The Falkirk Wheel | PT.I | 720nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, boats, infrared, photography, skies, structures, summer

They Paved Paradise.

It’s not what you’d expect and it certainly was not what I expected it to be either; I didn’t do any research, favouring surprise over fore-knowledge of a place that is often mentioned but not yet visited. Much like a literary classic, I suppose, that sits on the shelf for years and soon becomes ignored until the day when it simply falls into your hand. Well, it was that close and quite simply could not be ignored.

The Falkirk Wheel is a monumental piece of engineering – a rotating boat lift that since 2002 has reconnected the Forth & Clyde Canal (below) and the Union Canal (above), the first time since the 1930s. The site itself is one of the most staggering pleasures to the eyes but I have to say, that turning the whole place into a theme-park doesn’t lend well to the sheer awe of it all. Certainly, it will draw huge income and just as likely, it makes life a little tricky for any photo-enthusiast (ie: moi!) to make images of the prime attraction – the wheel itself. Nonetheless, without wishing to sound like an affiliate to the Scottish Tourist Board (or an anti-affiliate at that) for anyone who is interested in the waterways of Scotland, or anywhere for that matter, or engineering – this thing is a must see.

It works on the principle of Archimedes theory of displacement (that a body immersed in water displaces its own weight in water) thus, each of the two gondolas contains 250 tonnes (250,000 litres) of water without a boat within, or the same weight when containing a vessel. This means that enough electricity to boil a few kettles is required to get the wheel turning before the balance of the two gondolas (180 degrees from each other) keep the wheel turning in perfect balance with each other. It’s all extremely simply yet, ridiculously clever. 

Here, I have done my best to capture some of the essence of the Wheel whilst sticking to the idea of conscious exclusion, (in other words, without the pedalos, ice-cream stalls, crowds and, bouncy castles, for instance). I do hope you’ll enjoy this first instalment. 


[All images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]


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18 thoughts on “The Falkirk Wheel | PT.I | 720nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

    1. Hello my friend! Don’t worry, you have no competition. 😉 The X100 IR is just perfect for this kind of caper. A joy to shoot and beautifully workable files. Really happy you like these few frames.. rather pleased with them, myself, too. Our best to you and your good lady, Amar! Great to hear from you! 🙏 📷


  1. These are superb, I love the look and feel of these. You’ve really brought out the contrast and lighting and the choice of shooting with an infrared filter has set this off beautifully. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stuart, I’m extremely grateful for your kind comments. Thank you so much! I did make some VIS light shots too, but on any day with some blue sky and bright direct light, I’m never able to get the levels of contrast that I can when shooting IR. Really good to hear from again, Stuart. Best, Rob 🙏 📷


  2. Always fascinated by old canals, this boat lift is amazing and so well captured Mr R. Shame it’s a ‘theme park’ but I suppose they have to make a quid to keep it running 🤔 Never mind still on my wish list next time I venture over the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It truly is inspiring, when seen for the first time and to realise just what amazing machines can be engineered. It’s not just that though, its lines and curves and the way it stands in light and shade, makes it a striking subject. I do hope you make it there one day, Brian, and if you do, plan for at least 4 hours. Thank you so much for your kind comments! Best, Rob 🙏 📷

      Liked by 1 person

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