Thinking of VISITING DUBLIN for the BIG DAY? Why not make a weekend of it and come and shoot some of Dublin’s best photographic locations?

Where nature meets industry. Sublime opportunities for long exposures and minimal imagery, great leading lines, stunning foreground interest, and the chance of some spectacular IrishLight.

Below you will find a guide and suggested shoot locations for the weekend around the Big Day. We have enlisted Peter Gordon to give you some great advice and suggested locations to bring your visit to Dublin to the next level. Peter Gordon has been photographing Dublin for many years and published an extensive range of local landscapes entitled ‘Dublin Salt’ in late 2018. Read on to get low down.

Go on make a weekend of it!

Click here to see more Dublin Salt …

Big Day Info

Over to Peter …

If photography is all about the light, then photography in Dublin Bay is all about how the light combines with the tides. Where’s the water? What is it covering? What is not covering? I spent 3 enjoyable years rambling around Dublin’s coastline trying to figure out these details and I’m delighted to be able to share a bit of my experience here now.

I have favoured the southside locations a bit with close proximity to the talks at Dun Laoghaire. It’s my firm belief though that Dublin has so much to offer, from Skerries to Shankill and everything in between. Just in case there’s any talk of bias.

Much of the suggestions below relate to the tide, light, composition and what locations will work on the suggested dates. Firstly though a bit of gear chat for good measure. Every picture in the Dublin Salt Collection was captured using a Gitzo tripod. Predominantly with a Nikon 24mm PC lens and my 24 – 70 2.8, loaded on to a Nikon d850. A wide angle will always come in handy too (I used a 14 – 24 Nikon 2.8) and I don’t leave home without my 70 – 200 but that’s just me. The best shots around Dublin for me, often have bright reflecting water, so skies can often be managed with a soft, or medium grad rather than hard filters. Typically, I would carry my Lee .6 medium and my .9 soft grad ND. Stopper’s wise, I would say the 6 stop is probably the most multi-purpose filter for Dublin Bay. I use Lee and their IRND system, which I must say is superb. There’s always use for your solid 3 stop and 10 stop as well, so if you have these bring them along for good measure.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s talk locations. Read on and hope you get great light!

FRIDAY 4 OCTOBER – THE BAILY LIGHTHOUSE

Our Sunset Location Suggestion

The Baily Lighthouse

53°21’52.6″N 6°03’37.2″W

Sunrise: 07:31am
Sunset: 18:55 pm

High Tide: 04:06am
Low Tide: 09:50am
High Tide: 16:28pm
Low Tide: 22:20pm

Why not kick off the BIG DAY weekend at the northern outreach of Dublin Bay? Perched on the edge of a dramatic cliff, the Baily Lighthouse has numerous stunning viewpoints and is well worth a look for any photographer. A middle ground might be the best way to describe the Friday sunset tides, so best to try and find a location that the tide is less important. The Baily in Howth fits the bill, and also happens to be one of the most spectacular locations across Dublin Bay. It actually works at sunrise and sunset, and it can be shot from positions north or south of the lighthouse, but back to the mission at hand.

Getting in the right place to shoot the Baily always requires a bit of walking. For a side/front lit sunset shot and a great position to hang out for blue hour, I like to shoot from the Howth Cliff walk on the south side of the Baily. The lighthouse itself will catch some side/front light at sunset and the cliffs can really go red. It’s also great to hang on for a while and shoot the light right into the blue hour so don’t go home early.

COMPOSITION AND TECH TALK

Keep in mind, the view can sometimes be obstructed by the brambles along this walk, so it might take some work to get just the right position. I like the lighthouse left side with plenty of space right. If I’m really being a pain there’s a sweet spot where the tip of the lighthouse just dips below the horizon along this path so keep your eyes peeled. I would also suggest slowing down the exposure to make the water smooth so a 6 or a 10 stop solid ND will be of use. Lens wise my weapon of choice is my 24 – 70. Once the blue hour descends remove those filters and play with f16 and f22 to capture a starburst effect from the lighthouse.

GETTING THERE

Park on Thormanby Rd (53°21’57.2″N 6°03’38.6″W) and walk down towards the lighthouse via the tarmac road. The road is gated and the private signs are for the houses and access to the lighthouse proper. You can access the cliff walk from here. There is also a small lane (53°21’56.8″N 6°03’40.6″W ) along Thormanby Rd close to the above GPS coordinates that affords access to the cliff walk.

