Hailstones lashed down from the graphite-grey sky, stinging my face; I winced as the wind whipped the storm up into a blazing fusillade of ice. Above the rattling of hail on my raincoat I heard the Atlantic exploding furiously against serrated cliffs. Then, as though a switch had been flicked, the storm was over. I uncapped my lens, fitted an ND filter, and captured one of my favourite photographs: the Svörtuloft lighthouse at Öndverðarnes, gleaming bright orange against the stormy sky.Read More
This is a story of an air crash, wild beauty, film photography and selfies. It’s my recollection of a visit to the famous Iceland plane wreck site at Sólheimasandur – and of my view on the popularity of ‘abandoned’ places and the ubiquity of the selfie.
The story behind the Iceland plane wreck might already be roughly familiar to you. In November 1973 a small US Navy DC-3 transport aircraft ran out of fuel over southern Iceland, and ditched on the pristine black sand beach at Sólheimasandur. The wreck is still there – a weather-worn, graffiti-clad monument to Iceland’s inhospitable terrain.
I visited the Iceland plane wreck in 2016 during a two-week solo tour of the country via the ring road. It was my first ‘proper’ photography expedition; I’d been seduced by countless blog posts and travel stories pitching Iceland as a pristine wilderness: a place where I might find limitless solitude amid the glaciers and snow. For much of my trip, that’s precisely what I found – but not always. And the DC-3 wreck rings in my memory as an example of what can be a dispiriting experience at the hands of people who wield selfie sticks like rapiers.Read More
2018 has been quite a year for photography: it’s taken me through the bogs and fells of the Pennine Way, to the peak of Ben Nevis, across Great Gable and to the summit of a Japanese volcano. A year-in-review article is tricky at the best of times. Narrowing 2018 down to my top five adventure photography moments has been especially challenging, so I’ve abandoned any pretence at rating my favourites: instead, they are presented here in chronological order. Here goes…
April: Cauldron Snout and High Cup Nick, England
The Pennine Way is so many things: gruelling, occasionally beastly, often magnificent. Certainly perfect for adventure photography – as long as the rain holds off. My walk from Middleton-in-Teesdale to Dufton was all of these things (see my route on OS Maps). Principally I remember the roughness of the ground: bare rocks litter a long path by the River Tees, practically inviting toes to be stubbed, ankles twisted and spirits broken. The traipse is worthwhile, though, because this route passes two of the Pennine Way’s most spectacular sights: hearty rewards for the weary wayfarer.Read More
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about one of my favourite parts of Japanese culture (onsen, those relaxing hot volcanic baths that offer sanctuary to salarymen and travel writers alike). While I visited Tokyo I took time to enjoy something yet more iconic: a boisterous and engrossing sumo tournament in the Ryogoku Kokugikan, Japan’s national sumo wrestling stadium. It brought me my first – maybe only – chance to shoot some sumo photography. Not my usual subject!
My visit coincided with the September Championships, and I was lucky enough to have a ticket. (They sell out incredibly quickly: within a couple of minutes of accessing the sales site, the ‘best seats’ had gone, leaving me with seats rather higher and further from the action than I’d hoped. This, it turned out, wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as wrestler after wrestler hurtled through the front rows like a bowling ball knocking down pins.)Read More
Who’d ever have imagined they might find themselves eating eggs boiled in a volcano? That’s just what I found myself doing on top of a volcano in Japan during a recent travel photography assignment. Mount Hakone stands high above a spectacular geopark and scenic lake, all within striking distance of Tokyo. It’s an area of typically grand Japanese beauty.
And volcanic eggs.
I’ll come back to those. I visited Hakone towards the end of a three-week tour of Japan, and found myself in the fantastic surroundings of the Ashinoko Hanaori hotel. Most of my travels are spent in cheap hotels or hostels, so that I can save money for travel and food. This was a rare luxury: a smart place with an excellent sake bar, overlooking the flat blue expanse of Lake Ashi. Along with the sublime Hotel Iyaonsen in the Iya Valley, it added much-needed luxury to a long trip.Read More