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by Andy McInroy
Photograph Of The Month - January 2009

Lacada Point, Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
IR387, Lacada Point, Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
The Ghosts of the Girona
Lacada Point, Giant's Causeway

Preparations for Christmas have curtailed my photography recently. With the start of a new year upon us, I am eager to get back into the outdoors with my camera. In the meantime, I'd like to return to a photograph taken on a fine August evening. However, the tale that accompanies this photograph is a cold winter's tale of extraordinary tragedy.

As the winter of 1588 approached, the defeated and scattered fleet of the Spanish Armada was fleeing in retreat up the Irish coast. Many galleons were dashed against the west coast in some of the most ferocious Atlantic storms ever seen. The galleas, Girona, made it as far north as the Antrim coast. Overloaded with gold, ammunition and 1300 men, it finally foundered on the unforgiving coastline a short distance east of the famous Giant's Causeway. The talon of rock it struck is now known as Lacada Point, The Long Stone. All but 5 of the 1300 men on board the Girona lost their lives in the dark, icy waters around Lacada Point.

Despite the historical significance of this spot, photographs taken on Lacada Point are not often seen. The only photographs I could find were taken either from sea or from the popular clifftop path looking down upon the point. The closure of the lower cliff path in 1994 due to slope failure makes access to Lacada Point difficult. However, I was determined to find a way and after some exploratory visits I was able to find a way down to the point itself to find myself standing alone in this fantastic place. As I waited for the sun to sink, I had time to imagine the final cries of brave Spanish men as they were overwhelmed in the darkness by the crashing Atlantic. The north facing coves and headlands around the Giant's Causeway are cold, even in summer, but this one is chiller than most.

As the setting sun approached the horizon, some welcome cloud started to approach from the west to break up the large expanse of open sky. I wanted a longer exposure to help depict the ghostly movements of the water as it lapped around the point. I chose a small aperture of f22 and attached a 3 stop neutral density filter to slow down the exposure to 6 seconds which gave the result I was after. It was then a simple case of waiting for the last glowing light on the horizon before releasing the shutter.

I am fascinated with the idea of being able to link the landscape with the history that unfolded within it. I hope this photograph illustrates how a story and a fresh photographic viewpoint can work together to illustrate the character and mood of a place. However, I suspect there is a stronger photograph to be taken here. On a dark, stormy day I hope to venture down the cliff again to visit the Spanish ghosts of the Armada.

Lacada Point, Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
IR295, Causeway Headlands.
The thin talon of Lacada Point can be seen on the far right.

Technical Details (Top photograph)
Date/Time: 8.25pm, 21st August 2008
Aperture: F22
Exposure time: 6 seconds
Focal Length: 14mm
Lens: Pentax 14mm DA
Camera: Pentax K10D
Support: Tripod
Filtration:
2 stop neutral density graduated filter
3 stop neutral density filter

Technical Details (Photograph above)
Date/Time: 4.24pm, 4th November 2007
Aperture: F16
Exposure time: 1/10th second
Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: Pentax 70mm DA
Camera: Pentax K10D
Support: Tripod
Filtration:
None

Text and photos © Andy McInroy