Saturday, 28 February 2009

SoFoBoMo

SoFoBoMo : Solo Photo Bool Month. Well I have just signed up to this project. My book will be called " Black & White Flower Power " and will be done over the month of May with a little forward planning before then. The post I did a while back called Tulip put the idea into my head. I shoot Landscapes not flowers, so it's a new challange for me and one I am looking forward to doing.

What is SoFoBoMo :

SoFoBoMo is short for Solo Photo Book Month - a group event where a bunch of photographers all make solo photo books start to finish, in 31 days, at more or less the same time. It's modeled loosely on NaNoWriMo, where participating writers all write novels in a month, and NaSoAlMo, where musicians write and record solo albums in a month.

View a list of all SoFoBoMo '09 participants

For SoFoBoMo, the goal is to make the photos, write any needed text, layout the book, and produce a PDF image of the book, all in 31 days. Rather than confining it to a single calendar month, we use a 'fuzzy month', where you can pick any contiguous 31 day period inside a two month window - this makes it a bit more flexible and encourages broader participation.

Salterstown Beach Revisited Mk2




Just when you think I was finished with my images from Salterstown Beach. How wrong I was. All this time on my hand after my illness I came across a few more interesting images while playing around in Aperture. This one was processed using Aperture and a B&W plug-in. I am very pleased with the results and now have found another way to convert to B&W. Add this to my growing list of conversion. What do you think?

All about Composition and your Camera

All about Composition and your Camera

SELECTION

Get Close

You have decided what your subject is to be : a few sheep casting long shadows over the meadow.
Now go to it. Get close to your subject. You do not want the lake, the hills, the clouds. You do not want the horizon and the rising mist. You do not even want the whole of the flock to grace all over your image in disorderly manner. Get close to narrow down your angle of view. Leave out the rest. Leave out, leave out, leave out.
I know it is heart-breaking. But it is no use trying to weave two tunes into one song unless you are going to compose some sort of medley. (And medleys end so often in muddles.)
Do I mean to say that a "general view" can never make a fine picture? I certainly do not. But general views are so much more difficult because of all the single picture elements they may contain. Most of these elements display a fatal tendency to claim a life of their own. Take just this general subject : our soft hills in low sunlight. How to cut out the riotous sparkle of the lake? How to prevent those wandering sheep from disturbing the quiet of the scene? How to subdue that dramatic exclamation mark of a church spire?
Shoot your general view by all means. Do not be surprised, though, to get at the end one of those famous images which photographically more advanced people will cleverly split up into two, three or even more prints. Admittedly it is quite good fun to detect how many pictures may hide in one image. But believe me, it is never a really good image. A good image does not need and does not easily suffer "improvements."
If you prefer the part to the whole, take the part only from the outset. Why waste your time and struggle afterwards with all the mysteries of the darkroom ( film or digital ) for a patchwork art?
The size of your subject decides your distance. Whether the subject is large or small, whether the distance seems long or short : the right distance is always the closest possible one.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Howth Lighthouse





Time again for Sky Watch Friday.
This image was taken on the U shape pier at Howth Village, Dublin on a day when I was out in Howth to take some images for a Stock Library. I am standing on the end of one side of the pier and the Lighthouse on the other side. This pier is very popular of the old fashion Sunday afternoon walk. You will find it very hard to get a parking stop. After you walk you can go to one of the best placed in Dublin for a bag a Chips. I have posted a image before from the other side of the pier looking at all the boats. You can have a look with this Link.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

All about Composition and your Camera.

All about Composition and Your Camera

SELECTION

Be Direct

It sounds easy and it is easy enough. Yet nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand photographs fail because of the photographer's vague approach to his subject.
The photographer and his camera loiter through a fine summer afternoon and an Irish landscape. Soon a thin mist will put a veil on the green face of the hills. There is a flock of sheep and the clouds are mirrored by a lake. The silhouette of a church spire stands out on the father edge of this idyllic world and the faint outline of the village, behind which presently the sun will set. What a world! What a picture, the photographer thinks, getting the camera ready - and will surely devalue another piece of the best film material by exposing on it the image of this vague delight in everything.
Be careful whenever you get this "What a picture !" sensation. Get most suspicious and question yourself severely : what is what? Ask coolly what you are getting so excited about. The sheep? The sky? The clouds? The sunset? The mist? The meadows? Or just the nice country air?
Do not give way to sentiment. Stop for a moment as you start fidgeting with your camera and demand a direct statement : what are you going to photograph? The sunset behind the village church? The soft hills and the depth of the scene drawn by the mist? The cloud-dotted sky and the sheep under it? Just the sheep and their doubles in the lake? Perhaps that mirror of the water alone?
This is the decisive moment. Burst aside this tempting environment crowed with opportunities, beauty and sentiment. Be Shrewd. Recognise your subject. There are a score of subject matters in front of you. You are not going to get any of them unless you pick just one. Make up your mind. Have courage to argue. Do not be too shy to talk aloud. State clearly what you want to take. Passers-by may think you are mad. