Photographing Ireland's North West and South West by Carsten Krieger
The wild west coast of Ireland, pounded by Atlantic waves, is a romantic place of soaring cliffs, lonely beaches and bays, scattered crofts and farms, rich with Celtic traditions and culture. The 2,500km coastline is quite aptly named the Wild Atlantic Way, a grand tour starting from the Old Head of Kinsale in the south and following the jagged coastline all the way to Malin Head in the north. Inland from the coast are sparsely populated areas of mountains, loughs, boglands, moorland and woodlands, rich in Irish history, crafts, music and people – the Burren, Connemara, Kerry and Donegal will be familiar to many.
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Ireland has a strong photographic tradition and is loved by many photographers but one photographer who has an enduring love affair with Ireland is Carsten Krieger. Carsten has an impressive list of 15 Irish photography books on his CV from The Fertile Rock – Seasons in the Burren in 2006 to his more recent 2015 coffee table book, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and the soon to be published, Ireland’s Ancient East (out in June).
Carsten has been busy for the last year photographing and writing two fotoVUE photo-location guidebooks Photographing Ireland’s North West and its companion volume Photographing Ireland’s South West as well as other book projects and his commercial photography.
Although busy, and with a young family who live on Loop Head in County Clare, Carsten found time to explain what Ireland means to him and what he is up to at the moment.
Before my first visit to Ireland I remember reading in some guidebook that Ireland is a miniature version of Europe. This of course is a bit of an overstatement but at the same time there is some truth in it. You can start the evening in some remote mountain valley and then head over to the coast to catch the sunset on a sandy beach or at the cliffs.
On Ireland’s west coast you have very different environments and habitats close together, especially on the peninsulas of the south west. There are ancient oak forests, mountain ranges, blanket bogs, lakes and rivers, sandy and rocky shores, sheer cliffs and in addition a wealth of historic monuments that are in most cases an integral part of the landscape. On top of that you also have some specialties like the Burren, a limestone karst landscape with a unique flora; the Shannon Estuary with Europe’s only resident group of bottlenose dolphins and more recently Ireland’s west coast became part of a galaxy far, far away when scenes for Star Wars were shot on Skellig Micheal, the Dingle Peninsula, Loop Head and Malin Head.
I have been photographing Ireland’s west coast for some twenty years now and it never got boring. It’s not the trendy place to go at the moment but I think Ireland can still compete with Iceland or Antarctica.
Beside the guidebooks for fotoVUE I am working on two other books at the moment: One will feature a rather underrated part of Ireland, the midlands with Ireland’s longest river the Shannon and its lakelands. I have widely ignored this area as well so far which as it turned out was a big mistake. It’s a beautiful part of Ireland and full of surprises.
The other book which is in its infant stages is one I wanted to make for a number of years: Ireland’s offshore islands. Ireland’s islands are very special, the whole mood and pace of life is very different to the mainland and I hope to be able to capture this. I am also currently learning to fly a drone but so far I have to admit I can’t see what all the hype is about. A drone provides an unusual perspective but for me it takes the fun out of photography and also destroys the peace and quiet that should come with landscape photography.
We will keep you posted on Carsten’s progress over the next year, but look out next week for an article by Carsten at fotovue.com about why he switched to mirrorless cameras.
You can find out more about Carsten at his new website /www.carstenkrieger.photography