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Michael Hart Fine Art

Islay Moonrise

Islay Moonrise

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I was on the Island of Islay (pr eye-luh) off the west coast of Scotland. Famous for its single malt Scotch whisky distilleries, I had come on a self assignment to photograph at one of them, Lagavulin. I wanted to produce a self-promotion piece that was more consumer related, as opposed to the industrial assignments so prevalent here in Houston.

But in addition to distillery-specific images, I explored the island and captured other images. For instance, see “Rush Hour on Islay” elsewhere in this gallery.

This evening, I was outside the Lagavulin distillery, on the banks of the Atlantic Ocean, with an unobstructed view across the water to the Kintyre Peninsula of Scotland. You may be familiar with Paul McCartney’s wonderful song, ‘Mull of Kintyre.” I knew we were to have a full moon that beautiful June evening, and I was ready with my 300mm lens. At that time of year it stays light very late, and the Scots call this bluish twilight ‘ the gloaming.’ Originally used in Scottish dialects of English, the word traces back to the Old English glōm, meaning twilight,” which shares an ancestor with the Old English glōwan, meaning to glow.” 

Now, the eye sees color one way, and film (yes, this was back in the day) reacts in ways unique to each emulsion. My go-to film of choice, which I used on all the distillery images, was Kodachrome. But in this instance I used a relatively new film, Fuji Provia. A very sharp, saturated film, I had found out through testing, and in talking to a Fuji rep who visited our local lab, that it tended to shift blue very fast in any color temperature above “regular daylight,” or 5,500-degrees Kelvin. In regular use, I tended to use a specific kind of skylight filter at minimum, and even went to the various 81-series warming filters for specific shots, especially of people. But in this instance, where the color temperature was probably up in the 9,00-10,000 degree range,  I took the filter out of the lens, as I WANTED the film to ‘go blue.’ Which it certainly did. It rendered the scene more blue than the naked eye would have seen, which was what I wanted. 

Upon seeing the image some people accused me of using a blue filter, but that would have killed the yellow in the moon. So, no filter, just using my choice of film emulsion as a painter would use his palette. And when the moon started to break the horizon I quickly moved a few yards to my left so that the rocky strip just offshore would anchor and balance the composition.

When one photographer friend asked if it really looked like that, I said, well, it’s how I THOUGHT it should look! 

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