Lough Dan Hike

A photography trip into the wilds of Wicklow

So I have gone through a bit of a creative lull recently and decided to force myself to get back out there to take some more photos. I go through these phases quite regularly and it seems that other ‘creative folk’ I’ve spoken to go through the same thing.

So with it being a Bank Holiday Weekend I decided it was the perfect opportunity to get back out there and take some photos.

I reached out to some friends to see if they were interested in going on a quick hike around Lough Dan in County Wicklow (for any international readers, it is about 45mins drive south of Dublin Ireland). Thankfully three fantastic photographers agreed to come along, Conor Hayes (@visualjungle), Thomas Arnold (@thomasarnoldfilms)  and Pat Byrne (@Ravenphotoireland).

As is the case for most bank holiday weekends in Ireland, the weather forecast looked awful and I was terrified that it was going to be a waste of a day for me and for everyone else. Determined not to let the weather damped our spirit, we started out on our trek along Lough Dan. The rain was persistent and, despite some periods of light drizzle, it refused to quit entirely. The cloud cover was heavy which meant that the lighting was flat and uninteresting, which made it challenging to get any interesting shots.

It was about 1 hour into our hike that we noticed a small beach on the edge of the lake far below us. Despite already being soaked, we looked at each other knew that we had to make it to the beach.

The beach along the edge of Lough Dan in County Wicklow

Through some work of divine intervention it stopped raining the moment we arrived at the beach. It was the first time that day (and what we would later realise was the only time that day) that we could comfortably take some photos.  The cloud cover remained heavy, which made the lighting challenging, but at least I wasn’t frantically covering my camera to protect it from the rain.

The lake was quite still but I thought it would be worth trying my 10-stop filter and some long exposure shots of the lake. After a few attempts it was clear that while the background was very captivating, the foreground was rather boring. See what I mean?

As is now customary for me, I decided to take out the glass ball to give the shots a focal point and make the foreground a little more interesting. It started to work.


I noticed the small droplets of rain water that had fallen onto the glass ball (you can see them in the shot above) and it reminded me of a photo I had seen of a glass ball being dropped into and taken out of water, with the droplets trailing off it. It was the perfect opportunity to try it.

The results were amazing!

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Here’s how I took these shots:

  • I wanted to get as much of the detail as possible and so I used my Canon wide angle 16mm-35mm f4.0 lens and lay down on the ground near the waters edge, very near where the glass ball would be.
  • I switched the lens onto manual focus and held the ball still in the ‘drop zone’ to make sure the focus was right.
  • I increased the f-stop to about f 5.6, to create enough of a shallow depth of field to blur out the background but still keep enough of the foreground in focus.
  • I increased the shutter speed to be the fastest it can be. For my camera, this is about 1/8000th of a second.
  • Finally I set the camera to high speed continuous shooting, which allows me to keep my finger on the shutter and it will repeatedly take photos. (switching it onto manual focus also speeds this up because the camera doesn’t need to worry about focusing before it takes the shot)

After that it was simply a case of lying on the ground, repeatedly dropping the ball and keeping my finger on the trigger.

I have to say that I am very happy with the results. What do you think?

A special thank you needs to go to Pat (@ravenphotoireland) for sending me some new Lightroom presets whch I tried out when editing these shots. Hugely appreciated 👍🏻
All in all it was a fantastic trip with fantastic people. It reminded me just how beautiful Ireland can be (even in the rain) and has definitely rekindled my creative flair.

That’s all for now.


Heres a short video of the location:



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