Northern Ireland is stunning for photography and Ive just got back from Belfast with work where they sent me for 3 weeks, the only problem with visiting another country whilst working is you have to work!!! bahh!
I decided to take my camera anyway because in the 3 weeks that I would be there I knew the potential for a few days off and sure enough I got 3 days off in total and I decided to visit a few places and admire the beautiful countryside.
My first port of call was Giants Causeway in County Antrim and as I was staying in Belfast it was just within an hours drive. Sunrise was at 5.15am so it was an early night and an early rise to get there.
I have been to Giants Causeway once before but well over 20 years ago when I was in my teens and to be honest I didn’t walk on the stunning 40,000 interlocking basalt columns I merely admired them from the overlooking vantage point high up behind where I took this shot below from.
I arrived in good time and the tide was out, but it was starting to come in and I wasn’t sure how fast it would come in so I made sure I walked carefully over the rocks as they were very slippy underfoot with only my trainers on!
I checked prior to arriving the direction of sunrise and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get it in on the shots so I was hoping for some nice sidelight which was also doubtful once I arrived as there was another large cliff face obscuring the sunrise.
This shot was actually taken just prior to sunrise, some people refer to this time as the “Blue Hour” which is usually 20-30 minutes prior to sunrise and can produce some amazing and stunning photography.
You can also catch the “Blue Hour” 20-30 minutes after sunset as well. I like to refer to it as “Darn Early” or some more common terms would be “Twilight, Dawn or Dusk” which ever way you look at it its only a small time frame each day to capture a scene so make the most of it!
The Dark Hedges
This lane is 20 minutes south of Giants Causeway so its probably wise to incorporate both on one visit like I did, its a quite country lane near Ballymoney and I guess its easy to drive by as its not a main road but a lane.
The lovely tree formation of beech dates back over 200 years and is now under management of The Dark Hedges Preservation Trust more can be read on the visit Ballymoney website
I packed light for this visit but I wish I had a telephoto with me as the majority of the overlapping trees can be shot from a distance, but seen as I only had my Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 with me I was limited. This shot is a crop taken at 70mm and I really would have loved to concentrate further into the scene, but it is what it is! A stunning location.
I last visited this stretch of beach some 20 years ago as a teenager and recall the stunning views of the Mourne Mountains back then when I wasn’t into photography, so with another day off work and roughly the same distance from Belfast as the Giants Causeway I decided to give Tyrella Beach another visit to admire the stunning scenery.
I arrived on Tyrella Beach as the tide was out and there were people flying kites, horses galloping though the sea and children running around playing on the beach. It was just as I recalled it!
I decided to walk towards the Mourne Mountains a mile or so and try to find some foreground interest for a shot I had in my mind all this time.
At first I was struggling to move over the ground with just my trainers on but I headed back and forth and eventually followed the high ground around until eventually I came to a small outcrop of small rocks and some shallow water feature with the sea water forming an S like shape in the sand.
I initially took the shot above but wasn’t to happy with the composition so I settled on a more tighter crop and moved about 3 meters over to the left to take advantage of the sweeping S like shape of the water as a leading line..
I had also purchased a new filter called the Lee Little Stopper which is a 6 ND (neutral density) filter, its for long exposures it will basically let you slow the scene down in front of you in the daylight, so for example shooting in the day an aperture of F/16 with a shutter speed of 1/8sec becomes an eight second exposure, which is what the shot below was, eight seconds to slow the cloud movements and make the sea water smoother and less rough looking.
I really like the Lee Little Stopper, I actually prefer it to the Lee Big Stopper which is a 10 ND filter because with the 6ND filter you can still compose your shot without having to remove the filter system all together.
Early days yet but as I use it more I will probably write a little article.
I thoroughly enjoyed Northern Ireland, my 3 days of and the weather was good to me, unlike right at this very moment whilst I write this short blog.
My only weekend of in 6 weeks and it hasn’t stopped raining for the last 48 hours. I guess it gives me time to write this page, backup my images and clean my office.