Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Favourites - Landscapes

Here are a few, starting with the bluebell forest in Oakport in May

Sliabh an Iarainn after a snow shower

A misty April morning in Cootehall

Eastersnow Cemetery and Lough Arrow on beautiful summer evenings

Lough Gara at twilight

And two from the back field to finish.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 Favourites - Weddings

At this time, everybody seems to be doing a review of the year in one form or another, so I may as well get in on the act. 2007 has been eventful, what with moving house and finally starting to work full time in photography.

I've been to lots of different wedding venues, and it's great that there are so many outstanding hotels within a relatively small radius of where I'm based.

So far, I've photographed weddings in -

The Landmark Hotel, Carrick-On-Shannon
Kilronan Castle, Keadue
The Abbey Hotel, Roscommon
Castle Dargan, Sligo
Slieve Russell, Ballyconnell
Markree Castle, Sligo
The Bush Hotel, Carrick-On-Shannon
The Clarion Hotel, Sligo
The Cavan Crystal Hotel
Knockranny House Hotel, Westport
Radisson Hotel, Sligo
Cromleach Lodge, Sligo
Ballybeg House, Aughrim, Wicklow
Lough Allen Ramada, Drumshanbo
McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris
Mullingar Park Hotel, Westmeath
Shannon Keywest, Rooskey

I like the unscripted, unposed moments that happen on a wedding day, and prefer to stay in the background to allow everyone to forget about the camera. For me, this means the photographer is more likely to capture the real emotions or humourous moments as they happen, rather than a series of staged poses with people smiling selfconciously at the camera. I think some of these pictures achieve that. We are very lucky to get the oportunity to photograph people looking and feeling their best on such an important day in their lives.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Family Snap

Julie took this one of the family after the fine Christmas dinner Richard cooked yesterday - as usual, my mother isn't looking at the camera. My dad is looking at the records of my grandfather's journey to America in 1915 which I was able to trace in Ellis Island. For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm in the black shirt at the back.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

White Christmas

Well it might not have snowed, but as Christmas Day was breaking in Killaraght, a crisp frost covered everything and the moon still hung in the sky. Happy Christmas one and all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Morning Glory

Sunrises/sunsets are tricky – on the one hand they can be interesting and dramatic, but on the other, there are so many of them that it’s almost impossible to be distinctive or different. Every calendar or set of landscapes will have a scatter of them in there. But on the way to work on frosty Friday morning with a pale winter sun I couldn’t resist the temptation to stop the car by the icy Boyle river in Cootehall. These were underexposed by a couple of stops to hold highlight detail and boost contrast.

Other than basic tweaks of levels I don't like to do much post-processing, as it's so easy to overdo it and end up with images that are 'photoshopped' to death, but I came across an action recently which mimics the effect of Fuiji Velvia Film. Velvia was a big favourite of landscape photographers as it produced rich saturated colours with dramatic contrast. Here is the shot out of the camera and then with the Velvia action added. I think it adds a bit of punch and extra drama to the scene without looking over-processed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas

After putting the tree up at home tonight, I put the tripod up. I've been pushing my luck a bit recently in low light, and after looking at some of Tony's night-time work, , it's time to get back to the proper discipline of long exposures off a steady base.

The candle in the window is a shot for a calendar we’ve been working on for a while and was specifically requested, while the tree picture is a variation on one I saw by another photographer in the past couple of days. I was very impressed by his shot – the very shallow depth of field and the beautiful creamy circular bokeh (the out of focus area of the picture). You can see it on

I was wondering how he'd achieved that look until I read that he uses the beautiful Leica M8 (RRP in Ireland c€5k) with an incredibly fast f1.0 lens. If that doesn’t mean much to you, take my word for it that it gets us photo-types very excited. So as I couldn't match that, I did the complete opposite and shot at f22 with a 30 second exposure at iso100.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Recital

I was in Annaduff Church last night for a special Christmas performance from Suaimhneas Choral Singers and the Riverside childrens choir. The brief was to take some informal shots of the rehearsal for promotional material, but I stayed for the recital. The groups and soloists were excellent, and a credit to conducter Derek Mahady who founded them only four years ago. The members are all from Leitrim, Roscommon and Longford, and it was good to see a full house.

Yet again, I was in a very low-light situation with little scope for using a tripod, made even trickier by the red stage spotlights and the flare spots catching the lens. It's becoming a trend - iso1600, handheld at 1/30th or less and lens wide open at 2.8. The 'proper' shots have gone to the local papers, but here are a few more I liked.

What goes on behind the scenes is often as interesting as on-stage...

I know what I was trying to get here, but it didn't quite come off. Sometimes one shot can be perfect; more often, like this, even three or four attempts don't cut the mustard.

This is Patrice and Marie-Louises' response to being asked to look moody, serious and arty -I think they got it spot on.

This was a grab shot turning round from the performers - despite all the flare, I really like the contrast between the concentration on the women's faces and the expression on the girl's. Can't decide whether I prefer the colour or black & white version. All opinions welcome.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Walk In The Park

Took a walk up to Central Park last Saturday; the weather was perfect; freezing cold, but crisp and sunny. It was the 27th anniversary of John Lennon's death and a great crowd had gathered outside Strawberry Fields at his memorial. I met my mate Tosty - ironically a big Paul McCartney fan - and having paid our respects, we strolled back through the Park for lunch in a traditional New York deli.

Was back again later in the week as twilight closed in -

Going Underground

Had a great week in New York - arrived to snow showers on Wednesday evening, but it didn’t last. The city sweeps you up in its pace and bustle, so I didn’t get to do much serious photography. Took a minimalist approach and only brought a 16-50 lens; no flashgun, no tripod; not even a long lens, which was the one thing I was sorry I left behind. So it was all high-isos, low shutter speeds and trying to keep a steady hand.

Twenty years ago the Metro was apparently a dangerous way to travel and your odds of getting mugged were high, but it’s a pleasure these days. If you’re up and out early you can even find the beautiful Grand Central Station almost empty.