Gougane Barra Forest

Back at the end of November, we took a long overdue drive to the forest at Gougane Barra. Long overdue in comparison to how frequently I usually visited in winter during, lets call it, the height of my photographic journey. Visit frequency dropped off quite rapidly for a few reasons. The introduction of the barriers with the eye-watering entry fee (or at least what I’d consider eye-watering for a forest) added to my imaginary woes. My other standard rant was the reworking of the path at the top of the forest, which destroyed one of my favorite photo locations. I say ‘reworking’, what I really mean is several tonnes of gravel being dumped over the existing path. All in the name of health & safety I suppose. Gotta do everything we can to prevent the stupidest people in society from damaging themselves. Very anti-Darwinian.

I’d just (a few months previous) picked up a nice new ball head for the tripod, as well as a couple of additional solid ND filters. So I had to get out somewhere scenic with flowing water to make sure I could still take those wonderfully clichéd moving water photos. I’m out of practice, more work required.

Despite all my ranting, the forest is still a lovely place to go for a couple of hours. Mostly in the winter mind you. Less people that way. Also less people to either attempt to exclude from scenes or to remove later on with photoshop.

Funnily enough, even at the end of November, there were still plenty of tourists around. And even more surprising, a full car park at the bottom of the forest. Don’t usually get that in winter, what with the entry fee and all.

The Post-Christmas Walk

Normally applied as a digestive aid after consuming a significant amount of dinner on Christmas Day. This time (owing mostly to laziness) it had to wait until St. Stephen’s Day. Usually to some beach or forest, in this case Garrettstown. An unexpectedly energetic affair, taking the rocky route between the two beaches thanks to the low tide. Except not really, quit a little over half way due to increasingly slippy conditions and not wanting to face plant onto a rock.

Plenty of ‘beach stuff’ to photograph at low tide, however practically none of the photographs either exposed correctly or in focus. Or both. I’m horribly out of practice.

Autumn in Fota

Since moving back to Cork from Dublin in 2013, Fota Gardens has been like the replacement for IMMA, the Botanic Gardens and the War Memorial all in one. Something to look at all year round. If there’s one place in Cork that I’ve probably photographed to death at this point, this is it. Still manage to find something new or a new way at looking at something old. Most of the time anyway.

Last of the evening sun


What with it being the first of the year and all, I usually get the urge to do something productive, if only in an attempt to prove to myself that I can and in the hope that I’ll continue to try to outdo myself as the week/month/year progresses. Productivity started early(ish) this January 1st with a trip to the gym. Yes, I’m one of those people now.

After all that unpleasantness was over, I wanted to get out somewhere local to catch the last of the sunshine. With the sun rapidly disappearing below the hills, that local somewhere was the beach at Ringaskiddy.

For the first time in what feels like years (actually, it probably is years) I went out with only the 150mm macro lens, with the intention of getting some moderately decent shots of the random crap that washes up on the beach, one of my favorite things to photograph. I could and should probably link to a post showing the last time I used this lens, but it’d take too long to find. Another job for the list I guess, sorting out this blog theme to be properly searchable.

It was great to get out just in time to catch the lovely evening long shadows, even if it meant I couldn’t feel my face, hands or ears by the time I got back to the car. Winter has been particularly mild in Cork this time around. We got a cold week or so in November, then a balmy 10 or so degrees the rest of the time. January may be about to remind us that it’s still winter with temperatures dropping back to a more seasonal 3 to 5 degrees. It’s worth it for that low winter sun though.

If nothing else, this taught (reminded) me that the macro lens isn’t particularly forgiving. Photos that looked sharp and appeared somewhat in focus on the back of the camera, thanks to the focus peaking feature in the magic lantern firmware, were quite disappointing once I got them into lightroom. I guess I’ve been spoiling myself with the 24-70L on the 60D too much. All my other lenses look soft in comparison.

Not to worry, I’ll most certainly have the 24-70L on the camera tomorrow when I head down to the Ring of Kerry for some landscape goodness. Hell at this rate, we might be looking at a photowalk before spring.

Inch Strand

Surely there is no better way to spend a bank holiday than with friends, eating & drinking too much and taking in some amazing scenery.

This was Inch beach in Kerry, where I rediscovered the wide end of my 24-70. Great light, not too busy and better still, only a short stroll from the house.

Not so much with the writing this time around. Maybe next time.

The Wilds

IMG_5914-Edit

It’s been a little while since we were really in Kerry, not just passing through Kenmare or Killarney on a round trip from Molls Gap or Strawberry fields (a wonderful pancake house near the Kenmare side of Molls Gap). Really in Kerry, like so far west the land stops and the next stop is America.

