Ballydowane is one of the most visited coves on the copper coast by photographers, and for good reason. It has some of the most interesting rock formation on the whole coast line and is easily accessible. The two key features are a set of rocks on the west side of the beach which beautifully mirror each other and on the east side there is one of the most striking sea stack in Ireland in my opinion.
Ballydowane is situated between Stradbally and Bunmahon on the coast road, the easiest way to get to it is go to Bunmahon and on the road out of the town towards Dungarvan take the first left , Ballydowane is about 1.5 miles down this road on the left , access down a small roads at a dip in the road, it is signposted if you keep an eye out. At high tide the beach gets almost fully covered but the brave can get to both ends if you are careful and the swell isn’t too big. While there are opportunities at all tide levels I feel its best at higher tide level in terms of opportunities for longer exposures but the lower tides can give alternate opportunities for reflections in the wet sand in the receding tides.
The stack on the east side has been made famous by the work of Rohan Riley among others . It is a beautiful isolated stack with an almost feminine curved shape. In my opinion there is really on one angle to shoot it from getting the full extent of that curve , which is almost head on from the beach, as you move your prospective it narrows the bottom section of the stack. There is also another stack much higher up on the beach which can be used as a compositional element and compliments it nicely. The Key with the smaller stack is that it is right on the high tide line and needs to be a very high tide to get water in around it. Also the sand shifts a lot here and in my opinion is is much more pleasing when there is sand there. You can see from the 2 images below the differences with the shifting sand.
The stack itself lends itself to a minimal composition because it is, in its own right, a beautiful structure. It can be shot from many angles and has a much more triangular shape if shot from further east and often at sunset with the sun setting behind it (in winter).
The rocks on the east side of the beach have plenty of interest if conditionals allow you to get out along them, this image was taken under moon light hence the very blue colour.
The west side also has a lot to offer if you decide to explore the very many different angles to shoot from, again probably high or close to high tide is best to remove the busy rocks that are between the various large formations present there.
For the more adventurous there is plenty to see and shoot from around the headland to the west side, access at low tide and be very careful of incoming tide as it will isolate you very quickly. I’m yet to really get a decent shot from here but I do think there’s lots of potential there and I’m waiting to get the right conditions to get it.
Ballydowane is truly one of the highlights on the Copper Coast and a must see if you are on the Copper Coast. There are many compositions available and I am always astounded when I see yet another original view point or technique used to shoot it. The sands shift fairly dramatically there regularly and can make very different images possible. For example the curve in the stream in the top image of the blog really only lasted a few weeks and was washed away and changed course.
In terms of time of the day, there are benefits in both dawn and sunset , shooting west at sunset can be exceptional in the right conditions and time of year. The sunrise and sunset positions are best during the winter months, but during the summer you will still get direct light up to an hour before sunset. I decided to show a few color images in this post as I feel there area has been done extensively in B&W and I like to try something different in my own processing from time to time.
Final Images are an update since I originally posted this blog, got a chance to do some astrophotography finally, here are my first attempts at this, including a short timelapse below
Thanks for reading and I hope this post will be of help to somebody. Next up, back to Kerry.