Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

Despite only being an hour and a half flight away from London, I had never previously visited the Emerald Isle. After living abroad in the US and New Zealand I realised I had traveled far around the world but had not spent enough time exploring whats on my doorstep. I booked a 3 day long weekend trip flying to Cork with the plan of driving around the coast and the Ring of Kerry. 

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Molls Gap Ireland, 2017)

I drove from Cork to Cloanakilty for Lunch and then take the coastal roads to Bantry where I’d stop the first night. Saturday the route was through the Killarney National Park and onward anti-clockwise around the ring of Kerry, staying the evening in Waterville (apparently Charlie Chaplins favourite holiday destination!). The next day would mainly consist of the drive to Cork and a short trip to the Blarney Castle, where you can kiss the Blarney Stone (if thats your sort of thing – and it does seem to be the thing to do for busses and busses and busses of American tourists). 

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Killarney National Park Ireland, 2017)

From a photography perspective I took my Bronica as I hoped to get some good landscapes in medium format. I also took my digital, which to be honest I should have left at home (although it was useful for metering!) What I would say is that (good) weather can be unpredictable. The light for the whole trip (including sunset and sunrise) was relatively poor as it was a mixture of fog, rain and only small glimmers of blue sky. I’d taken 3 backs for the Bronica with a roll of Portra 400, TMax 400 and FP4. As it turned out I only took 2 exposures on FP4 (this was supposed to be for long exposures keep reading for more context). Getting the photos back I must say that I much prefer my B&W TMax images (another post with these coming soon). I took quite a few similar shots at the cliffs of Kerry in both B&W and Colour and I think the B&W works alot better with the overcast sky. The colour ones are ok, I like the purple heather, but I think colour is actually more of a distraction to the power of the landscape with these. Despite generally being a big fan of the square 6×6 format I’ve found myself cropping quite a few down to a conventional image ratio. Acquiring a 6×4.5 back is definitely on my to do list.

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

I ‘d taken a tripod expecting to do some long exposures with an ND filter, something I’ve not done yet on film. However, somewhat stupidly, after setting up my first shot on a beach just out of Cloanakilty I went to change the shutter to Bulb mode and I was perplexed; where the hell was it? So it turns out there is no bulb mode on the body, but some lenses have a switch on them to allow this. I didn’t end up trying this out until I got home and I can report its a bit of a pain in the arse. You’ve got to unscrew something and then flip the switch back to stop the exposure. At least this way it doesn’t run down the batteries.

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

If you’re reading this researching a trip like this some tips I would give:

  • Check out Giles Normans work (such as Ireland: Timeless Images) for inspiration
  • Leave more time – 3 days to do the ring of Kerry and the south Coast from Cloanakilty was not really enough time to relax – it was alot of driving.
  • Definitely visit some seafood restaurants (such as O’Conners Seafood in Bantry which was excellent)
  • Try and see some music while you’re there. I saw some excellent traditional Irish music at the Lobster pub in Waterville.