Panoramic Ireland's Review of 2014
It's the 1st of January 2015 and 2014 has just finished and what a year it was!
I have wanted to do a review of the year article for a number of years now and just never quite got around to it.
Of course this is a review of the year in my images, not a general news review!
Just like this year, 2014 started off with some stormy conditions, time to wrap up warm and keep the driven rain at bay. Still, a good time for a bracing walk.
Here, the views across Dublin Bay with high winds bringing plenty of waves as the city begins to light up for the evening. It's like the "Bay of a Thousand Waves".
And some of those who braved the elements.
Next, all that rainfall brought some serious flooding around the country. Here one of my favourite locations in the west of Ireland is flooded. This part of Ireland saw 30 wet days in the month and some weather stations recorded up to 80% more rainfall than would be expected for January based on a long term average.
Of course there is always a little snow in January despite it being a warm and wet month, particularly the tips of the mountains that gives a great addition to the lovely winter colour of the Irish landscape. Even with rain every day of the month, more rain than usual there are still landscapes like these to be photographed with ease all over Ireland. Patience is the photographer's friend after all.
There's nothing quite like the sunsets on Ireland's west coast, here the sun sets behind low hills, the golden light reflected on the still wet sand. Footprints head through the scene, all to be removed when the Atlantic comes back this far later.
Of course, all that rain has to go somewhere. The rivers carrying precipitation off the mountains in the west of Ireland often have waterfalls and small cascades to entice the photographer to stay a little longer. Here, ferns and mosses, fallen branches and tumbling water combine to create a scene worthy of many exposures.
In this image, the waterfall is not as high but the width and the barren winter look of the trees adds to the feeling of being somewhere special. January may be cold, wet and windy but it is still a great time to take a photography experience in Ireland with Panoramic Ireland.
Another little dusting of snow coats the ground in the colourful winter landscape of the Irish mountains. Two trees, braving the elements for many years await warmer conditions and the longer days of spring before putting on a show of green.
And a quick visit to the city centre of Dublin rounds off the month of January 2014. Here the Samuel Beckett Bridge reflected in the River Liffey as the pink clouds pass overhead. Designed to resemble a harp, the national symbol of Ireland, the bridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava who has previously designed one of Dublin's other bridges.
The month of Saint Valentine, whose remains are to be found in Dublin, February is the shortest month of the year but it packs a lot into those four weeks.
I started February off with street photography in and around the city streets of Dublin. Here a scene from Temple Bar taken during a photography workshop, one of the most well known of Dublin's neighbourhoods attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. It is also home to some of the most overpriced drinks in Dublin. Still those cobbled streets and colourful buildings make for some great street photography.
A cold winter's walk along the Liffey is worth it for the colour in the late evening sky.
For those of you following my work over the past year, February was the month that I wrote an article for the great website Untapped Cities that dealt with street art and graffiti in Dublin and how businesses, the city authorities and artists are working together to improve the visual appeal of the urban fabric. That article is here.
As a travelling photographer my next photography workshops were running in the west of Ireland where I had a spare evening to myself under the stars in County Galway. This was my first self-portrait or selfie in a number of years as the full moon and its corona battled in the sky with the orange glow of the bright city lights.
And a someone-elsie as I photograph the night sky. The hat isn't a usual feature!
And the starring image? Here it is, a multi-row panorama of the moonlit landscape, a nightscape.
February is also the month when Irish landscapes look like this. The valley is bright and colourful, the mountain tops dusted with snow and the sky, as characterful with thick clouds as without. A rainbow and the small patch of green fields in contrast to the boggy swathes of land carpeting the valley floor and ridges add more than a sense of scale and drama to this scene. A real western panorama.
Interestingly this was taken on the 12th of February when Storm Darwin hit Ireland, bringing strong winds of up to 160km/h in Shannon. The southwest of Ireland was badly affected with many trees down. I was in Galway and Mayo and decided to head out to look for some interesting scenes. At first this is what I was greeted with - a beautiful scene with some great weather conditions, it was raining, hence the rainbow, but there was only a little wind.
