Ireland Travel: 5 Photography Tips for Your Trip

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When it comes to visiting Ireland, you need to prepare yourself for quite a bit of time in the car, especially if you want to see most of the country and squeeze in as many "must see" spots as possible. With that being said, when you finally arrive at the breathtakingly beautiful spots, your first impulse will probably be to take out your camera and start taking photographs.

Jen Tilley with Camera

This is part four in a six-part series on travel to Ireland. Check out the first four posts on recommendations for planning your trip, must-see sites, how to pack, and driving tips and watch outs. Then, stay tuned for next week's post, the last in our series, on fabulous food finds.

5 Ireland Photography Tips

During your trip to Ireland, be sure to get the most out of your trip and your camera with these five tips that will help you capture all of the beauty and essence of the country.

1. Stop at the Pull Off Spots

If you're the driver, you will be so focused on staying in your lane (especially since the steering wheel is on the right side of the car) and minding the speed limit that you fly right past some of the most spectacular pull off spots on the road. But what about the amazing landscape and scenery that you pass on your way to the "must see" spots?

The roads of Ireland may be narrow and filled with sheep, but the roads are also photographer-friendly. There are tons of spots along the roadways that allow you to pull off to the side of the road, squeeze in a break from being in the car, take in the scenery, and snap a few photographs. That's where your co-pilots need to step in and guide you. Make sure that the passengers in your car not only help guide you to the "must see" spots but also let you know where to pull off on the side of the road to stretch your legs and take in some of the most incredible views.

For example, the photo below was taken on the second day of our trip. We were only 30 minutes into the drive when we turned to the left and saw the most incredible view. We asked our driver, Jill Greenlaw, to turn the car around and stop at the pull off so that we could take a few photographs. When we got to the spot, I found this scarf that just so happened to be draped on the fence. I think this was one of my favorite photography experiences and finds.


2. Take Extra Photos

The last thing you want to have happen is to snap a photo, leave the location, upload your photos when you get home, and find out that your photo didn't come out the way you had hoped (e.g. blurry, crooked, too bright, too dark, etc.). When you decide what you want to take a photo of, be sure to snap a couple extra photos of that object or scenery so that you can guarantee happiness when you look at the photo on your computer.

For example, I'm extremely picky when it comes to horizontal and vertical lines in my photos. Whenever I take photos of lines, I always need to take a couple extra photos of the object so that I can make sure that I have a photo where the lines are straight and in line with the edges of the photo.


3. Use the Weather to Your Advantage

Let's face it, the weather in Ireland is predictable: rainy, overcast, windy, and cold. If you try and wait for the perfect warm light for photos, you'll be waiting a long time. Instead of hoping for the perfect light, make the most out of your situation. Letting what you can’t control dictate attitudes of what you can control is a sure setup for failure. While not every day will be sunny, there’s beauty in the mood of fog, rain, and snow. Be sure to capture that beauty.

For example, we visited the Cliffs of Moher on one of the best days of weather we had during our trip. Unfortunately, the light was extremely harsh and the fog was starting to roll in just as we were arriving. Instead of putting my camera away out of frustration, I embraced the majestic beauty that the sun was displaying on the cliffs.


4. Escape the Postcard

My biggest photography advice, whether you are visiting Ireland or the park in your backyard, is to escape the postcard. What does that mean? Don't always take the photos that you see all over the place. It's fine to take a few "postcard" photos but don't always rely on those shots. Look at your surroundings and find elements that make the scenery or destination unique. Ask yourself, "What makes this spot so beautiful? What helps to tell the story about this landscape? What makes this spot so unique and different?" This is my favorite way to challenge my photographic eye.

For example, while in Ireland, I noticed that a lot of my photographs were of fences with the landscape behind the object. In general, I love to show the beauty of places by showing rustic elements in my surroundings. I also love that objects such as fences are a natural way to create a border around landscape.


5. Stick with One Lens

When packing for the trip, I decided to pack only one lens: my nifty fifty. Shocking, right? I couldn't believe it either. In the end, I'm so happy that I made that decision. Having that one lens on hand at all times made me Pick your favorite lens and stick with it. Extra gear can hold you back due to the extra bulk and weight. Also, changing gear all the time might make you miss a magical moment. Keeping it simple forces our brains to think creatively and smarter.

For example, I'm so happy that I packed wellies on this trip or else I might not have captured the below photo. Since I had my nifty fifty, I had to back up so far away from the archway that I found myself standing in a massive puddle. With my camera strap wrapped around my neck and held tightly in my hands, I was able to capture this roadway in Killarney National Park. Throughout the entire trip, my one lens was challenging me which I completely embraced. I always love a good challenge, especially when the accomplishment is so rewarding.

Jen in Puddle


What are your favorite travel photography tips?

Note: The two photos of me were taken by Jyl Johnson Pattee. Thanks, Jyl!

_DSC0021Jen Tilley has an insatiable appetite for all things related to baking and cooking. She is the author, photographer and recipe developer on How To: Simplify, a blog that shares tips, tricks and recipes to simplify life in the kitchen. She enjoys sharing recipes that require very few ingredients and only a small amount of prep and cook time, all of which make time spent in the kitchen simple and enjoyable.

You can find her online at JenTilley.comHow To: Simplify@HowToSimplify, and Jen Tilley Photography.

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