place!

Extremely cool location (no pun). I think the far side of the river bank has enough luminance in the grey rocks to serve as a landing zone midway between the foreground and the mountain - and even mimics the triangular shape of the mountain to some degree. While I don’t feel that a shot must have foreground/midground/background to be successful, there’s still something to work with there if you’re interested in dodging the rocks on the riverbank some. Agree with @Preston_Birdwell about the cyan cast to the sky…prefer the colors of the sky in the first image. Thanks for sharing - cool location.

I need to get them! :smiley: I have a good pair of boots that waterproof but to here I would definitely need waders!

@Preston_Birdwell and @Jim_McGovern, so the first version was the one with the cyan sky - I corrected this for the second edit ie, the first image. I will do some more editing, may wait until the weather turns :smiley:

Looking at the rocks on the other side, now you mentioned it, it makes perfect sense to do some dodging, thanks for the advice! I need to have a good look around for editing techniques etc to educate myself quite a bit, if you have any recommendations ie YouTube videos, I’d appreciate it!

It’s always nice, and challenging too, to re-visit a place you been before. To get here for me, is only a 2.5-3 hours away which is not bad however I would prefer to cap there instead of driving up and down…excuses really :roll_eyes:

Michael Shainblum just did a nice review on dodging/burning you may want to have a look at.

There’s ton’s more out there if you search in YouTube. I’m a big fan of @Sean_Bagshaw as well. He was a former teacher (I believe) and has a gift for delivering information in ways that are easy to receive. He relies heavily on a system developed by @Tony_Kuyper - a tool within photoshop. So, it’s rather involved and may be more than you want to get into. However, once up to speed, it’s an elegant tool to optimize images in Ps. Good luck to you and never stop learning!


This looks good Zoltan. Nice conditions, and the waterfall is a great foreground. The snow on the hill is a nice bonus.

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@zoltan This is a beautiful image. the location is sublime. I really like how you used that crack as a lead in, the rock as an anchor and the little waterfall as a cool foreground interest. It’s a thoughtful comp.

My critique is about how you lined it all up. The tilt of the rocks on the left side seem to pull the whole balance of the photo in the direction, giving it an unbalanced feel. The mountain in the back is located to that side as well giving the effect even more emphasis to the weight of the left side. I’m not sure if it was possible, but it would have been cool if you could have minimized that in the field. Sometimes a slight move to the left, right or even a tilt, especially with wide angle distortion tricks, can help get the components in a composition to line up in a more harmonious manner. I would like to see this with the rock, waterfall and the mountain more in line with each other. :smiley:

Thank you for sharing this beautiful photo.

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Appreciate that a lot Jim!
I find the amount of videos a bit overwhelming as there are so many but I will certainly check these out you mentioned!

@Gary_Randall, @John_Williams thank you! I was really happy with finding this location as it’s one of those rare locations in the area that not been over shot…yet! I will definitely go back and will try to remember all the suggestions, well in my future photography as well! It’s weird, but I noticed that I tend to put more weight on the left side of my images! Must be a way my brain works!

Thank you all for the kind comments!

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Beautiful shot, Zoltan, and I really like your chosen composition. For me, your first (original) image looks best because the cyan was reduced a good bit. Honestly, I still think the cyan could even be further reduced as the water looks pretty blue still. Beautifully seen and captured.

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Hey Bill, thank you for your feedback! The first photo is my latest edit where I cropped it in a bit and reduced the cyan. I may re-edit from the start at some point and see what I can come up with. I will definitely take all the suggestion into account. I will re-visit here again, maybe in November…It will be a very different look by then. I might go and check if I can further reduce that silly cyan now:) I will report back in :slight_smile:

I quickly went over to LR and added +14 in WB, any more and it felt like turning orange.