John Barclay is a freelance nature photographer from Bucks County, PA, who recently returned from co-leading two 10-day photography tours in Southwest Ireland. "This was my first opportunity to really spend much time in Ireland, and I fell in love. The green colors were as lush as I’d imagined, and we were blessed with some amazing skies to complement the dramatic landscapes.
"I photograph to feed my soul, and Ireland was really a feast. All the people we met were genuine, friendly, and polite. Everywhere we went we were greeted by smiling faces, eager to introduce us to their beautiful country. These were tours, not workshops, meaning I had an opportunity to do some personal shooting along with helping the group.
"The terrain in Southwest Ireland is both rugged and majestic -- both inviting and intimidating at the same time. And of course, the Irish weather can be a challenge as it changes rapidly. Needless to say, I am looking forward to a return trip in the near future. The country is blessed with a variety of attractions from inland lakes and ancient mountains to rugged coastal cliffs to hidden coves and glens. There's history to be seen and photographed everywhere!
"Like the scene in the top photo above of the remnants of the Minard Castle just outside of the charming town of Dingle. But time was always a challenge, We only had a few moments to shoot this scene from the coastal road before traveling on. Both groups were always ready to stop and begin shooting quickly.
"For these next two images of the wonderful clouds in Ballylickey and on the Dingle Peninsula, my LB Warming Polarizer helped make the clouds “pop” against a darker blue sky. This filter is pretty much on my lens at all times when doing landscape photography. By using a tripod, I’m not concerned about my shutter speed and I can always take a look through the viewfinder to see what effects my filter is having.
"In between our two tours, we decided to go up to Northern Ireland to find a place we had heard about called the Dark Hedges. We had seen photographs of this magical spot but could not include it in our tours as it was a good 6 hours away. When we arrived, the twisted beach trees were a sight to behold! It had just rained, and the light was about as good as we could have hoped for. Once again, the LB Warming Polarizer was employed to cut the glare on the wet road and damp foliage. The result was subtle and just what was needed.
"After shooting the Dark Hedges, we wandered a bit and came upon a traditional thatched roof home with red trim around a window with a flower box! We almost drove off the road when we saw it. We quickly turned around and asked permission to make some photographs. I wanted to remove the glare on the window to make it as black as I could. This created more contrast for the flowers to sit on. To cut the glare on the window, I used -- yup, you guessed it -- the LB Warming Polarizer yet again.
'When the second group arrived and we were off again to capture the countryside, it was wonderful to go back to the same areas. I was more relaxed and able to focus on different compositions and light. I was also starting to connect with the land, its people and history. I was letting the images come to me rather than force them.
"On one of our days in Killarney, it was overcast with a slight drizzle. Perfect for waterfalls! We headed over to Torc waterfall which was nestled into a lush green hillside. Once again, the LB Warming Polarizer was the right choice to reduce the glare on the wet rocks and leaves. Cutting this glare can be a big help with getting maximum color saturation, especially in scenes such as this one.
"On our last day, we went to Gougan Barra to photograph a quaint church on the lake. After shooting the church we migrated to the far end of the lake where there were some rushes in the water, perfect for doing some 'swipes.' Even though it was overcast, I still made use of the polarizer which again cut the glare on the foliage and water.
"For the rushes, I was more interested in achieving a shutter speed that was appropriate for 'swipes.' This time leaving the polarizer on allowed me to get the 1/5-second shutter speed I like to use for the swipe technique. Swipes are created by moving your camera as you trigger the shutter but that's a topic for another blog post!
"For the final image below, we stopped along the cliffs on one of the drives along the Dingle Peninsula. As we looked down, I was taken by the color of the water crashing onto the jagged rocks. I knew I wanted a long exposure to capture some water movement, which would add to the drama. My LB Warming Polarizer helped me get to about a 1/2-second which was not enough. I pulled out my Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo and played with a number of combinations finally settling on a second and a half, giving me just the amount of water movement I was looking for. I like the Vari-N-Duo as it allows me the ability to vary the shutter speed with one filter and add polarization at the same time. In this case the polarizer did a great job dealing with the glare on the wet rocks."
In addition to leading his workshops and tours, John's images can be seen in ads and articles in a variety of publications. For more information and images, you can find John online.
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