Landscape Photography Tutorial – Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland

I’m a big believer that when as photographers we start to previsualise we get the best results. By previsualise I mean imagining what you intend to put on a piece of paper before you click the shutter. For me this landscape photograph is a great example of previsualisation.


When I first saw this scene it was the middle of the day. I loved the dynamic of the view but knew the light wasn’t correct. I imagined what the reflected light would look like on the snaking curve of the river and decided I wanted the curve to be surrounded by darkness to accentuate it’s shape. Simplicity of shape is often the best course of action in landscape photography. My best chance of creating this effect was to therefore shoot directly into the light. This choice of angle meant that there was a good chance for a dramatic sky and the light on the water in the foreground would be much brighter than its surroundings ensuring the shape was accentuated.

I consulted my OS map and the Photographers Ephemeris and saw my best chance would be at dawn. Dad and myself returned the next morning and we weren’t disappointed. Despite some hard wind there were moments where the wind calmed for a few minutes, just long enough for the reflection to settle.

To create the effect I wanted meant three technical applications. Firstly, I used my B and W 6 stop (1.8) circular Neutral Density Filter that allowed for a longer exposure to blur the clouds giving an interesting effect in the sky. Secondly, I used a 3 stop hard grad to balance the variance in exposure between sky and foreground. Finally in the postproduction I darkened the lower half of the image left and right and added a slight extension of the image right for balance.

Ultimately I was left with the image I imagined…

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