Trip Report Ireland/Scotland

It all started as girls’ trip, but hey, I’ve never been one to say no to foreign travel to a new place.  To some, hanging with 4 girls may sound intimidating and risky, and to others, it may sound like a billionaire playboy dream.  But for me, I’m just there to photograph some water of a different color and share a Guiness with friends after the sun goes down.

The Aer Lingus (huh huh, “lingus”) flight was uneventful, and I got to watch enough violent sci-fi to keep me up the whole way.  Jet lag has never been an issue for me.  Landed in Dublin and worked some “trial by fire” to drive on the left for the first time in a few years.  No biggie – its not the driving on the wrong side that throws me off – its more that we Americans don’t do roundabout circles, and ones in Dublin are 4-5 lane circles of mass-chaos.  Luckily, their version of road-rage is throwing Lucky Charms out their window at you.  Several hours to Killarney, and settled in to a wonderful historic Air B&B.

Muckross Abbey

Over the next few days, we drove around during the days to explore Killarney National Park, some of the most beautiful coastline imaginable (while often getting stopped by herds of oddly painted sheep), and met the most genuine & kindest people I’ve ever come across.  As a matter of fact, its the gentile nature, and the outrageous sense of humor of the Irish that really surprised me!  After 50+ countries, and living in a big city, I tend to be on the defensive all the time when meeting strangers, but everyone was just sooooo cool – no one was trying to scam me, they just genuinely wanted to talk, meet travelers in their backyard, tell me a joke, and help their fellow man!  Where’s the catch?  There wasn’t one!  But aside from the incredible scenic driving, some highlights included a day’s biking through Killarney National Park, and a great walking/boating tour with the girls.  Inside the park, we found Ross Castle, and my personal favorite, Muckross Abbey, where I spent an hour or so shooting multi-minute exposures with my new toys, the Nikon 16-35 lens with Ice ND-6 and ND-10 filters – pretty impressed btw with the performance of those quite economical filters, and was even able to thread my circular polarizer onto them!  Even the Guinness Factory proved to be a fun outing, if for nothing else than being entranced by some big mechanical fish riding a bicycle, which is, from what I understand, the props used in a Guinness TV Commercial from before my time.

The Guinness Fish????
Luke is hiding here on this island!!!!!
Kenmare Stone Circle with Light Painting Fairy Trails

We explored the Cliffs of Kerry, and overlooked the island of Skellig Michael (where Luke was hiding for all those years in The Force Awakens).  Another highlight was the Kenmare Stone Circle, which dates back to somewhere between 2200-500BC.  It really is amazing to be standing in such a magical place, and to think of all the things that have taken place there over the past several thousand years.  To add a little magic of my own, I shot it using a multi-minute exposure, and used light painting to add the fairies that were in my imagination.  Later in the week, we made the trek over to the Cliffs of Moher, where I found photo ops to keep me busy for weeks.  If we’ve ever had a chat about photography, one of my repeating topics, is that whether underwater or above, it needs to be a solo experience.  My brain is 110% focused on new ideas, techniques, and compositions, and as a result, my

The shot that I almost went over the cliff for.

hiking friends and the girls on this trip usually just leave me alone, and I catch up later.  But this time, it almost worked to my detriment…..or death.  I’ve got my Nikon 70-200 lens out, shooting a sea stack with the ND filters, with the tripod right up against the edge of a cliff dropping down several hundred feet to a rocky shoreline, and stiff 20+/- gusts blowing through my hair (okay, over my bald head).  I finish my last multi-minute exposure, and as I rotate my head, there’s this stranger dude with his nose about 3″ from my face.  Now I’m a nimble little ninja, but what kind of a freakin’ idiot sneaks up on me while I’m holding motionless less than 1′ from the edge of a cliff?!?!?!?!  I grab him by the jacket and push him back, and yell some profanities, and he says, “oh, I just wanted to see the shot on your LCD”.  I guarantee you, punk….if I had gone over….you would have been coming with me.  yeeeeewwww-splat!

Sand patterns on the beach in Uig

But I did not fall, and there was no splat, as you may have guessed, since I’m writing this.  And soon after, Suz & I dropped off the 3 other girls back in Dublin, and prepped for the short Aer Lingus (huh huh) flight over to Edinburgh, Scotland, and then drove immediately up to the tiny village of Uig on the Isle of Skye.  Over the next few days, we had a clear, beautiful day, a horrible cold rainy/sleet/snow windy day to make up for it, and several “average Scottish days” of overcast and drizzle.  But we still made the most out of it, spending the beautiful day at the Faery Pools.  I had lugged a drysuit, mask/fins/snorkel, and my entire underwater camera rig across the Atlantic with only one pre-visualized shot in my mind, but once I got to the Faery Pools, it just wasn’t my vision, and I couldn’t find the shot.  So instead, I spent the day experimenting with above-water angles, and that’s where the new image releases for this month (“Anti-Gravity”, “Molecules”, and “H2-Woah”) were born.  There’s water everywhere on Skye, with countless waterfalls (especially after the gnarly rains from the day before), so I had plenty to shoot.  But all good things come to an end, and like most trips, getting home was a relief, except for Aer Lingus (huh huh) losing our luggage for several days.  Straight back to work, because after being gone for a few weeks, its time to pay the piper with some 18-hour days of catch-up!

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