Story Behind the Shot: Game of Thrones Avenue of Trees

by Blaze Nowara May 21, 2016

This shot came from Drew Cain, a Matador Creators Community member and photographer. Drew writes:

I first saw this captivating avenue of trees several years ago in a collage of photos from the UK. No note was made of the road’s location, but the image left a lasting impression. It took several hours browsing thousands of images to finally come across another then a few reverse image searches and a little dumb luck to finally pinpoint it on a map. Funny thing is, had I been watching Game of Thrones, I would have seen it featured in the 2nd episode.

Of the 8 months we spent photographing our way through Europe in 2015, nearly five weeks were dedicated to exploring Ireland with over a dozen very specific shots on the wish list including this one. The avenue alone makes for a beautiful photo, but we felt a stronger subject – something to anchor the image might be worth considering. Katja, my partner, came up with the umbrella concept in the days leading up to the shoot, sending us on a lengthy wild goose chase through 5 towns and dozens of shops in search of just the right red umbrella.

You’d think in a place receiving as much rain as Ireland that a big red umbrella would be easy to find. It’s not.

We arrived long after dark, and after checking in, walked the few hundred meters from our beautiful suite at The Hedges hotel to scope out the location in preparation for an early morning of shooting. A few challenges became apparent during our initial inspection; primarily that this was an active street, not a private drive, and at even this late hour, cars frequently passed. Secondly, the distance between trees was significant – we’d need to shoot a long lens from further down the road to compress the distance between us and pull the trees close together effectively hiding all the gaps. Both of these we could work around as long as the rain gods would agree to take the morning off.

With our inspection complete, we retired for a short nights sleep – visions of pre-dawn mists, sunrise rays and red umbrellas dancing through our dreams.

An hour before dawn we were in position, Kat with her umbrella and me with my camera. I’d set the tripod in the middle of the road, frame the shot, set focus and begin shooting only for a car to round the bend and have to grab the gear and run for the shoulder. Over and over this would happen, and each time I’d repeat the process; set the tripod, frame the shot, lock focus and begin shooting – all the while having to practically yell instructions to Kat some hundred meters up the street.

Dawn broke and with sunrise close on it’s heels the light changed by the minute. Urgency to get the shot hung heavy in the cool morning air and we worked feverishly. As soon as the sun peeked over the horizon, strong shadows would fall across the road putting an end to our efforts. The cars came more frequently and with each we’d run our little drill.

The sunrise, though beautiful, contributed nothing to the scene and we called it a wrap. We either had the shot or we didn’t and at this point there were so many cars passing through that our little sprint drills were more for exercise than photography anyway.

Some days I know I have THE shot when I press the shutter; this definitely wasn’t one of those days. Of the nearly 250 frames taken on this particular morning, there were maybe 3 keepers with this one being the obvious winner.

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: Nikon 28-300mm@200mm
Settings: f/8 1/13s ISO 800

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