Dunree Fort

A magnificent view awaits those that walk to the top of Dunree Hill

A magnificent view awaits those that walk to the top of Dunree Hill

Dunree, from the Gaelic 'Dun Fhraoigh' - Fort of the Heather, was undoubtedly used by our ancestors on the look out for marauders entering Lough Swilly.  The British, after their brutal campaign in Ireland and having recognized the significance of the protection Dun Fhraoigh offered set about militarizing the hill head with guns such as the BL 6in MK V11 that had a maximum range of 14.4Km, enough to scare off any sea-going vessel.

Orion the Hunter and Sirius stand guard over the guns that stood guard over Lough Swilly

Orion the Hunter and Sirius stand guard over the guns that stood guard over Lough Swilly

During World War 1 it stood guard when Admiral Jellicoe's fleet rested in Lough Swilly just prior to engaging the German Navy at the Battle of Jutland.  Finally, the Irish Free State took control of the fort just before World War 2 and our forces that were stationed there were there to prevent the warring nations violating Ireland's neutrality.

The Starry Plough looks on

The Starry Plough looks on

Today the fort is now a military museum with many restored guns such as the BL 6in.  It is also just a very beautiful walk with panoramic views encompassing the Fanad Peninsula and South Inishowen, full credit must go to those who have laboured diligently on this project and made it into the superb tourist attraction that it is today.

 

Photographing the Geminids Meteor Shower

“Are you interested in attempting to photograph a fireball”? Those were the words said to me by Donegal Photo Tours' Gerard O'Kane exactly one year ago today. His enthusiasm immediately rubbed off so the next few hours were spent on the when?, where? and how? We choose the 13th to meet in Fanad, we'd have a magnificent lighthouse making up our composition and the date corresponded to the peak of the 12 day meteor shower called Geminids. Every year at this time these cosmic debris called meteoroids burn up as they appear to streak across our sky after entering the Earth's atmosphere.

We were at Fanad at 23.30 on the 13th, luckily the sky was beginning to clear and before we had finished our coffee we observed a huge bright streak above, needless to say a refill wasn't sought. About 45 minutes in, and with several fireballs observed but none yet in frame, we had just begun to acknowledge the pure element of luck needed to get both the lighthouse and the fireball in the one picture when in the very next moment a roar of “WHOOOAAAWWOO left our mouths along with a lot of finger pointing, holy fecking and unbridled laughter as a fireball that was 5 times the length of the previous sightings was streaking behind the lighthouse to what seemed to be towards the earth AND it was happening in frame too. Having since gone over the events of that night in December 2013 I've come to the conclusion that there is something to be said about that old saying 'where there's will there's a way'.

Are you interested in attempting to photograph a fireball? Well if you are, a camera and tripod are essential. The reason for the tripod is that slow shutter-speed are necessary to allow the ambient light to record on the camera sensor. For this to happen without blurring the picture, a tripod is a must. For those who are not fussy on composition or are tripodless then a bean-bag or anything for the camera to rest still on can be sufficient. Ideally you want to be away from cities or towns, try seeking out a dark site that's familiar to you, keep in mind that care should be taken especially round the Wild Atlantic Way and in particular round the Coast of Donegal in this coming week of big swells and Spring tides.

For those that are aiming to shoot the sky only, you can set your exposure time to at least 30 seconds, anything over this then bulb-mode and a cable-release are required. For a compositional photograph it would be necessary to try a few test shots to ensure a decent exposure. A few handy tips include shooting 'wide open', this paradoxically is the smallest numbered f/stop i.e. f/2.8. Additionally, as a general rule of thumb, it would be advised to start at ISO 1600, with shutter-speed of 25 seconds and adjust from there. If your shooting with a kit lens, set it to the widest angle possible and use ISO's that your specific camera can handle. Shoot in raw for more flexibility in the digital darkroom but if your not experienced in this format you can get good results in jpeg if you set your white balance between 3700-4200 Kelvin. Take a few test shots always and believe you're lucky.

The Geminids peak this year is predicted to be on the 14th with the last quarter moon rising at 00.18 and with illumination of 55% it still remains a great opportunity to observe and hopefully photograph a fantastic fireball.

If you happen to be lucky enough to capture this amazing celestial event then why not post them on our Facebook page, we would love to see and share them. 

 If you would like to see more of Donegal Photo Tours work or would like to buy a print then you can do this here http://www.donegalphototours.com/shop/  

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New Shop Online now!

New Shop Online now!

Donegal Photo Tours brings you select images of the incredible scenery and heritage along Donegal's Wild Atlantic Way in

Donegal Photo Tours brings you select images of the incredible scenery and heritage along Donegal's Wild Atlantic Way in our online shop and gallery with free shipping to anywhere in the world!  Our photos are high quality prints and we also provide top notch framing for that perfect gift!

So even if you can't visit Ireland right now, you can still order a little piece of Ireland for your home!
Check it out the shop now!

 

How to view the Aurora along Donegal's Wild Atlantic Way

Aurora Hunting in Donegal

If you ever have seen an Aurora photo taken from Ireland it is very possible it was taken in Donegal (not to say you can’t see it from other Counties) but the chances are very high it was from Donegal.  

So you are lover of photography with a desire to see and capture an image of the Aurora Borealis / Northern Lights dancing across our Irish sky at night.  Where do you go?  Well Donegal is a good place to start, and where in Donegal I hear you say.  We'll explore these questions below, but let’s start with a few rules first.

