Slieve Donard is an 850-metre mountain in County Down, Northern Ireland. Part of the Mourne Mountains, it is the highest peak in Northern Ireland and in the wider province of Ulster. It is also the 19th highest peak on the island of Ireland
850 metres doesn’t sound like a lot but considering the tallest mountain in Ireland is just a touch over 1000m it’s not a bad effort from Northern Ireland! I work with a lot of charities based in Northern Ireland and they all run various events to aid in raising funds. These can be as simple as a coffee morning, or a cake sale but can be as adventurous as a river raft race or in this case a mountain climb.
I’ve walked and run up and down Slieve Donard more times than I can remember but I’ve never scaled it for work. Cancer Fund For Children are based in Airport Road West right here in Belfast and do tremendous work for children and families suffering from various forms of cancer. They asked me if I could help them out taking photos for their Slieve Donard climb for 2017.
I get asked to do lots of photo shoots in fairly odd locations but this would be my first mountain based work outing and I was super excited. What could be better than getting to work in the great outdoors surrounded by loads of happy and excited people raising money for a great cause.
The first part of the shoot started as soon as I arrived. I had to grab images of the participants before they left the staging area. This was super easy as soon as I started people came up to me asking to take their group pictures. The energy was amazing and people couldn’t wait to get started.
The next phase would be the hardest. I was tasked with getting a selection of images of the main groups as they walked up through Donard Wood, then up to the saddle and right up to the summit. The tricky part of this section would be avoiding the same groups of people in the images. As I stopped to take photos I would have to walk faster than the group that just passed me. This all well and good when you’re only carrying a small day sack but when you’ve got a loaded camera bag it’s a whole other ball game!
By the time I reached Slieve Donard summit with all my gear I was smoked but the day wasn’t over yet. The majority of people who made it to the top had never climbed this mountain before so they were all over the moon, you could tell by the happy faces and the shouts and screams. I had to capture this happiness before people started to head back down to the BBQ in the staging area.
For this shoot I carried two Nikon D750 bodies with lenses and speedlights attached. For the ascent up I kept the 24-70mm to hand and stowed the 70-200mm. I only took out the long lens when I needed to. Yes I could’ve taken just the one body and switched the lenses but that would’ve taken time and I didn’t want to miss a shot due to changing equipment.
Hit the link to check out Cancer Fund for Children online.