Photographer Mo Warden
Mo wears a lot of hats including Mum, GrandMo, web designer, accounts secretary, housewife, graphic designer, cat-fusser-in-chief, cook and bottle-washer. She’s been using computers since 1981 (VIC-20) and comms since Prestel/Micronet.
Originally from England, Mo lives with her partner, Peter, in the east of Scotland where they run an IT company named Grafixation
Mo trained in art, specialising in silversmithing, before becoming a computer games graphic designer (1985-92) and then a web designer. Photography and video creation is her hobby.
With a love for Iceland that borders on obsession, Mo has built and maintains a dedicated website at The-Company.Com and is frequently found on Twitter
What was your most memorable photographic event?
That has to be the eruption of Bárðarbunga.
In 1989, I had cancer from which an amazing surgeon and brilliant NHS staff saved me, I can never thank them enough. In 2014 it was the 25th anniversary of “Wow, I’m still here” so Pete and I decided to have that holiday of a lifetime we’d talked about so often.
I’ve been fascinated by volcanoes since I was a child, love waterfalls, wanted to see a glacier and aurora – all of this added up to Iceland. We booked the trip in March to visit in September, and in August the Holuhraun eruption began.
We made sure our insurance covered us for volcanic whatever and off we went for an 18 day round tour. Eruption flights from Reykjavík were a tad expensive so we headed off around route 1 until we reached Varmahlíð in the north east. There we found leaflets for eruption flights at a fraction of the cost. Serendipity!
Which is your favourite photo and why?
We visited Iceland in November 2016 and had a wonderful day trip from Egilsstaðir on the east coast, with a guide named Þórdís in her SuperJeep. She took us to the dam at Kárahnjúkavirkjun which is on the north-east side of the Vatnajökull glacier.
It was a drizzly day and we didn’t expect much in the way of photo ops, but when we were about halfway to the dam the sun came out, low and strong. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many natural rainbows in one day.
When we reached the dam we piled out of the jeep but didn’t bother with tripods because it was still pelting down and we were spending most of our time drying the lenses. I turned my back to the rain, zoomed in and focused on the canyon just as a rainbow formed.
It was meant to be!
Do you particularly enjoy weather photography?
Yes, I love it when the sky does strange things. It’s all so fleeting, that’s what photography is for – capturing the moment. Sometimes it can be scary but there’s that rush of adrenaline afterwards, “I got that”.
I was very pleased and proud to win the StormHour Photo of the Week competition in December 2018. It felt good and I’m glad that I entered.
I think aurora photography falls into the weather category although it isn’t, really. It’s space weather. I admit that I’m not very good at it because I haven’t had a lot of practice but I keep plodding along.
Which area of photography do you specialise in?
When we’re deciding where to go on holiday it’s always the same but never, ever boring. I’ve been asked if we’d move there (or even if we already live there) and the answer is no. We’re settled where we are, and love Scotland too.
Which camera type do you use and which is your favourite camera?
I have two best-mates cameras. The first is a dinky Olympus SZ-16 which I’ve had since 2013, it’s pocket size and has 24x zoom, 1080p at 30 fps and is great for impulsive videos because the autofocus is quick. You can see some of my videos on Vimeo
I still love my Canon PowerShot G3 X most of all. It’s a compact camera which lacks little apart from an electronic eyepiece, which I bought separately. The focal length is 8.8 – 220 mm (35 mm equivalent: 24 – 600 mm) which is plenty for me.
I have rheumatoid disease which means a lot of stiffness in my hands and I lack fine motor skills. As a result, a beefy DSLR is a bit too much for me to manage, I’d be forever dropping the lenses when I change them. I’m happier with a good camera that isn’t quite so heart-breakingly expensive to replace when I banjax it.
What’s your favourite time of day for photography?
That would have to be sunset. Another of my all-time favourite photos is this one of the sun going down behind Vatnajökull glacier. The sunbeams were so clear that they were almost tangible and one beam hit the Fláajökull glacier tongue like a spotlight.
You feel privileged to have seen something like that.
From a purely photographic point of view where would you most like to visit?
Another planet. Probably Jupiter, but it’d be brief. Not a hospitable place but – literally – drop-dead gorgeous.
Do you have any tips you’d like to pass along?
Be gentle and leave no damage. You must take with you what you need, and take your rubbish away with you.
There is beauty everywhere, you just have to recognise it and be ready.
Plan your photo tour fairly well but not strictly. If you have to move along to the next hotel *now* or you won’t have a bed for the night, relax and enjoy as much as you can. Never leave yourself in a vulnerable position if you can plan otherwise. Sometimes it’s healthier to be boring.
The most expensive camera in the world won’t make you a better photographer and you’ll never be fully appreciated. Accept that and you’ll enjoy it more, that’s the important thing – having a good time. If you should become one of those fortunate people who make a living from doing what they enjoy most, then you are blessed indeed.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m a very lazy photographer. I use the dreaded auto mode a fair bit, especially while we’re driving and it’s a sort-of travelling shot. It doesn’t matter, it is what it is. My Canon does a lovely job of auto-focusing and I’m one of those strange people who actually enjoys sorting and editing photos.
Oh, and if you haven’t been to Iceland, you should go. Not just Reykjavík-and-the-Blue-Lagoon, be adventurous. You won’t be sorry.