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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Marc Aspland

Jan24

Amped and Stoked! Weathering the storm for a stunning image

By Marc Aspland, Friday January 24, 2014
Al MacKinnon's image of European superstar pro surfer, Nic Von Rupp, tackling giant surf generated by 'Superstorm Hercules' on a huge tide at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 70mm; the exposure was 1/1000sec at f/7.1, ISO 1250.

Al MacKinnon's image of European superstar pro surfer, Nic Von Rupp, tackling giant surf generated by 'Superstorm Hercules' on a huge tide at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 70mm; the exposure was 1/1000sec at f/7.1, ISO 1250. © Al MacKinnon

After spectacular firework shows from around the world heralded the New Year, 2014 started with the worst weather in 20 years as 'Superstorm Hercules' battered the UK. In the first week of January, The Times newspaper carried stories and incredible pictures on a daily basis - one extreme weather picture seemingly outdoing the next.

Late in the afternoon on January 6, I received a phone call which sounded like the person was standing on an oil rig in the middle of the North Sea during a Force 9 gale. Actually it was from a photographer I had met after one of my talks at a recent Canon Roadshow event at Canon UK's headquarters in Reigate, Surrey. We both share a love of surfing and after a brief talk about all things longboards and barrels we swapped cards and wished each other a Happy Christmas.

That day, professional surf photographer, Al Mackinnon, was braving the brutal elements in a remote part of North West Ireland named Mullaghmore Head, in County Sligo and he was "amped" (excited) and "stoked" (even more excited) that he had just captured an amazing image - and would The Times be interested?

Due to high wind noise and the poor mobile phone signal I asked if he could just send me a small resolution picture so I could try and judge for myself why this young photographer was so thrilled with his day's work. Once his picture of pro surfer Nic Von Rupp riding down a monster wave that rarely, if ever happens on our shores, appeared on my screen, I was totally stoked too! I am used to seeing such incredible surf pictures taken on the North Shore of Hawaii, California or Tahiti, but certainly not from County Sligo in Ireland...

Within minutes the picture was emailed to my picture editor in London and seconds later the editor of The Times was proclaiming that this was the defining image of what he was looking for that day. A sport picture of a non-mainstream sport was to be the main image across the spread in the news pages the following day! It was taken only a few hours earlier in a very remote spot in Ireland, yet due to the foresight of the photographer - and by using his head for contacts - it splashed across the news pages.

I sent Al a pdf of the first edition pages that night to show him how we were using his picture and his excitement and joy of having his picture appear in a national newspaper was equally as exciting for me as was for him to have taken it! The following day BBC News, SKY News and ITN News all dispatched news crews to report from Mullaghmore. Radio and other media outlets also did live feeds and interviewed both photographer and surfer.

"Stoked!"

Pages 6 and 7 of The Times newspaper featuring Al MacKinnon's stunning image, dated Tuesday January 7, 2014.

Pages 6 and 7 of The Times newspaper featuring Al MacKinnon's stunning image, dated Tuesday January 7, 2014. © Marc Aspland

Page 1 of The Times newspaper, Tuesday January 7, 2014, with Marc Aspland's image making the front page.

Page 1 of The Times newspaper, Tuesday January 7, 2014, with Marc Aspland's image making the front page. © Marc Aspland