West Cork photography workshops – Read the fantastic Roaringwater journal’s blog about one of my workshops

Brow Head silhouetted against the setting sun* In our quest to bring you the best West Cork has to offer, we pepper our posts and our Facebook Page with photographs. After a great day-long course with Celia Bartlett (last year, highly recommended!) I managed to wean myself from the auto mode on my camera and […]

via Landscaping – with Trish Punch — Roaringwater Journal

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SleekLens Review

I have a very simple way of editing my pictures because I strongly believe in taking the time and effort to get it right in camera while shooting rather than ‘fixing’ it after using editing software. While it is not always possible to capture what the eye can see, I remedy this by using graduated neutral density filters while shooting, to balance the exposure. That said however, I do, like every other photographer, have to make a few obligatory adjustments to my images before presenting the final version to the outside world. These are usually levels adjustments, brightening and of course the cloning out of blemishes because my camera is such a dust trap.

Some people laugh when they hear that I still use an old version of Photoshop Elements to prepare my pictures. I also have an older version of Lightroom which I do not use for editing. I tried it once and it didn’t suit my workflow. I simply like it for applying metatdata to my images. I’m a stickler in that I won’t change my ways, even when I hear the words “…but look what you can do with this button…..it totally changes the picture…..you can add the sky later”. To me, all of this defeats the whole purpose of finding a beautiful location, scouting it at different times of the day, tackling bad weather to finally shoot it in the best light possible. I’d rather spend hours outdoors shooting good quality images than hours sitting in front of a screen editing an image to create a scene that was not really there in the first place. Besides, every photographer knows when they look at their LCD screen on the back of camera if they have ‘the one’ or not. And that feeling of adrenaline when you capture a great shot is far greater than any feeling of achievement when editing a shot.

Lately though, I have been updating my photography techniques and learning new skills. Every photographer knows how important this is and how it inspires new imagery. It also got me thinking that I should also update my editing skills and software. So when SleekLens contacted me recently and asked me to review their ‘Through the woods’ workflow on Lightroom, I decided to give it a go. SleekLens has worked closely with photographers to determine which tools would be useful in the editing process and have designed specific sets of presets and brushes as a result.

capture

I chose an image with contrasting light in different areas of the image as I wanted to see how the brushes would handle the edit without diminishing the detail. The series of adjusted images below show just some of the different effects.

sleeklens-presets

The brushes are simple and easy to use once uploaded into Lightroom. The simple swipe of a brush allows you to warm, contrast, saturate, cool the image, among many other adjustments. Each brush has a slider to adjust the strength of the adjustment. I played around with these for a while and did find them quite useful. One does have to be careful though as an adjustment to one area of an image can be cancelled out by the application of a second brush. Obviously some of the brushes, like the purple and magenta, did not suit this image but I decided to include them anyway, just to give a rough overview of the different color brushes. Again the strength of these brushes can be adjusted using a slider, so a more mute version of what I applied above, could be created. The package also contains presets which can be applied at the click of a button to transform the image according to the the effect you would like to apply.

capture-1

In conclusion, the package did have useful features and tools. There is so much choice between the presets and brushes. However if I’m being honest, these tools do not suit my own workflow. For me, presets are not an option when editing as I like to go into each image and apply any adjustments manually. And while there is a great selection of brushes, again these would not be part of my editing process. Overall, I like the SleekLens package and its features but maybe it would suit a different genre of photographers who like to apply filters to their images.

The image below is a final edit that I applied through my own work flow in Photoshop Elements. And I prefer my own result because it represents the landscape accurately as I saw it on the evening of the shoot.  It is impressive what you can do with editing software. That said, I think I will stick to my own ‘old fashioned’ method of editing images. Maybe I’m not keeping with the times but for me, less is more.

allihies-sunset-glow
Allihies on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

If you want to find out more about these SleekLens products, click on the links below

https://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-lightroom-presets/

and https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets/

or their youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoVQnIQRmA8veKB0_mEJ6_A

 

 

Dursey Island

As I drove down towards Allihies, the black clouds hovered ominously in the distance. Was I mad to be going across to Dursey today? With a long walk ahead of me and a lack of amenities on the island, I’d be stuck there with no shelter if the weather turned. Driving down the narrow winding road to the cable car, the sun peeped out and lit up the scene before me. I decided this was a good sign. As I paid for my ticket across, Paddy Sheehan, the ticket operator informed me that the cable car was now continuous all day up until 7 in the evening as opposed to the old schedule of morning, lunch and dinner. I shared the cable car with an American couple and three Germans. It wobbled as we climbed in. Paddy’s voice came over the intercom and asked us to shut the doors. No automatic doors here. A few nervous looks around the group were soon replaced by awe as we crossed over the waves below in the Dursey Sound. The views were amazing and within minutes we were on the other side.

