Togs & Tales

David Loughman

David Loughman

Landscape Photographer

Hi everybody, my name is Dave and I’m from Tullamore, County Offaly. I work in the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore and in my spare time I take photos. Unlike a lot of people who get into landscape photography I wasn’t all that interested in hiking. I’m more the type of person who would prefer to sit and watch the ocean rather than get into it or enjoy the view of the mountains rather than marching across them. Now ‘society’ might call me lazy and society is right but I’m writing this so we’ll just say that I enjoy a good scene.

What was your path to becoming a Landscape Photographer & What was your first camera?

I’ve always enjoyed creating images and when I was younger I would spend hours sketching. My interest waned as I got older however as I didn’t have the time or the desire to sit for hours sketching (once spent 10 hours drawing a car engine). Then I bought a smartphone. I was immediately hooked on taking snapshots when going on trips and editing them on the phone. My wife noticed a 6 week DSLR photography course that was due to begin in Athlone and suggested I sign up. I didn’t have a DSLR, never even held one but I went anyway and took notes for a week. After that I bought a Canon 1000D second hand on Done Deal. We covered a bit of portraiture and lighting on the course but I wasn’t really interested in that. I was more interested in jumping in the car and driving to Clonmacnoise at golden hour to try and get this thing called a sunstar that some guy on youtube told me about. Or looking up how to do long exposures. I messed around for a few months after that making all the mistakes beginners make and had more questions than answers. Then I noticed this video of a guy on facebook giving a quick photography lesson in a field in Kildare. His name was Bernard Geraghty and it turned out that he did landscape photography workshops and tours aswell. I signed up for a few and built from there by setting myself a challenge to go out and practice at least once a week. I’ve always been more interested in landscape photography. It’s time in my own head away from stresses like work. There’s a real craft to it and I can get lost in it the same way I did sketching pictures years ago.

What was your favourite Landscape Adventure Story since becoming a Photographer?

I’m not actually sure. There’s certainly a couple of moments that I think really helped push me on with photography. The first moment was my first photgraphy tour. It was a tour around Kerry for a few days with Bernard. There were a few photographers on the tour that were much more advanced than me and I learned so much from just listening to them and watching how they worked. How to manually focus properly, using different aspect ratios, working out the best exposure times, blending multiple images, composition. The best education though was just watching how an experienced photographer works. The planning that goes into choosing a location and why. And always having a plan B. That tour sparked easily the biggest jump in the quality of my own photography personally. I’m no Marc Adamus but now I was confident enough to get going on my own little trips and be able to research things properly like the weather, position of the sun, tide times etc. All that seems elementary now but when you don’t know it – it’s daunting.

The next moment would be when I first put what i’d learned on that tour into practice. The shots I had taken on the tour were easily the best landscape shots I had taken so I set myself a target for the year that I was going to start getting shots of equal quality on my own by doing my own research and planning. The plan was set. Derryclare Lough in Galway. Give work the two fingers for the day- check, know the expected weather- check, location dialled into google maps- check, backup locations in case I get no reflections- check, set alarm for 4.30am, christ almighty 4.30am? OK so- check. And off I went. I didn’t get any great sunrise but I did get the reflections in the lake I was hoping for and even though I’ve given it a bit of a re-edit since it’s still one of my favourite shots I’ve taken and now sits framed on the wall at home.

What was your worst in-the-field experience as a landscape Photographer?

Easy, Dun Briste sea stack. Drove 3 hours up and walked away with nothing. I’m not even that sure how I managed it. That shot basically takes itself. For some reason I decided to only take long exposures. With no foreground and a flat grey sky. The result looked terrible. And I kept taking the same shot over and over. Why? I don’t know. I think I left the brain in Offaly.
Oh and I once turned up to a long exposure photography workshop with one battery and three camera straps. The best 30 minutes shooting ever.

Sunrise or Sunset & Why?

Sunrise. There’s something magic about it especially with frost or fog. Plus you have the whole place to yourself. I should really get up for more of them but I like bed too much.

Where is your favourite Location in Ireland to Photograph & Why?

Wicklow. I think that there are more jaw dropping locations around Ireland like Donegal or Kerry but Wicklow is just such a nice place to be. It’s just over an hour from home and even without a camera I’d be perfectly happy just driving around the county looking at it. During Autumn I’ll probably take a day off work and take a trip, head to Cloughleagh, across the Sally Gap to Lough Tay, Ballinastoe woods, maybe the Devils Glen, definitely that hidden waterfall, and finally Glendalough. That sounds like a lot, I’ll take two days off work just to be sure.

What is your favourite photograph, that you’ve taken to date, & Why?

I don’t have a particular favourite. It would probably be one that I remember went to plan. I have a sunrise shot from Warrenpoint I’m pretty pleased with. Got up during the middle of the night. Drove 2 hours to Warrenpoint praying that sunrise would be good and it was better than good. It feels like a reward for effort every time I look at that shot. And it’s a good memory of a great days shooting with Keith Arkins and Chris Trainor. Other than that I recently took a shot in Shannonbridge that I’m very happy with because I had it planned out in my head before I travelled. Where the sun would set, where I would set up the camera, my camera settings etc and it worked out pretty much exactly how I wanted. The payoff for forward planning in Landscape photography can be huge (Just as long as a rogue cloud doesn’t come and spoil everything).

What equipment / Setup are you currently using?

I’ve 2 cameras currently (this is good, I used to have 5)
My main camera is the Canon EOS R along with a 16-35 F4, 24-105 F4 and Tamron 70-300.
Other than that I seem to be forever on the search for a good small pocketable camera. I’m currently using a Canon M6. Just for days out with the kids when I’m not going to drag a full camera kit around with me. I also have a Mavic Air drone.
I never usually say what gear I’ve used on instagram. I suppose it doesn’t really matter to me that much. The shots on my feed are from a variety of cameras, anything from cheap compact cameras to micro four thirds to full frame mirrorless and if you can’t tell which is which well….

Top Tip for anyone starting out?

Invest in workshops. Workshops will advance your photography faster than new gear ever will. Book a day, book a tour, take what you’ve learned and go shooting yourself and put what you’ve learned into practice. Don’t hang up the camera for 6 months afterwards. Don’t be afraid of failure. Missed sunset because you forgot your SD card? chalk that one up as a scouting mission. Messed up your settings? Thats a scouting mission. Got lost? No you didn’t, you were scouting.
Oh, I almost forgot. Buy a good solid tripod.

Best Advise you’ve personally been given?

‘Enjoy the scene you’re in’. I had a terrible habit of trying to do too much when I was out. I’d run over and back looking for new angles, try to hit a million locations on each trip. It felt like a job and I realised I was only remembering locations from what I had on the back of the camera. Take time to sit back for a while and enjoy the view. It’s the reason you’re there in the first place. You’ll end up with better shots aswell. Take your time and take 1 really good shot rather than 250 OK shots.

Who is your favourite Irish photographer at the moment?

I suppose since I started out the photographers I looked at and thought ‘wow I want to be that good some day’ would be Johnny Baird and Rohan Reilly. I’ve a long way to go yet.

What I would say though is that the standard of amateur photography in Ireland is unbelievably high. I can’t actually think of another field where the quality of amateur work reaches such a level. And everybody I’ve been lucky enough to meet or interact with online have been lovely. We have a really great community of people enjoying photography in Ireland and I hope it stays that way.

Where can we find you?

© All images are copyrighted to Photographer David Loughman
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