The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is a fascinating and beautiful piece of engineering.

Designed to replace a series of locks, boats float out along a viaduct from the top of a hill, then enter one of two “baths”, 180 degrees opposed on the twin arms of a wheel. The wheel then rotates 180 degrees, swapping the top and bottom bath. Out the boat moves, 35 metres below/above its start point.

Falkirk Wheel 1 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter
I used my recently acquired B+W ND 110 filter to get some nice skies and reflections in the water.

Falkirk Wheel 2 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter + Silver EFX Pro 2
Falkirk Wheel 3 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter + Silver EFX Pro 2
Falkirk Wheel 4 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter + Silver EFX Pro 2
I processed the black and white images using Nik Silver EFX Pro 2. I was pleased with the results, and plan to write something up to show my workflow with it soon.

P.S. I’ve had a few requests to show where this is, so I’ve included a map.

Mike

99 thoughts on “The Falkirk Wheel

  1. Great images – the grey tones suit the lines of the Wheel and accentuate the shadows – a sort of early 60s hard edge feel to them whilst the colour gives the whole structure a softer look . Thanks for sharing this. It really is quite something; I must nip along and have a shufty

    1. It’s well worth a visit if you are in the area. There’s also a fantastic view off the end of the viaduct – I’ll do another photo shoot there soon.

  2. First of all congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. These photographs are so beautiful, fascinated me, but also this Falkirk Wheel too! Should be a great engineering and technical construction. So, it hits me twice, you did great shot. Thank you Mike Baker, nice to meet you. With my love, nia

    1. I imagine so – if engineered well, the only energy it needs is to overcome any friction in the wheel(s) and air resistance of the motion. That’s what’s so cool about these contraptions. There is apparently a very interesting alternative to locks somewhere in france too.

      Only it’s a pity we can’t see any boats in these pix here, I would have liked to get some impression of how it looks in operation.

  3. lovely tones (bnw) and shapes…

    #2is my favorite…although i would be curious to see how #1 might have been if you did not choose to crop the grass 🙂 i am guessing something bothered u in that version

    1. They are all long exposures, no bracketing. I recently got a ND110 filter (10 stops), which allowed me to expose for 10-20 seconds, giving the still water effect.

  4. Excellent work sir – and congrats on getting onto Freshly Pressed 🙂

    I lived in Edinburgh for a few years, and I headed up to Falkirk a couple of times to marvel at the wheel 🙂

    Thanks for sharing – how rare it is to have to use a 110 stop filter in Scotland?!!!

    thisisferg.wordpress.com

  5. As a boy, dreaming of a wonderful purpose of my life and feeling the apparently so uniquely masculine fascination with problem solving in general and with science, physics, and machines in particular, I was convinced that science was the real search for truth. And if there was anyone who had the necessary pragmatism, the deeply humane common sense to apply science in order to save the world, it were engineers. I saw science as truth and engineering as an act of love and service. I thought of engineers as the ones who not only understood things but also could make things. Later, as an engineer, I saw how complex it all is. Later again I saw it all with the artist’s eye and found peace.

    1. One of the coolest trips I made was under the Swiss countryside at CERN to see the Large Hadron Collider. Science and art are not so far apart.

  6. I visited the Falkirk Wheel in the summer and thought it was a stunning piece of engineering. The weather was pretty poor on the day I visited so I my photos were nowhere near as good as these. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  7. Beautiful! Not only the photography, but the design of that as well. I’m going to have to look more into the Falkirk Wheel, cause the mechanics of it all seem interesting.

  8. Fantastic, strong images. Living in Edinburgh, we have visited the Falkirk Wheel a few times. It is a truly magnificent feat of engineering that is now – thanks to you and Freshly Pressed – getting more recognition. You have captured it beautifully. And you are right, the viaduct-end view is amazing. Hope to see your images of it. Great use of a filter.

  9. Thanks for the memories. A few years ago, I traveled to Scotland, and seeing the Falkirk Wheel was a great excursion on the way to Edinburgh. It was fascinating to see it in action, and I was impressed with the number of people who would spend the day there just to experience it. Your photos capture the graceful lines and curves. Nicely done!

  10. Nice shots! You forgot to mention (or may not have heard) the most impressive fact – it only takes the equivalent energy of one boiling kettle to function (really!), using water displacement and other clever idea’s to keep it super eco 😀

    1. No fancy post-processing – I just used a B+W ND110 filter, which gave me 10 stops to enable a long exposure. Exposure times were around 15-20 seconds, thus smoothing out the ripples in the water and giving these lovely reflections.

  11. Interesting piece about an engineering marvel! I was expecting to read more of it but didn’t know it’s more of a photography entry. Nevertheless, it’s nice! ^^

  12. Great Images! Here at KineticArchitecture.Net the Falkirk Wheel got featured to one of the most outstanding kinetic architecture in the world. We really like your effort for creating these amazing pictures! Hope to see more this!!!

  13. The Falkirk Wheel is probably the best engineering and architectural feat i have ever seen. Also, great resolution. Not sure what you’re using but i want it!

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