Canon 5d Mark II, 17mm, 1s @ f/13, ISO 100, off camera flash
This shot was taken in Drumlane Abbey near Cavan, Ireland. The Abbey itself dates back to 555 AD (that’s before my time!). It was a beautiful sunny evening on Friday and my camera muse was calling so what better way to unwind from a crazy week than to head out and shoot some photographs, joined by good friend and pro Adrian Donohoe. The Abbey is surrounded by a graveyard which features headstones through many centuries. This particular headstone is known as a Mortality headstone, if you look closely you can see a skull and crossbones, an egg-timer, a bell and a coffin. Symbols (memento mori) that served to remind you of your mortality and appeared on the back of headstones (inscriptions are on the front) in Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries. Quite fascinating.
I setup the shot with the camera just off the ground on a tripod (removing the centre column of the tripod and mounting horizontally to get the camera positioned about 2 inches above the ground). This ensured the sky was included in the scene and also made the gravestone more imposing. Using a radio trigger we setup an off-camera flash-head left of camera. A white a4 card made a snoot which directed the light to the gravestone and reduced light spill onto the grass and white daisy flowers in the foreground. A small aperture of f/13 was used to force light drop-off on the abbey wall in the background to reduce distraction from the headstone itself.
Ok so the positive side of today’s weather was that there were plenty of dramatic clouds hanging around with all the heavy rain showers. I had been wanting to try out a 9 stop neutral density filter (known as the big stopper!) for quite some time and figured the rapidly changing light with dark clouds would be ideal. I wasn’t disappointed.
This is Lough Oughter Castle, just a short drive from where I live in Cavan, Ireland. It is on an island in the centre of a complex network of lakes littered with the remnants of Crannógs (artificial islands with dwellings used by ancient Irish settlers). It was nearing sunset when I headed out, so I made my way to the west side of the lake with the hope of capturing the evening sun falling on the castle with some dramatic rain clouds to create a black background. Whilst this shot lacks real drama in the background, it truly reflected the mood, the colour of the light and a very familiar sky to those of us who live in Ireland. The filter allowed me to get a long exposure to flatten the waves on the water stirred up with fresh winds.
The bluebells have finally started to appear, a little later this year following our colder than usual weather in April. Bluebells never flower long here and it is easy to miss them. I had spotted them during the week so knew I had to get out this weekend to catch them. My turn to get up early with the kids this morning so unfortunately it was mid morning before I got to the park in Virginia, Co. Cavan which was going to be a reasonable bet for bluebells.
Mid morning light combined with frequent rain showers didn’t make ideal lighting conditions. I had to compose the shot to ensure there was no sky visible which would have resulted in blown out highlights with the exposure required to get the detail in the trees and the bluebells. It was quite windy also, so I pushed the ISO up to 400 to increase the shutter speed to minimise blur from moving leaves. Early morning or later evening sun would work better and I may try and get out tomorrow depending on conditions to see if I can improve on this shot.
This is the Yew tree that is situated beside the ruins of Crom Castle in Fermanagh and yes it is believed to be over 800 years old. The tree is not that remarkable from a distance, however, walk underneath the branches and this vast lattice structure reveals itself. The branches are root like and extend quite a distance from the trunk. The structure is what you imagine the root structure of a tree might look like if the soil was removed.
Capturing this image was a challenge. Trying to convey the breadth of the structure was difficult. I used the widest lens I had at 17mm. The colour version of the photograph was unremarkable as there was little contrast between the soil and the branches, a quick conversion to black and white helped to convey the structure without distraction.
Holy Trinity is located on the western shores of Upper Lough Erne on the east end of the Derryvore peninsula directly across from Crom Castle. The church is a National Trust Property but it is used regularly as a place of worship by parishioners in Kinawley Parish and occasionally for weddings.
The light was getting somewhat harsh when I took this shot, the contrast between the straw coloured reeds on the edge of the lake against the green grass created a pleasant foreground. I did some processing in Lightroom, reducing clarity on the overall scene with the exception of the church itself and added some vignetting. The shot was taken from a boat on the lake so I used a high ISO to get a fast shutter speed (eliminated any camera shake from the vibrating engine and movement on the boat).
A very dark cloudy background with sun catching the front of the church would be the ideal conditions for this scene. One day!
With the promise of clear skies and a slight ground frost this morning (yes this is supposed to be Spring!) I decided to rise at dawn and set out on the Woodford river on the Cavan/Fermanagh border to catch some early sunlight shots from the water. Conditions were perfect on the water. There was an abundance of kingfishers Continue reading →
This is Ballintrillick river in Co. Sligo, not far from Mullaghmore. It flows down through the Gleniff horseshoe valley. The flow on the river can vary substantially depending on the weather conditions. The shot was taken following a period of heavy rainfall in August providing relatively dense foliage which helped Continue reading →
Canon 10d, 105mm, 1/125s @ f/4, ISO 200, Flash fired
This is an oldie but a goodie (in my opinion at least!). The image was taken in Virginia, Co. Cavan, in late May. There were swarms of mayflies on bushes and leaves on trees at the edge of Lough Ramor mid afternoon. It was a warm day, good sunshine and no wind which made it easier to capture the mayflies. Something red caught my eye and hey presto there was this beautifully coloured damselfly landing on a leaf within close range. Gently moving the lens towards the damselfy I managed to capture this shot. His head, body and lower wings are nice and sharp. Depth of field is a real challenge with macro photography. Here I knew there was a risk that some of the fly would be out of the focus plane so I focussed on the head to ensure its sharpness.
The camera I used for this image was my first digital SLR camera, the Canon 10d, and a great camera it was for its time.
This is Lavey lake just a few miles outside Cavan town on the Dublin road. I pass this lake often in the early morning when travelling to Dublin. During autumn and winter, particularly on frosty mornings, with the sun peeping over the horizon you often see fog forming on top of the water in vertical strands that seem to slowly dance over the water. The clouds caught my attention this particular morning and I had camera to hand.
The Innishannon Steam & Vintage Rally is a great spectacle in West Cork held on the first weekend of June each year. These guys are serious about their tractor engines. They are a labour of love without question. The time and energy that goes into keeping these tractors in the condition they are in is astonishing. Did I mention that people from West Cork are great characters! you betcha (disclosure: my wife is from a large family in West Cork!)
I was lucky that the quality of light was near perfect for capturing these colourful engines. Cloud cover give a nice diffused light. Most of the tractors have significant areas of their bodywork painted black which means the detail in these areas is really hard to capture in strong sunlight (the dynamic range is too great), but with the diffused light I could capture that detail nicely. This was one of the first shots I had taken with the Fuji X100. Some post processing in photoshop gave the image a grungier high contrast feel.