Dursey-cable car from the mainland side copy
Cable car across the Dursey Sound to Dursey Island on the Beara peninsula in West Cork, part of the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland.

Dursey Island is an inhabited island that lies off the Beara peninsula in West Cork. The island is separated from the mainland by a narrow stretch of water called the Dursey Sound. With a seriously strong current and a reef of submerged rocks in the centre of the channel, the island can only be accessed by cable car. Up until recent years, it was not unusual to share this transport with farm animals. The cable car, the only one in Ireland, had been used for years to take cattle and sheep across the treacherous waters of the 374m Dursey Sound, until the county council changed the laws due to health and safety regulations. With so many sheep on the island, mart day must have been a real sight.

Dursey-way
Dursey island on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

At 6.5 km long by 1.5 km wide, Dursey is an absolute paradise for walkers. There is a loop walk carefully marked out all over the island. Starting from the cable car, the trail runs up over the hills above the road, tracing the spine of the island to reach a signal tower at the highest point. At 252m, there are spectacular 360 degree views of the island itself and the beautiful scenery of the West Cork coastline. The trail descends down the slope towards the ‘back of the island’ or Dursey Head. From here, there are fantastic views of the Bull and Cow islands just off the coast. The way back follows the island road the whole way to the cable car. Passing farmland and abandoned houses on the slopes running down to the sea, the road begins to climb and the slopes steepen. The road hugs these cliffs for the next 2 kms so walkers are literally walking on the edge of the island, stepping into the grass as the islanders trundle past in their cars. The trail descends slowly down through two villages, Kimichael and Ballynacallagh, before completing the loop by the cable car.

Dursey-walking-trail
Dursey island on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork.

I decided to follow the island road and walk to the end of the island and back. As I approached Kilmichael village, I could hear a strange huffing noise. It was getting louder and louder. Further along the road, I could see a lone bull with his head over a fence. From where I was standing, he was the size of a house. My imagination went into overdrive as I envisioned him stepping over the ditch to pick off lone walkers on the road. I ploughed on regardless even though the huffing had now turned to hissing. I really believed that I was being absolutely calm until my legs took off ahead of my body.  Like a hysterical mad woman, I sprinted up the road, finally coming to a halt at a nearby house. Gasping for breath, I looked back and of course he hadn’t moved an inch. Hoping that no one saw my imaginary demise, I turned around to see a couple standing in front of me. There might only be about 10 residents on the island, but unfortunately nothing goes by them. Gerard Murphy, a farmer and resident postman on the island, and his wife were moving cows from the field on one side of the road to the other. He also owned the bull. I watched as Gerard’s sheepdog gently herded the cows towards the gate and across the road to the other field. The bull suddenly perked up and followed suit as all his women entered the field beside him. Knowing now that it was absolutely safe, I asked Gerard if I could take a picture of his bull and he told me to go on away up the field behind his house and catch him at the fence. I followed the cows and grabbed one shot as he was distracted by his new neighbours.

Gerard-Murphy
Dursey island on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

Further along the road, a van full of tourists pulled in and the driver asked if I needed a lift. I thanked him and told him I would continue on and enjoy the walk. He even offered to transport my bag to the end of the road but I needed everything in it so I declined. The weather was amazing and I wanted to take it all in. This was the new shuttle service from the cable car to the back of the island which runs all day. It is a brilliant service, perfect for those who are strapped for time and cannot complete a long walk on the island. Visitors can hop on and off where needs be. The driver must have passed me another 15 times that day and each time he would wave or stop for a chat.

Dursey-sheep-road-view
Dursey island on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

As I approached Dursey head, another farmer and his sheep dog were herding sheep down a track to an abandoned farmhouse. Like a well orchestrated dance, the sheep followed instruction and filed one by one into their pen outside the door. A farm hand stepped from inside the empty house and picked one of the sheep up by its horns and lifted it inside to be sheared. The buzzing of the shearing clippers whipped the sheep into a nervous frenzy, only made worse by the sight of their little friend being ejected into a separate pen when finished, looking a lot smaller without his wool. I left them behind and walked on towards the back of the island. Reaching Dursey Head, I sat for a while and surveyed the sea below. As luck would have it, a pod of about 20 dolphins put on an amazing acrobatic show as they slowly made their way round the end of the island.

