Trip Leader: Gareth McCormack
Location: Enniscrone, County Sligo
Maximum Group Size: 5
Exertion: Low to moderate
Cost: €380, with no accommodation included
Availability: 2 places left
The west of Ireland provides many fabulous photo locations, but the wild landscapes of Sligo and Mayo stand out in terms of raw beauty. The region’s Atlantic coastline is dramatic and varied, while the sparsely-populated interior is dominated by the Nephin Beg mountains and one the largest expanses of blanket bog in Ireland.
Gareth has intimate knowledge of this wild and scenic region, and holds several places so dear they rank amongst his favourite photo locations in Ireland. During this landscape photography workshop you will explore many of Gareth’s best-loved photo spots, while all the time developing your understanding of photography and improving your camera skills.
This photography workshop is based in the village of Enniscrone, on the Atlantic coast of County Sligo. Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, we have not included any accommodation in the package. If you live locally you can base yourself from your own home, and travel to join us each day. Alternatively you can arrange your own accommodation within the Enniscrone area. If you’d like any help or advice in terms of booking accommodation locally, please contact us.
Please note that food is not included as part of the workshop package. During the weekend we’ll stop to buy sandwiches or eat together in local restaurants and cafés, as dictated by the schedule of events.
This photography course has an exertion rating of low to moderate. Photo locations are all easily accessible by car, with short walks along paths or across open ground to reach our shooting positions. This may involve some steps, steep gradients or uneven ground. If you have any questions about the physical demands of the trip, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss the locations in more detail.
Photographers of all levels of experience and ability are welcome to join the workshop. Whatever your level, Gareth will help you extend your skills over the course of the weekend.
The photography course begins with a welcome session on Friday evening, where we discuss the weekend itinerary, and note the main photographic points we’ll be addressing during the workshop. The Saturday and Sunday will be split between outdoor field trips and indoor theory sessions. The workshop ends at 3pm on Sunday, allowing participants plenty of time to travel home on Sunday evening.
Due to COVID-19, workshop participants will be required to travel between outdoor locations in their own cars, or to wear face coverings if sharing cars. Some off-road walking may also be required to reach each spot.
The exact locations of our outdoor sessions will be dictated by weather conditions on the day. September can often bring clear, calm conditions, but the area also offers a variety of interesting locations that provide photo opportunities even in poor weather. Dawn and dusk trips will be included wherever conditions permit, and there will also be an option of joining a nocturnal session to learn more about night-time photography.
Within the village of Enniscrone, we can explore vantage points across the beach and sand dunes. A few minutes’ drive to the east, shelves of coastal limestone are pockmarked with rock pools that reflect the colours of the sunset. To the west the ruins of 15th-century Rosserk Abbey often provide a perfect morning reflection. Further west into Mayo, numerous vantage points take advantage of the dramatic Atlantic coastline. Downpatrick Head is perhaps the cream of these, and if we’re lucky we might be able to shoot from the cave beneath the headland. The bog and mountain vistas of Ballycroy National Park are another option, offering countless more scenic panoramas.
Though all these locations are strikingly beautiful, each spot provides its own challenges and opportunities in terms of photography. As we explore each location we will discuss the merits of different shooting techniques and approaches to composition, and experiment with various vantage points across the scene.
The indoor sessions will take place in Twin Trees Hotel, Ballina, and will conform to COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing. Here we will critique the images we have taken in the field, and discuss ways to improve them. We’ll examine the theory behind great landscape photography, including issues such as researching the location and the importance of individual expression.
We will also look at different equipment and how to use it, and examine technical matters such as controlling depth of field and using histograms to manage exposure. There will also be a tutorials on Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom and Photoshop, where Gareth will pass on tips for processing and optimising your images.
In addition to these indoor sessions, the whole weekend course is aimed at facilitating one big, group discussion about the art of photography. The aim throughout is to allow Gareth to share the experience he has gained over twenty years as a professional landscape photographer, to help you take more striking photos.
Accommodation: Due to COVID-19, this workshop is being offered without accommodation. If you live locally you can base yourself from your own home, or alternatively you can arrange your own accommodation in the Enniscrone area. If you’d like any help or advice in terms of booking accommodation, please contact us.
Cancellation: If you book a place on the workshop and have to cancel for any reason, we’ll be happy to refund the full amount up to 4th August 2020, minus a 3.5% fee to cover our credit card charges. After this date cancellations will only be refunded if we can find a replacement.
COVID-19: In the event of government restrictions around COVID-19 meaning the workshop is no longer possible, we’ll let you know as soon as we can. We’ll endeavor to reschedule the weekend for a later date, but if this isn’t possible, full refunds will be given.
Insurance: Please note that it’s the responsibility of the customer to ensure you have adequate personal and equipment insurance to cover yourself for the weekend.
