featured photo story: February 2001
Alan: "Filling the valley at Muckish Gap with the beauty of God's fading light, the day ebbs away on one of the coldest winters on record. Now, in early February, we are experiencing some very mild sunny winter days in Donegal, but when this was taken just two weeks ago, 'Earth stood hard as iron; water like a stone', in the words of the hymn. This image is my nodding tribute to the cold spell. Note the frozen stream in the foreground - click on the picture to see more (in the zoomed picture note the blurred lights of a tractor coming home from the bog).
'The bog was really weird to walk on - like ice with plants on top, and conditions up in the mountains were not conducive to spending ages composing and exposing a shot. I was working with very minimal lighting so I doubled up on E6 as well as the colour negative film I have grown accustomed to using for my landscapes here. Normally I work on the C41 now so that a good printer can burn in the sky detail, but here I chose to use the E6 results as felt they represented the scene more closely in such low light, backing up my hunch to shoot on this medium too.
'Always wear waterproofs, sensible footwear (stiff sole, no instep or heel) and take extreme care when working off the road or path in these conditions. I wore my full Mountain Rescue kit including climbing helmet for this shot, and told Margaret where I was going and how long I expected to be! I carried a rucksack with emergency provisions in, a Billingham camera bag with my medium-format gear in, and a small Manfrotto tripod. Being well-prepared meant I was able to sit down and enjoy a light meal on the hill after I had the shot in the can.
'The road in this picture leads to The Crying Bridge, mid-distance, where families used to say goodbye to their loved ones at the time of the Great Famine in Ireland, when emigration to the New World was common. If you are interested in Famine history, Margaret and myself are currently developing a web site for The Workhouse, Dunfanaghy, which includes extracts from totally unique first-hand accounts of Famine survivors, in their own words. It will be live soon at www.TheIrishFamine.com - check it out!"