Getting up for a dawn shoot can sometimes be a daunting especially in summer when the days are long. It’s never easy to drag yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour to go taking photographs. That said, once you are over the hurdle of getting up it's all downhill from there.
Setting out at 3am, I arrived at ‘Ladies View’ in Killarney at around 4.30 am. The weather for the morning was good, with a mixture of cloud and sunshine forecasted for the day.
Doing your research the night before is a must when planning a day’s shoot. I will always gather as much information as I can about the weather and the location of where I am going. Google Earth is a great tool to visualize what the terrains is like and how the sun will affect the landscape at a given time of the day. The ‘show sunlight across the landscape’ slider in Google Earth is a handy tool for illustrating this. It's not an exact science, but it will give you some idea of what to expect. Of course first hand knowledge of the location is far more beneficial.
Understanding where the sun will rise in relation to your planned location is also a must. For finding out the time of sunrise I go to www.timeanddate.com. To get the position of the sunrise, if you have an iPhone you can use an app. called Focalware. This is a great app. that will give you the exact location of the sunrise/sunset in relation to a GPS position. Dawn is a magical time of the morning, but the best light at this time can be fleeting, so it is essential to know where you want to be for best results.
One of the great things about being out so early in the morning, is getting to see some wildlife before they disappear out of sight. This particular morning I saw several deer, an Otter, a Pine Martin and a host of bird life in their natural habitat. It was my first encounter with a Pine Martin, so I was particularly pleased having seeing one.
After spending some time photographing Ladies View, I set out to explore the upper lake and take advantage of the early morning light. I stopped off at several spots, some new, some already known. It’s always great to find new spots, especially when they offer exciting new photo opportunities. I will return again to some of the locations when the light is more favorable in the future. I always keep notes on new locations. These notes are very helpful when you are planning a return to that visit and will help with a successful shoot.
After spending sometime lakeside, I decided to head to the Oak woodland at the top of the lake. I had been there once before, so I knew what to expect. The natural woodlands of Killarney National Park are a wonder to behold, it’s like going back in time to an ancient land, with all the natural flora and fauna that one inhabitant this green isle. Following ‘Galway’s River', I took several photos of it as it meandered towards the lake. Spending some time there in the company of a few deer and million’s of midges, annoying the hell out of me, I decided I had enough for the day and headed back towards the car.
Upper Lake Killarney
As hard as it is to get out of bed before dawn, I never regret it. The rewards are there if you are prepared to make the effort. What seems banal and lifeless in daylight can be transformed to something wonderful by the rays of the rising sun!