We took an overnight trip down to the land of ‘here be dragons’ beyond Kenmare to celebrate our anniversary and stayed in Parknasilla. Of course, while you’re down that far you might as well go a little further and see all the sights there are to see…

IMG_5862-Edit-Edit

IMG_5897-Edit-Edit-Edit

IMG_5927-Edit-Edit

All the way out to Valentia, my first trip out there since back when Danny (who is of course sadly no longer with us) brought us to the top of the above very same hill to look over the world below. Just for giggles I decided to fire up the archive and check exactly when that was; August 2007. A lifetime ago. As I was already neck deep in the archives, here’s one from that trip.

Valentia 2007

I sure did love my ND filters and precariously placed tripods back then. Anyway, that’s enough sunshine and white fluffy clouds, back to the overcast greyness of it all.

IMG_5929-Edit

Of course when the opportunity presents itself, it’s only right to take a spin down to Sheeps Head. We got there, excuses were made and we didn’t walk out to the lighthouse. “Oh I’m not wearing the right shoes” and “I don’t have a waterproof jacket” were the top two. My excuses of course, but Julie seemed happy to go for tea instead of taking the walk. Next time we’ll do it. Yes, next time…

IMG_5951-Edit-Edit

While processing these photos, I decided to use the Google Nik collection I downloaded recently but never really figured out. As expected, the vast majority of the filters available are tacky as hell or completely batshit crazy. It brought me back to the time I used Picassa and had to wear sunglasses while processing photos. Purple sky? you got it! Blue grass? Sure, why not? I’m interested in going back to Silver Efex though, I do love some black & white and I’m quite pleased with how the one b&w photo I chose to process with Silver Efex came out. As for the rest of the photos above, it was pretty much a case of gathering them all up, throwing them in a sack with Google Nik, letting them fight amongst themselves and then observing the results.

The below was more of an accident. I’ve taken this picture in different counties, countries and continents. Not shown are several photos of old bundles of rope, rusted chains and lobster pots. I am indeed a creature of habit.

IMG_5942-Edit

The end of the year

IMG_5758

As per usual, it’s been a quiet few months photography wise. The camera phone has completely overtaken the DSLR as a means of recording events, places, people, everything. The farthest those photos ever make it is to instagram. As a means of delaying the onset of cabin fever as we approach the end of this festive season and indeed the end of the year, we left the house for the first time in days and made it as far as Garretstown, by way of Kinsale. I even brought a proper camera with me this time.

IMG_5775

IMG_5784

As we’re both fighting off seasonal colds, walking on the beach was limited and time spent in the car with the heater on was preferred. When the sun came out from behind a very large rain cloud that appeared to be on it’s way to Waterford, we did have to jump out and brave the wind for a few minutes though.

IMG_5785

IMG_5804

IMG_5781

Happy new year everybody!

Currabinny Woods

So 2014 was shocking. But only in a ‘motivation to blog’ way. Looking back, I can see I’ve got three posts for the entire year. Looking at my Lightroom catalog doesn’t tell an entirely different story. I’ve got maybe two or three sets of photos that are waiting to be processed and yes, it’s entirely likely they never will be. I’ve got two more honeymoon posts to get written and about a third of the photos yet to process. But looking at photos of sunny France in the middle of freezing cold January in Cork is torturous so it’s not likely they’ll see the light of day for another few months yet.

My intention to ‘focus more on video’ in 2013/14 ended up meaning that not only did I not do a lot of video, I took feck all photos too. That’s not to say there isn’t a backlog of videos waiting to be edited and put into some semi-meaningful order in Final Cut Pro either though.

January is a funny time of year. Everyones broke after Christmas but it doesn’t stop thoughts of spending money from lingering on the mind. Or maybe that’s just me? Over the last couple of weeks I’ve caught myself oogling new camera equipment. Not just that though. I also decided I need a new car, a new job and a new place to live. I know I don’t need any of that (aside from the car maybe, we’ll see what the mechanic says next week). It’s the usual January feeling that you have to dig yourself out of the old and start fresh in the new year.

I even spent some time thinking about how much extra I’d have to raise to get a new one if I was to sell my 5D, 60D, X100, Nex5N and my Bronica. Yes, I already have too many cameras. Knowing that I barely use what I’ve got, I shook myself out of the ‘must buy stuff’ funk last week and resolved to get out with the camera for the first time this year and come home with photos. They didn’t have to be good photos, they just had to be 1’s and 0’s on a memory card that I could throw into a blog post. Just to make myself feel better of course, like I’d achieved something.

