Togs & Tales

Helen Mulvey

Helen Mulvey

Landscape Photographer

Hi everyone. I’m Helen and I’m based in the North Dublin/Meath region.  Over the last few years I have been experimenting with many different forms of photography…but I keep coming back to landscape and seascape photography.

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

For the life of me I can’t remember why or how I got started in photography. I’ve also liked photographs but when I first became interested in the more technical aspects of it I especially liked the creative effects of depth of field and when I realised I couldn’t, or had very little control of, the depth of field on my little old point-and-shoot camera I eventually bought a DSLR – a Nikon D40 with the 18-55mm kit lens and things went from there. It took a while to get the confidence and courage to start trying landscapes and I did plenty of workshops where there would be tutors to help. But now, landscape photography is something that I try to do at least once a week.

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

I have a couple of stories…both related to travel.
I’ve always loved travelling so when the Dublin Photography School (DPS) started photography holidays I signed up! The first photography holiday I went on was a three-day trip to Iceland. A thoroughly enjoyable trip that ended with chasing the Northern Lights on our last night. It was (mostly) unsuccessful – I did get one photo with a slither of the Northern Lights – but the abiding memory I have of that trip is being in the middle Iceland late at night, freezing cold, snow on the ground, no light pollution (apart from the full moon!) and all our tripods were lined up along the side of the road ready and waiting for the lights to appear. It was a fantastic experience.
My second story is again from a trip with DPS but to Morocco this time. On our second night we were staying in a riad in the Atlas Mountains. We were on the roof of the riad trying to capture some star trails when someone pointed out that the Milky Way was right above us. Bucket list item ticked. I didn’t get the best shot of it, it was my first time to see it, and it was the first time I was using my Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark III camera, but what an experience! 
Trips like that are ones that I don’t think I’d have taken if it wasn’t for photography. 

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

I’ve been very lucky in terms of not having lost any equipment or broken any bones (yet). Other than forgetting memory cards or batteries not being charged (the rage!) I can’t think of any disasters (touch wood). I once did drop my filter holder into the Adriatic Sea and that meant a quick removal of shoes and socks and rolling up the jeans to jump in to retrieve it. Luckily, I was able to grab it before it got swept away.

Sunrise or Sunset & Why?

SUNRISE! Always sunrise. There’s something special about watching the world wake up when most other people aren’t even awake. From a photography perspective, compositions can be easier to obtain without so many people around! It’s always worth getting up early for it even if the weather doesn’t play ball and/or you don’t get the shot – you’ll always learn something!

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

I’m from Dublin so for me Dublin city and locations around North County Dublin (particularly the coastline) are my favourite locations. The Poolbeg Chimneys are one of my favourite things to photograph (not very original I know) but I think they are majestic and there’s always a different shot to be taken.

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

That’s a hard question…..I think I’d have to say a photograph I took on the promenade in Clontarf of the Poolbeg Chimneys and the Wooden Bridge in front of them. In the background you can see the Sugar Loaf and Ticknock. I got this image printed and sent it to my cousin as a housewarming gift – she used to live in the Clontarf area – the photo is now hanging on the wall in her house.

What equipment / Setup are you currently using?

I switched to an Olympus mirrorless camera – Olympus OM-D E-M10 – about two and a half years ago. I use various Olympus lenses – wide, zoom and Macro. I use a Manfrotto tripod and Format Hi-Tech filter system.

Top Tip for anyone starting out?

Do a beginners course to get the basics of how to use the camera and the relationship between f/number, ISO, shutter speed, exposure but then…..get out and take photos and don’t be afraid to make “mistakes”. 
Change the settings on the camera while you’re in-the-field and notice what effect it has on exposure etc. Back at home, look at the images and try figure out what it is you like or dislike. If there are things you’d like to improve, think about what changes to the camera settings would help achieve it. But the biggest advice I’d give is to go out and take photos and make ‘mistakes’ so you can learn from them.

Best Advise you’ve personally been given?

I think the best advice I was given was just what I said above – go out and practice. 

Who is your biggest inspiration as a Landscape Photographer.

There are so many fantastic photographers out there who provide inspiration, but I’d have to say Eimhear Collins inspired me to attempt my first seascapes. In more recent times I’ve really enjoyed Peter Gordon’s work too.

Who is your favourite Irish photographer at the moment ?

Oh, nooooo. There are so many fantastic photographers out there I can’t pick one. I’m going to plead the 5th on this one.

Where can we find you?

© All images are copyrighted to Photographer Helen Mulvey
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