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Guide how to photography 5 landscape photography spots on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland

Landscape photography in Ireland is stunning. While perhaps less renowned than destinations like the Faroe Islands or Scotland, Ireland still boasts majestic and epic landscapes. Particularly famous for landmarks such as the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara, Ireland has hundreds of other places worth visiting, such as the Dingle Peninsula along the famous Wild Atlantic Way. This coastal road stretches for 2,500km along the west coast of Ireland, from Malin Head in the North to Kinsale in the southwest.

The dramatic and rapidly changing weather is legendary for anyone familiar with Ireland. Rain can arrive within 5 minutes, so it’s essential to have suitable clothing whenever you venture out. However, this unpredictable charm of Irish weather is part of the adventure and will provide you with many opportunities for landscape photography.

In this article, I will share how I photographed 5 locations I visited in Ireland, all along the Wild Atlantic Way, including the Cliffs of Moher, Dunquin Pier and Skellig Islands. All locations are easily accessible by short hikes.

In Ireland, rain brings mystical landscapes, while fine weather reveals vibrant colors! Don’t wait, and discover my 5 favorite photo spots for landscape photography, along with the camera settings used for each of them.

Immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland, as the sun sets on the horizon. This stunning landscape photography, captured by Swiss photographer Jennifer Esseiva and her Nikon D810, offers a wide-angle view of the majestic cliffs. Marvel at the rugged coastline, where the cliffs rise dramatically from the crashing waves below, creating a scene of unparalleled natural beauty. Join Jennifer Esseiva on this visual journey as she captures the timeless allure of one of Ireland's most iconic landmarks.

1. Capturing the Sunset at the Cliffs of Moher

One of Ireland’s iconic landmarks, the Cliffs of Moher, offers a dramatic landscape with towering cliffs that are perfect for landscape photography. Located a 3-hour drive from Dublin, they are easily accessible. I visited them twice, with 10 years between each visit. This photograph was taken in 2010 when the cliffs were more accessible. Please note that today, a low wall has been built to prevent people from getting too close to the edge.

How to get there

There are several ways to reach the Cliffs of Moher. Personally, I began my visit at the Cliffs of Moher Experience, which features a large car park. Admission costs €12 per person. You can start the walk at either end of the cliffs. Either way, the Cliffs of Moher are magnificent, and you’ll have the opportunity to capture some stunning landscape photographs.

Car park
Visitor Center

How I took this photo

The weather that day was perfect. There was no wind, no rain, and the sunset promised to be memorable. For my photograph, I wanted to include the Sea Stack and the O’Brien Tower in my composition. The photo spot is about a 20-minute walk from the Visitor Centre. The path to access it is relatively easy and flat.

For my composition, I took my photo fairly close to the ground to include part of the flat rock, accentuating the leading line over the Cliffs of Moher. Also, I really wanted the Sea Stack to stand out from the rest to make my photograph more dramatic and epic.

Photo spot

My gear and camera settings

Nikon D810, Nikkor 12-24mm f/2.8
ISO 160, f/13, 1/160s

Jennifer Esseiva, a skilled photographer, captures the serene beauty of Dunquin Pier (Cé Dhún Chaoin) on the picturesque Dingle Peninsula along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. Using her Nikon Z8, she employs a long exposure technique to depict the tranquil waters surrounding the pier, creating a mesmerizing effect. This landscape photograph invites viewers to immerse themselves in the tranquil ambiance of this iconic Irish coastal landmark.

2. Discovering Dunquin Pier: Iconic Shot of the Dingle Peninsula

Dunquin Pier, also known as Cé Dhún Chaoin in Gaelic, is located in County Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. The narrow road that winds down to the pier and the pyramid-shaped rocks make it a perfect subject for landscape photography. This tiny harbor, overlooking the Blasket Islands, is a must-see if you’re visiting the Wild Atlantic Way.

How to get there

Dunquin Pier is very easy to get to. Located at the northern end of a small secluded bay surrounded by steep cliffs, you can easily park your car just a few metres away. There is a small track across the grass to a viewpoint just above Dunquin Pier.

Car park

How I took this photo

Ireland’s changeable weather is no myth. The day before, heavy rain and strong winds made it impossible to take photos of Dunquin Pier. It was raining so hard that by the time I retrieved my camera from its bag, the lens was covered in droplets. Determined to capture Dunquin Pier, I scheduled a new photo session for the next morning, as the weather forecast predicted less rain.

The following day, we drove directly to Dunquin Pier to ensure I could capture my shot. I had a very specific image in mind, involving a long exposure to blur the sea. However, the wind was so strong that the tripod struggled to remain steady. In the end, I took two photos: one with a long exposure time for the water, and one with a quick exposure time to focus on the grass and sky. I merged the two images in Adobe Photoshop to create my final photograph, my most desired image from Ireland.

