Cliffs of The Isle of May

Paul  Gibb

Dunfermline, United Kingdom

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Taken on 4/9/10 at 10.30 am using my canon eos rebel t1i (500d) dslr with an 18-55mm lens at 25mm. The shutter speed was set at 1/125 and the apperture was set at 11 with an iso of 100. I then took the raw image and went +/- stops and merged the images and tonemapped in Photomatix. I then imported the hdr image into photoshop cs4 and adjusted the levels.
This shot was taken on the isle of May in the firth of the river Forth on the eastern coast of Scotland.
On the horizon of this shot the small square whitewashed building on the left is the original coal fire beacon built in 1636 by James Maxwell and John Alexander Cunnynghame, This was the original 1st permanently manned light house in Scotland, It used 400 tons of coal per year (20/40 tons per night).
The spent ash from this coal fired beacon was piled to the side of the Beacon and in 1791 the ash was piled so high that it reached the lighkeepers window. The fumes from this ash suffocated the keeper, his wife and five of his six children. The last child a 3 year old was miraculously found alive 3 days later. The keeper did have other children that were not on the island at the time of the tragedy.
When Robert Stevenson (Robert Louis Stevenson of treasure island fames nephew) built the gothic style tower lighthouse (to the left of the beacon) that went into service at the start of 1816, he wanted to destroy the old beacon. The reason it now looks like an old tower is thanks to Sir Walter Scott who wanted it left “Ruined a la picturesque” after a visit to the island and a conversation with Stevenson. As a result the old beacon was only reduced sufficiently to ensure the new light could be seen from all directions.
Information from my girlfriend Julie Orford, assistant curator for the National Museum of Scotland’s Shining lights exhibition that can be seen in Edinburgh until the 3rd of April 2011.
View More of my photographs at PAUL GIBB PHOTOGRAPHY

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