SATURDAY 5 OCTOBER – COLLIEMORE HARBOUR

Our Sunrise Location Suggestion

Colliemore Harbour

53°16’30.4″N 6°05’37.0″W

Sunrise: 07:33am
Sunset: 18:53 pm

High Tide: 05:00am
Low Tide: 10:48am
High Tide: 17:22pm
Low Tide: 23:26pm

Pre BIG DAY inspiration can be found nestled in Dublin’s southern suburbs beside the picturesque town of Dalkey. Stop by the wonderfully photogenic Colliemore Harbour. The pier creates two converging lines leading to an island in the sky. What more could you ask for?  The shot works best on a medium to high tide when the harbour is full of water. Don’t be dissuaded if there are boats in the foreground. They just add to the abstraction and work great with the long exposure.

It’s easy access all the way shooting Colliemore, and while the road can sometimes be busy with cars parked, you can usually get a space within a few hundred yards. Get there early, really early, as the shot works great in the blue hour. It’s backlit so the shoot can be over quickly if there is clear weather. It’s much easier to balance the light and get great detail in the pier if you’re there early before the dynamic range becomes harsh.

COMPOSITION AND TECH TALK

Personally, I like a nice separation point between the two piers and I think it’s a nice idea to nestle the Martello tower in this sweet spot. I think good composition becomes great composition when we consider all aspects of the image no matter how small. I’ve found over time the more technically proficient I become, the easier it is to really manage the micro positions of elements within your photography.

I must say photographing Dublin Bay for many years, I find images can look a bit sloppy when there is an unintentional loss of perspective. Keep your camera straight so the lines on architectural elements don’t bend, or else make sure to do a perspective correction in post-production.

Even long before sunrise, a grad filter will be needed to keep the sky in check at Colliemore due to the backlighting. You won’t need a stopper an hour before sunrise but as the light gets brighter a 3 and a 6 stop solid ND will certainly come into play. I always suggest playing with shutter speed to get a different effect, but for me, this location definitely works best with a long exposure.

GETTING THERE

It’s a really easy find and a super short walk to shoot this location. Just park on Colliemore Road (53°16’29.7″N 6°05’37.9″W) and stroll down on to the pier.

SATURDAY 5 OCTOBER – BOOTERSTOWN

Our Sunset Location Suggestion

Booterstown

53°18’36.6″N 6°11’41.4″W

Sunrise: 07:33am
Sunset: 18:53 pm

High Tide: 05:00am
Low Tide: 10:48am
High Tide: 17:22pm
Low Tide: 23:26pm

Ah yes, my backyard. The place I always ran when something good looked like it was going to happen with the light. If you’re visiting Dublin you will quickly realise that us Dubs are pretty keen on that ugly abandoned factory on the horizon. I’m certainly not an exception to the rule and have enjoyed photographing the Poolbeg towers over many years. It’s a landmark. It pops up on the horizon from Clontarf to Dalkey, through the city and extending through the Dublin mountains. It’s the first thing you see on the flight home, the first reminder that you’re back in Ireland. There’s no point fighting it, it’s in our blood.

Conveniently it also forms a great focal point for coastal photography in Dublin. The traditional thinking is that the shot works best from Sandymount but in my opinion, Booterstown can actually be more productive. Or at least more varied. The beach holds more water and the potential lines and foreground shapes are more diverse and dramatic.

COMPOSITION AND TECH TALK

Sunset on the 5this perfect for this location with an abundance of wet sand and pools left as the tide recedes. For me, there are numerous ways to approach shooting Booterstown. You can photograph from the bridge in the station and shoot from an elevation, or else get down to the beach itself and get close to those pools. It’s so important to fill your foreground with reflected light and the subtle patterns of the sand. Dublin Bay is a big mirror so whatever is in the sky can be in your foreground too providing you hit the tide right. The pools are shallow and as such reflect quite easily negating the need for solid ND filters. When I have great reflections typically I don’t slow exposures down. A a .9 soft or .6 medium grad will also be of use. If the pools are not reflecting I would suggest a slower exposure of let’s say 15 – 30 seconds. Your 6 stop is likely to be of use in this scenario.

