on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Face to Face with the Sublime

Inspired by Alan Hinkes

Thomas Peck

The real pleasure of photography is that it forces me to slow down and really look. That’s never easy in our rushed world, so a chance to stop, look and see is truly valuable.

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Inspired by Alan Hinkes presentation at the A Meeting Of Minds conference at the Rheged Centre in Nov 2014, Thomas Peck investigates how 18th century notions of the sublime are brought to life in 20th/21st century mountaineering photography.

Something quite extraordinary happens when you watch Alan Hinkes present his pictures and talk about his experiences climbing the highest mountains in the world. You quickly realise that his photographs in the mountains are not the run-­‐ of-­‐the-­‐mill dawn and dusk shots of the high peaks. These are not pretty pictures, instead the viewer is gripped with a sense of awe, coupled with amazement. There is even a good dose of fear. These pictures are a modern example of an artistic trope that began in the 18 century. The viewer has come face to face with the sublime.

Dawn on K2 with view into China. Alan Hinkes. 8000 metres plus -­‐ the climber below is bent double with the effort. What a time to take a picture!

Dawn on K2 with view into China. Alan Hinkes. 8000 metres plus -­‐ the climber below is bent double with the effort. What a time to take a picture!

Hinkes is the only Brit to have climbed all 14 peaks in the world that are over 18,000 metres (26,000 ft). Once above that point the climber has entered the ‘death zone’. There is so little oxygen that the body cannot function properly. It is too high for the body to acclimatize, so the mountaineer cannot remain at this height for long. Survival is reckoned in hours, not days. If lucky, weather permitting, and body willing, there might be enough time to make an assault on the summit, and then to come down as rapidly as possible.



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