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Ireland photography guide - part one

Ireland photography guide - part one - David Clapp tells us why, as photographers, we should go to Ireland.

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Landscape and Travel

 Ireland - Clogherhead
Subtle scenery like this standing stone on Clogherhead is are in abundance throughout Ireland’s magnificent landscape.
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Contax 35-70mm f/3.4, at 35mm f/11 for 1/6th sec ISO100.

Release the Sentimentality

Ireland is my new love. Until a camping trip in the summer of 2005 turned my photographic world on its head, I had no idea about this glorious country, so I'm writing this article with nothing but a simple message attached – you need to go to Ireland. Its magical atmosphere will whisk your spirit away to a world free from the banalities of modern English living. Stand straight on the cliffs surveying the ocean like a ships admiral, fill your lungs with fresh Atlantic air and top up your soul with wonder. Or lie back high on a mountain ridge, listening to the soft evening sounds of the warm countryside beneath. You will begin to feel its modest beauty seeping right through you. History, tradition, an intact community spirit and infectious music will have you participating voluntarily in a roomful of foot tapping frenzy, singing like you have never sung, as you sup the creamiest Guinness to the biological beat of the bodhran. Ireland, you are my relief and to you I surrender my heart.

Waterfalls and Lakes and even Museums
This February trip was a week long journey around the West Coast with a new friend Alan. After a stay in Killarney to begin, the Loughs (pronounced Lochs) and surrounding countryside provide all manner of photographic possibilities with easy photography - a good place to warm up. With Ross Castle on the doorstep, The Gap of Dunloe (a few miles to the west) is classic Irish scenery, but it is perhaps the smaller and more intimate lakes that can provide just as much potential.
Ross Castle Ireland
First thing in the morning, Ross Castle is an easy shoot, made just that bit more historical by a black and white rendition.
Canon 1Ds MkIII 24mm TS-E at f/11 for 30secs ISO400.
Lough near Killarney, Ireland
A Lough near Killarney, this was taken on a dull grey day, proving that compelling imagery can be made as long as you keep an eye out and a very open mind.
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Contax 35-70mm f/3.4, at 70mm f/11 for 1/8th sec ISO100.
Closer to the town, a visit to Torc Waterfall is a must. A cascading river of rich greens and browns, the upper and lower falls have produced some of my most interesting waterfall shots to date and it’s literally a stones throw from the carpark. These falls can be photographed in winter or summer with great effect.
Torc Waterfall, Ireland
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Contax 35-70mm f3.4 for 5secs, exposure blended from two images.
Kerry Bog village, Ireland
Even more traditional scenes like this Kerry Bog Museum can provide all manner possibilities. For this picture I had to wait until no-one was looking, move a dining room table and six chairs, reposition the bicycle, press the shutter and put it all back again exactly as it was, but don’t tell anyone.
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Nikon 14-24 at 21mm f/11 ISO100 an exposure blend of three images.

Coastline to Die For?
What of the coastline? Well many photographers are aware of the formidable Cliffs of Moher, an iconic 650feet high of vertical cliff face. Subsequently the best shots, taken from a cliff overhang accessed by jumping a grass bank WW1 trench style, are now watched by whistle blowing guards in the day. My first attempt a few years ago, pre watchdog, were unhindered, but this year its game over. Security at ‘Moher World’ as I call it (it now has a rather arguably unnecessary visitors centre and expensive car park) still seems pointless in my opinion. They protect the ledge from photographers, thrill seekers and complete idiots just until the sun reaches the ocean. Then feel free to tumble to your death, flailing like a doll if you so wish. Hmmm…I can feel bureaucracy creeping in somewhere. Contractual obligation on the cliffs? All this without an office desk in sight.
Ireland cliff edge
Canon 5D, 17-40 f/4L at 35mm f/11 ISO100, a blend of two exposures. Taken from the very edge of the cliff ledge. Try and get under the searchlights if you can.

The Burren – the hardest landscape
Burren Ireland
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Nikon 14-24 at 24mm f/11 ISO100 an exposure blend of two images.

Edmond Ludlow said – “not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him” and that just about sums it up. This is a tough landscape, renowned for its cracks, fissures, grikes (channels) and clints (massive limestone boulders). For me the Burren is the closest thing to photographic heaven I have found, but I am still learning as its tough to shoot. Foregrounds that echo the moment of planetary creation sweep through the frame, yet it can actually be surprisingly difficult to compose balanced imagery with these striking features. The coast is where the limestone delivers its erratic magic, but only a few miles inland, the Poulnabrone Dolmen, an ancient site and another Irish icon, is another treasure not to be missed. Rain running down the B&B windows does not mean you stay in bed. Ireland is like Scotland or the West Country. The weather can change very quickly and these two images prove once again that ‘you have to be in it to win it.’
Ireland Dolmen poulnabr
The magnificent Poulnabrone Dolmen. This dawn rainbow is a classic example of Irelands unpredictable weather.
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Contax 28mm f/2 at f/11 for 1/6th sec ISO100.
Ireland Dolmen poulnabr
Filtered tobacco? This wonderful set of colours happened minutes before as the sun rose over the hill behind me. Rain clouds can create all manner of incredible colours, so you are up and out, no matter what.
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Contax 28mm f/2 at f/11
for 1/6th sec ISO100.

Bad weather? Work around it.
Ok, you can sit and moan or just change your mind set. I came up with the phrase ‘there are no poor conditions, just poor decisions’ when I was in Ireland and its something I use as a chin-up whenever things start to meteorologically deteriorate. With some waves, an ND filter and a bit of timing, you can turn dull into surprisingly good work.
Canon 1Ds MkIII, Contax 35-70mm f/3.4 at f/11 for 10sec ISO100 using a 6stop ND filter.
Bored? I was, so I started playing around with an ND filter and the sea. Timing the wave after it had made it over the brow of this sand bank leaves an almost impossible situation. It looks like the wave has travelled towards the sea, in the opposite direction.

Explore, wander and think. Ireland takes time. It’s not the place to rush, but it is the place to feel. Just like Cornwall, it comes like a rush of anticipation; it pushes through you in waves, and rock. It’s a place of adaptation, decisions have to be made to get the best from it and you will, as long as you never say never. You need to fine tune you intuition, think positive and just try, very hard. You are there to get the job done, and you will, as something is calling you onwards, I am certain of it. Every evening sit with aching legs, stretch your back and ease those spent muscles nursing a pint of the best stout without a doubt. You will feel Ireland in your veins, traditional and deserved. It is a place to let yourself go in a different way, a sanctuary, well it certainly has become mine for sure.

One Friday night, locked in safe at a pub in Doolin, I slurred to those present at my table (after passing the guitar from a pop song rendition) “We English have a lot to learn from the Irish” to which someone acknowledged, “and us from the English.” For now I have to say, from my experiences so far, I am finding that very difficult to believe.
Ireland - Clogherhead
Canon 1Ds MkIII, 70-200 f/4L IS, 30secs f/8 ISO400 – taken as a last attempt on at a failed sunset on the way back to the car, I could literally see nothing but black shapes in the viewfinder.

Keep checking ePHOTOzine for part two.

Visit David Clapp's website.
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Tricia 12 325 Ireland
1 Sep 2009 2:28PM
Excellent David - Thank you Smile

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