James-and-cat
Dursey island on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

On the way back, I met James, a resident on the island. We chatted for a while by his house when I noticed a black cat approaching, with cobwebs all over her face. James immediately started talking to her and asking where she had been exploring before cleaning her face. He told me that she had been left behind on the island as a kitten and he started feeding her. James is a fisherman so I can guess why this cat stayed. To say he was mad about her was an understatement. Although an avid hunter in the surrounding fields, she also liked to wander the 4 kilometres down to the back of the island at night. When she wasn’t rambling along the road, she was travelling by car with James as they went about their daily business. Just then, James asked her if she wanted some fish and she meowed with delight. This cat might have been abandoned but she had certainly landed on her feet.

Linda
Dursey island on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

Back at the cable car, I met Linda at her coffee dock, another new addition to the island. In a little van at the roadside, she sells an array of hot drinks and chocolate to hungry walkers. Living on the mainland, she comes across each day from June to August to feed the visitors. We chatted for a while and then it was time to leave. I joined a queue for the cable car and was soon back on the mainland. If you want to get away from it all and stretch the legs at the same time, then Dursey is the place. Not only will you work those muscles, the beautiful scenery will recharge your soul.

Allihies-sunset_edited-1
Sunset over Dursey island and Bull island on the Beara peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork.

Bioblitz Weekend on Cape Clear island

I just love moths. So when I heard that the ‘moth man’ was opening the moth traps, I just had to be there. The man in question, Eamon O’ Donnell, was sitting at his box, removing egg cartons and carefully inspecting the overnight residents. Eamon was one of two moth men on Cape Clear that weekend; his brother Michael was recording moths in another section of the island. It had been a very wet night and the moths were fewer as expected. However, when Eamon lifted what appeared to be a twig from the box, the low quantity did not matter. It was a beautiful buff tip moth. The patterned wings and cylindrical shape camouflaged the moth to appear like piece of wood. I almost squashed the poor creature as I crouched in close with my camera. I tried my best not to sound like an absolute amateur, although my gasps of delight were a dead giveaway. If Eamon noticed, he didn’t show it and he was only too happy to show me his fresh captives.

Buff tip moth at the BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.
Buff tip moth at the BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.

It was the annual Bioblitz event, run by the National Biodiversity centre. Volunteer teams in different habitats around the country compete against each other over a 24 hour period to count as many species as they can find in that area. Originally, the national parks competed against one another to win the famed Bioblitz cup, then the forest parks and other habitats. This was the first year for the islands – Bere island, Cape Clear, Inishmore, Clare island and Tory island. Each island had a team of volunteers, each with their own specialities, walking the length and breadth of their island, to record everything they could find.

Hummingbird hawk moth at the BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.
Hummingbird hawk moth at the BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.

I was staying on Cape Clear that weekend. The hostel, run by Ann, sits in one of the most idyllic spots on the island, facing the South Harbour. When I rang her that morning, she told me to leave my bags in the car on the pier, with the broken windscreen wiper and she would bring them up to the hostel. On arrival, I spotted the wiper standing upright like an aerial, guiding me towards it. I left my bags in the boot and headed off. Soon I was climbing the cliff path above the South harbour. The ‘Gleann loop’, a stunning 7km walking trail, follows these cliffs round the headland towards the old signal station, before diverting inland on a path edged by an old stone wall down to the lighthouse road and then cross country over the old mass trail on the hill before exiting onto the incredibly steep road on the opposite side of the island, which brings you back down to the pier.

Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork
Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork

As I climbed, the clouds started closing in so I diverted my attention from the views to what lay underfoot. I slipped into the micro world of wild flowers and insects at my feet. When I finished taking pictures, I noticed a thick mist approaching the island. And with that came the rain and the realisation that I had left my raincoat at back on the mainland. I hastily made my way back down to the hostel where I bumped into Ann. She took one look at me and fished a spare raincoat out of a cupboard not before kindly offering to dry my clothes. She couldn’t have done more to help me, either that or she felt immense pity for the idiot out hill walking in shorts and a t-shirt.

Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.
Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

The rain lingered briefly the next morning but I knew it wouldn’t be long before the sun returned. As is often the case, it can be raining on the mainland but the sun is blasting out on Cape Clear. Rain or no rain, it was time to see some moths and birds in action. After Eamon released the moths from their slumber, the bird people set up at a table nearby. This was one of the highlights of the weekend. Birds caught in the nets were collected and brought individually to the table. Here Sam, the bird warden on the island, and his assistant for the weekend, Lorraine, examined each bird to determine their age and sex before weighing them. The final step was the ringing of the bird’s leg with a small weightless ring before it was released.

Reed warbler at the BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.
Reed warbler at the BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.

There was great excitement as a reed warbler was produced from the second bag. For once, it wasn’t just me gasping with delight. This beautiful bird comes here to breed after spending the winter in Africa. The session continued with a chiff chaff and a swallow. While all the data was recorded, each birds sat comfortably in the warmth of Lorraine’s hands. The data is important because it keeps tabs on bird populations and migration routes. Earlier that week, a sedge warbler that had been ringed previously in France, was discovered on Cape Clear. As proceedings drew to a close, a curious robin flew in and nabbed one of the released moths before flying off with his plunder.

Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.
Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

As predicted, the sun reappeared in full force. I attempted the ‘Gleann loop’ again. Up on the headland, I met Sandra, a Bioblitz volunteer sitting with a telescope and camera. An absolute wealth of knowledge when it came to whales, it wasn’t long before she was pointing out a Minke whale to me. This was my first time seeing a whale in Irish waters and it was such a beautiful sight. It was nearly impossible to tear myself away but I ploughed on and finished the walk. Back by the harbour later on, I bumped into Sandra again. She was on an absolute high after seeing a humpback whale breach off the headland. As she raced off to her next vantage point, I watched a basking shark idle his way across the South harbour. Just then, the kids from the Irish school strolled down to the water for a swim, stopping dead in their tracks when they saw ‘an shark san uisce’. The basking shark decided to avoid the clatter of noise and swam back across the bay. Deciding it was safe, the kids jumped in and cursed the cold water. After a few minutes, the basking shark re-emerged amid the mass of students. The screaming could be heard on the mainland as the kids scaled the jetty wall to leap out of the water. They had nothing to worry about though. It might be the second largest living fish, but the only thing this large beast is interested in eating, is plankton.

Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork
Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork

I joined a flower walk in the afternoon guided by island resident Geoff Oliver. While the walk was short, it was overflowing with a wealth of plant species. The island climate and untouched natural habitats in part, allow these beautiful wild flowers to thrive here. One rare specimen found on the trail was the yellow Centaury, a tiny specimen but high on the list of must see flora on the island. Joining us on the walk was Carrie, an expert on lizards. She showed me how to spot these tiny creatures as they bask in the sun on the hedgerows. Within no time, I was spotting them all along the roadside. Geoff guided us slowly along the south harbour, stopping every two steps because there was something new to look at. I do not have a good knowledge of flower names but after seeing so much on this walk, I have definitely been inspired to learn more.

BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.
BioBlitz 2016 on Cape Clear island in West Cork.

Cape Clear is 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and every part of it is brimming with wildlife. The volunteers had their work cut out covering every inch of the island. I called into the school where Colette O’ Flynn, an invasive species officer from the National Biodiversity centre, was manning the Bioblitz headquarters. This was where all the volunteers dropped in with their recordings which were added to the Cape Clear list. As results from the other islands started flooding in, Inishmore island was leaping ahead in the race. However Colette wasn’t worried as she had yet to add Cape’s flora species which would boost the ranking. As I left, Bere island, Cape’s closest neighbour, was catching up fast.

Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.
Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork in Ireland.

Many of the recorders had travelled from all over the country to participate. Rosalyn had cycled down from Cork city through heavy rain showers to catch the ferry across from Baltimore. She was an expert on wild flora. Breda, another volunteer, studies ecology and works for Deep Maps Cork, a project exploring the rich history of the West Cork coastline. The bird observatory, recently re-opened after a brief closure, was full to capacity with volunteers like Lorraine, Jim and Alan, whose knowledge on birds and flora were a joy to listen to. The observatory itself, owned by Birdwatch Ireland, offers accommodation for groups, families and individuals. With a resident bird warden on site, there are fantastic opportunities to learn more about birds and see their work in action, or simply take in the beautiful scenery of the island. As the Bioblitz finished at midday on Sunday morning, the final results revealed that Bere island had nabbed the top spot with 1178 species. Cape Clear came third with an impressive 870 species. The loss did not however put a dampener on the weekend as everyone involved had such a fantastic time. Not only is Cape Clear brimming with wildlife, it is a truly beautiful place.

Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork
Cape Clear island on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Best Beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way

I am often asked where the best beach in Ireland is? And my immediate answer is always ‘somewhere in the west’. No offence to the east or south coast, the beaches there are beautiful but here it is just different. From the vast strands to the small coves on the west coast, they all share the same common denominators; beauty, remoteness, a sense of wilderness, breathtaking nature and of course, the sheer power of the Atlantic crashing onto the shore.The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the most beautiful driving routes in the world and at over 2500 kms long, trying to choose just one beach from this beautiful coastal route is just too cruel. It would be like ‘Sophie’s Choice’. Instead I have come up with a list of my top ten beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way. In no particular order, here they are.

Horses on Inch beach
Backdrop of snowy mountains on the Ring of Kerry behind Inch beach on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route in Kerry in Ireland.

1.Inch beach in Kerry – Inch beach is stunning anytime of the year, but more so in Winter when the stark contrast of the mountains is easier to see on those cold crisp days compared with the hazy summer ones. I found a great vantage point up high and set up my tripod. I used a polariser and 0.6 ND grad filter to bring out the detail and texture of the mountains in the background.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM ; Focal length: 200.00 mm; Aperture: F8; Exposure time: 1/100 sec; ISO: 100

Slea-head-rainbow-5 copy
Rainbow over Coumeenole beach on the Slea head drive on the Dingle peninsula in Kerry in Ireland.

2. Coumeenole beach in Kerry – Coumeenole beach has long been a favourite for many people, on the Wild Atlantic Way. It was a movie location for “Ryan’s Daughter” back in the 60’s. National Geographic has described this area as one of the most beautiful places in the world. And the busloads of tourists who stand at this viewpoint agree, if their ‘oohs’ and ‘aahhs’ are anything to go by. This was a handheld shot. I just happened to have my polariser and 0.6 ND grad filter attached, which I lined up with horizon before grabbing a lucky shot.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Lens: EF 17 – 40mm f/4L USM; Focal length: 22.00 mm; Aperture: F8; Exposure time: 1/160 sec; ISO: 100

Sunrise on the beach on Achill island off the Mayo coastline in Ireland.
Sunrise on the beach on Achill island off the Mayo coastline in Ireland.

3.Tramore beach on Achill island – Tramore beach is expansive and the views are beautiful but then this Achill island and every inch of this island is stunning. This was taken at sunrise, looking back along the beach towards the Minaun cliffs. I used a tripod and polariser for this shot.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 40D; Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM; Focal length: 10.00 mm; Aperture: F8; Exposure time: 1/6 sec; ISO: 100

Beautiful-Barleycove copy
Barleycove beach on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route in West Cork in Ireland.

4.Barleycove beach in West Cork – Barleycove is possibly the most beautiful beach in West Cork. Just taking in this view in any weather is a joy for the soul. This was taken using a tripod, a polariser, a 0.6 ND grad filter and finally, a 10 stop Lee filter to smooth out the waves and create a small bit of movement in the clouds. I probably didn’t need it as there wasn’t enough movement in the water or the sky that day. Nevertheless I like the picture.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Lens: EF 17 – 40mm f/4L USM; Focal length: 32.00 mm; Aperture: F8; Exposure time: 8 sec; ISO: 100

Boyeeghter-bay_edited-1
Boyeeghter beach near Melmore head on the Rosguill peninsula in Donegal in Ireland.

5.Boyeeghter beach – This beach is a bit of a walk from the road and probably why it is a hidden gem. Known locally as the ‘Murder Hole’, due to it being a convenient location for an ‘accident’ to happen, not many people visit unless out walking. There is an old story about a man who had an affair and decided to get rid of his wife by throwing her off the cliffs here, to make way for his new woman, hence the name. For this shot, I used a tripod, polariser and a 0.6 ND grad filter.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Lens: EF 17 – 40mm f/4L USM; Focal length: 17.00 mm; Aperture: F8; Exposure time: 1/30 sec; ISO: 100

Tra na Rossan beach on the Rosguill peninsula in Donegal in Ireland.
Tra na Rossan beach on the Rosguill peninsula in Donegal in Ireland.

6.Tra na Rossan in Donegal – Tra na Rossan is just stunning. It is fast becoming a popular spot for photographing the Northern Lights too.This image was shot using a tripod, a polariser and a 0.6 ND grad filter.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Lens: EF 17 – 40mm f/4L USM; Focal length: 22.00 mm; Aperture: F8; Exposure time: 1/125 sec; ISO: 100

Dog's bay beach in Connemara region of Galway in Ireland.
Dog’s bay beach in Connemara region of Galway in Ireland.