Photo spot

My gear and camera settings

Nikon Z8, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Hoya ND1000 filter, Manfrotto tripod
ISO 160, f/22, 30s

A breathtaking panorama of the Skellig Islands off the coast of Ireland, captured from the Dingle Peninsula. This stunning landscape photograph was taken with a Nikon Z8, showcasing the rugged beauty of the Irish coastline.

3. Photographing the Enigmatic Skellig Islands

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Skellig Islands are only accessible by boat but can be seen from the mainland. One of them has been inhabited for thousands of years by monks, but today they are best known for the birds that nest there and their appearance in Star Wars’ The Force Awakens. I really wanted to go there, but it wasn’t possible because I didn’t have enough time. While hiking at Dunmore Head, I often glanced in their direction, hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Then, all of a sudden, I saw their silhouette gradually emerge from the mist, like a ghost floating above the ocean.

How I took this photo

I haven’t actually been to the Skellig Islands. To capture this photograph, I was at Dunmore Head. The two islets are relatively far away and appear very small on the horizon. If you want to capture a similar photograph, you’ll need a zoom lens.

There were several birds flying overhead that day, so I took multiple photos to ensure I had enough birds to include in my final photograph. The Skellig Islands are known for being home to several species of seabirds, and I loved the idea of being able to photograph them with birds in the sky.

Photo spot

My gear and camera settings

Nikon Z8, Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8
ISO 250, f/13, 1/2000s

Long exposure vertical shot of Conor Pass Waterfall on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland, taken on a foggy, moody afternoon with a Nikon Z8.

4. Moody Conor Pass Waterfall Photography

The Conor Pass is a mountain pass that traverses the Dingle Peninsula, offering some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery. Just a ten-minute drive from Dingle town, the pass sits between Dingle to the south and Kilmore Cross to the north. The winding road promises unforgettable memories, particularly when the weather is clear. The view overlooking Brandon Bay is truly breathtaking. On my initial visit, dense fog and rain obscured much of the scenery. To be frank, all that was visible was the road and a few rocks at the roadside. Nonetheless, the atmospheric conditions were perfect for capturing a photograph of the Conor Pass waterfall. They lent an epic quality and created the illusion of a waterfall much taller than its actual height.

How to get there

Accessing the waterfall is incredibly convenient, as the car park is located right nearby. Simply park your car and retrieve your camera. You can reach the site by road either from the north, via Kilmore, or from the south, via Dingle. Either route will lead you directly to the waterfall, making it impossible to miss.

Car park

How I took this photo

As I enjoy long exposures in landscape photography, this waterfall was no exception. With the thick fog, I felt it lent an even more mystical atmosphere to this spot. To capture this photo, I simply used a tripod and a polarizing filter to eliminate reflections on the water.   

Photo spot

My gear and camera settings

Nikon Z8, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Hoya polarising filter, Manfrotto tripod
ISO 50, f/18, 0.60s  

A panoramic landscape photograph of the Lakes of Killarney in Ireland, showcasing a dramatic sky on a rainy day. The image captures the wild beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way, taken with a Nikon Z8 camera.

5. Dramatic Views Over the Lakes of Killarney

The Lakes of Killarney consist of three stunning lakes situated in Killarney National Park, located in County Kerry, not far from the Dingle Peninsula. If you are traveling along the Wild Atlantic Way, this area serves as a picturesque spot for lake photography. Lough Leane, the largest lake, is adorned with islands and is home to Ross Castle and Ross Island, located on its eastern shore. It is a serene location with beautiful woodlands to explore. Surrounded by majestic mountains, the Lakes of Killarney offer some of the best landscape photography opportunities in Ireland, making it a must-visit for photographers seeking dramatic and serene natural scenes.

Lakes of Killarney information

How to get there

I took this photo on Ross Island. It’s nearly an island, and the starting point is right next to Ross Castle, where you can park your car. To reach the viewpoint, you’ll need to walk for about fifteen minutes. The paths are well-maintained and lead through magnificent woodland. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the beautiful surrounding area.

Car park

How I took this photo

The sky was becoming increasingly threatening and I knew it was going to start raining in the next half hour. Before setting off again, I quickly went to take a look at this viewpoint. I really liked the view of the lake and the mountains. But as soon as I took my Nikon z8 out of the bag, it started to rain. I just had time to take 10 vertical hand-held shots, hoping that would be enough to make a nice panorama. The problem was that with the wind, the rain was horizontal, so if I waited too long I knew I’d miss the dramatic clouds and the rain would cover the lens.

Photo spot

My gear and camera settings

Nikon Z8, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Hoya polarising filter, Manfrotto tripod
ISO 500, f/10, 1/160s
Panorama made of 10 vertical photographs

Published on 06.07.2024 by Jennifer Esseiva