Togs & Tales

Diana Gibney

Diana Gibney

Landscape Photographer

Hi everyone, I’m Diana, 33 year old from Dublin. I have timidly started photography as a hobby to stimulate my creativity and keep busy during quarantine, but fell in love with the camera straight away. I am happiest in the countryside, away from the busy, dusty and noisy modern world.

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

Becoming a Photographer was the most unexpected, yet the most natural thing for me to do.
I’ve always been drawn to anything that meant ART in general. I grew up creating things…from modifying my own clothes after buying them, to oil painting and drawing, to writing poems, to repainting and redecorating my house at least once a year, I always expressed my emotions through things that I made… I considered Interior Design for a while until I realised art is not necessarily just what you MAKE but also what you SEE.

I absolutely love travelling and discovering new hidden gems that aren’t necessarily on the tourist maps. I’m in love with the Irish Culture and Heritage – ancient sites, ruins, abbeys, castles to name a few… Having the opportunity to explore and frame a little piece of Ireland into each shot gives me great satisfaction, it’s like telling the world a story about a place the way I understand it and want it to be told.

I came across Photography Academy of Ireland one day and without second thoughts I signed up for a BA Honours Degree in photography. When my Student Card came in the mail and seen the assignments that were due, I realised how serious it was and what I’ve got myself into. I panicked believing I was set to fail and in my head I already gave up before even starting. I had no camera gear and no knowledge…just “the eye for it” .
At the start I thought I will most likely do fashion photography, beauty shots , editorials and the likes …it was more “me”…But here I am in my hiking boots and rain overalls, climbing hills and walking through bogs for the most authentic Irish scenery.
First camera I bought was a DLSR – Canon 250D, paired with a Canon EF 16-35 mm and a Canon EF 70-200mm lens. I knew nothing about cameras or lenses at the time but looking back, it wasn’t such a bad setup to begin with.
About 3 months later, I had the opportunity to meet and go out shooting with some insanely talented photographers in Dublin. Like all the “cool kids” in Dublin. They were all there. And there I was, standing with my 250D and a bad tripod,pushing my 70-200 mm to its very max, listening to them talking about what at the time sounded fancy to me . Stuff like “bracketing” and “panning” or “time lapse” were all big words I knew nothing about.
I then started to have a better understanding about different techniques, cameras and setups. It didn’t take long and fully switched to Mirrorless.

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

I haven’t been a photographer for that long to be able to go on amazing trips and adventures and gather awesome stories, but here’s one that comes to mind .

Not sure if this is classed as a “Landscape Adventure”, i’d say it was more of a human kindness lesson. A few months back I decided to bite the bullet and drive all the way from Dublin up to Co. Mayo to shoot the sunset at Downpatrick Head. Since I wanted to make the most of my road trip, I started the journey early in the morning driving and shooting through Connemara and little towns in Co. Galway, making my way up towards Co. Mayo. Finally got to a little village called Ballyglass where I rented a small cottage on a farm for the night. I briefly met the owners, I explained this was going to be a quick check in and no tour of the house was needed as I was already exhausted and in a rush to get to Downpatrick Head before sunset, after all this was the main purpose of my journey.

The trip was a little bit over one and a half hours, through the most beautiful scenery specific to Co. Mayo. The views at Dun Briste were breathtaking, almost as breathtaking as the wind that nearly blew me off the edge of the cliffs a few times. Half besotted by the views, half chasing the sheep on the cliffs to get a decent shot, I lost track of time and just like that- it was pitch black outside. Took me just under two hours to get back to the farm in the dark on narrow country roads – the types with grass in the middle, not a single soul on sight for the whole drive, hungry, cold and tired, asking myself why on earth am I doing this by choice?! (Damn, I could’ve picked Interior Design instead …)

I did not expect much from the stone cottage, after all, it was just a place to put the head down before starting a long day of driving across Ireland again. So when I got in and seen they had the fireplace on for me, the place was warm and cozy, plenty of coal and wood left over, and there were snacks and wine in the fridge, and a couple of bits for next day’s breakfast I was over the moon.

I know it’s probably silly, but it really made my day.

Shots at Dun Briste turned out well too.

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

Could be the day I drove two hours up North to shoot the Haulbowline Lighthouse only to get there and realise I was after forgetting my gear at home, followed by being caught in a storm on the way back… Or could be the day I was washed off by a huge wave at Hook Lighthouse…

I’ll tell you about Hook …
It was my first time shooting there and the trip was organised together with other two photographers as part of a day trip around Wexford and finishing off in Wicklow later on that day.

We got there nice and early, around 4 am, just in time for sunrise. Our styles were quite different and I think we just wanted to shoot from different angles so I went for a low angle, on the lowest rock there was, loving the waves crashing into the cliffs in the foreground of my shots. As it was getting windier, the waves were getting bigger, my shots were getting better.

Completely drawn by what my camera could capture I forgot to check whats happening around me and a huge wave came out of nowhere and soaked me head to toe just seconds before I was able to grab my tripod and lift it up to save my camera.
I ended up selling that shot, so not the worst experience after all….

Sunrise or Sunset & Why?

Although I was never a morning person, I definitely prefer Sunrise! The light is so much better, the wind calmer and best thing: less people around. I selfishly take a step back from my camera to appreciate the moment and the scenery around, knowing that I’m one of the lucky few to witness it.

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

I haven’t been to all the locations I would love to photograph and I’m sure my answer could change in a few weeks time. But so far, from all the places I visited- Gaugane Barra. Such a picturesque location. No matter the season, time of the day or weather, this place is truly magical and always stunning to photograph. One of the most peaceful places in Ireland, full of history and positive energy.

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

This is a question that I don’t particularly like answering to, and I think there are a lot of photographers in the same boat.

I don’t like any of my own work, I am the first one to see its flaws, I am my worst critic.

Its hard to chose a single image as “the favourite” but the images i enjoyed capturing the most were the Carton Lakehouse in Maynooth and the Lake Reflection in Gaugane Barra, Co. Cork.

Are they my best work? Definitely not. But there I felt at peace the most and still feel the same way every time I’m looking at them.

What equipment / Setup are you currently using?

I keep it nice and simple.

Top Tip for anyone starting out?

It could be quite overwhelming at the start. But don’t give up.
Practice.Practice.Practice. Know your gear inside out and what you can achieve with it. Take some time to learn composition and don’t rush into shooting unless you’re 100% happy with what’s on your camera screen. Take less photos.
Invest in a good Editing Software.

Best Advise you’ve personally been given?

Don’t be afraid to fail. (And failed I did… So many times)

Who is your favourite Irish photographer at the moment?

There are so many amazing photographers that I follow and inspire me… to keep the list as short as possible I could just name a few :

Paul Byrne – give this man something as little as a grain of sand and I guarantee you he’ll come up with a fantastic composition. His Fine Art and Minimalist Photography is out of this world.

I love Reuben Fields’ style, from composition to colour tones- Everything about his work is pure perfection.

Ricardo Rea – one of the most talented and soundest photographers I know… He has a ton of knowledge and a unique, dreamy vibe in his edits that inspired me even from the beginning of my photography journey.

© All images are copyrighted to Photographer Diana Gibney
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