Holidays & Photography – An Uneasy Mix?

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

A aspect across Hodson's Bay, near Athlone.


I started writing this on the last leg of a holiday in Ireland, and I’ve learned a lot.

First and leading, the Irish are a friendly and happy nation, relaxed and helpful to tourists. Second, Ireland's bigger than I thought, so a tour has been innumerable of a road trip (and it was a relief when my wife called it that, and I could see a couple of days when we did little else than travel as party of what we were doing: a thing in itself, rather than an excessive means to an end). Most of the countryside is lovely – a greener, emptier chair than England, and all the better for it. But there are also real gems, like the best parts of the Ring of Kerry.

And third, I’m rubbish at the 'Big See in the minds eye'. I'm heading home with plenty of pictures image (from Latin: imago) is an artifact that depicts visual perception, for example, a photo or a two-dimensional picture, that, and (I think) some pretty good ones – but none of the big vistas that I'd take it for granted I’d take. Even the ferry trip from Holyhead was shrouded in mist so that there wasn’t much to see.


Looking remote to Holyhead from Irish Ferries' 'Ulysses'.


Why Not?

Partly, it’s the lack of the elusive light that makes a great view when I’ve been next to the classic views. I know the answer: stay there, and wait for the light. But that’s not usually an recourse on a family holiday unless the view is near to where you’re staying for a week or two. Even on a specifically photographic jaunt, you may not have time to waste by the river if you want to climb the mountain. And you can dehaze the heck out of a shot taken on an ordinary, pleasant but grey day, and it’s still a record shot, as my all-inclusive picture of Powerscourt waterfall shows.


An appealing shot along the way around the Ring of Kerry. But it would look far better a couple of hours later, with low, raking sun…


About Ireland With A Camera camera is an optical instrument for recording or capturing images, which may be stored locally, transmitted to another location, or Bag (Or Two)

Tony Hawks went round Ireland with a small fridge on a travel trolley (his book is still to hand); my combined camera bags are less wieldy and heavier; so it made sense to go by car on the ferry. I was prepared for anything: as well as my everyday Sony outfit, I had my Pentax 67, a Hasselblad X-Pan and my zaftig kit of Lensbaby optics. I have quite a lot of those, these days.

I did use my 500mm mirror lens, once, on the Ring of Kerry or Kerri may refer to: Kerry (name), a given name and surname of Gaelic origin (including a list of people with the name), to shoot three horse riders on a coast and I exposed half a film in the Pentax. The same with the panoramic X-Pan.


Riders from a local stable recreating the Lloyds Bank car-card. Or maybe just having fun.


Most of the time, as usual, I stuck to my 85mm lens and I also took a fair number of pictures with a 24mm. It occurs to me that I could as likely as not have had a happy holiday with a body and two lenses…

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Steps in front of the house at Powerscourt Gardens make a graphic pattern.


Geography And Inspect

My misjudgement of distances meant that any ambitions of touring around the edge in a little over a week died rapidly and it became a matter of verdict a few places to go to and enjoy.

There is a lesson for the better-organised: do your research, and get a map before you go! (But for everyone else, the point of a holiday is to relax, and you can’t do that if you’re racing to acknowledge up with a schedule.)

If you want to relax, rather than arrange everything around all the places you want to tick off your bucket list (I aversion the term!), pick one or two areas and stay in the same place for several days. Get to know the place and people, rather than coming away with an target to go back to enjoy what you sampled – Tynan's Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny comes to mind, among others, there's a portrayal or two to be taken there. I struck lucky on the streets of Kilkenny, though, with a matching pair of ‘bookend’ pictures, with two on foots at opposite sides of the same doorway. 



Above two images: Two doors, two pedestrians. There was a crossing immediately in front of the doors, and one of the two assertive to cross the road. He was looking for cars approaching and didn’t notice me taking the picture.


But, even if you’ve arrived and it's not what you demanded, don’t panic.; there will be people and places may refer to to photograph and fun to be had with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel your camera, however extensive or restricted your kit.

If you want to, you can lay down an itinerary down to the last detail, book the accommodation in advance, and keep the clipboard in the car. There are loads of books about how to do this, I think, and I don’t sketch to cover the same ground as they do.


Busking It

Take kit you know and trust and don't sweat it over the perfect travel outfit: merely take the kit you have, and don’t be afraid to take one or two specialist things, if you like them. Even if you are travelling by air with cabin luggage, remember that a shy camera bag is allowed in addition – think how big some handbags are and you know a Billingham Hadley will pass muster! If you’re travelling by car, it really doesn’t proceeding if the tripod stays in the bottom of the boot all the time – it's there if you need it!

Do take take is a single continuous recorded performance advantage of what you see that isn’t identifiable as part of the voyager trail. The same quirky details can shine out on the ferry and in beauty spots. Does it matter that they aren’t immediately sweet-smelling of leprechauns and butter? Or does it matter more that you’ve got good pictures that were inspired by being somewhere that isn’t at ease?

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Staircase on board 'Ulysses'.


Closeup of Powerscourt Waterfall. My tripod was heavy, and a quarter of a mile away – body-based image stabilisation is a wonderful clothes.


