He may not be the talk of the dinner table, but we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.
He’s the brainy chap who devoted his life’s work to invention and ultimately (well, with a little help from some Italian brainboxes a few years previous) took the world’s first ever photograph in 1825. Today, 186 years later, photography has come a long way, and to demonstrate that blissful evolution we have enlisted the help of visual maestro Sean Tomkins.
Sean is an landscape photographer who captures Ireland’s West Coast in such heart-melting vistas we want to climb into the photo with him. Explaining below each image where the beauty spot is and how he captured it, he even gives us the means to try snap it ourselves, or at least see these magical pockets of the West with our own eyeballs.
So prepare yourself for some jaw-dropping, some dreamy wanderlust, and a heartfelt toast to Mr Niépce and Mr Tomkins…
is almost my back garden. I live in the western side of so I am lucky to have such rugged beauty just a stone’s throw away. This is the Derryclare Lake in Connemara with some of the Twelve Bens mountain range in the background. I was parked in the lovely village of Roundstone just after sunrise when way off in the distance I noticed a long line of fog running in front of the Bens. I hopped into the car for the 4 mile drive and I can tell you that while “patience” is one of my four necessities for good photography (light, composition and good waterproof boots are the other three in case you are wondering!) it was not used here as that fog was burning off fast. I arrived at the lake just in time to capture this image.
in northwest is an amazing place: 50 square miles of limestone, crushed, eroded and folded into a surrealist moonscape. This image was taken half way between the village of Ballyvaughan and on the southern shores of Galway Bay. Rare Alpine plants flourish in this strange environment but here I captured a few simple Sea Pinks.
Finlough is located in the wild and unspoilt Delphi Valley in the southwest corner of and is a place of extraordinary beauty. I arrived here on a dark afternoon but just knew that if the light appeared I would experience something wonderful. My patience paid off and I think you will agree I captured something quite striking.
is a stunningly beautiful place. The Conor Pass, which runs from the town of Dingle on the southern side of the peninsula towards Brandon Bay to the north is the highest mountain pass in the country. It’s a tight precarious road, weaving its way around sharp cliff faces and past the high corrie lakes. But don’t let that description put you off, it is a superb drive, not at all dangerous, with amazing views. Just north of the car park at the top you can pull in and admire this little waterfall. Way off in the distance is Brandon Peak.
The is the largest and busiest of the five Kerry and Cork peninsulas. It is completely encircled by one of the most scenic routes in Ireland, known as The Ring of Kerry. This shot is from the heart of the Ring, close to Glencar: a really quiet area surrounded by mountains on all sides. It was about 7am and I liked the way one sheep and one lamb seem to be admiring the sunrise. Get there yourself by starting at and head towards Beaufort via the Ballaghsheen Pass or the other way around but don’t forget to look back when at that pass. I think the area is twinned with the Scottish Highlands and I can see why.
are a truly awesome meeting of land with ocean and one of the most magnificent stretches of coast in Europe. They are fantastic to shoot most of the time but boy did I encounter a strange and startling event. That’s my shadow down there and this is called a ‘Brocken Spectre’. It’s a rare optic phenomenon when a person standing on a higher altitude can see his own shadow cast onto a cloud or fog at a lower altitude. The cliffs are not to be missed, even if one does not capture a Brocken Spectre!
You can see more of Sean’s stunning landscapes, and buy prints of them, on his Irish Landscapes website.
Sean isn’t the only photographer we’ve had as a guest blogger. We had Dave G Kelly and his prettiest spots in Dublin to take a seat, Kevin Dwyer who shared his stunning aerial photography of Ireland, and John Eagle’s photographic tour of Ireland’s Lighthouses. Landscape photographer Chris Hill explained how he got this stunning picture of the Cliffs of Moher, and Simon Brown shared stunning landscape shots of his native County Down