on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Being There

A traverse of the mountain of the sun

David Lintern

David Lintern

David Lintern is a photojournalist, photography tutor and writer living and working in the Scottish Highlands. His words and pictures appear widely in environmental and access campaigns as well as news and outdoors media. He’s the author of The Big Rounds, a social history guidebook about fell running.


Fleeting first impressions; Malaga’s concrete, graffiti and adobe all crumbling together at midnight, the original Mediterranean melting pot, blood hot and briny humid. The next day; a terraced hill town, a poet's spring town, hardware stores and hotels, farmers and old ladies, where the children leave for the sea and the cities. An early morning drive on the edge of the desert, bridges and springs and storm cut gullies into sandstone bulwarks. The smell of fresh pine at 2000metres, anaemic. The smell of wild thyme freshly drenched from a hail storm, fragrant. Lime green cactus grass, rust red dust, silvered micas, shattered schist. Feeling the weight on the first full day of walking, finding my feet on the second. Space, the wind and a thirst, before the rocks and the weather reared up to slow our passing.

If photography is above all about developing a habit of noticing, then a long, strenuous walk is one of the best ways to be present. Physical graft, time out of mind, helps to clear out the clutter and noise. The job of the walk is not to get you to the finish.

If photography is above all about developing a habit of noticing, then a long, strenuous walk is one of the best ways to be present.
Think that and you’ll always be wanting it to be over, and never happy in your bones as you drag them and your pack over the next lump. No, the job of the walk is to get you to be really there, in the moment, every moment. Those moments are grains of sand; they only ever happen once. We should pay attention to all of them - especially when we aspire to work in a time-based art form.

Put another way, it's the journey that counts, not the destination. Personally, I think that applies to photography too. If I were really present, all the time, maybe I wouldn’t need to take pictures at all, save that the habit of framing helps me slow down for long enough to help me notice, to help me see. But I digress, and we’ve barely begun…  

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