2023 in Review Part 1

Test tes

2023 in Review Part 1

What a year it’s been. 2023 will be remembered as the year we got back to normal. Doing what we love most. Taking pictures, hitting those sunrises, and engaging with our fantastic community of workshop participants. AKA the little lambs. It’s fantastic to work with good people, and at ExploreLight we are blessed with good folks across the board. First and foremost, the people who come on our trips are what make everything possible, but also a huge shout-out to Jelena in the office who keeps everything running smoothly and our other tour leaders Daragh, Thor, Michael and Dino. Thanks so much, everyone.

Right so, enough of the sentimentality, let’s get down to business. We’ve been beavering away post-processing over the last few weeks, excited to show you some of our new work. It’s been a collaborative effort between all of our tour leaders, and we hope you enjoy what follows. The 2024 workshop pages have also been updated with new images, so links will appear below if you want to see new work plus classics from a specific location. You might even want to book a workshop. No pressure ūüôā See you at sunrise.

Image by Thor – Probably our best display of Northern Lights in the 2023 season and an epic new location to shoot them at. What a treat.

It all starts in the Arctic. Just like it does every year. Hoping for fresh snow, northern lights, and general knock-your-damn socks-off good conditions. Thor and I spent 3 weeks together in Norway and even managed to recover from the shock that beer is not available after 6 pm in supermarkets on a Saturday. Two Senja workshops and one Lofoten. Our wives expressed concern about how much time we were spending together, but their concerns gradually alleviated when we parted ways in late February. He’s still the best-looking grandad out there, no question about that.

Conditions were varied across the workshops and as always we experienced some highs and lows. Fresh snow in Lofoten would have been nice, but we still managed to get some epic sunrise action, which was such a treat. The fruits of our labour to follow

Image by Thor – Mind-blowing colours on our first night in Northern Norway

Image by Peter Gordon – Cool light at dawn in Senja. These Arctic beaches bring the drama at dawn. I loved this foreground pattern to set up the intro here.

Image by Peter Gordon – A wee moonbow and a streak of northern lights coming in Senja

Image by Peter Gordon – Oh that fresh snow. So, so fresh, and so, so clean.

Image by Peter Gordon – It’s hard to see past Rachel Talibart when you think of water texture in landscape photography. Captured in Senja, Norway, but heavily influenced by Rachel’s fantastic work.

There’s nowhere quite like Norway for dramatic epic peaks. A beautiful sunrise for good measure was a real treat.

We waited patiently for Lady Aurora to show her face. The sky was open, the reflection was stunning, and the scene was set.

The display didn’t last long, and certainly wasn’t that intense but all the other elements still lined up so nicely that it was a great scene to photograph.

Image by Peter Gordon – Hopefully, this picture captures some of the most beautiful elements Lofoten offers.

Clean arctic beaches, beautiful azure water plus the mood and atmosphere of the passing weather. Long exposure with my Kase filters to keep things nice and simple.

Image by Peter Gordon – What can we say about this Lofoten view – it’s as iconic as it comes but wow what a photogenic place to take pictures.

We were unlucky with the weather this year with tonnes of rain and no snow. So we decided to hit the bridge early before the showers came in. I was delighted with the results.

I parted ways with Thor in late Feb and things began to thaw through March, literally speaking. No metaphorical inference intended. Workshops took place on home turf in Connemara, and Daragh had groups amongst the landscapes of our Celtic brothers and sisters in Wales in Scotland. We’re a few images shy from the Isle of Skye leg. Daragh’s camera actually stopped working on that trip. And yes, before you ask, it’s a Canon. Just saying.

 

Image by Peter Gordon -The beaches in the West of Ireland can be so clean. The sand can be just immaculate and the colour of the water can really glow. The moody skies will help too.

Image by Peter Gordon – Gentle light coating the Inagh Pass in Connemara. Low angle and fast shutter speed for this one.

Image by Peter Gordon Gone fishing .. Connemara, Ireland

Image by Peter Gordon – Nothing quite like the West of Ireland for changeable light. Just when I thought I was out they pulled me back in. Breakfast was calling and there was a definite expectation of bacon in the air. First comes the rain, then comes the rainbow, and lastly of course comes the bacon.

Image by Peter Gordon -It was like a flying saucer just lined up above the iconic pine island on Ireland’s west coast. A healthy lash of side light for good measure.

