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Photo of colossal wave goes global

The moment the wave hits the Skerry of Ashiness - Photo: Ryan Sandison

A SHETLAND photographer who took an iconic image of Storm Conor on Boxing Day has described the attention he received from around the world as “mind blowing”.

Ryan Sandison’s photo of a massive wave breaking over the Skerry of Eshaness made it into most of the national newspapers and was shared more than 3,200 times online, while it has reached almost half a million users on his Facebook page.

It was also distributed internationally via London based photo agency Rex Features.

Sandison, from Hillswick, said the photo was taken from near a passing place overlooking Stenness and the rocks, which usually shelter the bay there.

“I was out going to see if there was any rough sea,” he said, adding that the photo was taken from just outside his car as it wasn’t a day to venture out much further.

“I was thinking ‘this is a pretty good shot’, but I wasn’t overawed by it because we are used to seeing big seas here – I just thought ‘that might not be too bad’,” the 39-year old said as he recalled the moment he took the shot.

He added: “It is amazing to witness some of the seas you get around here, but sometimes you can’t get a photo.

“Last year, when storm Gertrude hit the isles, the wind was so strong that the tops of the waves were being blown off.

“So it probably was even rougher that day, with the wave tops being cut off by the wind. On Boxing Day conditions were just perfect.”

And there is some doubt as to the actual height of the waves that hammered the west coast of Shetland on that day.

It was widely reported that his photo captured a 46ft wave crashing into the rocks, but he believes it was much higher.

“There are two separate rocks, one is 38 metres high. That wave at its peak was double that height,” Sandison said.

“This must have been thousands of tonnes of water hitting that skerry all at once. It was fascinating.”