Think Europe is too far away or too pricey for a quick getaway? Not Ireland.
A little more than six hours by air from New York City, Dublin offers all the photo opportunities of a historic European city at lighter prices than more traveled cities such as London and Paris. And its small scale means you can easily explore the most colorful sites in a three-day jaunt.
From a centrally located hotel, most of the scenes you'll want to capture will be within walking distance. Dozens of hop-on/hop-off buses circle the city day and night.
There's plenty to shoot: beautiful parks, major museums, a thriving music scene, a sprawling zoo, and distinctive architecture. With few office highrise buildings to get in your way, you can compose many scenes much as they would have appeared to Oscar Wilde or James Joyce.
Want to use a tripod or flash? No problem. In three days of shooting in and around Dublin in churches, castles, pubs, and government buildings, I met no objections to either.
Best of all-at least for photographers-the golden hour lasts all day long. Dublin is farther north than most of the continental U.S., so, especially in winter, the sun is very low on the horizon, even at midday. So for much of the year, almost every daylight hour you get the low-angle, strafing light that can add long, shapely shadows, visual depth, and texture to your pictures.
And if you're looking for luxury for less, five-star hotels cost around $200 per night, compared with up to $400 elsewhere in Europe.
There's probably no more beautiful season to visit the Emerald Isle than in springtime, as the daylight lengthens and the greenery begins to bloom.
Here are eight great places for a quick photo tour of Dublin.
1 TEMPLE BAR. With picturesque alleys and cobblestone streets, lovers walking arm-in-arm, and wall-to-wall pubs bursting with music, the Temple Bar entertainment district makes an excellent starting point. Natives and visitors throng day and night, so it's great for people pictures and the best part of Dublin for capturing nightlife. Temple Bar is also home to...
2 THE GALLERY OF PHOTOGRAPHY. Located on Meeting House Square, Ireland's top showplace for fine-art photography hosts ongoing exhibitions, houses a great bookshop, and, if you shoot black-and-white film, rents darkroom space for two days if you take out a 7-euro visitor's membership. (www.galleryofphotography.ie)
3 CITY HALL. On traffic-snarled Dame Street, City Hall is capped by a beautiful-and oft-photographed-rotunda. Dating back to the late 1700s, the bright, quiet, and spacious dome comes as a shock when you enter from the narrow streets. Bring along a tripod for a steady shot upward.
4 DUBLIN CASTLE. Its centerpiece is the crenellated Record Tower from the 13th century. Walk up to its base from the Dubh Linn Gardens side, and, on an overcast day, shoot upwards to include the parapet and a foreboding sky. Inside, set your camera flat on the floor and use a wide-angle lens to shoot down the long arched State Corridor.
5 CHRIST CHURCH AND ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRALS. Steps from Dublin Castle and Town Hall, Christ Church is smaller than the grand St. Patrick's. When there's no service going on, it's a better choice for photographing Gothic architecture, simply because the crowds are thinner. It's dark, though, so a tripod is a must.
St. Patrick's is brighter and-with its monochromatic statuary, walls, and columns-great for black-and-white. Time your visit for when the sun hits the longer nave walls, falling through the row of vaulted windows to form a colonnade of light.
Both churches charge admission to tourists, so make sure you have euros in your pocket.
6 ST. STEPHAN'S GREEN. A center-city park with winding paths and duck ponds ringed with weeping willows, St. Stephen's Green makes a great backdrop for lovers, pram-pushing nannies, and (most of the year) parades of uniformed school children. In spring, you'll find swans rearing their goslings. Rain expected? Bring protection for your gear, because in the Green's 22 acres, there's almost nowhere to take shelter.
7 MERRION SQUARE. One of the British Isles' finest Georgian-style residential squares, its central park is much more colorful in warmer months, but all year long you will find excellent views of this distinctive architectural form. (the poet W.B. Yeats, playwright Oscar Wilde, and patriot Daniel O'Connell lived at 82, 1, and 58 Merrion Square, respectively). Crop tightly
around adjacent doors for contrasts of architectural style, color, and hardware.
8 HA'PENNY BRIDGE. Crossing the Liffey and connecting Dublin's entertainment and business districts, the visually humble, wrought-iron Ha'penny is a symbol of Dublin. The best time to shoot it is after dark, from the O'Connell Bridge. Compose to include the bridge and its reflection in the river below. No tripod? Rest your camera on the O'Connell's extra-wide railing.
For more information about these and other destinations in Ireland, phone Tourism Ireland-Peter Kolonia's hosts for his trip-at (800) 223-6470, or visit www.discoverireland.com.