Let me tell you about one of the great pitfalls of landscape photography: Thinking you have the shot. Here's a story from Dunmore Head, Co. Kerry. I'm as easily seduced by a successful photograph as the next guy. That moment when the image comes up on the back of the camera and I know I nailed it. Fist pump. I rock—yet again. But you never really have THE shot. All you ever have, regardless of how good it is, is A shot. The landscape is a more complex than can be captured in a single image. You might think you have the optimal vantage point, but do you really?
The Blasket Islands are the westernmost island group in Ireland. Seen here from Dunmore Head, the westernmost point of the Irish mainland, they are laid out on the horizon under the setting sun. The Great Blasket is the largest, with Inishvickallaun and Inisnabro to its left, and the Sleeping Giant, or an Fear Marbh (the Dead Man in Irish) is to the right next to the sun.
The photograph you see above is one of my favourite spots when photographing on Dunmore Head in Co. Kerry. It's a balanced composition and the lines work so your eye is drawn to the Blasket Islands on the horizon. On a recent photo trip, I was standing here again... and I wondered. I had been looking at an aerial image that I had taken here before and a question popped into my head. What if I climbed down the rock face towards the sea? I suggested to the group that we venture down. They said, no thanks, we're good. They were happy to watch me try, though. So off I went. I'm not as spry as I used to be... That's a lie. I was never spry. The climb down was what I'd call 'work'. Not dangerous as such, but let's just say I got a good workout. (Almost as good as the workout on the way back up.) And when I got down there? You guessed it: totally worth it. A whole new vista opened itself up for me. A new perspective on a favourite location. And that's when I fell into another great pitfall of landscape photography: Not bringing a proper camera with you. Still, this picture taken on my phone shows the promise of this new vantage point: Dunmore Head panoramic