July 06, 2016

Ireland XXVIII (Cappaghkennedy, Ireland)

After a week and a half in Ireland, the inevitable happened - a day dawned with pouring rain; where other mornings have been damp, or misty, this one was undeniably raining. A quick look online revealed this to be the dominant forecast for the entire country...so we decided to take a chance and head out anyway...setting out sites on the Burren, if for nothing else but some wet sight-seeing.
As it turned out, the closer to the Burren we got, the more optimistic I became about the weather; though it was still raining, there were lighter patches of sky starting to appear. When we finally parked in the middle of the Burren National Park and contemplated walking up a hill to see what images could be made, it was only lightly misting. I looked at Ingrid and asked the question, and she said "why not!" Ever the pessimist, before loading up with cameras, I suited up with boots, rain pants and a raincoat...only to have nothing more than the occasional mist occur during the session.
After a short debate over whether we should head east or west, we decided to walk inland (east), as Cappaghkennedy was marked with a tomb on the road map. After almost an hour of walking, first getting to the crest of the hill and then wandering around the top, seeking the Cappaghkennedy tomb (we never found it), Ingrid and I began to work together.

Though the rain held off, the wind rushing across the hilltop was quite strong, and swiftly took its toll on Ingrid; each time we started working, it was under five minutes before she needed to take a break, get clothed and try to warm up again by walking briskly over the rough heath. As we moved across the landscape, by happenstance more than design, we kept returning to the same point of inspuration; scrubby wind-swept Hawthorne trees that grew among the stone walls that separated the fields.

Saying the trees are wind-swept is something of an understatement - on the top of the hill, the trees grew horizontally, and one Hawthorne in particular was easily 20' tall...or rather, 8' tall, and at least 20' from side to side. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted an image of Ingrid lying within its boughs. After a quick test (the tree barely moved under my weight), I asked Ingrid to climb up into it, and recline on her back, arching out into the branches that reached out across the moorland.

By this session, Ingrid and I have worked together in Ireland for a solid ten days, but I can honestly say that this is only the second image we've made that I knew with certainly, at the time it was made, was a success. I can think of nothing I have made in the twenty-eight years I have worked with the Nude that looks like this image - and the minute I made it, it was burned into my mind's eye, and hung there for the rest of the day. This image is the epitome of why I wanted to do this project in Ireland.
After making another couple of sets of photographs on the top of the hill, ever aware of the swirling clouds above, and the risk of rain, we decided to head back to the car. On the way down, Ingrid asked to stop and make some images of her featuring the small field flowers that were ever-present in the landscape, so we paused about 1/2 way down the hill to make those, and a few other compositions looking out onto the Burren landscape.
Though we successfully avoided working in rain for almost two hours, the windy conditions, and cool temperatures had chilled Ingrid to the bone by the end of the session, so we set off on a 40 minute drive to the coast, hoping that Ingrid would warm up by the time we arrived, and that the weather would similarly improve. Optimism was not to win on this day however, and at the coast, all we found was more mist and rain.

In the end, we decided to acknowledged the gift the only session of the day had given us (the image in the horizontal tree) and admit the rest of the day was lost to poor weather. As we drove back to Galway with thoughts of warm food and drinks, I have to admit I still had a ghost image of Ingrid within the tree haunting my mind's eye.

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