Mourne by Moonlight by Stephen Wallace

Mournes by Moonlight

Mourne by Moonlight

Last July, inspired by Alastair Humphreys’ blogs about how great it is to sleep on top of a hill, as well as Ronald Turnbull’s fantastic ‘Book of the Bivvy’ about the benefits of camping with just a bivvy bag rather than using a tent, Stephen Wallace armed himself with a bivvy bag, camping stove, some nice ales, a curry and sat down with one of his growing collection of maps.

Stephen somehow managed to persuade 3 friends, who were hiking-novices, that it would be a good idea to tackle mighty Slieve Bearnagh in the Mourne Mountains and camp on it’s rocky summit. Taking advantage of the midsummer weather, the group started the climb in early evening from Meelmore Lodge, joining the Trassey Track up to Hare’s Gap and turning right up the steep slopes of Bearnagh.  All four ended up sleeping on the top with just a sleeping bag and pillow for warmth and comfort but it was an experience that all thoroughly enjoyed.

After watching the sunset, Stephen decided to take some night shots under the light of a full moon. Stephen explains that there are advantages and disadvantages of a full moon for night photography.  A full moon brightens the landscape and the sky up so much that Milky Way and photography of the stars is pretty much pointless.  However, the benefits of a full moon are exactly the same as the drawbacks; the full moon illuminates the landscape and this means with a long exposure you can capture the scenery all around even in the middle of the night.  In some situations the resulting photos can look like the middle of the day.

This photo was taken at 1am with the full moon bright in the sky. On the left you can see one of the summit tors of Slieve Bearnagh at an altitude of 2,400ft.  These tors are the main feature of Slieve Bearnagh’s summit and are the reason it is such a recognised mountain. Directly beneath the full moon you can see Slieve Binnian with the Silent Valley Reservoir a prominent feature of this part of the High Mournes just to the right.  In the distance you can make out the lights of Kilkeel as well as the smaller mountains of Slievenaglogh and Doan. Lough Shannagh and Slieve Muck (the source of the River Bann) make up the rest of the scene.

To achieve a photo like this you want to have your camera shooting as wide as possible (in this case it was f/3.5).  A feature of night photography is usually a high ISO to get as much light into the camera as possible.  However, with the full moon so bright Stephen was able to keep the ISO at 100 and the shutter speed was only about 8 seconds.

Many thanks to Stephen for sharing this stunning shot with us. Check out his Facbook and Twitter pages for more fantastic images.

About Stephen
Stephen Wallace is a landscape photographer from Lisburn in County Antrim.  In addition to landscape photography Stephen shoots events and festivals, townscapes and traditional Irish pub interiors.  Stephen’s favourite local landscape would be the Mourne Mountains which he has hiked regularly for many years (when not injured!)  Stephen can be found on his Facebook page Hibernia Landscapes by Stephen Wallace and on Twitter @hiberniaphoto.