Image by Peter Gordon – It’s the wild west of Ireland. Rain one minute light the next. It always makes for great conditions to shoot landscapes when that changeable Irish weather is in full flow

For the Wales adventure, everybody jumps in the ExploreLight mobile from Dublin and it’s a convenient boat ride across the Irish Sea for our Wales workshop. A fantastic way to access some fabulous scenery for the locals.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Crazy storm in a slate quarry Wales… handheld in between showers.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – After waiting for the rain to pass we eventually got to walk out to this awesome location. There are lots of locations on this peninsula. Here’s one of Goleudy Twr Bach.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – A drive and a walk to get to the Point of Ayr lighthouse. At low tide, the lighthouse sits in textured sand, wiped clean of footprints from the tide. We were treated to a stunning sunrise.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – A trio of small trees on this ledge makes for a strong contrast set against the black slate quarry.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – LLandudno for sunrise. A Victorian pier to shoot and some small jetties…here’s one with long exposure and wind turbines in the distance.

A few Scotland images at least – before the Canon just packed it in and stopped working ..

 

Down at the far end of Neist Point at the lighthouse. More wonderful light coupled with rainbows. This was a bit of a rush to get this position and get the rainbow.
2 secs, f11, ISO 50

A new composition with the dramatic mountain lighting. Sometimes I shoot this closer in but if the weather is working then further away.
Always a pleasure to visit.
1/320sec, f8, ISO500

Spring was really in the air by April, and while the sunrises were getting earlier and earlier, the turn of the seasons brought some truly spectacular photo opportunities. Daragh concentrated on all things Morocco, and I split my time between Ireland and Morocco. Working in the less familiar surroundings of Northern Africa was challenging at times. We didn’t get everything right the first time out, but the adventure was just immense, with some of the very best images of the year.¬† Steve Smith even said ‘The inaugural Morocco workshop was my ninth ExploreLight trip and certainly the best’. Thanks, Steve – always a pleasure to have you along. Our 2023 experience will certainly be brought to bear with Morocco 2024. So many new images here, I’m going to try and minimize what I publish.

Image by Peter Gordon – The dunes in Morocco just go on for miles and miles and miles. It’s so incredible to see this amazing expanse first-hand

Image by Peter Gordon – It’s super important to be respectful of people in Morocco in the context of taking their photos. We were lucky to have a willing model and some great light to work with.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Desertware essential. The sandstorms were captivating.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Step into blue…doors and courtyards line up perfectly in this composition in the blue city of Chefchaouen.

Image by Peter Gordon – The many patterns of the Sahara. The plan of warm and cool in the shadows can be just so amazing.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – A rare treat to find ourselves inside a sandstorm on arriving in Merzouga. The dunes were inaccessible but incredible to walk amongst the sand blowing everywhere. Sunglasses and protective case for camera were needed!

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Architectural abstract on a building just outside of Midelt.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Sand Abstract 5. The infinite and beautiful dunes of Merzouga.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – At the Hassan Tower in Rabat. a 12th-century monument. A busy place with locals and tourists alike. I loved the yellow colours against the pillar patterns.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – A set of steps in the blue city of Chefchaouen.

I had noticed the day before that a small ray of reflected light hit the steps at a certain time so we waited until the light was like it was melting down the steps.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – I love shapes, texture and subtle light. The desert has all of these elements combined making it a very target-rich environment. Everywhere you look there is stunning imagery to be made. This one has some wind blowing the sand at the top.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Car trails in the Dades Gorge. We shoot this road from a restaurant terrace sipping our mint tea while our dedicated drivers create the trails.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – A dried-out river bed not far from Ouarzazate has all sorts of possibilities for abstract imagery.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca….we arrived and the mosque still had its night lights but just as we got our cameras out the lights on the mosque turned off…this gave it a surreal look with it in darkness and the surrounding buildings lit up!

Image by Daragh Muldowney – This little ramshackled hut that I stumbled on during my scouting mission led to us coming back here on the tour for a sunset shoot.

We got some great light and I was delighted to get to shoot it again.

Image by Peter Gordon – Epic conditions as the sky exploded close to our hotel. A really simple but perfect structure to work with.

Morocco and Tuscany have a close affinity with those fine weather days but the culture and cuisine are certainly not the same. Both are wonderful in very different ways. The landscapes are also equally beautiful but again just so different. Dino and Jelena have been forming a formidable partnership over the last few years with Dino dealing with the teaching and locations and Jelena on hand to help with all the logistics. She’s also been doubling as Dino’s dance instructor.