GETTING THERE

It’s a really easy find and you can park at Booterstown Dart station (53.309700, -6.195507). Beware there is a  €5 charge for your troubles so you might prefer to try and find some free parking on Booterstown Avenue. There are two bridges over the railway track. The bridge to the right of the station is for public access. The turnstiles at the station are normally open in the evening if you want to shoot from an elevation on the station bridge. Beware the bridge shakes so don’t move a muscle.

SUNDAY 6 OCTOBER – 40 FOOT BATHING AREA

Our Sunrise Location Suggestion

40 Foot Bathing Area

53°17’22.2″N 6°06’49.4″W

Sunrise: 07:35am
Sunset: 18:51 pm

High Tide: 06:06am
Low Tide: 11:59am
High Tide: 18:32pm
Low Tide: 00:47am (Oct 7th)

It’s the morning of the BIG DAY and there’s lots of inspiration coming from the great line up at the Royal Marine. But why not catch a sunrise first? It just so happens we have a high tide at sunrise at the nearby 40 Foot, one of Dublin’s top landscape photography locations. Made famous by James Joyce’s Ulysses, when the character of Buck Mulligan took a dip in the water, Dublin bathers have been taking swims at the 40 Foot for as long as I can remember.

The leading lines of the railings for the swimmers make an amazing foreground element, and the colour of the rocks within the bathing area also makes for some great imagery. If you have a big easterly wind the tide can really push up into the changing area which can make for some high drama. But beware the sea, and don’t do anything stupid. I like to arrive an hour before sunrise as its possible to shoot directly into the light and the predawn light can be stunning.

COMPOSITION AND TECH TALK

The area to shoot the railings can be quite a narrow space but there’s a range of places to shoot the 40 foot from so make sure you explore left and right. Also, shoot high at the entrance and don’t even enter the 40 foot. This area unquestionably works best on a high tide when the water comes into contact with the key foreground elements. Wellies or boots that you don’t mind getting a bit wet are certainly of use for this shoot.

GETTING THERE

I normally park on Sandycove Ave West or North. There is a mixture of free and paid parking in this area so a good idea to bring some change or download Dublin’s parking app. Once parked just walk up to the bathing area as per the GPS coordinates.

SUNDAY 6 OCTOBER – SANDYMOUNT & POOLBEG TOWERS

Our Sunset Location Suggestion

Sandymount & Poolbeg Towers

53°19’26.0″N 6°12’19.2″W

Sunrise: 07:35am
Sunset: 18:51 pm

High Tide: 06:06am
Low Tide: 11:59am
High Tide: 18:32pm
Low Tide: 00:47am (Oct 7th)

Your brain is jammed full of inspiration after the Big Day. Why not make the short dash down to Sandymount for a sunset. Through meticulous planning and forethought, the tide is just right to shoot sunset after the Big Day at Dublin’s most iconic location. Sandymount beach is the closest coastal point to the Poolbeg vista in Dublin. Despite Poolbegs visability all the way to Clontarf there is nowhere that’s quite so up close and personal. Booterstown is certainly a more all round location to shoot Poolbeg, and can provide some truly graphic lines, but if its clean reflection you want there’s nowhere quite like Sandymount.

The water drains out quickly here so again I would suggest arriving nice and early 1 – 1.5 hours before sunrise. The industrial landscape will be lit up and if you have a reflection you will be in for a treat. There are 2 key points listed below for parking. The northerly carpark is great for having a super clean reflection, while the more southerly carpark allows you to shoot with the baths in the foreground. The water levels are low as the tide retreats allowing for reflections to form easily.

COMPOSITION AND TECH TALK

Personally, I like my composition clean so I’m more than happy to simply fill the frame with a simple reflection and allow the horizon to run directly through the image. Be careful of your corners and pay attention to simple cloud structures that can double up top and bottom providing more interesting aspects to the graphic. If you want to compose in a more traditional manner there is plenty of scope to go upright and get up close and personal with some leading lines in the sandbar.

The bendy lines are an issue here too and my advice would be to keep your camera completely straight to avoid perspective issues with the towers. They need to be upright. 14 – 24 and my 24mm PC Nikon lenses were always the perfect fit for me here. Generally, not much need for long exposure if you have good reflections so your grad filters are more likely to be needed than your stoppers. Wellies or boots are a good idea.

GETTING THERE
The more northerly carpark (53.328059, -6.208512) is good for the clean reflection images, while the southerly park you can shoot with the baths in the foreground (53.328059, -6.208512).

IrishLight Festival

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