St Finbar’s Oratory, Gougane Barra, West Cork, Ireland by Andrew Whettam

This was an early start with a drive of an hour or more to get to our location. We arrived at this famous beauty spot to find gorgeous conditions - low lying mist and a lovely soft light. The scene was absolutely magical! It was one of those times when just being there was breath taking. The lake and it’s surrounding area is beautiful, but the outstanding feature of this place is the little chapel on the spit of land sticking out into the lake – St Finbar’s Oratory.

The first instinct was to rush down to the edge of the water and start shooting, which we did. On this occasion, it wasn’t a bad instinct at all, because I got some lovely shots, though often it’s better to resist the urge to dive straight in. Having got some initial shots in the bag, it was time to take stock, look around a bit more and take a more considered approach. The magic of first light had moved on by this stage, but there was still plenty left in the scene – the chapel, the tress, the surrounding hills, not to mention that wonderful low-lying mist! I decided to try a longer exposure. I found a composition I liked, positioned my tripod and reached in my camera bag for a Nisi medium grad filter to put in front of the lens. Before adding a neutral density filter, I like to shoot a few shots to check the exposure and make sure I’m happy with the composition and this is what I did. Once I was happy with the technical setup, I added a 6 stop ND filter and took the shot. All in all, good morning’s work!

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