 

Image by Dino Marsango – Those Tuscan rolling hills.

Image by Dino Marsango – There are single trees and then there are single trees.

Image by Dino Marsango – The guys got some amazing mist this year.

Image by Dino Marsango – When that warm light comes through Tuscany is on another level.

Despite the incessant sunshine, Tuscan mists, and epic sand dunes of early Spring there’s no place quite like home. Mr Michael McLaughin was in fine form out West creating some stunning new work while also keeping the troops motivated through the process Michael has such a beautiful artistic style. A magnificent way to photograph Ireland.

Image by Michael McLaughlin – The amazing Baera peninsula reflecting.

Image by Michael McLaughlin – Those stormy Irish skies always produce fantastic light.

Image by Michael McLaughlin – An image that could only be made by one man.

Image by Michael McLaughlin – Working with the Irish atmosphere is essential.

Next up I hit the North Coast of Ireland. Hard to beat the epic beauty of Donegal and the Antrim coast.

Image by Peter Gordon – Gentle pastels on a spring evening on Ireland’s north coast. Just watching the waves do their thing and waiting for the perfect moment. Kase filters to get just the right shutter speed for the foreground texture.

Image by Peter Gordon – The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland is one of Ireland’s most famous spots for landscape photography.

Despite the notoriety, it can be a tricky place to shoot so I was delighted to come away with this moody shot. Focus stacked and sky blended for good measure.

Image by Peter Gordon – A wide angle of some beautiful wee pools on Giants Causeway. I really searched around this year looking for just the right foreground patterns and stumbled across these beauties on my search. Rainbow bonus ..

After such a busy year what a way to round things off. Enter Provence. Purples abound and the amazing smells are just intoxicating.

Image by Daragh Muldowney – You have to play that tree in just the right spot to set off the electric purples

Image by Daragh Muldowney - Rooms with a view ..

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Rooms with a view.

The purple haze is an amazing experience but having that wee hint of yellow was also a real treat. Epic mornings in Provence.

Hard at work amongst the glorious colours ..

Image by Daragh Muldowney – Really special to have unique access to this beautiful location. The clouds even cooperated.

That’s all for part one. Loads more to share image-wise for the second half of the year. Daragh eventually got his camera working, Dino and Jelena’s dance repertoire expanded, there was a serious bromance in the Faroes, and myself and Thor plowed on quietly in the background. Hopefully, see you in the next one.

 

WORKSHOPS 2024 

Coliemore Harbour, Dublin : 20 Jan 2024 : Fully Booked

The South Wall, Dublin : 21 Jan 2024 : Fully Booked

Lanzarote : 22 Р27 Jan 2024 : Fully Booked : Join Waiting List HERE

Lofoten, Norway : 29 Jan Р4 Feb 2024 : Fully Booked : Join Waiting List HERE

Lofoten, Norway : 6 Р12 Feb 2024 : Fully Booked : Join Waiting List HERE

Senja & Lyngen, Norway : 6 – 12 Feb 2024 : 1 Place Available

Donegal, Ireland : 7 Р10 Mar 2024 : Fully Booked : Join Waiting List HERE

Wales : 7 Р10 Mar 2024 : Available

Isle of Skye : 7 – 11 Apr 2024 : 2 Places Available

NEW Dingle : 11 – 14 Apr 2024 : Available

Morocco : 17 – 27 Apr 2024 : Available

NEW Kerry : 25 – 28 Apr 2024 : Available

Tuscany : 29 Apr – 3 May 2024 : 1 Place Available

North Coast Ireland : 1 – 7 May 2024 : 3 Places Available

West of Ireland : 9 – 15 May 2024 : Available

Namibia : 19 – 29 May 2024 : Fully Booked : Join Waiting List HERE

Provence : 23 – 28 Jun 2024 : 2 Places Available

Faroe Islands : 16 Р22 Sep 2024 : Available

Brittany : 16 – 21 Sep 2024 : 2 Places Available

West of Ireland : 7 Р13 Oct 2024 : Available

Dolomites : 7 – 12 Oct 2024 : 3 Places Available

Montenegro : 9 – 14 Oct 2024 : 3 Places Available

Connemara, Clare & Mayo, Ireland : 17 Р24 Oct 2024 : Available

Slovenia : 21 – 26 Oct 2024 : 4 Places Available

Scotland : 28 Oct – 3 Nov 2024 : 4 Places Available

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