Midnight Isle

Eileen Donan - Scotland's Most Romantic Castle

Whether you know the name or not, there's a good chance you have seen Eileen Donan at some point - it is often described as the most romantic and most photographed castle in Scotland. The vast majority of pictures you see tend to be similar to this:

A typical photo of Eileen Donan castle, taken at dusk with the castle lit up and reflected in the water.

So, of course, when I visit it I am immediately looking for ways to be original; to take a picture that doesn't simply not look like the one above, but that goes completely against what people expect to see.

Like this one:

A close-up photo of the castle, large and looming, against a grey sky.

Romantic, yes?

Well, it's okay, but could do with a wee bit more mood and atmosphere. The sky in particular is very flat and dull. With the amount of contrast between the castle and sky, there's little point in trying to work them together, so I ignore the castle and set to work with Lightroom getting the sky how I want it. I take the exposure down to -2, boost the contrast, lower the brightness, and using the split toning feature I add a bit of colour. Which essentially produces this:

As above, but with a purple cloudy sky, and the castle silhoutted.

Some people may like the fact that the castle is now silhoutted, but personally I want to have some detail in there. Fortunately, because it is silhouttted, it is incredibly easy to cut out and paste the sky over the original image in Paint Shop Pro. Which provides this:

As above, but with the initial castle inserted into the silhoutte.

Nice, but still not quite there. The castle is now too bright, it needs cropping to give the image a better shape, and it's a bit too sharp. I want to keep the detail, just make it less stark, so I add a bit of grain to the image, which makes it look like this:

As above, but cropped and grainy.

Almost there now - just one thing missing... lightning bolts!

I cheated a little here and used Paint Shop Pro's Picture Tube feature for the actual bolts (I've not yet been lucky enough to get any lightning photos of my own). Creating a seperate layer I selected the ones I wanted and move them about appropriately, and here is the final result:

As above, with some bolts of lightning in the sky.

What do you think? Love it? Hate it? Anything you would've done differently?