April 30, 2011


On this day in 1789, George Washington took office as first elected U.S. president.
In 30 a.d. a man known as Jesus of Nazareth was allegedly crucified.

April 29, 2011


On this day in 1916, Irish nationalists surrendered to British authorities in Dublin.
Oldhead 3
I recently spent some time on the West coast of Mayo in the Louisburg area. I'll be posting a few images from the trip in the coming weeks. This shot was taken behind the harbour at Oldhead looking out towards Clear Island.

Photo: The tide was coming in and made dramatic wave-splashes against the rocky shore, although this experimental long-exposure disguises the energy of the wave activity.
In-camera Multiple exposure. 10 x 30 second exposures @ f/11. ISO 100. Set-up includes B+W 10 stop filter.

April 21, 2011

'World Press Photo Award' winner Tim Hetherington dies in Libya

Tim Hetherington, photojournalist, filmmaker, and Vanity Fair contributing photographer, was killed yesterday while covering the conflict in Misrata, Libya. Three other journalists were also hit in an R.P.G. attack, one being Getty photographer Chris Hondros (Robert Capa Gold Medal Award in 2006) who has subsequently died from his injuries, photographer Guy Martin, of the Panos Agency, who is in very serious condition; and a freelancer, Michael Brown, who is slightly wounded.

The U.K.-born, Brooklyn-based Hetherington, 40, who had dual British and American citizenship, was best known for his work in Afghanistan, much of it shot for Vanity Fair. In 2007, he won the coveted World Press Photo of the Year Award for his coverage of American soldiers in the Korengal Valley—one of four World Press prizes he received. Those assignments in Afghanistan served as the basis of the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo, which he directed with Vanity Fair contributor (and his longtime journalistic collaborator) Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm. The film was recognized for its decidedly apolitical approach to the war. Hetherington also created short films about the G.I.’s he encountered in the Korengal and released a book of photographs, Infidel, examining the lives of the men of a battle company of the 173rd Airborne.

Hetherington was widely respected by his peers for his bravery and camaraderie. His imaginative, even artistic, approach to photojournalistic subjects led to many honors, including a fellowship from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts, as well as grant from the Hasselbald Foundation. He released two other films, Liberia: An Uncivil War (2004) and The Devil Came on Horseback (2007).
Tim Hetherington's 2007 World Press Photo Award winning image of an exhausted American soldier in a bunker in Afghanistan.

April 20, 2011


On this day in 1902, Scientists Marie and Pierre Curie isolated the radioactive element radium.
The Glasshouse Sligo

The Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo, viewed from the Hyde Bridge. It's not long ago since this site was occupied by the Silver Swan Hotel, I remember the place very well. I was in Sligo last Monday evening for the Blue Hour, scouting for some locations for a low-light photo shoot. Must say, I found the job challenging. That said, the place is not without it's appeal and there are some very suitable spots. I didn't venture about too much but I'm guessing you might see some more of this building in the coming months.

Photo: Using a 10-20mm wide-angle lens on tripod, I approached the shot in my preferred 'landscape' format, vertical compositions rarely have appeal for me. I subsequently went for a square crop. The building barely squeezed into the frame, I'd have preferred to have more of the pier at the bottom. All part of the learning. Light was also fading fast, my advice if you're going to shoot here; do it with light in the sky, ask the manager to put on the lights in all the rooms and get the guests to wave their underpants out the windows - that would do it for me!
ISO 100. A single 13 second exposure @ f/8.

Tip; I'm often asked why I simply don't use the lens minimum aperture for this kind of shot. The answer is this; firstly, a lens rarely performs at it best using the smallest aperture and second, smaller apertures have a tendency to make unsightly flare anomalies about bright lights. I will usually experiment with various apertures to find a happy medium between broad depth of field and controlling lens flare anomalies.

April 15, 2011


On this day in 1912, The ocean liner Titanic sank at 2:27 a.m. in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg the evening before. 1,517 people died and more than 700 people survived.
Ardagh Co. Longford.jpg
The village of Ardagh lies to the south east of Longford town and owes its name to the diocese in which the greater part of the county is situated. It is said that St. Patrick founded a church here in the 5th century and installed St. Mel as bishop. The ancient ruins of Saint Mel's Cathedral are near the present Church of Ireland and St. Mel himself is said to be buried within the walls. Ardagh is a very attractive Estate Village and its distinctive architecture as a planned estate has led to its designation as a Heritage Village. It has featured regularly in the forefront of the National Tidy Towns Awards.

April 12, 2011


On this day in 1606, England adopted the original Union Jack as its flag.
Fallow deer have been present in Phoenix Park, Dublin since the seventeenth century when they were hunted for sport by the gentry of the day. The present-day herd is descended from those deer who were chased for enjoyment and hunted for food.
They are wild animals, and their relationship with man has sometimes been a stormy one, like when calls were made to remove the animals to a special enclosure so twentieth-century motorists could drive through the park on the way to somewhere else without having deer wandering the roads and precipitating accidents.
In fact, their wanderings during the Second World War and pressure on space in general in Phoenix Park saw most of 1,200 herd members being officially shot dead. Just thirty-eight animals constituted the herd, following the 1942 cull.

Some 200 fawns can be born each year in Phoenix Park. By 2005, the herd had grown to some 800 animals once more and a major reduction was ordered by the Office of Public Works. Some 350 animals were to be killed to reduce the herd to a manageable size of 450 animals once more. A deer population of this size was regarded as the maximum carrying capacity of the park. The cull was to be carried out over a number of years taking into account the number of healthy or infirm specimens that are extant from each year of birth.

