Go West…

I’ve just returned from a two week trip with the Inverness  registered fishing boat, Reul na Mara. Most of the fortnight was spent in the North Atlantic, off the NW of the Outer Hebrides. I’ll be publishing photos as they are developed and scanned, and sharing diary entries of this, the first of a few trips in the project, over the next few months.
I haven’t done a technical type article for a while, so I thought it would be a good chance to share some details, what was right and what went wrong.
There’s a couple of things I’d add to my kit list – firstly, lightweight sweatpants. Fishing boats are basically water-tight, this means that most of the time the heat from the huge engines builds up. And does it build up. The only legwear I took were thick fleece salopettes – big mistake.
Secondly, disposable latex gloves. Wherever you put your hands on the outside decks is probably going to be covered in something you don’t want to have to keep washing off.
What wouldn’t I take next time? A tripod – those big engines that pump out huge amounts of heat? They also vibrate. A lot. A tripod is as much use as tits on a fish. I won’t take a digital SLR – I took a Nikon D610 for video work, but ended up shooting 23 gigabytes worth of 4K footage on my iPhone 8+.
Things that proved invaluable – Ziplock bags. £2 for 20 at the Co-op and they make perfect rain covers, just cut a hole in the bottom, slip the hole around your lens hood and tape it on. Insert camera through zip end and seal. Also very handy was a small notebook, pencils and two packs of baby wipes (one great tip – keep a pack in the freezer. If you’ve had the result of a dodgy meal, frozen baby wipes on the botty are VERY soothing)

Hardware wise, I packed the following into one Pelican 1550 case –
Pentax 67II & 105mm lens
Nikon F100 with 50mm 1.4G & 28mm 1.8G
Nikon D610 DSLR
Olympus MjuII
Nikonos V & 35mm 2.5 UW
Vivitar 283 flash
Zoom H4n Sound recorder
Sennheiser HD-25 headphones
Various film – Ilford HP5 400, Agfa Vista 400, Kodak Ektar 100 and Fuji Pro 400H.

I used all the cameras, but I’m considering not taking the Pentax 67 next time and sticking to 35mm. As is always the case, I never seemed to have the right film in the right camera at any one time. Light is low in the North Northern Hemisphere at this time of year, so the HP5 400 was pushed a lot of the time to 800 and 1600.

The best buy ever? Proper, good quality fisherman’s ‘oilskins’ – Elka salopettes  and the smock top. I shall never look back, or be wet.


  1. I totally agree with Andy – There are sayers and there are doers. You’re a doer, Phil. Your motivation and commitment to your craft comes across in your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Phil, if you can make your way to Newfoundland I’d love to get you out on one of our boats – our guys do two weeks+ around the Grand Banks. All you’d need to bring is your cameras and clothes 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gritty, real life of a fisherman. I’ve tried to sleep many a night on boats not to different from that, kind of torture I’d say? Great work man x


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