Photo Rally 2012

Insurance renewed, road tax paid. 6000 mile service not done but time to get photo rallying once again. We decided to start on Saturday and the trip out as far as Roscrea would work well given that I needed (wanted) to call into the home brew shop in Mountmellick to get some supplies (and another kit). Having ridden as far as Rathangan and completely forgot to stop at the rally point near Robertstown, we doubled back and eventually found the point after a lot of head scratching, swearing at the GPS and double checking with Google maps satellite photos.

No sooner had we parked up at Ballyteige Castle (that was the rally point) and taken a few photos that I noticed some rather menacing clouds coming our way. Bit of rain, no big deal. No. Horizontal snow/sleet/ice and lots of it. Admitting defeat fairly early on in the snowstorm, we packed up and headed back to Dublin, stopping occasionally to wipe the one inch accumulation of snow off the windscreen of the bike. Fun times.

So we tried again the next day. The weather was significantly better.

Capard ridge trig pillar near Mountmellick. I still don’t have a good understanding of what a trig pillar is or was but I imagine it’s for measurement or performing some kind of calculation. If anyone wants to enlighten me, feel free. This point was reached by a fairly easily traversable muddy path. No fecking about avoiding the huge puddles, just roll on the throttle and power through them. Glad I hadn’t spent a couple of hours the previous week polishing the wheels and engine bars. Oh wait, I did.

The best was yet to come. One that we’d heard was abandoned when the group arrived at it. One that, now that we’ve done it, I’m sure will be abandoned by many who don’t wish to get half of north Tipperary encrusted onto their shiny machines. It’ll be equally abandoned by those who have an overwhelming fear of dropping their bikes.

Monaincha Abbey, just outside Roscrea. Not much to say except ‘holy shit’. Last year the ‘off road offering’ involved getting your bike from a car park on the top of a hill up a dry stony path. The stakes have been well and truly raised this year. If you make it through the first muddy path, through all the puddles, past all the ruts and avoiding the branches that want to smack you in the face when you ride by, you’re in for a treat. Through a gate into a field where the path as you knew it pretty much disappears. Instead you get muddy rut A or muddy rut B. Pretty much nothing to do except put down the power and see if you can keep the bike upright. Then you get to step off the bike and sink down to your ankles. Now this is photo rallying at it’s finest! I was almost tempted to sit at the abbey and wait for someone to turn up on a Goldwing. Yes, us GS owners are a smug lot. Self-entitled too!

I will freely admit to preferring the sweep and camber of a nice bit of bone dry tarmac over a soggy, torn up farmers field any day. This mostly comes from riding into said soggy fields, dropping the bike and realising it’s not that easy to pick back up. My off roading is henceforth to be put on the back burner until such time as I get a bike that weighs about a third of the GS and has knobbly tyres on it. End of story.

From Roscrea, back onto the N roads and toward Carlow. My favorite town in all of Ireland. Oh yes. Sarcasm, me? After trying to get around the road works and truly awful drivers (of which there were many) in the town, we headed to the Carlow/Kilkenny point at Old Leighlin. Time was pressing on so this was a quick one. The locals also seemed to be puzzled at our presence. Someone better tell them to expect hundreds more bikers before the year is out.

The evening was drawing in and our plan (well, my plan) of squeezing in the Wicklow point (near Blessington) before night fall was doomed. Thankfully it’s on a route we regularly take for a Sunday spin anyway, so no harm done. The rest of the journey was spent avoiding nyctalopic idiots driving at 40kph and of course the flurry of people you usually get when out riding that are unusually and unreasonably aggressive towards bikers.

So, 4 points down, 20 to go!

The Edge of the Country

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A photo rally point yesterday on the edge of the country in north west Kerry. Somewhere not too far from Ballinskelligs to be precise. (Edit; also as photographed elsewhere, but with a bit more style than I can muster)

After coming back from the UK on Wednesday evening (and having had a very relaxing journey back), I repacked the bike on Thursday and along with Julie headed south to Cork for the second in a row of long weekends.

Getting out of bed on Friday morning to the sights and sounds of “The Royal Wedding” (I’m sure there’s a patent pending in there somewhere) was enough encouragement to eat a quick breakfast and head out on the bike once more. That and I was also getting the universal sign of ‘need coffee’ from Julie so we headed into Cork coffee roasters for a predictably tasty couple of large ones.