7.Dogs bay in Galway – Dogs Bay is just unique.This beautiful white sand beach in Connemara, forms a perfect arc round the bay. And I swear the water is turquoise in any weather. The exposure time for this image was 1/125 sec so there was no need for a tripod.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 40D; Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM; Focal length: 10.00 mm; Aperture: F16; Exposure time: 1/125sec; ISO: 100

Silver strand in Mayo in Ireland.
Silver strand in Mayo in Ireland.

8.Silver strand in Mayo – Silver strand was once used as a location for a Guinness ad and you can see why. It has that old Ireland feeling about it and it’s a great location to watch the unbelievable force of the Atlantic.This beach sits under the backdrop of Mweelrea and has beautiful views of Galway across the bay. The entrance to Killary fjord begins around the corner on the left hand side.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 40D; Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM; Focal length: 10.00 mm; Aperture: F16; Exposure time: 1/15sec; ISO: 100

Cliffony beach in Sligo in Ireland.
Cliffoney beach in Sligo in Ireland.

9.Cliffoney beach in Sligo – There is a small walk to this beach but it is worth it. The two mile golden sand beach and immense sand dunes sit under the backdrop of the Dartry mountains in Sligo.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 40D; Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM; Focal length: 10.00 mm; Aperture: F16; Exposure time: 1/40sec; ISO: 100

Five finger strand in Donegal in Ireland.
Five finger strand in Donegal in Ireland.

10.Five finger strand in Donegal – This was one of those unusually hot days in Donegal and the weather was amazing. I waded into the water and set up the tripod to look back towards the beach. I adjusted the polariser on the lens to bring out the true colours and reduce the reflection.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 40D; Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM; Focal length: 10.00 mm; Aperture: F11; Exposure time: 1/125sec; ISO: 100

For Irish landscape photography, the Wild Atlantic Way is like the gift that keeps on giving. The light is so beautiful in the west and it is the reason so many photography workshops are held in this part of the country. These are only some of my favourites, where are yours?

 

 

Ballydehob Jazz Festival

“When I die, that’s the way I want to go!” It is the third time I have heard someone say this since I arrived in Ballydehob village today. Each time, the comment is made with resolute happiness; a notion that is not usually associated with death. But then these people are witnessing a funeral event unknown to Irish culture. It is the May weekend and the Ballydehob jazz festival is in full flow. As part of the celebrations, a New Orleans funeral parade passes through the village. A lone man, dressed in a colourful suit with a painted face, leads the march. Behind him, a brightly coloured coffin is carried up the main street by four men in black with painted skeleton faces, followed by a 20 piece brass band and a 10ft ‘widow’ puppet. The parade begins on a sombre musical note, as everyone hangs their head and marches slowly in step with the music. But once the procession reaches the gathered crowd, the music picks up a beat and they begin to dance. The surrounding crowd joins in and a sea of mobile phones hover in the air, like lighters at a Celine Dion gig, recording the whole event. The atmosphere is electric and in typical west Cork style, everyone is loving it.

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Ballydehob jazz festival on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route in West Cork in Ireland.

Ballydehob is a tiny village on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork. The population only hovers around the 300 mark. And yet it seems to have more festivals to enjoy than any other big town or city in Ireland. The jazz festival is a big one and it marks the start of the summer season down west. The funeral parade is a clever add on to this jazz festival, where artists and musicians rock out a memorable performance. No wonder, some of the visitors to this lively festival would like to reorganize their last wishes; this raucous send off would put a smile on anyone’s face. But then this is only one of the highlights of this weekend event.

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Ballydehob jazz festival on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route in West Cork in Ireland.

The festival began in 2007 and has grown to become a big national event on the Irish calendar. As its popularity continues, it draws big international names to its doorsteps. A large queue forms outside the town hall on the Saturday night and snakes round the corner towards the main street. Everyone is here to see ‘Lake Street Dive’, an amazing Boston band that has been doing the rounds on big US talk shows like Stephen Colbert and Conan. On the Sunday night, the festival ends on a crescendo with a moonshine shindig and the delectable tones of ‘Meschiya Lake and the Little Horns’. Other music acts like Bean and Irene, Nelson Lunding, the Underscore Orchestra, the East Coast Jazz Band, Sam Clague and Gary Baus, fill the pubs and cafés throughout the village over the weekend. Ballydehob might be small but it is long and the main hub of the action lies on the big bend in the centre of the village, where the pubs burst at their seams. The crowds spill out onto the street where they merge to form one large thronging mass, oblivious to the traffic trying to get through on this main route through West Cork.