IMG_3936

IMG_3960

IMG_3911

A short but entirely enjoyable trip to Currabinny woods to stomp around in the mud for a bit. Then down to the pier to splash around in the high tide. Surf & turf? I dunno.

IMG_3983

Now, back to business as usual?

Kilruddery Gardens

IMG_0157It seemed that I’d been missing opportunities to get to Kilruddery Gardens left right and center over the years we lived in Dublin. So in the run up to moving, a list was made. Kilruddery was on it. Thats the entire story really. Needless to say it’s a great place, worthy of another visit when/if I should find myself in Dublin with time to kill at some future date. Less words, more pictures.

IMG_0344IMG_0331IMG_0277IMG_0241IMG_0229And so on and so on. Ah, just one more then…

IMG_0325

Ballinspittle Bluebells

Well, it’s been a while. Amazing how moving to a different county, getting a new job and oh yeah, getting married, tends to divert attention from blogging and even picking the camera up. After Julie got a tip from Jamie on the location of some bluebells, we added it as a pit stop on a fairly short tour around west Cork last weekend.

IMG_2670

I’m not keeping it a secret, the forest is at Ballinspittle. That’s just outside Kinsale. Head towards the Old Head and you can’t go wrong. I put the 60D back into action and borrowed one of Julie’s lenses for once. She bought an 85 f1.8 not too long ago that although a lovely lens, is just a bit too long on a crop camera. That’s not really true, it’s miles too long on a crop camera. I’m really regretting selling the Sigma 30 f1.4 some years back when I thought I’d never have another Canon crop camera. I have been considering buying a Samyang 35 T1.5, but I’ll put that on the ever increasing list of stuff to buy when I win the lotto.

IMG_2600

Yes, I said T1.5 and not f1.4. I believe in a previous post I mentioned I had bought the 60D with the intention of doing some (well, more) video. I loaded magic lantern on it and dug an audio cable out of my huge box of cable junk to allow me to connect a Zoom H1 I bought (again with the intention of doing some video) to it to capture better quality audio than you would ever get on the 60D’s built in microphone. Aside from a couple of small projects, the video never really happened. I’m making another go at it, I just need to storyboard a few projects I can work on that will be accessible for someone that really doesn’t know video but has a decent handle on the whole photography thing. Editing video and coming out with something watchable at the end of the process is still very much a mystery to me.

IMG_2667 IMG_2666

I did shoot a small amount of video at the forest and I’ve thrown together a rough cut of clips. It’s below and also on Youtube.

Lessons learned include
1. If I’m going to keep doing this, I need some ND filters. Possibly a cheapish variable one.
2. I may also need one of those clip on viewfinder things. Focus peaking on grayscale display helps but it can’t do much against bright sunlight.
3. I couldn’t hand hold a camera and keep it steady if my life depended on it.
4. Final Cut Pro video stabilisation is terrible and should be avoided unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.

But back to the photography.

IMG_2654

IMG_2608

Nice to be back out. Nice also that I was able to remember my blog login. Hopefully it won’t take me over 6 months until I update again.

Flightfest

IMG_0585

Instead of joining the crowd milling around the docklands, I chose the lazy option and photographed the entire FlightFest event from my living room. While I may not have had the best seat in the house, it was certainly the most comfortable 🙂

When I got over the initial fear of seeing a Boeing 737 descending and flying that low over the city, I enjoyed the show quite a bit. That first pass by the Aer Lingus plane was bone chilling stuff though.

IMG_0805

IMG_0470

IMG_0658

IMG_1760

IMG_1030

IMG_1362

IMG_1836

I used my cheap and cheerful 70-300 (which was the second lens I bought way back in the Canon 20D days) for most of the event, only switching to the shorter 70-200L at the end. I found myself wishing for a 100-400L for the entire thing though…

Theres a few more up on Flickr.

IMMA

IMG_0050

IMMA is and has always been too damn handy. As I have mentioned before, it literally is the neighbours front garden. If it was any closer I wouldn’t have to put my shoes on to walk over there. Quiet neighbours too, never any trouble from them. They have a couple of wild parties every year and a couple of more sedate ones but I’ve never had to go up there and bang on their door to tell them to keep it down to a dull roar.

Alas but by being too close, they’re all but forgotten. Very often when I’m sitting on the couch with a sunny day outside and little else other than the goings on of the tiny electronic people in my xbox to occupy my mind with, I rarely hit upon the idea of a stroll around the gardens. It only ever seems to happen when I get a new camera or lens and the Botanic Gardens seems just too far away. So, enter the 60D, my latest reason for visiting.