Camera Equipment: Bring all your camera equipment, including any lenses, tripods and filters. Remember cables for downloading images, and if you use a laptop for processing, bring that too. Some off-road walking may be required to reach photo locations, so we recommend that you pack your equipment in a small rucksack to facilitate moving around. Make sure your camera bag offers enough protection in the event of being caught in rain.
Clothing: Ireland’s climate can be notoriously changeable. Bring good, waterproof footwear, and warm, waterproof and windproof clothing to protect yourself in all weather conditions. Bring sunscreen too, because you never know! We discourage the use of plastic wherever possible, so also recommend bringing a resuable water bottle.
We keep our group sizes small so the exact content of each workshop can be tailored to the needs of individuals. If you’re a beginner, Gareth will help you get out of auto settings for the first time. If you’re more experienced, you may need no technical assistance, but constructive critique on composition and aesthetic decisions might expand your options and repertoire. On most workshops, topics that generally come up include:
Q: I’m a complete beginner – will your workshop be suitable for me?
A: Yes. Our workshops and tours have small group sizes, so much of the tuition is on a one-to-one basis. We encourage a friendly and collegiate atmosphere, and more experienced photographers generally help by offering their own advice and encouragement. After all, we were all beginners at one point ourselves, and can empathise with how mystifying the technicalities of photography can appear. A key point for beginners is to relax – with a few pointers, taking great images is often much easier than you realise.
Q: I don’t have a tripod / expensive camera / any filters. Is this a problem?
A: Tripods are essential for good landscape photography and long exposure techniques. Having said that you can come on a weekend workshop without one, as Gareth normally carries a spare tripod you can try out. However this isn’t encouraged for longer tours. If you’re unsure about buying one, we’d encourage you to at least borrow or rent one if you can. Please don’t buy a cheap plastic or lightweight ‘traveller’ tripod. They’re too flimsy for serious work and will cause you enormous frustration. Investing in a good tripod is one of the most overlooked aspects of purchasing photography equipment.
Most of our workshop clients use digital DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, but these range from Hasselblads to basic starter cameras. We also have people who still shoot film or black and white only. You could come on a workshop with just your phone and still benefit – in fact we had one weekend where the best images came from somebody doing just that. If you don’t have any filters but are interested in learning to use them, Gareth will have some on hand to try out. You’ll then be a better position to decide what you want to invest in afterwards.
Q: How physically demanding are the locations to reach?
A: Most of our photo locations are easy to reach, and accessible within a couple of minutes walk from the car. However the ground underfoot may be uneven, slippery or wet. We avoid long or arduous hikes, but to reach more adventurous shooting positions – which are entirely optional – you may need to cross loose rocks or steep slopes. If you have any concerns about your fitness for this trip, please get in touch and Gareth will be happy to discuss the individual locations with you.
Q: Workshop or tour – what’s the difference?
A: Our workshops are short, typically two or three days long, and based within a defined area. The emphasis is on education and assistance from Gareth, but we also visit plenty of good photo locations, hopefully in good light. We’ll also have at least one formal seminar on post processing during the weekend. Tours are longer trips that visit several geographical areas, with the emphasis on exploring the best locations in the best light. Of course instruction and assistance from Gareth is still part of the package, but the theory and processing sessions are less formal. Instead we use bad weather as an opportunity for image review, with one-to-one or small group sessions on post processing workflow happening in a more organic way.
Q: How long is a typical day?
A: There’s no schedule set in advance for any of our workshops or tours. In order to match our locations with the best light, we stay as flexible as possible. Typically we’ll shoot at sunrise if conditions allow, returning to the hotel afterwards for breakfast. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of early starts – sunrise shoots are always optional. We’ll certainly shoot during the day, prioritising locations that best suit the weather conditions. Even if it’s a travel day, we’ll stop at one or two interesting places along the way. Evening and sunset shoots are also a staple whenever conditions allow.
Poor weather can be useful too. On weekend workshops, we’ll take the opportunity to look at post processing. On longer tours we generally use poor weather to relax and recover, review our images, and perhaps think about post processing if people are keen. When conditions are favorable for several days in a row, regular dawn and dusk shoots can quickly become exhausting, so we do factor in the need for downtime during the day. Nothing kills creativity quicker than fatigue! If at any time you need to slow down and skip a shoot, that’s fine too.
Q: Can I bring my spouse/partner even if they’re not interested in photography?
A: Yes, absolutely. We visit beautiful and interesting locations, so there’s much to enjoy even if you aren’t interested in taking more than snapshots. We often stay in the same hotel for two or more nights, so non-photographers are free to take time out from the field trips and do their own thing. There’s often plenty to see and do within walking distance of our accommodation, and sometimes leisure facilities at the hotel too. Just ask if you want more details about this particular trip.
There are only three spaces remaining on this photography workshop, so we recommend that you book early to avoid disappointment. If you have any further queries about the weekend, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: