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This photograph is the triumph of perseverance and optimism in the face of pessimism and the Irish weather!
The Small Skellig is a dramatic rock thrust out of the Atlantic off the coast of Kerry. The smaller sibling to Skellig Michael, featured in the recent Star Wars movies, it's every bit as dramatic, if not more so. During winter storms, the entire island has been known to be overtopped by huge waves.
I'd long wanted to produce a photograph giving some hint of that drama, and found the opportunity on a late summer's day a few years ago. The only way to get the angle I wanted was from a boat, so I needed a willing skipper to take me out on a suitable day - one where most people would be happy to stay home on dry land!
On this day, the fog was thick along the coast and the waves were high enough to make the trip an unpleasant one. My friend was hesitant to go out - he wanted to save me the charter money as he was certain I wouldn't get anything worthwhile out of it. However, on the satellite imagery for the area I saw there were one or two thinner spots of fog scattered about. If one of those coincided with the Small Skellig, I knew it would look incredible. If it didn't, then the trip would be a wasted one!
So much in photography depends on going out in marginal conditions - you'll either come back with something spectacular or you'll come back empty handed. There's rarely a middle ground on those days.
I convinced him to go out, and for most of the journey you couldn't see more than 30 yards in any direction. However, as we got closer to the Small Skellig, the fog began to thin out, and sure enough it ended up being exactly what I hoped - not so clear that the island was just set against a gray background, but exactly thick enough to show the layers of rock receding into the distance, and emphasise the drama and ruggedness of this incredible rock.
Capturing the image on a small boat while it was pitching and rolling was difficult - especially as I'm prone to sea sickness (despite spending a lot of time on the water for my coastal work)! It's made all the worse when the camera decides to have a tantrum and refuses to work properly at the critical moment! However, between my friend's expert boat handling and my loud curses at the camera, and suppression of my rebellious stomach while I carefully framed and exposed the image, I was able to achieve my goal and I couldn't be happier with this image.
My own copy hanging on my wall at home brings me a lot of joy and I know yours will too!