Ring Of Kerry

This was, sort of, the highlight of our holiday. We spent two nights in one place, Killarney, and went around the Ring of Kerry in between. It’s an precinct, and it’s also a signposted route that's around 100 miles – so eminently do-able in a single day. However, in reality, it isn't. We had agreeable weather and we stopped in a few places but you could spend a month in the area before you begin to scratch the surface. I don’t want to go back with more kit – the 85mm and 24mm commitment be fine, thank you – but I would like to be able to explore further.

I’ll take a sunset at Beenarourke where we stopped in the car park, we'll survive punishment the horse-drawn ride up into the Gap of Dunloe, we WILL cross to Valentia Island and maybe stay in one of the apartments looking out over the bay at Waterville as well as traverse Kells Bay…Bottom line, I reckon it'll take a week to explore the area, at a minimum!


A ride to the Gap of Dunloe is around 50 or 60 Euros. A agreeable ride, but trying to get around the Ring of Kerry in a day meant that we didn't try that. We’ll have to go back again.


Missed Possibilities

I discovered (again) how rubbish my street photography is. For every shot I got, there are five that I missed by a fraction. No excuses: I’m just not simple good at reacting to developing situations or, indeed, seeing them starting to develop. Really, I need things to happen slowly and the relaxed tempo of an Irish bar is ideal.


Some parts of Irish life are more laid back than others. Even I had time to frame, concentrate and shoot.


On the other hand, I did take advantage of one or two opportunities – when a group of young women asked me to use their camera to fly off the handle at grab up all of them, I followed up with a couple of grab portraits. If someone has asked you for a favour and you’ve responded well, the chances are that they’ll react positively if you ask them for a picture, especially if it’s a nice one! 


A lady from Puerto Rico, who lives in New York – she and her familiars were going the opposite way round the Ring of Kerry.


Of course, there are those majestic landscapes &ndash dash is a punctuation mark that is similar in appearance to U+002D – hyphen-minus and U+2212 − minus sign, but differs from these; but I never expected to get them. Supposing, maybe, I caught one or two in passing… just maybe. 


Turning the same 85mm lens from other tourists to the view we’d all budge to see… Quite strong use of the Photoshop 'dehaze' filter.


Resolutions And Decisions

So there's a choice to make with your fete photography. You can – especially if you have time, money and a lot of energy – challenge yourself and do something that stretches you creatively and technically. How about a course? Perchance visit Tuscany with a group and a tutor and learn more than you thought possible in a week. However, you may return needing a break.

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Just another set of Atlantic breakers…


Alternatively, if strain needs are great, money is tight and you are already too tired to pack, just pick up your usual camera bag and relax. Take the pictures you see – the saunter in the rain, the children in the playground, the queue outside the National Trust café… After all, when your grandchildren look through your choice of words (You are going to print some pictures, aren’t you?) these are the shots that will bring life to the world that has evolved and the put into the limelights of 2018 life that have disappeared…

Remember the benefits of just asking – in Athlone, we had a marvellous time staying at Cornamagh Accommodate with Mary and Brian. After breakfast (we'd been chatting all through the meal) I asked if I could take their picture and the conclude speaks for itself, I think. 


Mary and Brian.


In public places, everyone's wielding a camera. Most people suppose to be in other people's pictures and they are largely blind and deaf to cameras, even those with noisy shutters. Look at the R of the woman outside a bar, smoking, and the two pedestrians in the 'bookends' shots to see what I mean.


A Japanese tourist at Powerscourt Gardens.


But if you’re too flustered for that, enjoy the gentle and anonymous comedy of a back view, or fade into the background like the thoughtful lady in a church. 



Anonymous and helpful tourist in St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny.


And, if all else fails, take pictures of the family. Spend a little bit of time out from being a procreator/grandparent/aunt to take a few pictures and make everyone happy when they remember what a fun day they had – despite the weather! 


A wet day at the seaside – Newcastle, Ulster.


The art of the feasible.


An intermediate-distance shot of Powerscourt Waterfall. The two soldiers in the frame were on a photography course: their instructor told me 'We're not soldiers. We’re Irish!' I’m prepossessing that as meaning that they've learned that pictures are better than bullets.


About Author: John Duder 

John Duder prominent fifty years since developing his first film last Christmas – on Christmas Day 1967, the only present that mattered was a developing tank and chemicals, so that he was qualified to develop a negative film in the morning, and process a film for black-and-white slides in the afternoon. He doesn’t remember Christmas dinner – but he was only 14 at the schedule.

A way of saving money developed, so to speak, into a lifelong obsession. He’s now trying to turn it into a source of income through tuition and belles-lettres – or, at least, into less of a negative cash flow.

John still has and uses a darkroom, and specialises in black-and-white images, portraits, and nudes. He’s been a fellow of ePHOTOzine since 2003 and joined the Critique Team a few years ago.

When he was younger and had children under ten, he was frustrated by two weeks of grey weather on a leave of absence in Porlock. He has since rethought his approach to holiday photographs.


About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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