Panoramic Photography of The Mournes at Sunset

Written by
Panoramic Image of The Mournes in Northern Ireland Panoramic Image of The Mournes in Northern Ireland Panoramic Ireland | Irish Photography Experiences

A Panorama of the Mourne Mountains at Sunset

A panorama is defined as an unbroken view of the whole region surrounding the observer. It is also a term used to refer to an image with a wide aspect ratio, in other words, an image with a ratio of more than 2:1 - twice as wide as it is high.

A spherical panorama is also known as a 360-degree panorama and an example can be seen here of a 360-degree panorama of Trinity College's Long Room Library in Dublin.

I often create panoramas and find the wider aspect very pleasing and it also solves some problems when subject matter is too wide for even a wide lens to comfortably take in.

On this evening I was headed to 'Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea'.


I hadn't visited this part of the Co. Down coast for quite a while but found myself heading this way, for a coastal sunset one evening. Having just finished up shortly before sunset at Tollymore Forest Park, I thought this would make a good viewpoint over the Mournes.

Having parked the car, I headed through the dunes with the sun setting quite quickly behind me, it's a good five minute walk to the strand, this is a big sand dune system at Murlough.

The wind was racing in off the Irish Sea and the tide was out, a good combination but there was thick cloud cover particularly to the south of me where the 'Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea' the line from the famous song by Percy French.

After taking a few images and walking quite some distance to find a good viewpoint, the golden rays of setting sunlight emerged from under the thick cloud but without using my widest lens, I couldn't get the rich colours from the western sky into the same shot as the cloud draped mountains, which since they were not illuminated by the sun's rays had a blue/grey colour to them.

At this point I decided to take a few images to combine into one image in Adobe Photoshop later. Getting the exposure balanced was a little tricky, because the sky to the west above the sand dunes was much brighter than the Mournes. The reflections in the water on the beach were also somewhat problematic.

I didn't bracket the images because I was sure that the exposure was fine. The main problems were the wind shaking the camera during the long exposures, and it was a strong wind; the soft sandy surface that the tripod was sat on - wet sand; and finding some foreground interest for the image - in this case the water slowly draining off the flat beach. Of course the thick cloud enveloping Northern Ireland's highest mountain at 850m, Slieve Donard meant that I was finished up for the evening and after taking a few more images looking away from the mountains I headed back along the beach as the light was fading.

On the way back to the car I stopped for a little while and listened to the sound of nothing from deep inside the dunes taking this image while I was there.

murlough dunes long exposure panoramic ireland-4441

Some processing in Photoshop gave me this image, some perspective correction was needed but it really didn't take too long to create the panorama.

There will be a step by step on how to create a panorama soon, this is a subject I cover on our photography courses from setting up the image right through to preparing for print or web.

Darren McLoughlin

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

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

Leave a comment

Contact Us
1000 characters left
Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.