Brazil, memories, and the passage of time.

Paracuru 2 366

The day this photograph was taken, my camera had an accident. It was the end of November 2008, and the first day I was out shooting, the first trip which Pure Magic did to Brazil. Sometimes it seems like yesterday; when I look at the numbers, it’s bloody ages ago.

Anyway, this was taken fairly shortly before the camera went error 99. Either I got water into it causing the error 99, or opening the camera to try and fix the error 99 caused water damage. Net result, one camera, very, very unusable. It was a 40D.

I wound up borrowing someone else’s camera for the rest of the trip and it was really hard – I’m not supposed to admit that – but enough of the controls were different that certain things were non-intuitive and certain things just didn’t work that well for me, plus the picture imports were set up differently which caused me grief with filenames. When I think about that trip, I often just think about the photographs I didn’t get. It was particularly hard because there were more than a few stand out photographs on the first day. I’ve always liked this one; at the moment though I think it’s probably my favourite from that day. I’m not absolutely certain why although I think the colours have a lot to do with it. It’s not a great kitesurfing photograph; it’s far too close-up, there’s very little context. But I like the level of detail you can pick out; while they are all very soft, the water droplets which give a lot of evidence of motion. I’m pretty sure that there was a 50mm lens on the front of the camera.

Another picture, from further up the coast – I think it might have been taken near Lagoinha – which I like is this one.

Paracuru 3 198

I’m inclined to wonder – bearing in mind what has happened with other older photographs, whether it would be worth taking out the Brazil files again and having a look to see if there were things I missed at the time, or photographs I would deal with differently now, looking at them through different eyes.

I’m taking very few photographs at the moment; couldn’t even tell you the last time I took out the camera, and in any case, I need to replace one of the midzooms as it finally gave up the ghost in the face of its life by the sea.

I still sport a 40D. I bought a replacement six months after this trip. At the time, being without a camera was fairly, fairly hard for me. It surprises me now, however, how little I have been using them. I think in part it’s because a couple of years ago, I reached the zenith of what I wanted to do with kites with some wide angle stuff in Sutton in Dublin, and wanted, or needed to do something different for a while and could not find out what that was. I’ve a feeling now that the different thing I want to go to; or go back to, is travel photography.

I’m minded – unusually – to go back to Brazil. Not necessarily to kitesurf (although I did, when I was there last), but just to carry my camera around and see how I get on. I need to think about it…and maybe dream a little.

Made by hand


In another life, and for about 5 years, I have done needlework as a side hobby. Nothing too remuneratively interesting; some tapestry, mainly of sea scenes, because that’s what I love, really. A few lighthouses; in fact I think there’s at least one large lighthouse finished, and one Breton farmhouse; the sort of house that in my fantasies I’d live in, with pink flowers and blue paint on the windows and the gateposts. Gorgeous. I also crochet as anyone who follows me on twitter will be aware.

This is what I am doing at the moment. Without wanting to go into too many details it will be a scarf, and it should hopefully get finished this weekend. There’s more information about the project here.

My sister tells me she learned how to do this at school. Given that I could not get any large hairpin looms here and was idly considering trying to build one myself before capitulating with the Visa card and the internet, I was astonished. My flatmate says her mother also does it. Clearly in Ireland, we don’t buy these looms, we assemble them ourselves, probably, I guess, from knitting needles. Mine is handmade by a man in Oregon who appears to be the world market leader in handmade adjustable hairpin looms.

The photograph – because this is Living For Light, after all, was taken with a 50mm 1.8, relatively high ISO and no flash.I quite like it, and I desaturated once I got it off the camera.

Now, for some other related news:

Richard has this from Howth. This – incidentally – is my take on the same structure. It’s a great illustration of the whole different eyes, different views thing and why you shouldn’t necessarily shy away from something everyone else has photographed 1million times before.

Stephen has been in Yosemite.

Tommie Lehane has an exhibition in town and you can reach the details here. Tommie is one of the best photographers I know. I will get in to see this before it closes. You should too.

Kyle Tunney is also revving up for an exhibition, and details are here. I’m looking forward to this too.

I don’t plug Darren anywhere near enough but really this is just gorgeous.

New Year’s Day in Howth


So on New Year’s Day after failing to acquire a Nintendo Wii COS I WANTED ONE THERE AND THEN RIGHT, I took a trip out to Howth with a view of playing with some dramatic clouds (they had gone home for the night though, leaving a grey featureless thing of a sky), and some long exposures (the tide was out and it was freezing, so I abandoned that idea too). Before I overfroze though I took a handful of pictures of people out for a Sunday constitutional on the pier. Then I went and had tea and caramel squares.

