Spring sunrise over a fog-shrouded Howth Head, Ireland
Well, it is a classic shot and one I never imagined I would be getting when I hit the fog on the M6 in north Staffordshire on Sunday night. You see, I was on my way back to the Holyhead-Dublin ferry, on route to West Cork for the start of my West Cork Photography Weekends spring season. However, my thoughts were, a foggy night = a wind-free night which also means a calm crossing. Even though my sea legs are improving a little after the numerous trips across the Irish sea, I still hope for a calm crossing, and thankfully I was in luck. An announcement for light seas was made and I bedded down...
But oh! Fog also means fog horns...all night!
I survived but with just minutes before the scheduled arrival time, the announcement came that due to the effects of the fog the trip up the Liffey would be rather slower than normal and docking would be half an hour later. Disaster! I was due to meet my photographer friend and fellow Photography Weekend tutor, Ray, in Howth for a dawn shoot, and dawn was progressing, unlike the last time we had met for a dawn shoot in Howth back in December 2013, when the dawn was later. That day, we enjoyed fantastic winter light and I was relieved to have just missed crossing the Irish Sea during one of the wildest storms of that winter.
Not so this time. A panic message from me on the boat rendered the reply in return
"Here in Howth shrouded in fog :-( Can just about see my hand in front of my face"
On first impressions, it looked as though I wasn't set to miss much on this Bank Holiday Monday morning, and yet it appeared fairly clear as I disembarked and drove towards Clontarf. Looking back along Tolka Quay, the tide was way out and stranding the little sailing boats along the pastel coloured horizon like a string of musical notes.
As I continued towards Bull Island, the sky began to colour up, and the reason for the lack of visibility just a couple of miles up the coast, was clear to see. A shroud of fog was wrapped around this peninsular, a home to many rich and famous over the years, with the top of Howth Head just popping out above the fog.
It was just too tempting - an impressive sunrise due to in part to the effects of the fog.
I just had to message
"Stopped for sun-up"
as I knew the moment wouldn't last. I captured the scene with the easiest camera to hand, my 'off duty' Olympus OM-D E-M10 and the the little 14-42mm pancake kit lens.
Even as I waited at the traffic lights on the empty roads in Sutton, the now heightening sun provided a spectacular introduction to the planned breakfast photo shoot. Unfortunately on arrival in Howth, the fog continued to hang around but I was delighted to have already bagged that classic sunrise shot back along the road. However, as any good photographer would, we were not going to miss an opportunity and turned our attentions to alternative subjects whilst we waited a little while longer for the fog to burn off.
Apart from making my once-tidy-no-wind-blown-hair-do into a frizzy mess, the moisture-laden foggy air had bejewelled the plants, grasses and spider webs that lined the paths up onto the head. It was no wonder that a certain someone was keen to put his smart new M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens to the test on his OM-D E-M5, and delighted in showing me the first enviable macro shots. (Psst! you had better keep an eye on that kit bag of yours now I have an Oly too!)
Happily, it wasn't long before the whole scene began to throw off the over-night cloak, and a trip back down to the quay revealed the calm waters in the harbour, another side-effect of the foggy night.
Just as it had been on our previous visit, the light was stunning but oh, so different, and that is why as photographers, we revisit places time and again for the different shots.
We had a similar reasoning with visits to Glendalough in September 2014 and January 2015 (but glad we didn't choose it on this Bank Holiday Monday - grid-locked according to reports I heard on the radio later!)
As the fog lifted, the reflections began to appear in the calm sea, effectively doubling the presence of Ireland's Eye. The town of Howth was beginning to wake up, and just as a pair of grey seals were having thoughts of where to get an easy meal, we too were thinking breakfast.
Brief as these photo shoots are, it is always good to meet up with a like-minded photographer. Where spending disproportionate amounts of time observing the world through a viewfinder is not seen as anything other than normal. Looking at the same shot but with different eyes is always refreshing. Being on our own agenda, and not being tied to a tour bus then crying as 'the shot' passes by (as happened on my recent trip to Iceland). Discussing the latest equipment, or finalising details for the up-coming Photography Weekends season - it is all part of a photographer's day at the office.
There may still be availability on a spring West Cork Photography Weekend - do ask!
Otherwise, I am now taking names of those who might be interested in an Autumn Photography Weekend - details to be finalised but provisional dates have been marked up for:
Sat 26 - Tue 29 Sept
Sat 3 - Tue 6 Oct
Sat 10 - Tue 13 Oct Sat 17 - Tue 20 Oct