Shooting the breeze: County Limerick photographer wins top national title

A CASTLECONNELL man has won the IPPA Professional Photographer of the Year title for the second time in three years.

A CASTLECONNELL man has won the IPPA Professional Photographer of the Year title for the second time in three years.

Peter O’Donnell’s images, all taken in Castleconnell, also saw him collect the best landscape image and best portfolio award. He is now in the final three of the European Fine Art Photograph of the Year.

Referring to one of his winning portfolio that looks as if it was taken at night, but was actually shot at noon, Peter said, “It’s on the walk from the hermitage to the Castle Oaks. The river is quite dark in certain places so if you expose the swan everything else will go dark. That’s what I like about it. You see the skeleton of the trees. The swan is the focal point of the image even though he is pushed off to the side.

“There were two female swans further up the river. He was going up to them and they were having none of it. He went back and started preening himself up but by the time he got back to them they were gone. It was almost like he was looking at himself in a mirror and making himself as dapper as possible,” said Peter.

Many of his award winning portfolio were taken on the riverbanks of Castleconnell.

“The stretch of the river we have is really beautiful. It is left to its own devices and I really hope that doesn’t change. Mother nature has a lovely way of self regulating. All you have to is turn up with a camera and it is all there in front of you,” said Peter.

The top photo was taken in Moran’s field.

“I saw that one morning cycling to work. I shot it from the road looking off in to the mist. The dead twisted stump of the tree then you have a tree growing as well - there is great contrast between them. There is a young tree growing and then what happens to all of us - we die. You have life, death, birth and renewal in one picture,” said Peter.

While all the viewer sees is the wonderful photos - blood, sweat and tears goes in to them.

“Last year I wanted a shot of Spanish Point. I spent about 800 in diesel going back and forth. If you see something in your mind’s eye it can be a dangerous because you keep going back and back until you capture that. It is the unseen side of the landscape photographer,” said Peter.

For certain shots he has to wait until a certain time of year, correct lighting, where the sun is going to be but then a grey cloud can spoil everything.

“When you get a good shot it is worth it. That’s the real buzz and then to have somebody appreciate it as well,” he said.

Since January, Peter has expanded his website to include on-line tutorials.

Log on to for more info on his work.

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