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(December 17-21, 2004)

Brian O'Reilly

Saint Fin Barr's Oratory

Peter O'Donnell

Mohra Lake

Commeragh Mountains, County Waterford, Éire (Ireland)

18th December 2004, 9:22am

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© 2004 Peter O'Donnell, All Rights Reserved.

Since the last WWP project on bridges, I have been counting the days 'till it was time to get out there and do it all over again. I read with great interest the article that Don had written about sanctuary and what it meant. I spent hour wondering what the most suitable location for my panorama was going to be.

Ireland has always been, and still is, a very religious country, so there is no shortage of religious sanctuaries. We have wildlife sanctuaries and bird sanctuaries. There are sanctuaries for abused women and families of abuse nearby. There is a seal sanctuary and a donkey sanctuary within driving distance.

I pondered on this for hours and I was not happy with any one of them. Personally sanctuary to me means somewhere I can find peace and contentment and once I asked myself the question, what is sanctuary?, I knew straight away what I was going to do.

I work at a computer all day everyday. At the weekends I get to let my hair down and go for a ramble. Over the last year I have fallen in love with the Commeragh Mountains of Co. Waterford. Walking these mountains, although exhausting at times, never fails to fill me with a complete feeling of contentment, satisfaction and achievement.

I was overjoyed that I had finally decided what I was going to shoot. In late November I was walking along one of the many ridges of the Commeraghs and looked down upon a small lake that was nestled below me. I knew I had found my subject.

The weather was pretty good all week, very windy, cold and just a little rain. Nice white fluffy clouds dotted the skies, some interesting sunrises and sunsets. I had a good feeling about this project.

Saturday, December 18th 7.00 am, time to get up. You didn't have to ask me twice to get out of the bed. I left my nice warm bed and lovely wife, got dressed and looked out the window.


To say it was dull and overcast was an understatement. Probably one of the most depressing mornings I have gotten up to so far this winter, and now even more so, as the day had a very important purpose. I didn't let it get me down. I knew that the sun was due up soon and the weather on the hills can change in the blink of an eye.

I headed for my destination. I took a wrong turn and arrived nearly half an hour late. The day was getting better and better. After a short trek, I found my subject, Mohra lake, and was amazed by it stillness. I was not going to let the weather get me down. The mountain peaks were covered in a mist, I was praying that it would blow off to reveal their splendor. I walked around the lake and found the spot where I was going to shoot from. It was still dull and around 8.45am now. I set up my gear and decided to wait for just a little longer. I think my eyes were fooling me into believing that it was going to clear up any second now. I waited.

20 minutes later, it starts to rain and the cloud is starting to move down the slopes. S*%t, f%*k and s*%t!!! There was nothing for it, except to start shooting. 2 minutes later I'm packed up and descending from my vantage point, still cursing. On my way down I brushed off of or stood on some fox's droppings, I now smelt pretty bad and was cursing even more so. Got back to the van and said to myself, that's what panoramas are all about, capturing a moment. With that in mind I headed home. I couldn't believe it when I manage to get lost again on the way back. Forest roads in the mist can be quite deceiving, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. On the way home, still cursing, I was thinking to myself do I have a plan B and if so, what is it? Thoughts rushed through my head, that's it!, I could swing by the bird sanctuary and take a backup panorama. Sounded good so I went for it.

The local bird sanctuary, Marlfield Lake, is a beautiful spot on the outskirts of Clonmel. When I got there, my jaw dropped, even the birds weren't up to much today and the normally friendly Mallards and Mute swans were too shy. The place is normally teeming with birds, I went home with my tail between my legs.

Right, that's it, on with the show I said after I got out of the shower. Brought my images into stitcher, only to discover that in the rush to get the panorama complete I must have hit off the zoom ring on the lens and changed the focal length during the shooting. I smiled to myself and stitched what I could in stitcher and repaired the damage in photoshop. 3.10pm in the afternoon and I complete one of the most difficult panoramas I have ever done.

I can now take sanctuary in the fact that I completed what I set out to do.

Europe / Ireland

Lat: 52° 18' 11" N
Long: 8° 36' 44" W

Elevation: 462m

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: High. Pinpoints the exact spot.

Canon EOS 20D, Kaidan head with self leveller, Manfrotto tripod, Realvis Stitcher & Photoshop, Apple Computer.

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