The One That Got Away
windswept hawthorn galway

When I frame one of my images – many months after taking it – and stand back to admire my work, I think about what I went through to get the shot. How I got out of a warm bed far too early, drove for 2 hours in the dark on increasingly treacherous roads, then stood in some exposed spot behind my camera; and how I got a rush of excitement as all the elements combined in the way I’d been waiting for and I hurried to capture the scene, before eventually walking back to my car satisfied that I’d gotten what I’d come for.

What I don’t ever think about is all the times that I did all the early rising, hours of driving and endured the teeth rattling cold, only to come away with nothing. There can be many reasons for this but I’m more likely to fail to capture a great image than to succeed. I expect it’s the failures that keep me hungry. Besides I just enjoy being alone in the wilderness.

My favourite type of location are remote ones, where I’m unlikely to encounter other people (but usually do). The type of place which takes a bit of effort to get to. I’m a sucker for anything that’s at the end of a road that I probably shouldn’t be taking my car down or that requires a long walk over rough terrain. But a lot of the time when I find somewhere like this, I see an interesting subject and am just not able to get to it. I give it a good go but with 16 kilos of camera equipment on my back I have to consider the ignominy of getting stuck in a bog or some such. Then I have to drive back the way I came which seems a lot longer when I’m no longer anticipating the shot I’m going to get.

The types of locations that I don’t enjoy are those where there are (potentially) lots of people about. I just feel so conspicuous poncing around with a camera and tripod. Barnaderg castle was one of those locations as the field in which I had to stand is overlooked by a row of houses alongside a reasonably busy road. But since I’d planned to be there early in the morning I figured I’d be away before anyone had got out of bed.

The weather forecast had promised that Barnaderg would be blanketed in fog for most of the morning and when I stepped out of my house I stepped right into fog. However, not long after driving through Claregalway I noticed that the fog had cleared. I didn’t notice straight away because everything was white with frost. I thought it looked lovely so I carried on to Barnaderg.


I wasn’t there long and when I got back to Claregalway I hit the fog again. The closer I got to Galway the thicker it became and by the time I was near my home it was a real pea-souper. So I headed for a tree that I normally would have avoided photographing as it is on a brow of a hill besides a busy crossroads making anyone standing in the field obvious to all around. However, on this occasion the fog was so thick I was able to work away in anonymity.