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by Andy McInroy
Photograph Of The Month - March 2008
The Great Pollet Arch, Fanad, Donegal

Dark Arch
The Great Pollet Arch, Fanad, County Donegal

Technical Details
Date/Time: 4.27pm 17th February 2008
Exposure time: 3 seconds
Aperture: F22
Focal Length: 14mm (APS Sensor)
Lens: Pentax 14mm DA
Camera: Pentax K10D
Support: Tripod with cable release
Lee Neutral Density (3 stops, to lengthen exposure)
Lee Neutral Density Graduated (2 stops, to balance exposure)

Landscape Photograph
Photographer Unknown - Possibly R.J.Welch c1900

Landscapes in Monochrome

County Donegal is a coastal photographer's paradise. There are golden strands that stretch as far as the eye can see. There are hidden coves filled with the most colourful pebbles you can imagine. There are sea cliffs so high that they are hard to distinguish from mountains. There are also arches and sea stacks galore, many of which are rarely photographed.

The Great Pollet Arch on the eastern shores of Fanad Peninsula is a particularly fine example of a Donegal sea arch. It stands as testimony to the sheer power of the Atlantic Ocean as it carves its way through solid rock. One day, the roof of this arch will collapse into the sea to leave a pair of enormous sea stacks. Thankfully, I got there just in the nick of time !

I visited the arch on a particularly fine February afternoon. The heavy haze and blank sky didn't put me off because I knew this would help simplify the photograph and allow the sea arch to stand out strongly. I decided to use a monochrome approach to simplify the image even further and to focus attention on the texture and form of the arch. I also hoped this would help to achieve a timeless feeling in the finished photograph.

Modern digital cameras see in red, green and blue. These are the primary colours of light and every colour we see can be created by mixing these component colours. To create this monochrome conversion I discarded the blue channel and mixed only the red and green camera data. This is equivalent to using a yellow filter in traditional black and white photography. The beauty of digital photography is that you can essentially "filter" in post-process. The effect of my channel selection was to suppress blue and therefore to darken down the sea and sky while accentuating the texture of the yellow rock. To complete this image I performed some final local contrast adjustments.

Hopefully this arch will survive the wild Atlantic storms for a few more years. Should it ever collapse then at least I have got my shot in the bag. However, based on the old gallaher's view shown opposite, I suspect that it will stand for a long time to come !

Text and photos © Andy McInroy