Lochee Burn - part two

What's left of New Mill with the addition of some more modern farm
buildings in the background. Taken on the Rollei 2.8F and HP5.

The previous Lochee Burn post left with a photo showing the end of the "den" part of Denhead of Gray. This one starts with the old mill, ironically called New Mill, that's situated where the den gives way to somewhat more open countryside.

Here's a quick map (from 1859) or "locator graphic" as an editor I worked for once called it to, thankfully, massive derision from the assembled cynical hacks. X marks the point where the burn breaks ground. Y is where the last pic on the previous post was taken. Z is the spot where I was standing to take the photograph above.

This post is mainly concerned with the passage of the burn between points 1 and 2. The dark blue burn coming from the left to meet point 2 is the Fowlis Burn. The light blue burn heading south from point 2 is the Invergowrie Burn, made up of the Lochee and Fowlis Burns. For those of you with a curious nature, there isn't a great deal of interest between points Z and 1 but I've yet to walk the course of the burn there so I might stumble upon a pic or two worth taking in the future.

With the scene hopefully set, we'll get underway at point 1. From here down to its confluence with the Fowlis Burn, the Lochee stream runs through some lightly wooded land, skirting the western boundary of a hotel and a couple of houses.

The burn is open to the sky for a short stretch before it dives into some trees once again. The fence on the right in the pic above has been erected by builders who are in the process of throwing up a large housing development. This photograph and the ones that follow were taken on the Rollei SL66E loaded with Delta 100. Please take the time to click on the pics to see the full size image. The 6x6 format and Delta 100 capture a lot of detail which you'll only see when the pics are allowed to breathe.

Running parallel to the right of the burn in the pic immediately above is a bit of engineering that must have served a purpose at one point but I haven't yet been able to find out what that was. It seems obvious water was once diverted into these channels but there's no sign of any of the mill buildings that I would have expected to find in the area had that been the case.

Further on there's a large walled-off area extending to around an acre that is still squelchy underfoot and seems to have been a pond at some point in the past.

The stretch of water furthest away in the image above is the start of the Invergowrie Burn. In the foreground is the Fowlis Burn coming in from the right. Out of sight to the left is the Lochee Burn. "Confluence" seems such a big word for the coming together of two piddling, wee burns which give up their very existence to make a third piddling, wee burn.

The pic above was shot on the 40mm Distagon on the SL66E. I'm standing on top of a stone slab (bridging the Fowlis Burn) just to the left of the shooting position in the previous pic. The Lochee Burn is running diagonally on the right hand side of the image.

After a couple of visits, I began to feel that I'd probably taken most of the interesting photographs that I could find along the burn so I looked out the early 1900s Sonnar lens I can use on the SL66E to see if it would impart a different look to the images. I was very surprised to find just how different similar scenes to those above looked through the Sonnar. Those pics will be the subject of the next post on the Lochee Burn.

This is proving to be an interesting project and quite a challenge. The scenery surrounding the burn is quite chaotic, almost entropy in action. There's a mad jumble of overgrown undergrowth (is that even a thing?) along most of the burn's length. Access to the waterside is topographically restricted in many spots. Along the length of the "den" part of the river's course (between points X and Y on the map), only the right bank is accessible as the opposite one rises up very steeply.

Trees and branches grow in all directions with no pattern or orderliness. Sneaky wee brambles hide in the rough grass biding their time before they spring into action and ensnare shoes, socks, trousers and, worst of all, flesh in their spiteful grasp.

The photographic problem is trying to capture the chaos but in a way that makes some sense of it all. With the spring buds now bursting into leaf, will this extra greenery make it easier or harder to tame the jungle?

The old Sonnar looking quite at home on the front of
the SL66E


  1. Yeah this is great Bruce - amazing how you've dug up so much of something that on the surface appears to be nothing.
    The 'pond' I would say could be an old mill pond - most mills used them as a store of power - very green actually - given that it is just squelchy land shows you how much a pond can fill up without careful tending.
    As for the foliage - I think you'll be able to get something out of it - maybe use filters a bit - it is really hard to get the chaos defined into something that it 'photographic' and not just a bit jumble of branches twigs and leaves and grass.
    Looking forward to the next one as usual!

  2. This is getting interesting.
    I followed your advice and clicked for the higher-resolution images.
    Here's a very curious thing: I generally keep the screen magnified by a couple of clicks, so that I can read your text over my coffee, without glasses. The high-resolution images are actually smaller on screen than the lo-res ones.
    Even at that smaller size, the gain in "reality" is enormous. It isn't just the extra sharpness, (although obviously, I enjoy that) but they seem better organised, too. Somehow, the greater sharpness seems to sort out the images – those random twigs organise themselves into a composition. The tonality seems more appealing.
    Am I alone in this?
    Looking forward to the next chapter.

  3. Most of the pics I post are like that, David. You should maybe have another look at the first Lochee Burn post as well. I always click pics on other blogs to see if there’s a bigger version and just assumed everyone worked the same way but we must all do things differently.

  4. I'm afraid that I hadn't realised that and now I shall have to take your advice and look again. Maybe it'll stop me suggesting that the only way is a 20x24" Daguerreotype camera mounted on an elephant.
    Went to see the Don McCullin retrospective yesterday. This isn't quite the place to say how much it affected me.
    However, he did have a few shots in his Landscape room which looked as though he had been following a small overgrown burn near his house. Similar raw subject matter, entirely different prints. You seem to be in good company.

  5. Got the elephant on stand-by but I just can't get used to the 20:24 aspect ratio. I'd be interested to know what you thought of the exhibition, David, and also how McCullin is doing his prints. Feel free to email me if you want to kill some time. :)

  6. This is a beefed up version of the free one that was at Dumfries (that I told you about) if I remember rightly - the modern prints are quite dark but well printed. Vintage prints more balanced to my eyes. I liked it all, though it is hard to say 'liked' in the face of some truly terrible suffering. Amazing what you can do with an old 28mm f3.5 Nikkor though!

  7. I'm curious about how he prints his local burn prints. Mine are more or less how the scene looks to my eyes which is fairly dark and gloomy. I could print them lighter but not sure if that would work.

  8. The ones I saw - not sure if they're David's ones - were really rather dark on the big leafy bits and bringing out the highlights of water - quite contrasty, whereas yours are more Blakemore-esque!
    If he weren't such a master I would say it was the way I used to see people printing at college

  9. I’ll settle for that. Haha.

  10. Very nice negatives, indeed! I like the first one, HP5 from the Rolleiflex, and well as the subsequent ones. These latter are Delta 100, I gather? I think the overcast, soft light really makes the Delta 100 sing. We have sites like this in Mississippi, but in summer they are inaccessible because of the thick growth and, especially, the poison ivy. One needs to explore in winter, which works out well because the light is often softer.

  11. Yes, good to see the detail when clicking on the photographs. Interesting project too. Many thanks.

  12. I was surprised like Tony at the detail. A friend had a 66 and I do remember the quality of the negatives. Being California it was stolen. Originally, I'm from Washington and Oregon states in USA and your area looks very much like the western parts of those states. Great photo and I loved the write up. Even if some of the vocabulary is strange, at least to me.