Early morning, just before sunrise at Blackpool diving tower, Salthill

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Salthill Swimming Pier, Galway Salthill Swimming Pier, Galway ©Panoramic Ireland

Galway Bay, from Salthill at Sunrise - Long exposure photography

I had reason to be in Galway early this morning. With the shortening of the days my arrival before 06:30 meant that I was just in time to get the pre-sunrise light known as the blue hour. On this occasion I wanted to go to Salthill, to the Blackrock diving tower located just off the Promenade. It juts out into Galway Bay looking towards the mountains of Co. Clare on the other side.

The blue hour is that period just before the sun rises above the horizon when the sky and everything in general appears to be blue. It's beautiful, even if you aren't a photographer just to get up and head to the coast, or to a mountain where you have a good panoramic view of your surroundings. Try it sometime!

There is also a blue hour after sunset every evening, although I believe that the morning is undoubtedly the best - in the summer there is usually no one up and about that early, in the winter it is often very chilly and that makes you feel more motivated.

The blue hour is followed by the golden hour, after the sun rises. Neither really lasts for an hour, it's really a phrase to denote a length of time - it depends on your latitude and the time of year.

For the photographer, the low light at this time of day requires a tripod and a long exposure.

As I arrived in Salthill, a popular seaside tourist destination, it was just getting light, a few swimmers climbed up out of the freezing cold water and headed back to the changing rooms, there was a decent swell every so often but the tide appeared to be going out.

As usual there were a few angles on this place that I thought would work. From straight on looking at the structure and its steps to the top of the diving tower, which always looks good against fast moving clouds. I really wanted to get more action into the picture.

As I set up, the three swimmers left to go to about their business with towels wrapped under their arms, chatting and laughing as they hurriedly walked off through the newly arrived drops of rain. Getting wet for a second time before 07:00 in November wasn't something they were too interested in.

At that moment, four crows arrived in flying formation and took up perching sites on the top railings of the platform. It was a bit spooky, as they watched me and I watched them, the morning after Hallowe'en. Actually it wasn't spooky at all, but they were a fine addition to this image.

It wasn't long until the tide had gone out that little bit further and I felt confident enough to get to the water's edge. And it wasn't long until some of the water moved its edge a little closer to the top of my legs! I only took one from this viewpoint before deciding that it would be wiser to reach higher ground. With each exposure being over 30 seconds in length it wouldn't be long for another big wave to arrive. 

Blackpool diving tower, Salthill seen from a low viewpoint.

Instead I went for a panoramic image of the pier jutting out into Galway Bay just before I too had to head on but I will no doubt be back here soon with Panoramic Ireland's new Galway photography workshops. Find out more here.

Blackpool diving tower panorama, Salthill Co. Galway

Darren McLoughlin

Irishman and International travel photographer in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Echtra Echtra and Eonmusic

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about travel in Ireland or about photography in Ireland.


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