Maritime Cork: ‘A measure of wetness’ for Rory to get that perfect shot

Maritime Cork: ‘A measure of wetness’ for Rory to get that perfect shot

Local man Rory O’Connor at his exhibition of photographs which continues in Mayfield Library, Cork, until the end of January. Picture: Denis Minihane

There are a lot of beaches on the shoreline from Youghal on the East Cork coastline to Dingle in Co Kerry.

Rory O’Connor from Montenotte has traversed them because he is passionate about photographing the sea and the shore.

“My interest in the sea started when I was very young,” he says.“I used to go to Youghal on my holidays. The beach was a place of enjoyment.

“Over time my interest changed from swimming in it to photographing it, and the more I did that the more interested I became in the sea.

“The beaches and the interaction of the sea on the beaches fascinate me.”

The result of that fascination and interest in the sea is on display at an exhibition of his photographs in Mayfield Branch Library, entitled The Natural World As I See It.

Rory is a member of Blarney Photography Club, ranked as one of the top 20 clubs of its type in the world.

Last year, for the third year in a row, the club was given this accolade at the 2018 FIAP World Cup for clubs. Two of Rory’s images of southern Irish beaches were amongst the 20 the club exhibited to gain the ranking. They are among the photographs that are now on display in Mayfield.

“I have a huge respect for the sea,” Rory says. “I learned to swim early in life and I did a bit of lifesaving. I’ve seen people come a cropper on occasion on a beach because they didn’t take enough care.

“You should never turn your back on the sea because you never know what’s going to happen and maybe, from all that I have seen through my photography, I have a little fear as well.

“There is a connection between what you can see happening at your feet when you stand on a beach and relate this to the colours in the sky and what is happening above your head.

“These make fascinating seascapes.”

When it comes to the Cork coastline he has concentrated his photography between Youghal and Long Strand in West Cork and displays the results in both black-and-white and colour images.

One of them he described as “creepy” because it was the “only time in all my years photographing on beaches that I came across a tide like it”.

This was on Ballycroneen, an exposed beach near Ballycotton.

“The tide was coming in slowly and the water started to creep along the side like oil,” Rory says. “There was no wave movement and then I got a reflection of the clouds actually on the water.

“Normally you’d get that on the sand when the water retreats, but this was the first and last time I’ve ever seen this.

“It was a most unusual phenomenon and I shot it. I’ve never seen that again.”

His toughest shoot was, perhaps not surprisingly, at the Fastnet Rock.

“It was very difficult. The boat I was on was rocking in all directions,” Rory says.

“There was a huge swell at the Fastnet that day. It was great to get the shot but I was glad when we arrived back in Baltimore!”

Does he get wet photographing the sea?

“Unfortunately I do, on occasion. I don’t set out to get wet, but it does happen.

“It’s what I call a ‘measure of wetness.’ I try to keep it below the hips but many of these images coincided with getting a good wetting as I had to stand in the sea at times to get the image I wanted!

“The beauty of photography on a beach is that the same location will offer a completely different set of conditions from one day to the next.”

Rory says he would be happy to introduce anyone to photography, especially seascape photography, as long as they are prepared to get wet!

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