Rocky, Irish Shorelines
On this trip, I brought along 25mm and 18mm primes. The thinking was that I'd leave my camera in its case until I came to a scene worthy of a frame. Maybe I was swinging for the fences or maybe I wanted to enjoy the trip and not worry about photography until it was time to worry about photography.
In the Aran Islands, off the coast of Ireland, is a rocky place called Inis Meain. We had one night there. After arriving, I ventured out onto a coastal cliff where the Synge Chair is perched. It was one of those places that afforded a beautiful view but lacked the elements of a good photograph. We made dinner reservations and I estimated that I'd have about one and a half hours of light after eating to get my picture. The dinner host helped me figure out how to take a path to the North end of the island. I followed the shore West toward the cliff I had visited. I was willing to dodge the surf as I hopped the boulders along the shore but I was not going anywhere near the maze of stone walls that residents stacked to corral livestock and preserve top soil. As the sun set, I didn't have much time to consider compositions. I had an 18mm lens, six-stop ND filter, and a travel tripod. I quickly took interest in little pools on the rocks. The still water was a neat fore element to contrast with the waves spraying the boulders beyond. In person, the seaweed was offensive to sight and smell. In the images, it creates a necessary depth of color and texture.
I was satisfied with the above images; justified in the equipment that I chose to bring. Without another photo for the rest of the trip, I would be happy. We left Ireland for Switzerland and the focus became hiking and eating exceptional food. Photography was less of a concern. From Switzerland we went to Northern Ireland and experienced a shift in the weather. It was warm and the skies were mostly clear. The only chance at a great image was golden or blue hour and getting to a shore was going to be a bit of a drive from where we were staying. Sunset was after 10:00 pm but I had to give an honest effort to capturing the Giant's Causeway. My first attempts included the setting sun but with minimal clouds, the scene was wrecked by steep contrast. Down the coast, was a pool of seaweed. After I descended a granite wall, the tide gave me just enough room to work. The pool in the foreground was sheltered from the sun by the cliff above. The sky offered enough ambiant light to mitigate contrast. The water in the middle of the image didn't offer much life to the scene but the warm cliffs and patterned clouds compensated. Again the seaweed was gross in person but interesting as a subject. The salty rim of the puddle is one of my favorite details.
Our final coastline was White Rock Beach of Northern Ireland. The clouds were back so a mid-morning image was simple enough. It was bright so I needed to shoot at ISO 50 with the only ND filter that I brought to get the shutter speed down to one second. There was enough movement in the water to make it work. I went down to the end of the beach to get away from the crowds and to set up where the rocks met the ocean. My camera and I were pummeled by the waves. I cleaned my lens as best as possible between attempts and managed to get an image. With an ultra wide lens, it would not be possible to make a good photo from any further away.