The Story Behind The Photo: Daybreak on Slieve Bearnagh

This entry is part 14 of 19 in the series The Story Behind The Photo

The latest photo in our series ‘The Story Behind The Photo’ is quite simply a stunning shot. To go with the photo is Jon Medlow’s fantastic account of the effort and preparation that went into being in the right place at just the right time to capture a stunning daybreak from Slieve Bearnagh in The Mourne Mountains. Many thanks to Jon for sharing this photo and we hope to see more from him in the future.

Slieve Bearnagh, Mourne Mountains

Having been a keen hiker for a number of years now, I have ventured to various mountain ranges in Europe, the UK and Ireland. Albeit, I am still very much an extreme amateur. My photography hobby though has kept me coming back for more. I have been known to drive for up to 11 hours through day and night (before hiking) in the hope of photographing the sunrise from a summit. Some might say I’m nuts, but when you see that view in front of your own eyes, well, no words can explain it.

For me, there is something about the Mourne Mountains that continually attract me back to take photos. Whether it is the compactness of the Mourne range itself or the unlimited possibilities of spectacular scenery to photograph, I cannot put my finger on it. Whatever it is, it will be a place that I can never grow tired of.

My normal plan when photographing in the Mournes involves me hiking up in the darkness when most people are tucked up in their beds. Sometimes it pays off and other times, well, I can be left disappointed. Mother Nature does have her moments! Not liking the thoughts of leaving my warm bed at 1am this time (getting older might be the issue), I decided to camp out on this occasion. The destination was mighty Slieve Bearnagh. The weather forecast looked promising with light winds and no cloud.

After arriving at Meelmore Lodge car park, I began my hike up. Although the distance covered was short, the weight of my rucksack with all my camera kit included made me sympathise greatly with pack mules (one of which I could have made great use of). Having pitched the tent and cured my rumbling stomach with some food I decided to get a bit of rest before an early wakeup call to capture the promising sunrise.

That was the plan. Unfortunately, the weather forecast had not quite got it right on this occasion and so ensued a sleepless night with the tent being battered by strong winds. With light fast approaching, I could not contain my excitement at what I hoped would be a fantastic sunrise.

However, on looking out of the tent I was faced with cloud and lots of it. What else could go wrong I thought? Should I just pack up or hold on? That was the decision I was faced with. Being stubborn, I decided to wait in the hope that the cloud would clear. Slowly but surely luck was on my side.

Another shot from Slieve Bearnagh

Another shot from Slieve Bearnagh

As the sun began to rise, the cloud began to disperse (all coming together just like in a Hollywood film). Thus ensued me running around like a headless chicken, trying to capture every moment of this spectacular scene that unfolded before me, in the hope that even just one photograph would perfectly capture the moment. Looking back, I thought to myself, was it all worth it? The answer, well, I will let the viewer decide.

Photograph Details
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
F-stop: f/16
ISO speed: ISO-100
Exposure Time: 1/30sec

You can see more of Jon’s photos at
Some of Jon’s work is available for purchase at