May 27, 2011

The Gallery

The Gallery
In the context of the 2011 National Year of Craft, the National College of Art and Design Gallery presented an exhibition of new work by textile designer and lecturer in Textiles at NCAD, Nigel Graham Cheney. ‘Gone to the Dogs’ brings together Cheney’s most recent work, a group of intricately embroidered and quilted textile prints. These richly coloured works feature images of decommissioned banknotes and purebred dogs, reflecting upon associations of value and speculation and playing on notions of the counterfeit. While celebrating the beauty and detail of the imagery of these, decommissioned banknotes, Cheney’s heavily hand-worked surfaces also invest a new value into the objects.

This exhibition showcases a body of work that treads a line between craft, fine art and design. The work exploits both hand operated and computer driven machinery, placing it at the centre of current debates around the role of technology in contemporary craft practice. However, The ‘hand-made’ is also an essential element in this work, with the hundreds of hours spent stitching each piece clearly in evidence.

The exhibition closes this Monday 30th May.

Showing Off ... Again!

Out-take 2011
An out-take from a bit of photo-fun in the garden a few weeks ago. Sometimes models can be very uncooperative and cantankerous!

Photo: Not staged, caught them like this while making exposure adjustments. A blend of two separate exposures, the first with the two children propped on ladders and the second, with no little people or ladders in the frame. In PS the first shot was brought in on top of the second as a layer and a layer-mask added. Subsequently, the area of the ladder supporting the girl is removed to reveal the empty landscape on the background layer. A very simple but effective technique which can be exploited greatly for creative effect.

May 26, 2011

Forest Fire in Cornameeltha

Forest Fire Cornameeltha
For many years I've been very content living pretty much in the middle of a modest hardwood forest on the side of the Curlew Mountains. These past two years however, have shattered whatever romantic illusion I harboured of a peaceful and tranquil existence here. April is fast becoming the month of fire here in Ireland and those living in close proximity to woodland are particularly vulnerable. For the second year in a row, the forestry about my home has come close, too close to threatening flames. We are lucky to have very vigilant neighbours and an efficient and dedicated fire service, but often when pitched against the roaring flames of a woodland fire, in the absence of a local water supply, there is limitations to what can be done. The shot above was taken during a forest fire beside my home this year, the jumping flames and dancing sparks were a sight to behold but for the mercy of the prevailing winds, that ensemble of fire-fighting vehicles would be at my front door!
Forest Fire Cornameeltha 2
A view down the driveway looking across the road to the fire that burns through the forestry beyond.

May 24, 2011

Is FĂ©idir linn, Mr. President!!

Monday - 23rd May 2011. I didn't get to see the big man today but he certainly made a big impression on the crowd that stood about in the wind and rain on College Green, Dublin to hear his encouraging words. The queue started forming at 11am this morning and by 2pm, when the barriers opened to allow people proceed to College Green, it extended all the way back to Christ Church Cathedral. Unfortunately, because I had a rucksack, I was not allowed onto College Green so contented myself with a few shots of the waiting crowd before proceeding to the railway station and home. Must say, it looked like people were really getting into the swing of things, young and old gathered to share and embrace this historic event.
Obamarama 2

May 23, 2011

West Coast Sea Study

West Quarter Inishbofin
Since Easter, the weather here seems to have turned, we were spoiled with sunshine in April but where has it got ... and will we see it again ... this side of Christmas? We are promised winds of up to 140km over the next two days, time to put the garden furniture in again. President Obama visits our shores in the morning, I wish him the very best of luck and hope he enjoys his brief stay.

Photo: 10-20mm lens @ 10mm. ISO 100. 25 second exposure @ f/16. I used a B+W 10 stop filter to get that slow shutter speed.

Inishbofin 20
This unusual house is built into the hillside in the vicinity of Inishbofin Harbour. I have mixed feelings about it's design and location. I guess on one level, I admire the boldness of it's form and colour but on the other hand I'm asking how the hell they got planning permission and am a bit upset about the apparent lack of consideration for the surrounding landscape. When I reconcile my position on this, I'll let you know.

Photo: 17-55mm lens @ 55mm. ISO 100. 1/200 @ f/9.

More from Inishbofin HERE.

May 22, 2011

Sunny Day in Galway Bay

The Inishbofin Ferry service runs between the island and Cleggan, Co. Galway two or three times daily, depending on the season. The crossing is about 40 minutes (give or take). Give me boats any day over flying!

Photo: Ferry leaving the island for Cleggan. 70-200mm lens @ 170mm. ISO 200. 1/1600 @ f/4

May 21, 2011

Inishbofin Grotto

The Grotto - Inishbofin
Known locally as 'The Grotto', this spectacular 'blow-hole' is situated in the West Quarter of Inishbofin. This one is unusual because not only can you walk down into it, the sun also shines directly to the bottom, illuminating the gapping hole for about an hour each day. Above you can see the eroded passage out to the sea, the blue area in the mid-distance is light entering from a second 'blow-hole', a short distance away to the North. While taking this shot, a large seal came up the passage to the rock in the distance, stuck it's head up, then disappeared. A really beautiful place, shot in perfect weather and light. I'm guessing it would not have the same visual impact on a dull day.

