It took me a while to decide what recent photo to share for my Malta series this week. In the end I decided to go with the one most recently shot, though not the one most recently processed. I took this photo last Sunday evening – it had been a windy day with the promise of rain, so I was hoping for some interesting light or good long-exposure opportunities with the clouds. Knowing that at this time of year I’d get direct light on the south-easterly walls, I headed to nearby Wied il-Għasel (literally the ‘Valley of Honey’ and listed as a nature reserve in the World Database on Protected Areas).
Actually I half-dragged my dad along as I thought he’d like the short trek to the point of view I had in mind, and because it was a good excuse to be in his company. I don’t think he had ever been with me taking photos. After a brief exploration of the rugged terrain at the top of the valley wall I located the steep route I wanted to follow a short way down. Last time I had done this route was after a climbing session, and I only did it on the way up in the dark. I’m sure you know how different a path looks in the opposite direction and in different light.
Anyway, we got down to where I had in mind and I started setting up. The last time I was here I remember looking back on my way up and saying to myself (and most likely to my climbing partners) that I should return to take some photos. This time I really wanted to get the scope of the valley looking downstream, so I used my widest angle lens. As the point of view was looking somewhat down I knew this would cause some geometric distortion but I decided I had to live with it. This is where a view camera would be nice, and quite frankly I’m rather tempted.
To the left you can see a building in a cave – that’s the chapel of St Paul the Hermit. On the wall to its right there was a group of climbers going up the hard way. From what I recall all those walls are trad. In the valley floor you can see three small arches – the remnants of a stone bridge. Further, beyond the mouth of the valley is a series of quarries. At this scale I don’t think they show much, but at full size it’s all rather clear. Nothing in Malta is perfectly natural any more. On the right you can see the last few minutes of sunshine on the south-east walls, where there’s a lot of really nice climbing to be done.