Outdoor photography in Northern Ireland

With miles of beautiful coastline and huge stretches of countryside, Northern Ireland has a wealth of panoramic views worth capturing on camera. If you like snapping the perfect picture when in picture perfect places, here are five top tips from a professional photographer on how to frame up the ultimate image in natural spaces.

We asked regular National Trust NI visitor and local photographer, Paul Moane to share his top five tips for photographing natural landscapes. Whether you’re a beginner or more experienced photographer, try out his photography tips on your next nature adventure and take home more magic memories.

‘Working as a photographer in Northern Ireland is quite special. Within a two-hour drive lies a diversity of landscapes. From our stunning rugged coastlines with sandy beaches to the local mountains with bogs, peatlands and lakes – we do have it all.’

1. Plan ahead

Set your alarm and get up early to make the most of the day ahead. Sunrise or sunset offer the warm tone that gives photographs a real magical look.

2. Observe

Look at the colours, light and landmarks around you. Use scale, perspective and the patterns of the surroundings. Bring the camera close to flowers and foliage. Experiment using pathways, rivers or landmark buildings to lead the viewer in.

3. Weather watch

The weather can change very quickly, so be prepared for all the elements on one day. Embrace the wet weather, photograph reflections in puddles, patterns on a crisp morning, silhouettes of trees and the dramatic light of the sun breaking through the rain. Experiment with sunlight, shoot into it to produce rays of light/flare.

4. Keep it simple

Simple scenes can be stronger. Rather than capturing a lot of details in the one picture, take a few different versions of the same scene. Using one interesting element in the image and leaving plenty of space can be powerful.

5. Go for it

Get out there. Learn to see things differently – colours, scale, patterns, perspective in the great outdoors. Capture our stunning landscape in the different seasons and, most of all, enjoy your photographic journey.

Put Paul's top tips into action on your next day out in nature. Wondering where to explore?

Places to inspire

Famed for its outstanding natural beauty, the landscapes of Northern Ireland are remarkably diverse. From the loughs of the Fermanagh lakelands to the drumlin landscape of Strangford Lough to the bizarrely shaped basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway and wild granite peaks of the Mourne Mountains, there's panoramic views in every corner. With many miles of beautiful coastline and huge stretches of countryside, there's a wealth of famous sights and hidden gems to enjoy.

Coastal adventures   

Northern Ireland offers a spectacular range of walks for the serious rambler and for those who just want to take a short stroll. On the north coast enjoy bracing walks and dramatic views at the Giant’s Causeway. Nearby, discover the historic ruins of Downhill Demesne, or stroll along the majestic sweeping arc of White Park Bay. Discover the tiny village of Glenoe near Larne with its spectacular waterfall, while the footpath along Skernaghan Point on the northern tip of Islandmagee leads to open headland, cliffs, coves and beautiful beaches.

The County Down coastline has much to offer, with rocky shore and heathland at Ballymacormick Point, and wildfowl, wading birds and gulls at Orlock Point. Strangford Lough, one of Europe’s key wildlife habitats offers bracing coastal walks, rock pools bursting with marine life and spectacular bird watching. Further south, the fragile 6,000 year old sand dunes of Murlough National Nature Reserve is an extraordinarily beautiful dune landscape with a network of paths and boardwalks – perfect for walking.

Lapwings over Strangford Lough
Lapwings flying over a misty Strangford Lough
Lapwings over Strangford Lough

Wild countryside   

Escape to some of the best ‘off-the-beaten track’ experiences. Just a stone’s throw from Belfast, the heathland rich Divis and the Black Mountain provide the stunning backdrop to the city’s skyline and a perfect haven for those in search of wild countryside. Other rural escapes in the Belfast area include the woodland paths of Collin Glen and the fine riverbank and meadows of Minnowburn, as well as the wonderful waterfalls at Lisnabreeny.

In mid-Ulster the woodland of Ballymoyer has the atmosphere and mystery of a fairy glen. While to the west of the region idyllic County Fermanagh is perfect walking country, boasting a kaleidoscope of tranquil landscapes to discover; including the woodland and wetlands of Crom on the serene shores of Lough Erne.

For a real walk on the wild side, our Mourne Mountain paths allow hikers to enjoy the dramatic scenery of Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, majestic Slieve Donard, as well as neighbouring Slieve Commedagh. Visitors to Ballyquintin Farm, on the Ards Peninsula, can enjoy stunning views of Strangford Lough and learn how this critical site is managed for wildlife and conservation.

The old castle ruins at Crom
The old castle ruins at Crom
The old castle ruins at Crom


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