IMG_0062

I’ve been on a major photography drought for what seems like a few years now, one of the many cameras in my collection have only really been taken out when holidays are being planned or weekends away in Cork are happening. Even then I only ever seem to take what people would refer to in a derogatory tone as ‘snaps’. The fear of turning into a collector rather than a user hits every time I look at the list of cameras I bought recently but rarely use. In a recent post I may have even told a sorrowful story about blowing dust off my X100.

IMG_0072

Poor me, yeah I know. Somewhere a tiny violin is playing. I’ve almost arrived at the conclusion that the prescription is a 9 hour jaunt around west Cork on the motorbike on a particularly sunny summers day. But then that’d solve most of life’s little problems, wouldn’t it?

Of course, there’s plenty of scenery around Dublin too. Well actually no, it’s all in Wicklow, but that’s a minor complication solved by a few too many mind numbing minutes on the M50. Having to sit on the motorway/dual carriageway for any length of time has put a stop to many potentially productive photography outings. Lord how I hate that M50/M11/M7. Well, the M7 a little less because it’s the road to Cork!

immabw

IMG_0058

IMG_0100

IMG_0043

I think all thats left to say is “Bye IMMA”.

Fairly Inconsequential

IMG_0031_sm

Or so I thought anyway. Just something to pass off as an update on an otherwise run of the mill ( so far) weekend. About a week ago, I spotted a screaming (i.e. great) deal on B&H for a Canon 60D. Presumably because it’s an old model and due to be replaced by the 70D next month. However, while the 70D will be all the latest gadgets and gizmos, bear in mind that I haven’t bought an SLR since my 5D many, many, many years ago.

I had been looking for a way to produce video (primarily for brewing.ie, but also for some other projects I’d like to get working on) for some time and had looked at HDV but decided it’d probably be a pain in the ass fairly quickly, what with importing tapes manually and all that. I also looked at dedicated video cameras but those with a decent level of manual control, like video and XLR inputs for sound, were looking like they’d end up costing me close to €2k. I love spending money on gadgets and all, but not this close to our wedding.

Although widely used with some amazing results, I hadn’t really considered DSLR video due to the entirely manual aspect of it. I know above I’ve harped on about manual controls but with a DSLR (or at least the current crop) everything is manual. Exposure, focus, zoom, audio, the works. For documentary style video, I thought doing all that manually would surely bring about the end of my sanity. But the B&H deal silenced all other factors. While the model might be old at this stage, it’s still one of the recommended models for HD video among those that know. It also runs Magic Lantern, something I knew I’d end up wanting/needing to use to assist with video shooting.

Stills? Meh. Yes it does them but it’s an APS-C sensor and I haven’t used one of them in years. I’d certainly end up laughing it off and casting it aside in favour of my full frame 5D whenever I needed to do any stills work.

Then I got my hands on it.

It’s light, quick and aside from the different button layout (some of which were clearly not designed for those with fat fingers) I love it. The tilt/swivel screen is the best I’ve seen on a DSLR so far. Remember, this is the only DSLR I’ve bought or used since buying my 5D. I’ve used Julie’s 5D Mark 2, but the screen on this thing looks nicer somehow. I shot some limited video at home just to try out the balance on the fairly cheap rig I bought on ebay but hadn’t used it for it’s main purpose until today. The shot above was taken in RAW with the 24-70L, brought into photoshop, resized and saved as a JPEG. Nothing else was done to it. I’m pretty damn impressed with it and it may well see me using it more for stills. It has a 3D look about it that I’ve seen people get when using some seriously pricey lenses like the 50 ƒ1.2, although I suppose the 24-70L wasn’t exactly bargain basement price when I bought it years ago.

Just to see if it was really all that (and I should take a moment to point out that I’m not really one of those people that examines each individual pixel) I did a 100% crop to have a closer look.

Other than being a bit noisy (ISO was 640), its pretty damn sharp. Colour me impressed. Now to shoot some video and see what it (and I) can do.

There is a larger version over on Flickr if anyone cares to take a peek. Which brings me to the following point; Isn’t (new) Flickr a pain in the arse to use?!? It’s the first time I’ve uploaded a photo to it since the redesign and it took me no less than 4 attempts to use the uploader. Not keen on the layout either. But then, my days of shooting and sharing entire sets of photos is (pretty much) totally gone, so I guess my opinion doesn’t count for much on that front.