Shadows and Stone is the undisputed champion of prehistoric photography sites in Ireland. The work of photographer Ken Williams, it contains an enormous number of high-quality images from Ireland, England and Wales, and Portugal. Within Ireland, the site is organised by the various types of monuments (passage graves, stone circles, rock art, etc) and there are also galleries devoted to solar phenomena such as the Equinox at Loughcrew.
Ken’s work on rock art is astounding. We know first hand how difficult it is to get good photographs of the carvings. Many of them are covered in lichen, obscuring all the detail, and can really only be discerned in long slanting light, such as at sunrise or sunset. Ken uses artificial lighting to capture his excellent images and when we first met him a couple of years ago we asked him how he packed all those lights up to the remote locations in which a lot of rock art is found. He grinned and opened his backpack. “This is my equipment,” he said, “It’s all I use.” Essentially his gear consists of a camera, flashes, and tripods.
If you want to see the difference between what Ken captures and what us ordinary mortals manage to do, take a look at our photograph below of the highly carved panels at Derrynablaha in Kerry. Hard to see anything on them, right? Now click here for Ken’s version!
We met Ken this week at the Bohonagh Stone Circle: he was there to photograph the equinoctial sunset. It was a beautiful evening – perfect conditions to see the sun sink behind the recumbent stone, as it does in these axial stone circles at either the equinox or solstice.
It was a treat to see a master photographer at work and to have Ken explain how he gets those amazing shots. Since we had already had the opportunity to shoot the sunset last March, I knew how difficult it was to portray a scene when you’re aiming directly into the glare of the setting sun. It took a lot of processing afterwards before I could see both the sun and the stones in my shot, and by that time the sky was competely washed out. This time I concentrated on capturing the photographer at work. Ken, meanwhile, worked his usual magic – and here’s the result, included with his permission. Not only can you see everything, including the still blue sky, but his picture captures the mysterious ambiance of the setting and the occasion.
We hope to tag along with Ken again in the future. Meanwhile – our thanks to him for an inspirational day and the great rock art chat.
By the way, it’s been a week of sky photography here in West Cork – first the equinox and then an eclipse! My neck hurts now.