It's not every day that an email pops in to your inbox from an editor, never mind the editor of Outdoor Photography, one of the UK's leading and most prestigious landscape photography magazine. And when the email opens with, "Would you be interested in writing an article for OP...", let me tell you, it doesn't take you long to think about it!
Within the week, the article was completed and it, along with the image I chose, were sent off to the lovely folks at Outdoor Magazine. And this week, the article was published in their latest magazine!
Here's the article. And feel free to check out the rest of the magazine - available in all good news agents now!
Hello. My name is Alistair. And I have a gambling habit.
I have an insatiable urge to rise early - or, indeed, to stay up late - to pack my bag, head out of the house in pursuit of my gambling addiction.
Now, before you think you’ve picked up the wrong kind of magazine, let me clarify. I am, of course, not talking about a financial gambling habit. Rather, it’s a different kind of lottery that I’m addicted to: the lottery of finding just those perfect conditions for that particular landscape photo I have in mind.
Most of the time, this habit finds me heading into Northern Ireland’s south east corner, to the majestic landscape of the Mourne Mountains. Once there, I pull on my boots, and hike for a few hours into the heart of a landscape unlike any other in Ulster in the hope that, by the time I have reached the summit, the sunset will deliver glorious light across the landscape, before I trudge back down again through heather and bog in deepest twilight, hopefully having bagged a shot I’m happy with.
It’s part of the lure of landscape photography to me that, despite all these efforts and hours, there are no guarantees that the light and conditions will be right. Don’t get me wrong: I love it when it everything comes together. But there’s something about that lottery we play - will it all come together this time? - that adds to the thrill and excitement of the chase. The disappointments make those moments of success all the more sweet.
And so, just last month when I set off for sunset from Doan in the middle of the Mournes, I had my usual hopes for great conditions, tempered with the realism that it might not happen. Little did I know that, this particular day, not only would I get decent light, but that holy grail of mountain photography would open up before me: the temperature inversion, the first that I have witnessed in the Mournes.
There was no sign of this as I hiked towards Doan. Sure, some wispy cloud was licking around the summit. Humidity levels were high, and I thought I might get some moody mist swirling around me as I photographed. The last thing I was expecting was a fully fledged temperature inversion. They pretty much only occur in the morning, right? But, not long after I got into position, it happened. Before my very eyes, the mountain-top mist gently sank and nestled itself peacefully into the valleys below. And, as the sun dropped lower to the west, it painted the sides of the rocks with golden hues, whilst casting a warmth onto the tendrils of cirrus cloud in the skies above. As I stood on summit tor using my remote app to trigger the camera, I was in heaven: barely a breeze was blowing, and I was able to drink in deeply the peacefulness of the scene stretched out below and before me. This time, I had hit the jackpot!
So the next time you’re feeling a bit demotivated about your photography, why not take that gamble and head out? You just never know: next time, it might be your lottery numbers that come up.
Here are some more images from that magical evening up Doan.