Going into our trip, the Cliffs of Moher were certainly one of the most anticipated and challenging photo shoots. To find a great location without hoards of people and the proper light was going to be difficult. Looking at the weather forecast we knew the evening we arrived was out best and possibly only chance to get decent lighting. Apparently it rains a lot in Ireland. A lot! On our way we had a few challenges. The roads out of Dublin were reasonably wide and well paved, however as we got closer to the cliffs, the roads became unforgiving, literally. It was hard enough driving on the wrong side of the road, but when there were centimeters of space on either side of the car. Next thing we knew, we blew a tire. Spare you ask, yes, but there were funky caps over the lug nuts and we sat puzzled and called for help. All the while, our precious light was mocking us. Perfect skies, but for how long? Fortunately, we figured it out, swapped on the donut and frighteningly putted down the road. If it was bad before, it was far worse on a donut.
We eventually arrived at the Elements B&B with the sun still shining. We were greeted by the friendliest couple in the world (Keith and Christine). They were also very helpful (not to mention served an incredible breakfast, which was a cook-to-order feast). They taught us how to go the back way, avoid the crowds, and even save a few euro in fees. There is a small car park for two euro on the opposite side of the cliffs. This was perfect. There were a few people milling about, but basically we had it to ourselves. The walk up, wasn’t bad, but it was cold and very windy. We found a great spot, but wanted to wait for later light. We decided to give it an hour or two and while we did, all the light disappeared. Clouds rolled in and we thought we had missed our opportunity. But if you don’t like the weather in Ireland, wait a minute, and it will change. We finally got reasonable light and Jennifer slipped into the dress quickly. I even donned my tux for a quick shot.
Special thanks to Mike Rupertus for clicking this rare shot of Jennifer with me in the tux!
We originally didn’t have other plans for the area, but with our shoot done at the “Cliffs of Insanity” (See the Princess Bride to understand) we were looking for other possibilities. Keith and Christine were full of ideas. We first went to Ballinalacken Castle. The 15th century castle stands tall over the Ballinalacken Country House Hotel. Keith had called ahead and arranged everything. We entered entrance hall and were greeted warmly by the family run establishment and peat moss fueled fireplace. Shortly, we were taken on a private tour of the castle and a visit to a steed named Betsy who we hoped to lure into our photo with carrots that Keith and Christine gave us. While I don’t remember the entire history at one point when all the other castles were being sacked by invaders, the owners of Ballinalacken Castle took down the roof and told the invaders it was already attacked. It worked and when they moved on they put the roof back on. Brilliant!
After the tour we had a three course gourmet meal and then sat around waiting for blue light. All of the family members were super kind. When the light was finally right, it was cold, dark and very windy. We got into position and bribed Betsy into the scene with small pieces of carrot. All was set until I turned on my 4,000 lumen flashlight to light up the castle. How none of us though about this before is amazing, but Betsy took one look at that flash of light and sprinted off. We continued without Betsy and although there was a lot of cloud cover, got the following shot:
With a day left and more rain in the forecast we headed indoors to the Doolin Cave. The cave is situated across the street from Ballinalacken Castle. While we had a simple walk down approximately 125 steps down to the longest stalactite in the Northern hemisphere, the cave explorers that discovered the cave by crawling on their bellies for nearly a quarter of a mile. Seeing parts of the original cave where they preceded forward with no knowledge if they had any turn around really pulled you into the sense of adventure that they, not us, had. While we couldn’t get the light we wanted without asking them to shut all the lights off and providing our own, we did snap a quick pic.