As a way to spend New Year’s Day, I recommend that part (although not the part that involved 2 visits to Harvey Normans and one to PC World in search of a games console I’ve since talked myself out of [again]).

Hope 2011 is as good to you as it has been to me so far. Yes I know we’re only five days in, but still…

it’s a snowy wonder of a day.

Snow 021


Snow 025

It feels like it’s warmer outside than in.

I took a wander around the estate with a 50mm lens and a camera this morning. When I got home I discovered that the computer had different ideas to me about how I name files which is why this is actually called Snow nn rather than IMG_nnnn. I prefer IMG_nnnn to be honest; works better in my mental filing system.

Then I discovered there is no Canon RAW codec for 64 Bit Win7 which is a huge nuisance as I am without image browsing software at the moment following my fury with ACDSee last week or the week before. And then I discovered that Adobe Updater had failed to notice that I need to update Adobe RAW. Net result, before I could even look at the photographs this morning quite a bit of work had to be done.

So here are a couple of rattle bag photographs that I happen to like more than others.

Red tulip

One of the older photographs.

IMG_2062 red tulip

I think this was from my sister’s garden, and I believe it was taken with the 50mm. I’ve forgotten though I suppose I could check the file data except it’s not on the flickr page (what was I thinking) and I am not sure where the file is stashed in terms of the half dozen external drives I have here.

I probably should do soemthing about printing Christmas cards now…maybe.

Irish Leadclimbing championships.


I had some difficulty trying to decide which image to post. I was at the Irish Leadclimbing championships at the weekend in PlayAtHeight in Dingle. Just one of those things; went along, had fun, took some photographs and I quite liked quite a few of them. I’m not done processing them yet seeing as I did this all while in the middle of moving house. So there may be more of this during the week.


Yesterday was the third annual Scott Kelby World Photowalk. I’d forgotten it was coming up. Anyway, this time, John Williams took us west rather than east. I tend to prefer east – probably because it takes me towards my more natural stomping ground of the sea. We wound up in tourism heaven, Temple Bar and had a walk around there, around the food market. I had a lot of fun with Faye.

When the dust finally settled and I took everything back off the camera, two photographs caught my attention somewhat unexpectedly. This was one.


The reason for that was that I had been trying to collect an image for something like this. I was out on the 50mm at 1.8 but wasn’t quite getting the crowd with one individual in the razorsharp DOF so basically abandoned the idea until I got home.

The photograph has taken some composition by way of motion blur. It’s not the first time I’ve tried this – see here also:


although obviously I fired in some halftone filtering here also.

I’m currently looking for a photographic project to grab me. I don’t quite know what’s wrong – it may be the lousy summer I had last year which left me with very few standout sports photographs, it may be the lack of challenge in the kite photographs at the moment – short of moving a camera onto a board, there is little for me to play with now that I have the wide angles working for me and stuff.

So yesterday I spent in Easons for about a half an hour before the Photowalk wandering around the magazine and book section. By the way, Easons are flogging Ocean by Philippe Plisson for 6.99 at the moment. It is definitely worth getting. (but that’s by the way).

I’m looking at larger projects at the moment; there’s a book project in the offing for which I have to go through the archive and pick 145 photographs and then start work on writing the accompanying text. But that will largely be based on historic photographs.

Amongst the things that have caught my attention lately is this piece that James Bowden did for Driftsurfing. Actually there are some nice things in that magazine altogether.

I did look at the photography magazines but they are not talking to me much at the moment so I went back to my first love, which is the surf magazines. I picked up two I think (meant to pick up Surfer Girl as well but forgot). There’s a very retro style about some of the surf magazines at the moment – you can see this in the James Bowden piece (and by the way, James Bowden blogs here). It’s not so common in some of the kitesurfing stuff which I suppose could be considered understandable since kitesurfing has a far shorter history than surfing.

So in addition to the book which I’m slowly putting together, and trying to find some of the lost photographs for (the loss of the dancingshades site has caused a lot of photographs just to get forgotten) I’m looking at putting some other smaller projects together. Again, the problem with them is they don’t call for much in the way of new photographs but amongst the interesting tools which I think I might use – which I’m shamelessly borrowing from someone else’s research – is issuu.

