Wall of Fame Winner • Sean O Riordan
Gougane Barra, Co Cork, Ireland

Gougane Barra lake is a tiny lake located in a remote part of Co Cork in Ireland. An equally tiny church sits on a small outcrop in the lake and during the right conditions it can be the most magical place to photograph.

I checked the weather forecast the night before and noticed clear skies for the night and some sparing high cloud forecast for sunrise. With the humidity at 100% I knew there was a chance of mist and fog forming over water. I intended on shooting at a location 20 minutes away which is an underwater glacial woodland which, at low tide, reveals an area of tree stumps and branches that can produce mystic images. However, I arrived an hour and a half before sunrise and something told me that I needed to move on to Gougane Barra. I am glad I did.

I arrived at the lake 50 minutes before sunrise and began scouting for a composition. I could see the fog beginning to form over the lake so I knew I had made the right decision.

I am always looking for a different perspective to photograph and the angle I took the picture from has rarely been photographed before. Perfect reflections and the island with the church shrouded in fog lifted the whole scene. Combine this with a beautiful orange glow from the rising sun and a delicate mist over the lake and it was without a doubt the most splendid morning I have ever had as a landscape photographer producing one of my favourite images to date.

I bracketed the exposures to capture a good dynamic range – three frames blended in photoshop using luminosity masks. After that the edit was very minimal. I added a slight warmth just to bring out those golden tones in the sky and water, some Orton effect to soften the light and a grad filter placed both on top and bottom of the image to draw the eye into the center of the frame.

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Lee Filters