104/365 – Bouldering

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Black and white, Photography

Wow! Now that the nights are getting longer, I’m struggling to keep up with the daily editing. But the photos keep going.

I have a very good friend who’s an outdoor activity instructor.  I have been pestering him for some time to let me photograph him at Stannage Edge, a popular destination for climbers and walkers alike.   Now picture this.  The sun is setting, my subject is on a cliff edge. The countryside stretches out behind him as he dangles precariously from a rock. The rolling hills are bathed in a warm, orange glow.  He has his shirt off and his muscles are rippling in under the strain of the climb.   I take the shot. It’s a winner!

So that’s what I envisaged in my head.   In reality, our cliff edge was a big boulder on the east side of Stannage i.e. the opposite side to the setting sun.  My subjects were bathed, not in an orange glow, but a deep, dark shadow.  I then discover that bouldering, unlike climbing with ropes, is only really practiced a foot or two off the ground.  The climbers use nooks and crannies to traverse the side of the rock or scale it, depending on the aim.  I was up for the photographic challenge.

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It is pretty impressive when you realise what they do. They use their hands not only to cling on to the tiniest dimple in the rock face, but they also jam their hands into a cracks at various angles to use them as wedges. I learned for example, a fist lock (see image below) is where you stick your hand between two rocks, make a fist and use to support yourself as you look for the next place grip on to.   Knowing this really helps.  If you don’t know this, some of the images I took just look as though my subjects are furtling for something in the rock face.  As though they’ve lost lost a coin down the back of a sofa and are trying to retrieve it.

untitled_14_150414On the V scale of difficulty (V does not stand for anything, it was the brainchild of a climber having a laugh and has become a recognised scale), I am told that this is a V6 climb which is pretty hard.  Finally, there was no shirt removal or muscle rippling and I was surprised he was happy to climb in jeans and a hoody! I’m not sure I was able to disguise my disappointment!  But, he assures I will have another opportunity to photograph him when the weather is warmer and he is more inclined to strip off!

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