People often ask me about my favourite place in Ireland. It seems like a reasonable question to ask someone in my position.
The whole place is amazing and brimming with exquisite locations. It's like dropping a kid in a sweetshop and telling them they can choose one single sweetie.
But if I had to choose (you know, gun-to-my-head type of deal), I'd probably choose Dingle—a large spur of land on the coast of Co. Kerry. It has everything I personally desire in a landscape. Stark mountains that fall away steeply into the Atlantic Ocean. It is rugged and brutish, yet at the same time mesmerisingly beautiful. And the light... It's pure drama.
I've been going there since my university days. The parents of one of my student friends had a house there. A group of us would visit regularly. The place enchanted me even then, years before I would consider a career as a landscape photographer.
Dingle challenges and rewards
One of the reasons I keep going back is that Dingle doesn't give up all of its prizes easily. You have to work for some of them. The picture above (the cover shot of my book The Irish Light) took five years and endless attempts to get. And even then, I almost missed it.
I had been set up for ages in the evening, waiting for the sunset. But the clouds were heavy and thick. The waves, for once, were perfect. Big, rolling, thunderous walls of water. Just what I'd hoped for (and never been presented with) on so many previous visits. This time, though, it was the sun that wasn't playing ball.
So, I packed away my medium format gear (a Phase One 39-megapixel P45 back on an Arca Swiss camera, at the time) and was ready to go home. Suddenly, the cloud broke and the sky lit up.
"Oh," I said to myself, with cool composure, "how marvellous. I shall serenely extract my Canon 5D2 from its bag and take a photograph in the most calm and collected of fashions."*
1. The Irish landscape is a tease. It will wait until you have your back turned before it reveals its true glory.
2. Never turn you back on the Irish landscape.
Maybe you'd like to visit this remarkable place yourself? I can help. A couple of spots have opened up on a 10-day workshop I'm running in Ireland from 27th August to 5th September, 2017. Join us? Click here: Ireland 2017.
*May not be a completely accurate reflection of my state of mind at the time.