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The Golden Tower
© Mark Collins, Sep 2011
Route: The Golden Tower (E2 5c)
Climbers: Mark Collins
Camera used: Nikon D70s
4*VOTING: number of votes 20
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User Comments

That looks like a great route. good pic.
Urgles - 15/Dec/11
but where is the belayer?
Urgles - 15/Dec/11
There is no belayer, it's a photo shoot rather than an attempt to climb anything. I created this for an amateur photographic competition at the local society I belong to. It did pretty well in that, but they're not interested in where the belayer is. The judge would probably have said, "Why is that person at the bottom, and why have they strewn all that kit around? It's distracting me from the action." With that in mind, the hair on top of my head has been transplanted from the back and sides, ala Wayne Rooney. See other pictures of me in my gallery for the before shot.
It has probably taken somewhere in the region of 6 hours to produce the raw material for this image, and then maybe a further 2 in post processing. There were problems with a very lightweight tripod self destructing under the weight of the camera, which I had to replace after the 1st visit. The protection was placed on abseil and then I jumarred back to this position to get the shot, before cloning out the ab rope in post processing. I'm a bit disappointed with the red of my top, which seems to have over saturated in conversion to jpg. The skin has been selected to prevent blow out, and overall it has been sharpened very slightly using a High Pass filter. It would be impossible for a human being to have taken the shot and llok through the view finder at the same time unless they were wearing stilts, ala Heinz Zak. The tripod was dangled over the edge and held in place by an ab rope and the shutter was controlled by a programmable device.
I think that's everything. Please feel free to critic, I do intend to return next year and have another go.
Mark Collins - 16/Dec/11
Jesus Christ, was it really worth all that effort?
murdster - 16/Dec/11
You didn't really do all that did you?
Matt Vigg - 16/Dec/11
Good point murdster. I would say yes though, and put it down to a learning experience. I definitely see it as the best climbing related photography I've done so far.
Mark Collins - 16/Dec/11
Thanks for the compliment, Formerly Known as Pylon King.
Mark Collins - 16/Dec/11
Yes Matt
Mark Collins - 16/Dec/11
Well, I think it looks great, but it is a bit strange that there's no belayer.
Is this post processing normal in climbing pictures do you think?
Nice hair as well!
murdster - 16/Dec/11
Thanks for the comments murdster. I'd go so far as to say that post processing is generally accepted as a concept in climbing pictures, especially if you're honest about what you've done.
Mark Collins - 16/Dec/11
It's a great shot, other than the lack of belayer! nice work!
Dan Lane - 17/Dec/11
Thanks Dan.
Mark Collins - 18/Dec/11
I have to admit, the hair just doesn't look right and as a result it's a massive distraction for me.
The whole system seems a little mental if you ask me - but as long as you're happy, who cares!
andrew sandercock - 19/Dec/11
Me and my big mouth!
Mark Collins - 19/Dec/11
Wouldn't it be a lot easier to arrange for somebody else to climb/solo up the route. It is surely easy enough to get someone to remove clutter etc from below the climb. If you want yourself to be the subject in the photo then get some else to do the photography, but then it wouldn't be your work. I suppose that you might be working with the same approach as Cindy Sherman. But as for all that stuff about changing your hairstyle, removing the rope, for the sake of what others think. Be true to yourself. This is not in any way relevant to rockclimbing. I mean he still has a harness and runners on display. But then you could shop them out...
But it is an excellent climb btw.
Sean Kelly - 20/Dec/11
I don't agree Sean that it would be easier to get somebody else to climb the route, and photograph them. That requires a number of factors coinciding, someone willing who is available at the same time as myself, and favourable weather conditions. Due to other factors in my life these items are pretty difficult to come by. Also, it creates other challenges like building and attaching stilts to the photographer capable of putting them in the position they need to be to get the shot.
I agree it is easy to get someone to remove clutter from the bottom of the climb. I can do that myself for instance.
I see your point about Cindy Sherman (conceptual photography). I'd never heard of her before, so a nice bit of research for me. The hairstyle change is partly a vehicle for removing the shine from the top of my head. I find that photographic judges are very stuffy about unecessary highlights in general (see original brief in previous comments). That said, I could have simply cloned out the shine with duller skin tones, but thought the image would be more successful with hair. As for removing the ab rope, although I have no proof and my information comes pre-digital I understand that some photographs printed in climbing magazines covering first ascents, are actually captured on a later visit to the crag. On this excursion, the first ascent is mimiced by adding runners on abseil. Once the climber is in postion, the ab rope is obscured from view by hiding it around an arete. I believe this technique is practised to remove the extra pressure of a photo shoot from the climber and due to the availability of the photographer. I'm sure it is a lot less frequent these days with all the focus on instant media.
I have made an ascent of this route before, so it's not like I'm suggesting that I've climbed the route when I haven't. I've created an environment where I have an element of control, in order to produce an image of traditional rock climbing.
As you say though, it is an excellent climb.
Mark Collins - 21/Dec/11
Complete wait of time
Mike Hutton - 04/Jun/13
I beg your pardon?
Mark Collins - 04/Jun/13
I've been looking for some evidence for part of my argument above and at last it has appeared in the shape of Neil Gresham's article, House of Cards (/articles/page.php?id=5758). In which, whoever wrote the footnote states, "...As a mark or respect for the climb, Neil and Nick Dixon opted not to set-up any staged photos on the Indian Face...". This indicates that at least some photographs were staged, post ascent to accompany news items and bring interest to climbing magazines. This I assume was done for various reasons, not to disrupt the climber during the ascent, lighting, and so on.
Mark Collins - 05/Sep/13
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This picture is copyright. If you want to reproduce or otherwise re-use it, please email the photographer direct via their user profile. Photo added December 15 2011.