Embrace the low winter sun!
by Sean O' Riordan
I am strongly considering retiring my camera come May and not picking it up again until September…
Ok that is probably a lie however I do know that the majority of shooting I will do in summer will be for Astrophotography, even though you have months where astronomical twilight lasts the entire night. Summer photography is tough in Ireland. The sun rises at 5am. The midges are rampant. Soft light turns harsh in the blink of an eye. The scenic areas are a lot busier, more traffic on the roads etc etc
Yes these do sound like complaints however I am simply trying to paint a picture of summer photography in Ireland. Winter however, oh that is a different story altogether. I love shooting in winter/spring. The sun stays low in the sky, it rises later and sets earlier. You can literally shoot from sunrise to sunset in Ireland from the months of October to February/March and still have time to go spend with family and friends.
Moody skies and low winter sun at the Cliffs of Moher (January 2022)
What I really enjoy about winter photography is being able to produce portfolio images, in the middle of the day! We talk so much about the golden hour in landscape photography and for very good reason, however, in winter you can get some cracking shots in broad daylight. The sun casts long shadows, skies can be moodier and overall its just enjoyable being able to shoot for hours on end.
A lone tree being shot in the middle of the day. Long shadows paint the landscape (November 2022)
Another benefit of winter photography? Those fantastic Irish days of sunshine and showers! These are some of my favourite conditions to shoot in. Dramatic skies, rainbows, thunder clouds. These conditions can all be witnessed in the winter months, particularly on the coast. Not to mention the winter storms, where huge swells come in from the Atlantic and photographers flock to the west of Ireland to try capture some of the action. As does yours truly!
Atlantic Chaos (January 2022)
The Skelligs, shot from St Finian’s Bay. (January 2022)
Connemara rain shower meets the sun (October 2021)
Here’s a little tip for shooting rainbows: they always form opposite the sun. So keep the sun to your back, wait for that rain shower and watch the rainbows appear.
Another plus about shooting in winter, it gets dark quick. Why is this a good thing? Well if you are someone who also likes to photograph the night skies then you won’t have to wait too long after sunset to get back out there again. Take a look at the two images below. The first one was a sunset shot taken around 17:20pm in Doolin. The second shot is a night image taken in the Burren at around 19:50pm. So a little over two hours between the images. That is an ideal window to make your way to the next location, get some fuel, grab a bite to eat and not be in any rush. It’s bliss!
The Swell and the light combined just made this image (January 2022)
I love capturing the stars above the Burren. It’s an incredible landscape (January 2022)
So, will I refuse to take out the camera this summer? Of course not. I love photography and if I have a photograph in mind for a certain location or composition that I know will work in summer, I’ll do everything I can to capture it. But I do hope you realise the benefits of shooting in Winter, just wrap up and embrace the elements!
Thanks for reading.
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© All images are copyrighted to Photographer Sean O’ Riordan