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Coming across Phil McDarby’s stunning studies of our green and golden land, the first thought is, bejiggers, Brian Keeley has gone feral.

The glorious forest hideaways, the waves almost engulfing the lens, the freaky little creatures caught in a ray of sunlight…

Man, these shots are sweet. So much so, it took about an hour longer than it really should have for us to select just a few of them to highlight here.

The curious thing is, Phil’s beautiful nature photography is one habit feeding anothernamely his digital art.

Here’s Phil with the weather…

I fell in love with photography when I was about 15 or 16, I think. My mum gave me a point and click – old school film, 24 shots. I used it a few times, but didn’t really know what I was doing – I just knew I loved it! Took it out on hikes with friends and even then, found myself photographing trees.

It wasn’t until my late 20s that I picked it up again, moving up through cameras and finally landing on a Canon Eos Mark III, the camera I use today. I use a lot of photographic elements in my artwork, mixing painting with photography to try to capture a kind of realism. Like the creature on the right, and the scene, above, left.

The tools these days are unrecognisable from when I started in earnest 10, 12 years ago – the light sensors are now just so advanced, the resolution so high – the quality and detail you can capture today is incredible.

I’m still just a bit of a wide-eyed child when it comes to nature. It’s something that I’ve always had in me, and it never really went anywhere. The forests of Wicklow are just stunning places. My latest thing is heading down to the South Beach before dawn and shooting the sunrise through the waves. I lie as low as I can on the sand, right at the water’s edge. I’m sure I look like a mad person. An old lady thought I was a dead seal the other day.

Light is everything for me. Flat, diffused light is something I just don’t feel the urge to photograph. Unfortunately, in Ireland, we get a lot of that – particularly in winter. So if the forecast is good, or I look out the window before dawn on Saturday or Sunday, and see chinks of red or orange, I’ll hop in the car and head down.

You never know what you’re going to get, and I love that…


You can check out Phil McDarby’s nature photography here, and his digital art right about here.

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