With all mountain photography, we remain at the mercy of the weather. Despite the investment and effort, if you happen to arrive at the wrong time, when cloud covers the mountains for days, you may end up shooting nothing and your only option is to return the following year. This is something I did on both glaciers several times. I also made a point of arriving in Pakistan in early June, to take advantage of late snows which enhance the drama of the landscape. I was always fortuitous, and during my last expedition on the Baltoro Glacier in 2015 we had late snows and, on occasions, gossamer clouds floating around the summits, so this added another dimension to the photographs. On our return, an anticyclone established itself and we experienced big blue skies and hard, contrasty light. I was so grateful that I had managed to shoot very different conditions during our ascent, or I might have returned with little that was worthy of publication.
During my expeditions of 1996 and 2004, I worked with a variety of film cameras, including an Ebony 5×4, a Fuji GX617 and a Hasselblad XPan II. The most demanding camera to use was the 5x4 as it required a single sheet of film to be loaded with each exposure taken. These individual sheets, known as Fuji Quickload, needed to be stored in a Pelicase, away from moisture. The sheets were then transported back to Scotland for processing by which time they would have passed through six X-Ray scanners.
Today the quality of high-resolution digital cameras, combined with the latest generation of mirrorless lenses, has made capture so much more pleasurable and rewarding. You can return home confident in the knowledge that you have captured the images that you set out to achieve – a luxury that was unthinkable 20 years ago.