From there to Kinsale and thankfully avoided big rugby weekend. Got through the town without a hitch and made our way up to a breezy photo point on the old head. After some grass sitting, some munching of ’emergency chocolate biscuits’ (that is, the chocolate biscuits that live in the top box of the bike so they’re on hand 24/7) it was back to Carrigaline to buy some socks.

As I’d recently discovered that my head fairly closely resembled some kind of budget priced mop, I also took the opportunity to get much of my hair removed. Saturday morning and down to Waterville to do the above photo rally point and meet a friend who was holidaying/chilling out with his daughter in the area. One tasty Chinese takeaway, several well needed beers and a couple of handfuls of crisps later and the next thing I knew, it was Sunday morning.

Back to Cork and I’m now eying up a large kinder easter egg. It will shortly disappear entirely, except of course for the large inner quite indigestible part of it. Back to Dublin and/or normality tomorrow. The lack of tread left on the back tyre of my motorbike is testament to what an amazing double bank holiday I’ve had. Who needs double rainbows when you can have double bank holidays?!?

All Things Cyclical

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I can’t remember exactly the exact time it happened or any specific reason but apparently all of a sudden an iphone and two cheap applications have seen my 5D and modest yet highly functioning lens collection abandoned to a darkened corner of the spare room. I’ve never been a kind to practice street photography to any great degree so I don’t imagine that it’s out of convenience. It’s certainly not because the phone is a better camera than a now 3 year old full frame body and L lenses. If anything, the applications I’ve been using dull down the quality of the camera significantly. I guess I’ve been happy with what I’m getting from the combination so far, given that the ‘proper’ camera hasn’t seen the light of day for about two months now. Even during the most acute periods of photoloathing I’ve managed to shoot a few bits & pieces once a month.

Last night I opened both Lightoom and Photoshop for the first time since November. I still have a good number of 2009 photos in my main Lightroom catalog. That’ll tell you how much processing I do normally and more so, how quickly non-paid work gets done. When I started the ‘one-a-day’ practice of processing, it quickly became routine. Processing a whole set of photos in one sitting was pure madness, something I would have last done back when I was using Picasa on my somehow still living Windows PC.

For those of you old enough to remember how I rolled over on rymus.net, it started out as full sets of the days shooting being processed, uploaded to flickr and blogged. The full set being blogged in one post. Mad, radical stuff; Just mad.

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Maybe it prompted me to shoot more or rather shoot small stuff more often. Then I hit upon the thought that maybe I’d be better just doing one photo a day, like all the other photo blogs seem to do. That’s got to be the way forward. Fast forward through a few years of laziness and I’m pretty much back where I started.

Wouldn’t it be great to go out shooting, come home and feel motivated enough to process a full set in one go? Then, as if that wasn’t enough, post all the photos in one shot instead of drip-feeding them over the course of weeks. This is all well and good for planned days out with the camera but it doesn’t really apply for the odd phone photo. Unless there are people out there that purposefully go out with their phones to shoot a days worth of photos. I can only assume these people exist.

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In the spirit of all things cyclical, I’m back on WordPress. I made the decision to move back so I can post a few photos at a time, waffle a bit and hmm, maybe even put up a video or two. At least I’m telling myself that’s whats going to happen, remains to be seen if it will pan out that way. Armed with my iphone and a generous data plan, it’s also my aim to do some posting ‘from the road’. The road being whichever one I find myself riding on my latest two wheeled purchase. Mid-life crisis is a bitch.

So would a camera phone replace a DSLR? Without waffling on too much, the answer is no. Definitely not. Not yet anyway. When I travel I think I’ll always have my 5D and/or my A1 with me. I will however test that theory in April when I get on the ferry.

Bear with me over the following weeks and months. It’s been quite a while since my last venture into WordPress photo blogging. The random waffling, going off on tangents and general shite talking aren’t a new thing. Anyone that ever read a post over on rymus.net will know that. If you can’t handle that, try to imagine you’re looking at playboy. Just look at the photos and try not to read the articles.

I’ll be back at some stage with either my 5D or my phone.