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by Andy McInroy
Print Of The Month - February 2007
Landscape Photograph

IR181
Stormy Channel
Malin Head, Inishowen, County Donegal

Technical Details
Date/Time: 14th January 2007, 12.28pm
Exposure time: 1/500th second
Aperture: F6.7
Focal Length: 170mm (APS Sensor)
Lens: Sigma 70-300mm APO
Camera: Pentax K10D
Filtration: None

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This older photograph below shows how the idea has been refined into the image you see above. The difference being, a few years extra experience and getting the right sea conditions.

Landscape Photograph

We have taken a real battering in recent weeks. Storm after storm, racing across the Atlantic and pounding the west coast of Ireland into submission. And what better place to view the fury of the storm than Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head. A bleak, windswept place of massive cliffs and awesome sea swells.

I had always planned to visit Malin Head in stormy conditions but timing was always tricky. To visit in the full force of an Atlantic storm would be a dangerous undertaking. So instead, I planned to be there at the tail end when the sea swell was still in full force and I could photograph safely.

After a short walk from the old wartime lookout post, I arrived at Malin Head's most impressive cliffs. The scene was awe inspiring. The light was beginning to break through clearing cloud and the two massive sea stacks were being battered by huge waves. Between the stacks and the shore, a channel was holding some monstrous swells which were being ripped into a frenzy by the sharp rocks.

It was apparent that any kind of tripod work was out of the question. The wind was howling around me and I was having to lick the salt off my lens after every shot. The spray coming off the sea was like rain in the air. I quickly realised that any hope of success would have to lie in handholding the camera and using a telephoto to quickly focus on the details. The stormy channel made an excellent subject with the sharp rocks receding away. By using a telephoto I was able to compress the perspective of the channel while at the same time capturing the raw energy of the sea.

You can see from the smaller image opposite (taken a few years ago) how this idea has developed in my mind. This older image was taken in calmer conditions and at a wider angle. By waiting for the stormy conditions, focusing further in and shooting in monochrome, I think I have finally managed to capture the true spirit of Malin Head. To me, this image typifies the wild atlantic coastline of Donegal.

When the hard work has been done and we are back at home by the fire, we can admire a photo and enjoy the scene. But with landscape photography, the joy is as much being there to take the photograph in the first place as the final print itself. Perhaps landscape photography just gives us the motivation to chase some amazing sights and gives us a way to tell others what we have seen.

Text and photos © Andy McInroy