Text courtesy of Phoenix Park.

Photo: 70-200mm lens @ 200mm. ISO 400. 1/2500 @ f/2.8

April 11, 2011


On this day in 1998, Northern Ireland's biggest political party, the Ulster Unionists, announced its backing of the historic peace deal.
Boyle U-10 GAA 2011
Boyle U-10 GAA Football Team 2011
In training for the All-Ireland Football Championship 2022
I watched the lads play in a football blitz last Sunday and was amazed to see how far they've come this past two years. Enthusiasm, skill and effective team work was in abundance. My gratitude to Ciaran and Odran for the fine job they are doing.

April 10, 2011


On this day in 1912, The Titanic set sail from Southampton, England.
"What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars' worth of pleasure."
Gene Perret

April 9, 2011


On this day in 1865, At Appomattox Court House, Virginia, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in the parlor of William McClean's home. Grant allowed Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permitted soldiers to keep their horses and mules. Though there were still Confederate armies in the field, the war was officially over. The four years of fighting had killed 360,000 Union troops and 260,000 Confederate troops.
No Light
The sale of hot chestnuts on the street is a popular trade in Italy. Unlike Ireland with it's late-night chippers and Chinese take-aways, the Italians seem to have a different take on fast food. It's worth mentioning also that you'll go a long way to find a 'public house' in the Irish sense of the word. In Italy, you can buy a beer to drink on the street, in a cafe or restaurant, but there are very few establishments devoted souly to the activity of 'drinking'. Maybe there's a link between the absence of pubs and the number of late night chip shops:-)

Photo: Taken in Rome. Very poor lighting conditions here, there were no street-lights. The light from the chestnut seller's stall looked all the more inviting and dramatic as a result. On holiday, I just use a single, light and compact lens which is slow compared to some of the others I use. The shot is hand held, so I first decided on a 1/60 shutter speed. With my aperture fully open at f/5, I was able to get the ISO to come in at 1000. The result however is a little softer than I'm used to getting and I struggled with focusing. That said, I was pleased with the atmosphere which reflected the scene accurately and sometimes that's simply good enough.

April 7, 2011


On this day in 1970, John Wayne won his first and only Oscar for his role in "True Grit." He had been in over 200 films. The Coen Brothers have made their own version which is currently in Irish cinemas. Give me John Wayne any day!
One Tree Hill
I took this photo a few days ago when I was driving back to my home-town of Ballina in Co. Mayo to attend the funeral of my Uncle Tommy who tragically drown in the River Moy while searching for the son of one of his close friends who had fallen into the river days before and had not been found.
My Uncle was an unassuming man, easy going and a very popular Ballina man. Like tens of thousands of his generation in the recession that constituted the 1970's, he left home to work abroad but returned some ten year ago to settle back in Ballina. One of my earliest memories of Tommy goes back to my being pulled from the River Moy as a child and being brought back to my Grandmother's house where I was stood, naked, on a chair to be dried-off. I remember nothing of the incident except my Uncle, then in his teens, talking to me sympathetically to help me get over the shock. Some time later, I remember him coming home from abroad and giving me the full Republic of Ireland kit, socks and all, when such things were rare in Ballina. I think I wore that jersey until the threads that held it together burst.
Tommy was a gifted footballer in his youth, his friends would often tell me 'he was as good as George Best' if it wasn't for his carefree nature and fondness for a few pints. I knew little of his life since he came back home to Ballina. He lived in Barrett St. the home of his birth, worked locally as a barman and maintained a passion for sport ... horses, GAA and soccer, he was a dedicated Arsenal fan and there was no length he wouldn't go to to attend Republic of Ireland games, at home and abroad.
I never realised the impression and influence Tommy had on so many people's lives until I witnessed the file of friends that came to pay their last respects ... a fitting testament to his generosity of spirit and kindness. I know he brought great joy to the lives of others and placed great value in friendship more than anything else. I hope that where ever Tommy now resides that they have cable TV and a well stocked bar to tend. Farewell T, you are missed by more people that you realised.

April 6, 2011


On this day in 1916, Charlie Chaplin became the highest-paid film star in the world when he signed a contract with Mutual Film Corporation for $675,000 a year. He was 26 years old.

Grand Canal Theatre 2

On Saturday evening, I joined a few friends from Boyle for an experimental low-light photo shoot in Dublin. The lads spent a very productive day on the street before we met en route to the Samual Beckett Bridge. One of the biggest thunder storms this year marked our arrival, the rain and hailstones bounced off the ground in dramatic fashion. The light left a lot to be desired but we made the most of it. We stuck to two locations mainly, firstly the aforementioned bridge and later about the Grand Canal Theatre.
The theatre was designed by McCauley Daye O'Connell Architects in collaboration with world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. This iconic 2000-seat Theatre building forms the striking centrepiece of the Grand Canal Square development in the Dublin Docklands. The new waterfront public piazza has been designed by Boston based Landscape architect Martha Schwartz as a dramatic ‘red carpet’ sweeping up to the Theatre entrance. If you haven't visited this very special building, you should do so. Impressive during the day, it comes alive at night although I found it challenging to photograph on this particular occasion. Well worth a re-run though.
My sincere gratitude to Joe for organising the event, we had a great oul time. I look forward to the next installment.

Photo: Single frame, camera on tripod with low view-point. Lens is a wide-angle 10-20mm @ 10mm. ISO 100. 30 second exposure @ f/18. Tweaked in ACR, otherwise it's pretty much 'off the camera'.
Light Dance