Aerial Photography and Visual Storytelling for Heritage - PhD Project by Kieran Baxter
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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

East Lomond Hill Fort, Glory and Shadow

An early start and a short hike saw me on top of East Lomond Hill just as the sun began to rise, ready to get some kite aerial shots. Approaching the distinctive profile of the hill - which can be seen right across Fife and a good distance beyond - I could see wisps of cloud forming off of the hilltop, visible in this photo.

Approaching East Lomond Hill on foot at dawn
Once the kite and camera were in the air and I was surprised to see this circular "glory" created by the sunlight hitting the low cloud (see this Wikipedia article on the optical effect). This one was particularly striking as the camera rig is too small to cast a shadow on the unbroken circle.

A 'glory' reflected in the low cloud with kite line to the right of frame
The cloud soon cleared to reveal a view looking down upon the earthwork remains of the hill fort (RCAHMS site record here) with West Lomond hill behind, still shrouded in cloud. Also visible in this shot is is the enclosed hillock Maiden Castle (site record here) rising behind the trees (above and to the left of the near summit of East Lomond).

East Lomond hill fort kite aerial photograph
In not-so-perfect conditions this brief window of sunlight picked out the relief and shadow of the site nicely, leaving dramatic skies in the background. I like how the distant shadow provides extra information about the topography, rather like in this high altitude shot of the same site which I took back in March.

East Lomond hill fort photographed from higher altitude
In both images the shadow defines the characteristic profile of the hill, which largely disappears otherwise when seen from above. While the prehistoric earthwork embankments which circle the summit are visible in the low light, I think these images have more to say about the way in which the enclosure dominates it's surroundings.

Good views making up for cold hands
Shooting out of the open window of a fast moving Cessna 172 offers a fleeting (and breezy) vista of the land below. This portrait was taken by photographer Kieran Duncan who assisted on that aerial photography excursion and, it must be said, bore the brunt of the icy cold air flow.

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