Driving towards the Atlantic coast brought more indications that the winds were strong. Arriving at this rural exposed location, I could see the large waves coming straight off the ocean, hitting rocks and the air was thick with sea spray. My camera was soaked as soon as it was taken from its case, having to be cleaned before being returned to safety until another combination of waves presented an interesting scene. It was hard to stand up, I have no idea how strong the winds actually were at this location, strong and fast would be a good guess.
Returning inland, listening to news reports of thousands of homes without power, roads closed due to falling trees and damaged buildings I couldn't help but think that Connemara was in the most part not too bad. There weren't any difficult stretches of road with trees and branches down, the blustery gusts of wind and heavy rain were the most dangerous part of my travels but not much more than in normal bad weather.
So much so I stopped at the well known Pine Island in Connemara on my return journey to photograph the island, snow-capped mountains and partially clear skies in this long exposure night landscape before heading on home after what was a long day on the road.
Not as much snow but blue skies in the Wicklow mountains, a wild open landscape set close to Dublin with ever changing light.
And some fine winter light in Glendalough.
February 2014 was the wettest on record in some parts of Ireland, with County Carlow receiving over three times the expected amount. All that rain has to go somewhere, and the green fringed rivers of the Irish countryside cope with that task well. Thankfully for the photographer these places provide some of the best landscape locations during the year. Here water flows over rocks and swirls under a moss covered riparian tree.
Next, a major roadtrip around the Antrim Coast - the part of Ireland that I grew up in. A commission took me around the coast to work on a piece about the association that Antrim has with Game of Thrones, the major HBO TV series for The Culture Trip, a great UK website. The article is here.
The spectacular North Antrim Coast is made up of an abundance of interesting features, from the Giant's Causeway to castles perched above the sea. Here a river cascades over basaltic rocks before meeting the sea, each incoming wave trying to reach further up the stepped rocks.
Sheep Island is situated just off the coast of Ballintoy in County Antrim. The clear winter light illuminates the side of the island, a favourite childhood haunt of mine. Panoramic Ireland run Coastal Landscape Photography Workshops in Ireland, the next is in February 2015 and places are limited. For more information click here.
No visit to the north of Ireland would be complete without a visit to the extremely popular Carrick-a-rede and its ropebridge. The little island is connected to the mainland by a traditional bridge suspended above the waters of the Atlantic Ocean with Rathlin Island in the background and while it is not used in Game of Thrones, the landscapes surrounding this place will be familiar to fans of the show.
Fans of Game of Thrones will recognise the location of this temple overlooking the strand on the north coast. Everyone else will of course know it as Mussenden Temple, a beautiful building situated not too far from Coleraine.
After a few hours shooting from the strand and at the temple itself, the weather closed in and I was treated to a succession of rainbows and double rainbows.
Staying on the coast, it's a perennial favourite location. This time on the Irish Sea coast, north of Dublin. The Irish Trader is a shipwreck on sands surrounded by the sea twice a day as the tide advances, and it has been battered into this new twisted shape by the recent storms. Much changed from its previously more shiplike appearance. You can see the previous visits that I made to it here. Although time has taken its toll on this unfortunate cargo vessel, it still has a special presence about it.
And just if you thought that February was all about grey skies and moodly woodlands, here is Ardmore cathedral and round tower in Ireland's southest on a wonderful blue sky day. County Waterford is a beautiful region of Ireland with a lot of interest, not least the architecture of times past.
County Cork was my next port of call on a short roadtrip to lead another photography experience in the southwest of Ireland. Cobh is an interesting town, the last port of call for the ill-fated ship Titanic in 1912, most of the maritime industriousness that once employed a great number of people in this port town has ceased. Yet it retains a pleasant feel, the inhabitants are some of the friendliest that I have ever met and Saint Colman's Cathedral, pictured here with its night lighting, provides, along with other buildings, much of interest to the photographer.
And a good finish to the week with a pint of Guinness in Cobh's The Roaring Donkey pub.
So finishes February, March will follow in a short time so do check back soon or sign up to receive the newsletter on the homepage here.
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