Pilgrim on the Summit of Croagh Patrick

Many times, you’ll find that photographs don’t just happen. They don’t suddenly appear. Sometimes you can plan shoots, get a theme, prepare the props, organise a model, maybe wait hours for the “perfect” light and end up clicking the shutter at the exact right time and come away with the “keeper”.
But it doesn’t always work out like that – not for me anyway. Often you’ll have to work your way towards the final image. This time that image was, Pilgrim on the Summit of Croagh Patrick.

Sometimes you’ll arrive at a location and know that there is the potential for a good photograph there. But you’ll have to “work” the scene until it happens. You have to take shot after shot before you arrive at the final image – the one you suspected was there all along.

A path through the sand dunes at Bertra beachLast week, we went for a walk along Bertra beach. I decided that I was going to take a decent photo. I challenged myself. I do this sometimes because I believe as photographers, we should always be able to get a reasonably good shot regardless of the conditions. I think it’s a good exercise to help develop our skills.

Bertra beach is not far from Westport town and a short drive past a small village called Murrisk. Murrisk is dominated by a holy mountain called Croagh Patrick. You can walk up this mountain and visit the small church on the summit. Indeed, every year tens of thousands of people from all over the world make this pilgrimage. Many do it for religious reasons – others, for reasons known only to themselves.

I have climbed it twice. The first time was long ago and simply because it was there. Writing in the sandThe second time was many years later when my then nine year old son insisted he wanted to do it. I think it was something he needed to get out of his system … or maybe he wanted to make me suffer! 🙂

Whatever the reason for climbing, most who do will stand at the top and admire the view of the Atlantic Ocean out over Clew Bay and the surrounding county of Mayo. It’s a great view and certainly worth the climb. I’ve done this. It’s a moment to be at one with yourself.

The photo at the top is the final image from this challenge. It probably looks better when viewed big because the man is quite small in the frame. A .9 soft ND Graduated filter was used to darken the sky because I wanted the image to be about the reasons people climb Croagh Patrick – the personal journey, and less about the landscape itself, no matter how beautiful it is.

I like the fences in the dunes at the beach. They contrast nicely with the soft sand and the waving grass.  It’s a while since I visited here and there was quite a lot to shoot. All you have to do is be open to the normal, everyday scenes that are always around us.

Wooden fence at Bertra BeachOn my workshops I can show you the techniques you can use to capture the landscape in dramatic black and white and more importantly, how you can capture the essence of the land we live in.

There are many simple techniques you can use in Lightroom to coax the very best out of an image when converting it to black and white, and I can show you how.

Thanks for reading this far and feel free to share, like or leave a comment.

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