The 1409 chapel dedicated to St Michael on the rock at Roche is as dramatic a sight, and as good a photographic subject, as I have encountered in Cornwall. I am ashamed to admit that after years of residence I didn’t even know of its existence until very recently when somebody posted an image of it on a photographic forum. I was immediately on Google Earth only to find that I had driven past it many times without spotting it behind the houses that line the main road through the old mining town of Roche.
After a few weeks of anticipation we finally we passed it again a few days ago and I was able to photograph it. On reaching it I began to understand a little of why such a spectacular site might not get more prominence in the tourist literature of Cornwall; two near vertical iron ladders, with awkward side steps at the top, give access to it (the first is near the dark tree and the second inside the tower). Once on top of the rock there are opportunities on every side to make a very rapid descent to the bottom. Too much for Health and Safety at Cornwall Council at Truro to get their heads around I suspect. There is also nowhere to park close to the main path that leads up to it.
The rock is associated with the legend of Tristan and Isolde with the lovers having stayed in a hermitage at its base. In researching the rock for this post I have just learned that scenes from The Omen – The Final Conflict were filmed here. The place certainly has a distinctly spooky air about it, enhanced by the fact that you will probably have the place to yourself if you visit late in the day.
Roche, St Austell, Cornwall, UK
Camera: Olympus E-M1
Lens: Olympus M 12-40 mm f/2.8
Focal Length: 12mm
Shutter Speed: 1/50s
This was a five shot 2eV bracketed sequence taken early evening in midsummer. The 'full monty' HDR workflow was applied, the images were aligned and denoised first before merging, because I needed to subtly merge back in the dark tree, which had lens flare on top of it, and the top of the tower, which came out a little underexposed. Some micro contrast adjustments were made in Intensify Pro, before the monochrome conversion was done in Alien Skin Exposure using their high contrast Kodak Polapan process (no grain). A little bit of dodging and burning in the sky completed the editing. From the moment I shot the sequence I was intending a spooky look and I hope I have achieved it.