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Ballydehob jazz festival on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route in West Cork in Ireland.

In the middle of this bustle sits Levis’s corner house,  a beautiful old pub. Walking through its doors is like stepping back in time. The bar and shop combination of old days prevails in memory here. A shop counter sits directly across from the bar and every old brand or ware still sits on display, reminding us of days gone by. Books, tinned soups, jams, washing powder, seashells, biscuits and photos fill the shelves; everything still in its original packaging. The shop counter itself serves as a staging area for the  various music acts to set up and play. This space works so well and is testament to the popularity of Levis’s as a popular music venue throughout the year, festival or no festival. Walking through the bar to the back room, is like accidentally wandering into someone’s house. An old living room area offers refuge to guests who need a seat or a catch up in a quiet corner. One large table provides the perfect space to meet new people or gossip with old friends. People wander in through the back door and pass through to the bar. It is like a house in the country where the door is always open. Levis’s corner house oozes with the true essence of West Cork. Everyone is welcome and you won’t want to leave.

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Ballydehob bridge on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route in West Cork in Ireland.

Ballydehob is worth a visit on any given day. Visiting is like the funeral parade in some sense. You might start off your visit weary from everyday life but you can be sure that you’ll be skipping to a different beat by the time you leave this beautiful village on the Wild Atlantic Way.

More images of West Cork can be seen on my website at: trishpunch.com

 

 

Top 10 Best Selling Photographs

I am often asked which of my images are my top selling prints. I sell these on my own website – trishpunch.com and also through Picture-Ireland, a website that sells Irish landscape photography. One or two island images stand out for me and after that, it is usually a mix of locations from around Ireland. However, when I was asked again the other day, I decided to sit down and write out my actual top ten list.

10. Inishkea beach

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Abandoned fishing village on Inishkea South island on the Wild Atlantic Way in Mayo in Ireland.

I had travelled to Mayo especially to visit Inishkea island. After booking into a B&B on the Belmullet peninsula the night before, my excitement turned to disappointment the next morning as I pulled back the curtains. Huge white waves rolled across the bay and the wind was blowing a gale. The forecast had been for sun and calm seas but then this was Ireland. I was almost relieved to find out the ferry was cancelled. I decided to stay another night in the hope that the wind would have died down by then. The following morning, the sun was splitting the stones as I stepped onto the boat. I could not have visited on a better day. As the boat pulled into the pier, this was the view that welcomed me. Inishkea island was abandoned in the 1930s, after ten of the island men drowned during a freak storm while out night fishing. Today the empty cottages have been engulfed by sand.

9. Clare island

Cliffs on Clare island on the Wild Atlantic Way in Mayo in Ireland.
Cliffs on Clare island on the Wild Atlantic Way in Mayo in Ireland.

After walking around all day, I finally reached the cliffs at the back of the island. The only other sign of life was a sheep on the grassy cliffs below. He struggled to walk under a mass of long matted wool. This sheep had obviously escaped a few shearing sessions by hiding out on the cliffs. The heavens were about to open above me so I pointed the camera towards Inishturk island across the bay and grabbed this slow exposure shot, before finishing my walk in heavy rain.

8. Cape Clear Castle

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Dun an Oir castle or Castle of gold on Cape Clear island in West Cork in Ireland.

Cape Clear castle or Dun an Oir castle sits on a sea stack just off the cliffs on the west end of the island. The path to the castle runs across rolling fields and farmland. I walked up there one summer evening and stayed well after sunset. By the time I packed up, it was almost dark. I bounded back across the fields in the faint afterglow of the sunset. After losing my tracks and hitting a few dead ends I eventually heard faint laughter nearby and figured I must be near the island pub. I ran straight across the last field and nearly jumped out of my skin when I thought I saw a shadow move in front of me. Thinking it was a bull, I accelerated towards the gate and flung myself over the top with such force that I toppled over onto the road on the other side. After dusting myself off, I turned around to find a bewildered calf looking back at me.

7. Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher, one of the discovery points on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route, in Clare in Ireland.

I wanted to create a different image instead of the usual view so I visited the cliffs at sunrise and framed a smaller section. At that time of the morning, there was no-one around and the colours and textures were at their best.