In other news, picked up a new book yesterday which, much to my surprise, Easons had – and they hid it in the computer section where they stash all the Photoshop bookage. It’s called Digital Masters: Adventure Photography and it’s by Michael Clark. I hadn’t heard of Michael Clark – I suppose it’s a sad reflection on my introverted little world that I know mainly the kitesurf photographers – but his website is here and I picked up the book because leaving through it – all too briefly – the photography in it was impressive enough, even in sports I’m not so au fait with (ATB for example) and I noted that he actually did have a piece on how to handle being an adventure photographer in terms of extraneous equipment you might need….Anyway, there’s some impressive stuff on his website and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the book.

Okay. Under the heading of community projects worth looking at, have been busy again. You’ll find their 24 hour magazine here. (and you wonder how I have heard of issuu).

A deck of portraits.

Strangely enough, it seems like all I have been doing lately is shooting pictures of people.

So, from the last month or two, here are a few.


Taking pictures of people is not something that necessarily comes naturally to me. Most of these were done, I think, with the 50mm 1.8. There may be a couple of 17-85s thrown in there as well.

In links, what do I have.

Julie has little treats.

Phil has handprints.

Jennifer is on Moore Street.

Darren’s abandoned farmhouse.

Tommie…well…words as usual not adequate.

Stephen’s weather is altogether different.

Louise’s puffins.

Okay, that’s it for now.

Lighthouses in Wicklow

After a rather trying time with a composite work, I was advised by Richard to go out in the sunshine. So I did. All the way to Wicklow.

I didn’t have any real plan in mind but wound up as far south as Brittas Bay. I kept hearing about Brittas Bay but really and truly, all it is is a huge beach and today it didn’t do Beach for me. So after looking at it for about 5 minutes and idly wishing the wind turbines were a touch closer, I got back in the car and drove to Wicklow. Where I passed this.


According to my reading of the map, this is Wicklow Head Lighthouse. You can walk a good part of the way to it past some sheep (and little lambs – some of which were black and very cute but very running away) and some cattle. You might be able to get closer but I was playing chicken with the sun which was on its way down behind an inconveniently located Wicklow mountain. So I went for the lighthouse.

Anyone who knows me at all well knows that Philippe Plisson is probably my favourite photographer in the world and he is particularly well known for some superlative shots of the lighthouses in Brittany. There is also some really hot stuff by Jean Guichard but what both of them have in common is a lot of photographs of lighthouses. I like lighthouses. I like them a lot. There’s something lonely sentinel about them. This one is a bit like that. I’d like to have a go off it at dawn when the sun is arriving rather than when it’s disappearing, and also from a bit closer with a 10-20. But I like this; there’s something warm about it.

A little while later, after I’d played with a castle and some filters, I had a look at the harbour light and this is what I got.

IMG_0636 Wicklow Harbour Lighthouse

I think there might have been one filter left on – it was getting dark enough to stretch the exposures without using the filters anyway.

I quite like both of them to be honest; they might be the nicest lighthouse shots I’ve done. While I was in the harbour area in Wicklow a man told me I should have been there 2 weeks ago, the sky was an amazing pink. Que faire?

Anyway, this is from my big day out today. I wound up in Wicklow with the objective of adding to the Abandoned Boats collection but that just didn’t happen because I was distracted with ruins and lighthouses.

And now for something completely different.

I was in Dignes Les Bains today having done the train des Pignes. I had hoped for photos out of that but they were all taken through a window that doubled as a fly cemetry and frankly meh is as good as you’ll get for any of them.

On the way home, however, I got caught in the Carnival Parade. I don’t do religion/Lent/that stuff but I thought Carnival ended on Shrove Tuesday. Evidently the Ville de Nice doesn’t give much of a toss for the religious side of things either. Carnival is on for another week or so here, apparently. Colourful parade every night.

I was fortunate enough to have a festival pass for Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin last year and it was fun. But compared to what I caught of the Carnival parade tonight, it sucked. We have no real idea how to party. There were no restrictions or anything here on this; you could hop in and join and play havoc. People did.

I got a few photographs although I hadn’t planned for shootoing it tonight. They were all taken with the 50mm 1.8, no flash, and I think I shot ISO up to 800 at one stage.

From the 13 or 14 that made it up to the pixie account, here are a few:


This one is [at the moment] my favourite shot. Something about the colours. If I remember the float correctly, that’s the face of a puppet in the throes of popping out another puppet other end.




I think this one is Asterix but I wouldn’t swear to it. I also think the theme of the parade was to pay more attention to ecological matters which if you saw the mess of confetti and streamers around the streets when it was all over, you’d see some irony. I’ll probably have a better shot tomorrow with a speedlite – can’t swear to it though as the 50mm worked out nicely. I’ll also not bother with the staged seating as I was able to get up nice and close courtesy of being stuck on the street unable to get to my hotel.