Whitelee Wind Farm and Lochgoin Monument
South West Scotland 2021: Part Eight
11 September 2021
Wind farm day… Only when I woke up early hoping for the sunrise shot I dreamed of, the cloud was SO thick you couldn’t see out of the window!!
I went back to sleep.
I eventually woke up to rain a couple of hours later. With the view still quite restricted, I simply took things easy and waited the weather out. The predictions were looking a little more promising as the day went so on I felt there was no rush today. The cloud lifted a little eventually, and it made for some nice shots from the camper window… Was that cheating?
Eventually the rain stopped down to a light drizzle, and the clouds were above the turbines, so I decided to go on a long walk with River to guage some nice moody compositional spots. I headed in the opposite direction to yesterday, walking past turbines 40, 24, 9, 8, 78 and down towards the Lochgoin Monument (see yesterdays map). This monument commemorates John Howie the author of The Scots Worthies, a book from 1775 that documented notable Covenanters and ministers. (Covenanters were a group of people in Scotland who had signed a petition against the interference of the Stuart kings in the Presbyterian church affairs, back in 1638. What followed was over 50 years of horrific persecution, violence, torture and murder)
I took some photos there, but I was sure that I could get nicer pictures in better weather and/or light. For now however, at least this documented my visit. After I had taken photos from a few different positions I realised that this exact spot was no longer in East Renfrew, but actually in East Ayrshire instead. This meant that, after all that walking, I couldn’t mark this spot off the East Renfrew leg of my county challenge … Oh well. One in advance…
As I took the pictures, I noticed a couple of breaks in the clouds, dancing small pockets of light across the Eaglesham Moor. While the light danced, it hit the occasional turbine. This looked SO pretty that I hoped to maybe capture one lit up against the grim grey sky as I turned to continue my walk around. For now, the walk ahead had no breaks in the cloud, so I aimed instead to get to a good viewpoint as soon as I could.
I started towards the Lochgoin Reservoir, only to realise several minutes later, that I was heading down to the farm by mistake. I walked back as quickly as I could and continued the hike round past the water and towards a marked lookout spot near turbine 43. My destination was Blackwood Hill.
I confess to feeling a little tired by the time I got there, and realised that it was pretty close to where I had ended at last night. Here River and I finally stopped for a good long sit down, some fluids and a lunchtime snack. It was a wonderful position. I could see for miles, and the distant hills and towns were bathed in glorious sunshine. Above us, the heavy skies remained. I saw more and more patches of sunlight come across the fields right over to me now however, so I positioned myself looking at a group of turbines, hoping that 3 of them might catch the light at once. I took loads of pictures of them all individually catching the sun, but for one patch to hit my complete grouping in one go, proved annoyingly elusive – then suddenly, after what seemd an age of trying and waiting – it happened!! I was over the moon, but realising the composition wasn’t quite right, tried to re adjust the shot. I was too slow though – the light had already gone off two of them. I waited, but it didn’t happen again, so I re-evaluated the shot I had captured and decided that I might be able to crop it to help it work better.
After this I wandered back and as I did, I spotted the Lochgoin monument in the far distance. I realised that from near where I stood, it would be perfectly positioned to sit in the middle of the silhouette of Ailsa Crag even further away, so I walked a few paces over to my left get the best view. I put my long lens on, zoomed to the max, and rattled off a few shots, moving an inch this way, half a foot that way until the position was perfect. The image on the back of the camera was really pleasing to my eye. I chuckled to myself…was this technically a 3 in one county shot? I was standing in East Renfrew, shooting the monument in East Ayrshire, against Ailsa Crag that was in South Ayrshire. How do I mark this one off?! Satisfied I’d gotten the best shot that I could, we finally headed back to the camper for a much needed rest. I’d ponder that question later if I really needed to.
As the hours passed, the heavy clouds cleared quickly so I made the call to head back out for either a clear sky sunset shot, or even a colourful one if I was lucky. Either one would do! River was exhausted (well we had just done 6.5 miles) so I left her behind to rest up while I trotted back to the spots I wanted to try for sunset…
As I walked, I spotted a lone tree on the horizon some distance away. With a lovely evening light bathing it, the blue of the sky behind, and a pink tinge to the cloud above, it looked lovely to my eye, so I hastily set up and tried to take a few photos. I needed to zoom in to the max, but even with an extender trying to help, it still looked small in the frame. (see Header) I felt it was still worth stopping for though, even if it did cut the time to sunset considerably closer than I was comfortable with.
Since I hadn’t picked a nice spot yet – and I only had a rough idea at that – I quickly headed on my way but soon found myself stopping a second time. This time it was to photograph the sun dipping below the hill, with a delightful starburst in the making. This spot proved rushing any further would be a waste of time, since I now realised I was in the wrong place to actually see the sun dip below the horizon itself. As I positioned myself for this shot, I saw the one I would have loved to have taken… but sadly the water level in the reservoir was far too low. I think that maybe a reflection in the water would make a strong image and that this would be much better after a period of rainfall. For now, I concentrated on trying to get the best angle for the sunburst.
Once I’d managed this one, I saw that I still had 5 mins to the actual sunset. I suspected it might be worth re-trying the monument shot I’d taken earlier, but I realised chances were going to be slim once I spotted that the sun was now behind a cloud. Any colour there a few minutes ago was already fading to a dull blue and quickly at that. I tried the shot however – gotta be in it, to win it, right?! Unfortunately the lens extender (which slightly restricts the amount of light that can get to the shutter) and the rapidly fading daylight, made it very hard to focus. Eventually I had to admit to myself, that I wasn’t going to get this one. Maybe I could just cheat the earlier shot, and put the colour that I was now looking at, into the image when I edited it…
I walked back towards the wind turbine I had photographed and used my phone to take a quick snap of the severely depleated reservoir. This was to remind me that when full, it might be worth coming back to try a good reflection shot. Finally, completely exhausted, I plodded back to the camper for a well earned rest tonight!