Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Fare

Dublin is ablaze with Christmas colour at the moment.

In the title bar is a link to some of my Chrismas photos on Flickr, going back several years.

And, it goes without saying, there is the food...

Breakfast Time

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bright Colours

So many of my photos from this Summer are dull, due to lack of bright sunlight, that I took to making pastiche "fine art" photos, flattening the tones even more and using contrast to the best effect.

These are not photos that will be of commercial interest ever, I expect, but the exercise of learning to play with gamma and contrast in Irfanview has brought several benefits. Most of all, it helps to learn about using negative space in a photo.

However, I still prefer the gaudy flowers and insects captured during a bright May when I first bought a zoom lens with built-in macro function.

Here's to more colour from now on...

In the Interest of Scientific Veracity, This Is how The  Wasp on Tree Peony, Hand Held, Photo Looked Before it Was Sharpened in a Graphics Editor

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Dubliners are fortunate to have a very beautiful and well stocked botanic gardens. There is great pleasure in seeing plants grown to the highest standard and to walk in a fine arboretum where the trees are loved and well tended.

The flat light that makes everything seem so sombre at the moment is actually helpful when it comes to flower photography. Whites, in particular, do not get bleached out in macro photos.

Shots of flower borders and wider landscapes are less successful, however, as there is less sparkle on a dull day.


Friday, August 26, 2011


Well, it's in short supply in Dublin these days.

Wonderful clouds, dramatic and eerie colours in the sky abound, but the fine sunlight that encourages insects to fly from flower to flower is simply not here.

September may be brighter... or so it's to be hoped.

Late Spring in Ireland

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stepping Out in Style

Street photography is my least favourite activity.

As a result, I have practiced more than usual, shooting casually as I walk along, capturing streetscapes usually, and not trying
to make too many individual portraits. Photographing people from behind gives an insight into current fashions, without having
to seem like a hunter.

There is such a body of work and analysis about the voyeuristic nature of street photography that I was put off
for a long time by what I read. Thinking that shopping centres would offer a more comfortable experience, I started
with them some years ago. The reality of the new gated city was quickly pointed out by security guards in some malls.
They are private spaces, not public like the street itself, and each place makes its own rules. The Powerscourt Centre in Dublin city centre
welcome photographers and there are some lovely architectural details there for anybody who likes Georgian Dublin.

Several years reading have made me quite choosy about where I travel. France and Quebec are non starters, due to the
draconian laws in operation there. Italy seems, so far to be very welcoming and since Italians are friendly in general photography
seems to be a good way to make new acquaintainces.
Some people on the street in England can look a bit grim when caught within my photos, so they don't tend to make
agreeable images for uploading on the Internet. An exception is the delightful face painter in York who was really pleased when asked to post specially.
I shall never become a true street photographer as the candid aspect of the
true practitioner, where the subjects are in situations where they are outside their comfort zones make me feel uneasy, never mind
how the people in question might feel about being exposed to public scrutiny. Couples walking hand in hand, while charming,
are never uploaded, as they relationship might not last... or worse, they may be in an illicit relationship. It is not my
business to cause trouble.

In some Eastern countries, I make sure never to upload photos of people who are speaking in public. Since I don't know
what they are saying and since they may be there without official permission, this is probably a safe measure.

Up to last week I happily uploaded the occasional shop window display, thinking that owners might be flattered.
However I had a strange experience while just snapping a particularly pretty display when a sales assistant rushed out
to ask what I was doing. The tone and general sense of suspicion, not really cured by my puzzled explanation that I was
just photographing shop windows, now ensures that, not only will that shop be avoided like the plague, I shall not feel
confident about uploading these sorts of photos in future. I could be breaching some trade copyright or other that I have not
heard about. This is linked to an experience of being at a fashion show years ago where photographs were not allowed.
This did not stop a lively visitor snapping everything on the catwalk, probably to rush with the prints to some warehouse where
the designs would be copied.

In years to come, people will think that we live today in some sort of ghastly Pied Piper's nightmare, childless and
without any sense of joy in the friendlieness that photography is meant to bring.
Sometimes children get stuck in my line of view, but uploading photos to the internet is now such a touchy subject that
I have now come to pick up on the frightful paranoia that surrounds their iconography. I have been soundly criticised by some
for giving in to the current practice, as the freedom of expression that professional photographers value so much is being
eroded just as much by my lack of courage as it is by new laws. However, a long lecture by one matron on an Italian street
makes me remember that life is short and that I can't spend hours placating the fears of the seriously frightened parents who
now people our public spaces. I don't tend to photograph them much either, as they look so gloomy.

Street riots are out of the question. I did not get my hair cut for a year in order to be able to buy a good 50mm lens.
Professionals can get their cameras replaced on insurance and one excellent news hack I met explained that it was no tragedy
as covering street disorder may actually lead to a useful camera upgrade.

Australia remains the most pleasant country for street photography in my experience and I can't wait to get there again.
The atmosphere is less neurotic than Europe and the buildings are very much to my personal taste. People don't take much
notice of cameras in general and the Brunswick Music Festival is well worthwhile for anybody who wants to get in on
Melbourne life.

The Hula Hoop

A prize for good humour has to go for the three friends I met while walking in County Wicklow a few months ago.

