Togs & Tales

Trish Punch

Trish Punch

Landscape Photographer

I grew up in the countryside, not far from Cork city. As a self-confessed nature nerd, I always had a love for the outdoors. I did seriously consider doing a biology course in college but somehow, through invariable twists and turns, ended up studying languages and living in Germany for three years. I’d love to say that I was fluent in German but I had mostly worked in an Irish pub while living there. After further trips abroad, I eventually settled back home in Cork where my limited language skills led to some interesting jobs. Before long, I was drawn back to nature, a path which thankfully steered me towards photography. I have been running my own photography business for the past few years, however, in recent times, I now operate part time while also working as an eye-screener for the national diabetic retinopathy screening programme.

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

As a kid, I carried an old camera everywhere with me. I should have guessed then that photography was going to play a huge part in my life but it took a few years before the penny actually dropped. That happened while living in Germany, when I bought a Nikon film SLR to photograph the beautiful woodland parks in my area. I cannot remember the model and I wish I still had it. The photography bug truly kicked in when I returned home to Ireland. After a few stops and starts, I eventually got a job in a photo lab and all my time off was spent exploring the back roads of Ireland. After a few years, I decided to take time out and travel. I started out in South America before heading to Australia, where I bought my first digital camera. I travelled onto New Zealand where I drove over 12,000 kms in 6 weeks, exploring every road. After Ireland, New Zealand is my favourite country for landscape photography. Over the following four months, I wandered around South East Asia, the last few weeks of which were spent exploring the mountain highlands of north Vietnam by motorbike with a local guide. Back in Ireland, I submitted a portfolio of images to the Lonely Planet and was accepted as a contributing photographer. This opened the door to other opportunities and allowed me to focus more on my photography.

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

For me, the best adventures always involve remote locations. I love exploring the islands along the west coast and I have camped on several of them at this point, but the one that stands out, is Inishkea South off the coast of Mayo. The island was abandoned in the 1930’s when the islanders were relocated to the mainland. The old village still sits on the shore facing the mainland and it is possibly one of the most beautiful settings in Ireland. In 2019, I visited the island and set up camp inside an old cottage ruin on the far side of the beach. The interior was open to the elements and grass had taken root. I spent the afternoon exploring and picking out possible shots. There were still a few day trippers on the island but one by one, they finally left and returned to the mainland. For the next few hours, I was like a child in a sweet shop, running around taking pictures in the beautiful low evening light. Before I turned in for the night, I sat and watched the last light fade over the mountains on the mainland. Next morning, I was up at first light to photograph the old abandoned village. After a while, a boat pulled in at the pier and several men jumped out with sheep dogs. Some unloaded barricades and set them up on the pier while the others whistled for the dogs to run ahead into the fields. I walked over and spoke with one of the men, who explained that they were going to shear the sheep and bring some of the ewes back to the mainland. After asking their permission to photograph the proceedings, I perched myself at a safe distance so as to not to disturb them and watched as the dogs raced around the fields and herded the sheep down towards the beach and the pier. It was one of those special moments and one I would not have witnessed, had I not stayed on the island. I wrote a blog about this trip and you can read the entire story here at: Read Here ›

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

I arrived late one night to Achill island. It was a beautiful summer’s night and with only a few hours until I had to be up again for my planned sunrise shoot, I decided to sleep in my car on location. Four hours later, my alarm rattled me awake while still dark and I grabbed my gear and headed down onto the beach. The conditions were perfect although the wind had picked up. I set up my tripod and spent the next hour shooting in beautiful light. I was about to pack up when a sudden gust of wind knocked my tripod over. The camera lens hit the only rock in my surrounding radius and cracked clean in half. I think I just stared at the ground in shock for a few minutes before picking everything up. Oddly enough my camera was fine as the lens had taken the full brunt. Thankfully it was a second-hand lens that had given me a few years of images. If the camera had broken, there may have been tears.

Sunrise or Sunset & Why?

For me, it’s sunrise. I love being alone with nature, as darkness turns to light. I also prefer sunrise because most people are still sleeping and I usually have a location all to myself.

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

Once I’m near the mountains and sea on the west coast, I’m happy but my absolute favourite locations are the islands. I love the unspoilt landscapes, nature and peace and quiet. And not having my car with me, allows me to work at a slower pace.

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

I think it’s an image I captured of the cliffs on Tory island at sunrise. I hadn’t really researched the location and there was a fair amount of guesswork involved and a soggy trek through some fields. But it was just one of those moments, where the conditions were perfect and I was able to compose the image within minutes of arriving, just as the light popped.

What equipment / Setup are you currently using?

I am currently using a Canon 5D Mark II with three lenses, the Canon 17- 40 mm, 24-105mm and the 100-400mm, with a Benro tripod. I also use a Canon 100mm macro lens for some creative downtime photography, capturing images of wildflowers. My latest addition is a Mavic Pro II which I use mostly for video.

Top Tip for anyone starting out?

Take the camera out as often as possible and practice, practice, practice. The best way to learn, is from your mistakes and you will always learn more from a bad shoot than a good shoot.

Best Advise you’ve personally been given?

Always have your camera with you. The best light can happen at any time and you need to be ready to capture it.

Who is your biggest inspiration as a Photographer.

The first time I saw an image by Peter Dombrovskis, it stopped me in my tracks. It was a foggy image of a lone Myrtle tree in old rainforest in Tasmania. It was so beautiful, that I couldn’t stop staring at it. His entire portfolio of work is equally impressive. Peter was an Australian photographer, based in Tasmania, who composed beautiful images of wild landscapes, focusing on light and texture in nature. Sadly, he died in 1996 during an expedition in the wilderness region of South West Tasmania.

Who is your favourite Irish photographer at the moment?

This is a difficult one. I don’t have an absolute favourite but I am going to cheat and break it down into categories, It’s Tina Claffey for macro, Carsten Krieger for nature and Peter Cox for landscape.

Where can we find you?

You can usually find me chasing the light long the west coast, if not there then try:
© All images are copyrighted to Photographer Trish Punch
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