Belfast and North Down Photo Tour

Black taxi in Belfast, passing murals Black taxi in Belfast, passing murals

A recent photo tour booking took me to Belfast and Co. Down for a photo tour with Barbara from Maine.

Barbara had been to Dublin before and wanted to go somewhere different, having spent many vacations in the usual tourist spots like the Cliffs of Moher, Dingle and Galway she wanted to see a different part of Ireland.

I suggested Northern Ireland as an alternative when she first contacted me. I grew up in Northern Ireland and I still know it very well just like the rest of Ireland. She thought this was a good idea, on visits to Ireland in the seventies and eighties she would never have considered going across the border. ‘It was never a consideration’ she told me.

She still wanted an urban based photo tour so I suggested Belfast; I described it as a changed place from what she knows it as. Like any city there are places to avoid, but tourism has really gripped the city and the rest of Northern Ireland. Belfast has a real character of its own, Barbara thought it was a good plan and we decided to meet in the early afternoon.


We spent a bit of time photographing the murals, the city centre and the River Lagan. The main focus in Belfast was on street photography and the murals then we decided to do the second half of the photo tour along the north Co. Down coast east of Belfast.

This part of the day couldn’t have been more different, away from the urban grittiness of West Belfast we were now in leafy commuter towns, Holywood – pronounced the same as Hollywood, is a lovely small town sitting beside the shore of Belfast Lough but is not home to movie stars. It is the home of golfer Rory McIlroy, we didn’t see him though.

Holywood jetty on overcast day

Our location in Holywood was a pier jutting out into Belfast Lough that has become something of a hotspot for photographers. It was a perfect day for it, I had checked to make sure the tide would be out in the mid afternoon and sure enough it was. Checking tide times is important for the coastal photographer as the character of a location can change dramatically between high and low tide. The weather conditions were pretty good as well, except for a little rain coming in from the west, it was overcast and sea conditions were calm.

After a few angles on the pier and a brief moment of sunlight we headed on along the coast and photographed a few sections of rocky foreshore around sunset. There was no sign of the setting sun, but that didn’t matter as we were facing north east. Barbara wanted to spend some time practicing long exposures in a few locations and we got the lovely, subtle tones of an overcast coastal sky at dusk.

North Down coast of Northern Ireland on overcast day

Barbara had to head on and went back towards Belfast while I went on to scout out a few new locations around the Ards peninsula. I like the days when we have a mix of urban and rural photography and it goes to show the benefits of booking a one-to-one photo tour.

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