Sometimes an image has a special place in a photographer’s heart, beyond the usual time and effort that has been put in to capture it. Sometimes there is a deeper connection that is personal.
For me, one such image is the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.
The Old Man of Storr is an incredibly well shot location and for good reason, it’s a prominent pinnacle of rock, part of the Trotternish ridge, that can be seen for miles. It also has an east coastal location that makes it a prime sunrise location if you are prepared to put in a little effort.
Whilst the hike up is not outrageous, it’s only a few miles round trip, it does need a little consideration as it’s quite steep in places and rough going under foot. Add to that the fact that to be ready for sunrise you are going to be doing it in the dark with a head torch lighting your way. It’s quite literally not a walk in the park.
So it was in November 2018, whilst on a photography workshop, that five of us set off from the car park way before sunrise, a group of five headlights snaking their way up the initially obvious trail. Excitement growing with every look over my shoulder at the gin clear sky working it’s way through the playlist of predawn colours. As I say it’s not that far but the upward nature is fairly relentless so time seemed to disappear covering a relatively short lateral distance and it was already close enough to dawn that we were scrambling on the lower rock strewn slopes looking for compositions without the need for artificial lighting.
From setting off to being in our chosen locations we had seen the night turn to blue hour then into golden hour to finally the sun breaking above the horizon as those first rays of light kiss the land. I defy anyone not to be moved by it.
Now I’ll be the first to admit this image is not vastly different from the many many images you will see from this honey pot location, however, it is just one of those places where you simply don’t care.
Why does this image have a particularly special place in my heart? Well it’s simply because four year previous, prior to the latest round of knee operations, I’d never have been able to reach the location, let alone carrying a full backpack of camera gear. I think it was just years of frustration coming to a head, but to this day I’m not really sure why it had such a profound effect on me that morning, no doubt the overwhelming rugged beauty of the place played a role, but I have no shame in admitting I got more than a little emotional sitting on a somewhat precarious scree slope in awe of my surroundings. On the way back down to the car park a couple of hours later, my thoughts went to ‘well if I can do that, what’s next…’