Browns Bay & Portmuck / by admin


Although I've lived most of my life here in Northern Ireland up until recently, I'd never ever heard of Portmuck and Brown's Bay!  

Its been a difficult few weeks with the recent passing of my father-in-law and I don't think that anyone has the answer for how best to act of what to do in such a situation.  For us, getting out and about, walking and just finding a sense of peace and tranquility around the beautiful coastline of this our homeland is something that we have found has really been a benefit to us.


Even before this recent tragedy, I've been struggling this summer to find the "umph" to get out and take photographs.  We all get that, don't we? Writers get writers cramp and so do photographers.  We get times of low productivity when ideas are slow to come to us and we feel very uninspired by the work that we produce.  I think that at times like this, we need to just do it for ourselves.  Well, for me that's partly true.


For the most part, much of what I produce is done just for me.  I haven't sought to sell my work so far (but I would love to eventually)  and while I have received a number of awards for my images, I really don't do it for that reason.  On the grand scheme of things, the awards I've won are not going to compare with the accolades that many have received. Some people you read their blogs and its all about their prestige and how fabulous they have been this week (again). Prestige is nice, but it doesn't make you a better person.


So... when I take my photographs, I do it for myself, for the sense of completion and peacefulness I feel when I put my eye to the viewfinder and click the shutter.  I know that some people will look at my work and be completely unmoved while others will hate it.  Then once in a while, someone will look at it and love an image and I am truly grateful when I receive feedback like that.  Maybe this next confession is a bit sad but, my computer backgrounds are usually my own images.  Sometimes I just sit and stare and stare at them, because for me, that image captured an emotion and a moment that is eternal and timeless.  One of my favourites examples of this is this one.  I try to put the same emotion in every image I take.  I want to be mesmerised and drawn in.  If I don't feel that way about my own images, I really can't hope for others to like my images.


So recently we headed up to this beautiful and neglected part of the Antrim Coast.  Driving out through Carrickfergus and the little village of Eden (I always smile when I pass the sign for the Garden of Eden) towards Islandmagee. Eventually coming down the Ferris Bay Road,  I pulled into the car park, which looked across Larne Lough at Larne Harbour.


Larne Lough - Fine Art Landscape Photography by Geoff McGrath Northern-Ireland



So while we sat and watched the ferries leave we pulled out a few sandwiches and coffee.


But my attention was elsewhere, because as we pulled into the car park I immediately spotted some boats and especially 2 old ones.  I'd brought both cameras with me as I wanted to have the freedom to shoot with my 11-16mm Tokina as well as my 18-200mm. The Tokina is very versatile and creates some beautiful perspectives especially with distortions.


Old Boat (2) Portmuck - Fine Art Photography by Geoff McGrath Northern-Ireland


I just loved the detail in the wood in these old vessels. I don't think somehow that they will ever see water again. Abandoned and ignored they were a great subject study.



Old Boat (1) Portmuck - Fine Art Photography by Geoff McGrath Northern-Ireland

  Many of my images tend to be on the dark side and that is deliberate. I really enjoy capturing the tonal differences in different textures like stone and wood. So I really wanted to show this detail in the paint and wood on this old boat as much as possible.


Old Boat (3) Portmuck - Fine Art Photography by Geoff McGrath Northern-Ireland

  Again here's another one that just screams character. Honestly why would anyone want to photograph something new and shiny that has little or no character when there is such a lovely example of decay and neglect?


From here, we drove round past Brown's Bay towards Portmuck. I've not shown any images that I took in Brown's Bay as to be honest, I wasn't really feeling anything from the view. It was beautiful but on the day, there was nothing that really moved me about it so I decided to continue round to Portmuck.


And on arriving, I wasn't disappointed. Its easy to just start shooting without thinking of what you want to accomplish... Some of the key elements just present themselves for a good shot at times, but there is always a need to just slow things down and take a look at what is actually right in front of you. With just a slight adjustment, I managed to find some really pleasing foreground detail, in the form of rocks and a grass verge. Just rushing on I would have missed this and for me now, the foreground is a very important element in this shot.


Northern Ireland Landscape - Portmuck - Geoff McGrath-Photography


Equally in this colour image, the foreground was the sweeping path leading the viewer's eye down into the scene. This is another shot that I find really peaceful. I ventured up the top of the steps at Portmuck Harbour on my own and for most of the time, I was totally alone as I drank in this beautiful view.


Northern Ireland Landscape - Portmuck - Geoff McGrath-Photography 4

  Carrying on down the path, I had to watch my step as some of the steps and rails where a bit loose and hauling 2 cameras and a tripod I didn't want to end up falling.

But the risk was worth it. I really loved the view in front of me. Rocks formed the foreground in this shot, with the coastline of the North Antrim Coast stretching into the distance with varying layers of detail and the added presence of mist or fog in the distance, for me, really served to give a sense of the distance.


Northern Ireland Landscape - Portmuck - Geoff McGrath-Photography 8


As I sat and waited for my shot, I just took some time and through over the events of the past few months. This is another things that I love about this style of photography. With it being so peaceful most of the time, you do get time to just sit and evaluate and in a sense appreciate the journey you are on.


Until next time...