6. Derryclare lough

Derryclare lough in Connemara region of Galway in Ireland.
Derryclare lough in Connemara region of Galway in Ireland.

Last autumn, I finally ticked another location off my wish list. I was wandering through Connemara and stopped at a junction in the road. Left or right? It was one of those moments where I had to quickly choose the best location for the available light. I turned left. Every minute of the drive, I thought I had made the wrong decision. However, when I reached Derryclare lough, the reflections and light were perfect. I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough to set up my tripod. I managed a few shots before the light faded.

5. Upper lake in Glendalough

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Sunrise water reflections of the upper lake in Glendalough in Wicklow in Ireland.

It was my first time in Wicklow. I spent two days driving around while ticking beautiful locations off my list. On the final morning, I set off bleary eyed on a short drive to the upper lake in Glendalough after setting the alarm for sunrise. Although I had seen pictures of this location many times before, I was still blown away by it. While shooting this image, I met another photographer called Frank Corry. He takes a shot here at sunrise every morning and over time builds a timelapse sequence as part of a photo art project. You can follow his pictures on Twitter – @UpperLakePhoto

4. Hook Head Lighthouse

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Sunrise over Hook Head lighthouse in County Wexford

Hook Head lighthouse is a bit of a drive but it is worth it. I was there one beautiful June evening and was just finishing up at about 11.30pm when I decided that it might be best to hang around until morning, just in case the sunrise was nice. It was too late to find somewhere to stay. There were several camper vans nearby so I decided to sleep in the car before getting up again at 4am. I reasoned that I’d just be having a four hour nap. When the alarm rang later, I nearly wept with the tiredness until I looked out the window and saw a faint glow behind the lighthouse. That was enough to get the adrenaline pumping and any hint of fatigue disappeared as I jumped out of the car and set up this shot.

3. Cork City

Sunset over Cork city in Ireland.
Sunset over Cork city in Ireland.

I had wanted this image for ages. After finding the perfect spot in a housing estate high above the city. I attempted a shot several times one summer but it never worked out for me. The sunsets were always hazy and everything looked too soft. Then one winter evening a few months later, I chanced another visit when the air was crisp and the light was perfect. As a bonus, the sky glowed orange as the lights lit up the buildings.

2. Coumeenole Beach

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Rainbow over Coumeenole beach on the Slea head drive on the Dingle peninsula in Kerry in Ireland.

The clouds were heavy in the sky. Even so, I stepped out of the car with my camera in hand. I was distracted by a lone man sitting on the wall nearby, playing a tin whistle for passing tourists. He had copies of his CD for sale and we got chatting for a few minutes. I took a quick portrait shot of him before turning around and stopping in my tracks. I was so busy talking, I hadn’t noticed that the clouds had cleared and a bright rainbow shimmered in a beautiful arc over the bay. Normally I don’t take a shot without a tripod but there was no time to set up. I grabbed three handheld shots before the rainbow disappeared.

1. Gougane Barra

Gougane Barra lake and chapel in West Cork in Ireland.
Gougane Barra lake and chapel in West Cork in Ireland.

And finally, number one on my list of top selling prints is this image of Gougane BarraI had the place to myself one Autumn morning until a man pulled up in a car. He saw my tripod and walked over and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was taking a picture of the lake and the chapel. He looked puzzled. “Why?” he asked. I was stumped. Before I could answer, he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. Feeling like a mad woman loose with a camera, I continued shooting. A little while later, I noticed him walking over to the chapel so that he now was in my shot. I cursed him silently for a minute until I decided to use him in the picture. Waiting until he was mid stride, I hit the shutter and captured his reflection in the water. Little did he know, he had helped me create a shot that has since been used on the Bing search engine homepage. This image is available to buy on picture-ireland.com 

Every image has a story and I love what I do. However, I often forget to check in on the business side of things. So in an effort to keep on top of print sales, it is now time to do some new market research. I have devised a short survey about buying photographic prints and I would love to hear some of your feedback. It is a short 4 minute survey (and even shorter if you don’t buy prints) It does not matter whether you buy prints or not, I would just love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Just answering these questions will give me more insight into how I can provide a better service and better pictures.

Simply click on the following link and answer a few questions. I would really appreciate it.

Survey – Buying Photo Prints

And as a thank you, your entry will be placed in a draw to win a framed 14″x 11″ image of Gougane Barra. The winner will be notified by email shortly.