15 Nov SOUTH WEST IRELAND PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR – TRIP REPORT
South West Ireland in fall is one of Europe’s finest destinations for landscape photography. The days are shortening and becoming more conducive to sunrise/sunset shoots, the midday light is soft enough to keep right on shooting, and the landscape is still vibrant with summer growth tinged with the first colours of autumn. Plus, and it’s a big plus, the Atlantic is coming to life again with the energy of distant hurricanes.
Our trip started with two nights in County Clare staying in the cozy and remote Waters Country House. With two days of murk and drizzle in the forecast it was not an auspicious start, but photography tours are all about working with the light you’ve got rather than the light you wished you’d got. And that’s the other great thing about photo tours: you are sometimes forced to deal with sub-optimal conditions, and rather than using light as a crutch to hold your image up, you are forced to reply wholly on subject, composition and form. This is only ever a good thing for your growth as a photographer. Our persistence was rewarded with the discovery of some late wild-flowers, hare-bells and ox-eye daisies growing in the shadow of the 4000-year old Polnabrone Dolmen – a little pocket of photographic quality in an otherwise murky and monochrome landscape.
Moving on from County Clare we drove south towards County Kerry, or ‘The Kingdom’ as it is often referred to in Ireland. We crossed the Shannon Estuary on the Tarbert car ferry and the skies slowly began to lift as we reached the Dingle Peninsula, one of Ireland’s greatest locations for landscape and seascape photography. It is blessed with that perfect balance of verdant patchwork fields and rugged cliffs and mountains. – a microcosm of everything that is best in the Irish landscape. We made a quick stop in Annascaul for a shot of the still-colourful but slowly fading facade of Dan Foley’s Pub, before checking into our home from home for the next three nights, the luxurious Pax House, with its incredible views of Dingle Harbour.
On the first evening we drove out west along the scenic coast road which winds around Slea Head past a succession of wonderful landscape photography locations. For the next three days our patience under the leaden skies of County Clare was rewarded in County Kerry with warm sunny days and variable cloud, providing us with ample opportunity to get out among Dingle’s best spots. We were treated to a wonderful sunset at the iconic Dunquin Harbour – see lead image – and plenty of atmospheric morning and evenings to play around with long exposures and ND filters. On our final night we enjoyed as great, and very authentic, traditional music session in one of Dingle’s amazing pubs.
From Dingle our itinerary took us southeast to the Iveragh Peninsula and our base for the next two days in the Lake Hotel Killarney. Situated right on the shores of Lough Leane and on the edge of Killarney National Park, the hotel was a perfects base for exploring the many locations in the national park and in the surrounding mountains. We were blessed with a forecast for cool temperatures and light winds for our first sunrise shoot – perfect conditions for the many lakeshore vantage points. On this occasion we shot the view of the Eagle’s Nest, with a flawless reflections and banks of slowly rising mist draped across the mountain sides. This is such an interesting location to shoot with so many possible arrangements of the shoreline rocks.
For the evening we made the trip out along the Wild Atlantic Way to Valentia Island, making stops at St Finnian’s Bay for the views of the Skellig Islands, and also a great stop at Cromwell Point Lighthouse which can be shot from so many angles: high up on the hillside with a telephoto, low-angle wide shots from the shoreline rocks, or even with a drone.
On our final full day rain enforced a much needed later start and a leisurely breakfast as we waited for the clouds to lift. In the afternoon, with renewed energy, we explored the remote and rugged Black Valley and Molly’s Cottage before finishing with a beautiful shoot at the Reenadinna Yew Woods of Killarney National Park. Check our Workshops section for more South West Ireland photo tours.