Photography Weekend in Glendalough

Photography Weekend, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow


Back in May, 18 members of the An Óige Photographic Group attended a photography weekend in Glendalough Hostel in the picturesque surroundings of the Wicklow Mountains.

The photography weekend began with a welcome meeting hosted by Peter Gallagher (LIPPA) on Friday night at which he unveiled the plan for the next 2 days. The theme of the photography weekend was to be ‘Composition and Decisive Moments – It’s Time to See the Light’. The objective was to explore how the decisive moment, light, line, texture, perspective and our camera settings all contribute to good composition. It was about ‘slowing down’, taking time to compose a picture. We were to get away from the digital mentality of indiscriminate shooting and ‘see the light’, i.e. wait for the decisive moment. To achieve this, Peter assigned us three projects. He limited us to shooting in black and white and to taking only 12 shots per project – enough to put the fear of God in the most experienced photographer! Lesser mortals are known to have ‘disappeared’ the first night but we were up for the challenge!

photography weekend


After breakfast Saturday morning we set up the work space. Then we were dispatched into the welcome sunshine to find images of lines and curves for Project 1. Some members found inspiration around the Upper Lake with its winding boardwalk, others at the round tower and tilting gravestones of the monastic settlement. A few didn’t even have to even leave the building!

photography weekend

At lunchtime, it was back to the ‘cutting room’ in the hostel where we grappled with the mechanics of uploading our images to Photoshop and Picasa Editing Software. The importance of good file management was emphasised by our tutor to prevent photos from ‘disappearing into the ether’! Careful composition proved to be paramount due to the imposed restrictions of editing for contrast only, no cropping allowed!

photography weekend

That afternoon, we embarked on Project 2 which was to add light, shade and texture to the photos we took for Project 1. Cloudy conditions presented a challenge to the task at hand but we succeeded in taking a few reasonable shots.After the rigours of the day we adjourned for dinner to the Glendalough Hotel, conveniently situated just five minutes’ walk from the hostel.


Sunday’s exercise was a new venture for most of us as it entailed portraiture. But first the group photo had to be taken. After a few false starts, the event was recorded for posterity.

photography weekend

Following a detailed briefing from Peter, we spent an enjoyable afternoon getting to grips with tripods, reflectors and cameras. We worked in groups of three, taking turns in front of and behind the lens. Once again, the aim was to wait for the ‘decisive moment’. We were to achieve this by firstly ‘relaxing’ the model, then distracting them to get a reaction and capturing the result. Everyone got an opportunity to find their ‘good’ side; even unsuspecting onlookers were invited to pose! As for me, there I was shooting away like a pro (so I thought). I went to review my handiwork in my camera – nothing! The card was still in the laptop! Best laid plans…


The photography weekend concluded with a slideshow of all the finished projects.


This weekend opened my mind to try new things in photography, e.g. to look for abstract patterns and to consider shooting in black and white more often. Portraiture was a very interesting new skill to learn, one that would require a lot more practice. Needless to say, my most valuable lesson was to ensure the card is in my camera before shooting!

photography weekend


So, if you’re interested in photography and want to improve your skills in a sociable, supportive environment, why not consider joining our Photographic Group?


Margaret Quinn

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