Two views of the memorial © Gary Eason
Colchester, 29 August 2017
A very well known statue, this: the Commando Memorial just outside Spean Bridge in the Highlands of Scotland.
Three giant commando soldiers look out over the landscape that was their training ground in WWII.
The statue, created by the Scottish sculptor Scott Sutherland (1910 - 1984) using actual former commandos as the models, was unveiled in 1951.
An earlier photograph of mine created in 2010 is one of my best selling pictures. But the location is one I pass regularly on my forays into the far north and in sunnier weather four years later I made a few more photographs there.
Striking though the location is, the sheer monumentality of the bronze on its plinth, at 17ft (5.2m) high and on an elevated paving platform, means that unless you stand a long way off then the view of it is very much looking upwards.
I also wanted to try to get a more eye-to-eye depiction, which resulted in the second of the photographs at the top of this page.
There are very many photographs of this statue but mine is the only one I have come across that offers this perspective on it. Here's how it was done.
I was on this trip to make landscape photographs so I had not taken along my monopod, but I did have my lovely Giotto GTMTL9271B tripod (which was stolen a couple of weeks later when my car window was smashed).
Onto that went the D700 with 24-70mm zoom set at 24mm, on its side, and the whole package was hoisted at arm's length into the air to get the shot, framed using live view on the rear LCD screen.
Easier said than done. The camera, lens and tripod combination came to well over 5kg in itself. But this is a very exposed location at the best of times, and what you cannot tell from the sunny aspect is that it was blowing a hooley at this particular time. So hoisting the rig was one thing but holding it steady up there was quite impossible.
Incidentally, if you are thinking a drone would have made easy work of this job, there are two problems with that: I doubt it could have been launched that day because of the wind strength; secondly - I don't have one!
So it was a grab: I set the self-timer for 5 seconds, made ready, and hoisted just as it was about to fire. ISO 100, f8, 1/350. I got everything nicely framed and exposed, as the sun dodged in and out behind the clouds, on the fourth attempt, which felt like good going in the circumstances.
Finally however, if you compare the shot and published versions shown here, you can see that I tweaked the lens distortion, warmed up the colour balance - and removed the distracting vehicles from the background.
For this portrait-shaped view I kept in the remembrance wreaths at the base of the plinth. There is also a wide version where the statue itself dominates the scene.
I hope you like them.
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