This photo may not be like any of the big wave stuff that I
normally post on here but it’s a pretty good illustration of Northern Ireland weather
and the conditions we surf in for a large part of the year. This was taken by Charles McQuillan at a location
I’d rather not mention. I had been
surfing at a nearby spot earlier in the day and Charles was shooting
photos. On our way home I decided to go
off road and down a lane to this deserted beach break as the tide was really
low and I figured the small swell would probably be maximised by shallow sand
banks. It was almost dark but I jumped
into my soaking wetsuit from earlier (it was lying in a bucket on top of
another wet one cos I hadn’t hung it up either). The beach stretches for as far as the eye can
see but visibility was really low, down to a couple hundred feet at times
between mizzly rain and squalls. To get
to the best banks on the beach it’s necessary to cross a river, no problem if
you are clad in rubber like I was but Charles was fully clothed! It was around 4pm on one of those bleak
midwinter days that feel like you are being suffocated by the weather. To make matters worse he had that bloody bag
full of cameras and lenses slung over his shoulder and a tripod. There was no
way he was going to able to shoot from the river bank cos from where we were
standing it was almost impossible to see the waves breaking further down the
beach where I wanted to go. I ran back
and forth along the bank of the river trying to find somewhere I could carry
him across without getting him soaked or losing the camera gear in the process. I was frothing to get into the water and was
close to abandoning the land lubber on the bank. There wasn’t really anywhere better than
anywhere else to cross the river, it was flowing at the same speed and depth at
every point and was about 40 feet wide.
I scrambled across with my board and left it on the far side
of the river before wading back across. So there I am standing on the deserted
river bank, good waves breaking in the misty distance, McQuillan on my back and
half of Calumet Camera Store slung over both his shoulders. I felt like a big ginger camel crossing the
Nile with windburn instead of sunburn and a Belfastard instead of an Egyptian
on my back. The water was so high and I
had a wide stance to stay up against the current and get a footing in the
pebbles on the bottom. Charles was trying to climb further up my back to stay
dry making me even more unstable! It was like wading through mud with all that
When we finally got across, all gear and Charles intact (oh
forgot to mention he can’t swim either but assures me he has his 25m badge).
I dumped him on the sand grabbed my board and ran off into the mist to
get a few waves before dark. It was so
misty and mizzly that it wasn’t long before he was out of sight. When I got out there and started catching
waves I could just about make out his dark figure standing in the edge of the
water. I off course had to get him back
over the river on the way back but this time it was dark. I did consider dropping him half way across
under the cover of darkness and letting him wash out to sea as punishment for
not being in a wetsuit and able to swim.
This shot formed part of Charles’ entry to Press
Photographer Year 2013 where photographs taken all over the world are judged
and selected from a total entry of 12,500 images. Charles previously won the completion with a
single shot taken in Castlerock, Northern Ireland. This time four of his shots have been
selected in the top 150 and will be hung in the National Theatre in London
alongside the other 146 and published in a book.
Only two weeks ago Charles entered 12 shots of me alongside
other news, politics and business images of his into Northern Irelands Press Photographer
of the Year competition and won he for the 3rd time!
Some of the images…..
And….on another note; he might be a good photographer but he
is still a whinging heurebag!