Safety first: Team up with a friend or a group and wear warm waterproof clothing with a good pair of rugged boots as it can get pretty cold and uncomfortable standing around a beach or hillside during an Aurora hunt, hot drinks and snacks can make your evening more enjoyable along with good company.

Locations are dotted across the northern and north-western coast line, basically you want a location without a town or village in your line of sight looking north as not to pick up any light pollution given out by even a small village.

Inishowen’s Malin Head is a good start and also the Fanad Head coastline.  Depending on the strength of the aurora you can capture anything from a KP index of 4 to a whopping KP 7.

Sounds easy trust me it’s not.   Getting a lot of factors together is what makes this event in Donegal so unique. Firstly, is the Sun having a large explosion spitting out particles in the direction of earth. Secondly, is being on the dark side of the earth when this happens i.e. night time.  Thirdly, our own weather system needs to have clear skies and preferably no or a low illuminated moon. 

When does the Sun create these explosions? 

Randomly so please view the link which monitors this activity this one give a 3 day forecast http://www.auroraforecast.com/

And also http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/alerts/warnings_timeline.html

These are prediction sites that give you some warning of an upcoming Aurora event.

Other sites like http://www.softservenews.com/Aurora.htm  and http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/ are great as they give you a 40 minute warning, a must web site to be saved in your phone internet favourites.

And just as important as space weather predictions is earth weather predictions and we find http://www.yr.no/place/Ireland/Ulster/Malin_Head/ very good.

  So a typical index of KP 4 has green band on the horizon


To a KP index of 7 as shown below 

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We are available for bespoke Aurora Hunting Tours, contact us on donegalphototours@gmail.com for futher details

Tomb of the ancient Irish

Kilclooney Dolmen 

Mars over Spica

Kilclooney Dolmen is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and impressive ancient monuments in the entire country.

The Stone Age inhabitants of Ireland were great builders as well as great warriors, male and female. Over a thousand of their monuments survive to this day,   Kilclooney Dolmen is particularly graceful and artistic, poised like a great bird of prey about to soar into the sky. The Dolmen, or Cromleac, also known as a portal tomb, usually is covered with earth and smaller stones to form a barrow, and in this case the covering has weathered away leaving the magnificent stone skeleton of the burial chamber intact.

Bád Eddie - An Bun Beag/Bunbeg, Co. Donegal

Bád Eddie - Bunbeg, Gaoibh Dobhair, Co. Donegal

Bád Eddie - Bunbeg, Gaoibh Dobhair, Co. Donegal

Another view of the shipwreck with the rays shining onto Magherclogher Strand

Another view of the shipwreck with the rays shining onto Magherclogher Strand

Captain Gerard O'Kane.  One of our intrepid Photograpers!

Captain Gerard O'Kane.  One of our intrepid Photograpers!

Bád Eddie is the magnificent shipwreck marooned on the long sandy shores of Magherclogher Beach in Gaobh Dobhair Co. Donegal.  The Ship is called Cara na Mara or Friend of the sea in English and ran aground during a fierce storm in the 1970's.

These days its provides a striking landmark and attracts photographers and curious tourists to investigate its remains while walking the glittering shoreline of Bunbeg.  It remains a proud part of the the local heritage, overlooked by Mount Errigal, but get to it soon as it may not last too many more winter storms

 

Milky Way meets the Wild Atlantic Way

The night sky has created a sense of wonder since the dawn of Man. Some things never change. Unfortunately, current street lamps that illuminate as much above as below really make it difficult for people in large built up areas to see the night sky's magnificence clearly enough. Though, with night skies like this surely Donegal will be considered for International Dark Sky recognition. Visit the site here ; http://www.darksky.org/  

Crothy Head

Friends and fellow photography enthusiasts. Do you look at your camera with a sense of bewilderment? Are the functions in these cameras leaving you baffled? Do you wish to capture the best possible shot of a particular scene? Donegal Photo Tours are here to help. http://www.donegalphototours.com/ Surveying the secreted sea-stacks of Crothy is sure to inspire your inherent artistic side.

Donegal Photo Tour instructors will guide you through the basics of your equipment and will give advice on composition techniques and of using ambient light to your best advantage enabling you, the photographer, to capture the beauty of the area through your lens.

Whether it's blowing strong Wild Atlantic Way winds with the swell lashing the rocks and angry skies bellowing from above, or still tranquil waters and majestically white puffy clouds, Donegal Photo Tours will endeavor to ensure that all tour participants go home with a picture perfect photograph that, with pride, will be printed and popped up in a prominent area of your house.

Visit Donegal and if you want to image our rugged beauty in an easy, relaxed and informative setting then why not give us a call? Booking is now available on the Donegal Photo Tours website http://www.donegalphototours.com/ or alternatively get in touch through our Facebook account. Get the picture?

Image attached is of Crothy Hd. 18/08/14

Kinnego Bay

Kinnego Bay, Inishowen, Co.Donegal

Beyond this rock in Kinnego Bay, Co.Donegal the wreck the Spanish War Ship, La Trinidad Valencera rests on the sea bed.
It was back in September 1588 when it was one of a 130-strong fleet sent by King Philip II of Spain to invade England (1,000 tons, Levant squadron, 360 men, 42 guns) which had taken on more water than could be pumped out. Yet as it approached the coast it managed to rescue 264 men from the Barca de Amburgo, another ship swamped in the heavy seas. The Trinidad anchored in Kinnego Bay Co.Donegal, where she listed to such a degree that the order was given to abandon ship. Some locals were paid for the use of a small boat, and over the course of two days all 560 men were ferried to shore.