Photo: Shot in bright sunlight. 10-20mm wide-angle lens @ 16mm. This is a 3 frame, in-camera multiple exposure. ISO 100. 30 seconds (x3 = 90 seconds). f/13. A B+W 10 stop filter was used to achieve the slow shutter speed.

Lady of Lourdes
On the subject of 'grottos', here's one taken of an old wreck on the beach.

May 20, 2011

Inishbofin Harbour

Inishbofin Harbour
The 'Blue Hour' is a very special time of the day, particularly for strobist photographers. However, the location and subject matter are very important. It's not without it's challenges, metering can be problematic as the light can change dramatically in a matter of minutes ... even seconds. I must say, I love this kind of challenge though and would encourage others to give it a go. A tripod is essential, a remote shutter release is useful too and while you're at it, bring some gloves and a hip-flask (provided you don't have to drive of course!).

Photo: This shot was taken during a walk on Inishbofin at the weekend, the shot I was hunting for didn't happen so I headed for home. Initially I wasn't bothered about it as the light was fading fast, and I didn't think the scene terribly interesting. In fact, compositionally, it wouldn't stand up to criticism but I think the light is noteworthy, if only as a sample.
Single exposure. 17-55mm lens. ISO 100. 13 seconds @ f/8.

You may notice that my 365 has ceased to be, I just found it impossible to meet the demands of daily posts and must admit defeat. However, I intend to keep the blog going with the intention of making 'almost' daily posts whenever I can.

May 19, 2011

Anticipating Sunrise

Anticipating Sunrise
At the weekend, a contingent of photographers from Boyle Camera Club headed for Inishbofin, an island off the coast of Galway. At 4am on Saturday morning, we braved the elements on a quest to photograph the sunrise. After finding a suitable location, we waited patiently for it's arrival ... but it never really materialised. Instead it rained. Not to be too put-off, during our retreat, I attempted to capture the moment for posterity. As it turned out, the day that followed was one of the best so far this year. My gratitude to all club members that participated, it was a very memorable trip.

Photo: Single exposure using a 2 stop ND Grad. ISO 100. 5 seconds @ f/22.

May 17, 2011

The Queen Visits Dublin

QE2 Visits Dublin 1
I just happened to be there, waiting to get across the road to catch the train home.

May 5, 2011


On this day in 1821, Emperor Napoleon I dies in exile on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.
9.30pm Boyle
An experimental 'Blue Hour' shot, taken in haste on the platform of Boyle Railway Station. The sky was full of promise as I drove home this evening so attempted to make the most of it. There was little margin for error here, I set it up as best I could predicting that the train would come on the nearest track ... alas, t'was not to be. I used a 3-stop tobacco ND Grad to bring out the reds in the clouds and off-camera speed-light to kill the shadows on the building to the left. Fellow camera club member, Joe Kennedy, arrived on the scene for some company and additional low-light experimental work.

Photo: ISO 400. 1/4 @ f/5.
10pm Boyle
It's the technology ... sometimes it will give you the shot, sometimes it won't. It's the often unpredictable nature of the medium that keeps me coming back for more.

May 4, 2011


On this day last year, Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" sold for $106.5 million.
Climbing Croagh Patrick is the Irishman's Mecca, you have to do it at least once in your lifetime! My son and I climbed it again recently on a warm but cloudy day. None the less, the experience is always worth it.

Tips for the uninitiated;
  • Climb Early - start about 9am, shortly thereafter, it can get congested with climbers, Summer and Winter!
  • Rent a stick for €2.00, you'll be glad you did on the descent and you get your €2.00 back when you return the stick. Photographers can use a mono-pod as I do when I climb.
  • Wear decent shoes ... and proper socks!! I recommend 'Bridgedale' socks, they're the business for any kind of walking. Also bring a jumper and light rain gear - weather is very changeable.
  • You'll need at least one litre of water, climbing is thirsty work. While you're at it, put 2 Mars bars and a banana in the sack as well.
  • Allow at least 2.5 hours to get up at a comfortable pace ... unless you are being paid or want to die early, take your time, rest often, admire the view and thank your God you are alive to take in the wonderful view. Try not to sit down until you get to the top.
  • At the top, have a decent rest. Look around the site, you've earned it. Spend about 20 minutes there, any longer and you'll be getting cold. Take pictures to brag and prove to friends you made it to the top!
  • Allow about an hour and twenty minutes to get down, this is the most difficult part of the climb.
  • When you make it down, give back your stick and head for Campbell's for well earned pint's of stout. Call a friend to bring you home.
Pilgrims 2