They even offered to pose again, so that I might get a better shot. I thought that the spontaneous sense of fun they had
displayed when they first saw the camera could not be bettered and their's is one of my favourites, proving that all the effort
and discomfort was worth it in the end.

However, its back to flowers, statues, architecture and trees.
I can well understand why the very diffident Monsieur Atget used get up at dawn in order to photograph a world
devoid of people, which is why his work has a mysterious timelessness. Frocks and carriages are set firmly in a verifiable time.
People in future centuries may find us a dull bunch but all this ensures, please Heavens, that nobody will ever want me to take photos for money on the street.

The effort could prove fatal.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Stone Head in Dublin

Dublin is thronged with visitors at this time of year.

One of the treasures here is the Chester Beatty Library and there is plenty of interest to photograph on the way in.

This stone head is by Edward Smyth (1749-1812) who worked with his son.

Searches for the history of the Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle will yield hours of reading on the subject.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Garden Photographer

Television programmes always favour bright colours, flower macros and many, many bees when they send their photographers out.

This has set me thinking about the fact that I love, above all, photographing statues and hand crafted details in any garden I visit.

The Giusti Gardens in Verona posed a challenge.
For some reason, I found it took several hours to get my mind settled to finding angles that were not edgy and disturbing. The sculptures in this fine, formal garden are somehow not aligned in a way that easily calms the eye. I found myself jumping from one spot to another in an effort to take in views that did not make the statues look ill at ease.

Finally, it came right...

Statue in the Giusti Gardens

Friday, June 24, 2011

Out in the Country

Drive-by shooting became a favourite activity when I took to photography first. It passes the time nicely to capture the landscape as it ambles by.

Also, when travelling in new places, recording roadside landmarks and signs helps to retrace the way one has come.

In Ireland, the centre of the country is relatively unpopulated, compared with continental Europe. Apart from the little towns with their bright shop fronts and houses which can go back as far as the 18th century there can be little to record that is worth uploading. However the country churches are very beautiful and well built, a joy for anybody interested in stonework.

A Church

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Statues are so much easier to photograph than people. You can walk round them for ages, go back at different times of the day to favourite one and capture them, frozen in time but in a different light.

I have to admit that I find public art in Ireland, in general, a bit lacking in subtlety and not to my taste. So it was a revelation to find that Italy is even better than France when it comes to statues to fall in love with.

Italy does not seem to have set off on a gallop to produce outrageous modern pieces like I have seen on the streets of Paris; though this may be seen as a criticism of a country that is still, in everyday life at least, quite conservative in its visual expressions.

But one thing I did notice is that Italian art, in all its forms, is full of angels.


I had a great chat in L'Accademia in Venice with an American couple about the personality types in one painting, where Cherubim and Seraphim smiled and played music in an eternal daze. It is possibly the sort of painting that made one of our family state baldly when asked to study for his First Communion. "D'you know something... I don't think I would like eternal life. I would find it boring."

He must have been looking at Italian art.

But one angel, the most famous of all stands out.

"The Angel of the City" by Marino Marini is a delight.
He rises to greet the day with the same joie de vivre every morning and is the most famous of the beautiful pieces that Marini made. Not possible, I know, but it would be Heaven indeed if one could photograph him at dawn.

As for the fact that angels are pure, incorporeal beings I can only assume that this is one of the naughty ones who managed to come down to Earth with success.

The Angel of the City, III

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photographing Birds

Many of the wretched creatures never stay still, but patience pays off.

If you want absolute success, the frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is the most willing of models. At most this unusual bird will bat its eyelids very, very slowly.

Podargus strigoides

Mudlark in Flight

Le Golf

Golf courses are exellent for photography.

Composition is easy as everything is so orderly there.

Le Golf en Irlande

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Harry's Filters

I've just uploaded some photos that explain how to use Irfanview to desaturate images with a bit more control and subtlety than hitting the "desaturate" button.

Harry's Filters can be downloaded from the Irfanview site and are easy to use, once one gets the hang of how to access them. There is a cheerful "play" function, where the system moves of its own accord and if you see an effect you like you just hit the "stop" button.

It's worth noting that freeware programs are very good for amateur use and do not fill hard drives with vast amounts of filters that may or may not be of use.

The photos in question may be viewed by hitting the title bar.

Spring has hit Dublin and computing is way down the list of activities from now on.

Many thanks to all who continue to visit and post friendly comments here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Polarizers for Cloud Details

Although glass filters can soften images, they are very useful for making skies look more dramatic.

The light in Australia is extremely bright and clouds and sky can merge into a flat, toneless expanse without a bit of art. I used a circular polarizer quite often while taking drive-by shots. It's worth noticing that the effect was also enhanced by the fact that the car had tinted windows, which cut down on glare.

Driving By in Victoria, Australia, Circular Polarizer

Sunday, March 20, 2011

All Keyed Up

Often, by mistake, I take over-exposed photos.
In very sunny situations, colours get bleached and one is left with outlines, like a fine water colour.

This can be useful for printing inexpensive photos, as so much less ink is used.

The differences between "over-exposure" and "high-key" are discussed in the link in the title bar.

Somehow, these photos have an other-worldly atmosphere.
I often use them when a small avatar is needed, as the images are less cluttered and stand out well.

Late Spring in Ireland

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all visitors here...

And many thanks for those who have taken time to follow.

Here's to many Photo Ops in 2011!

Ice in Dublin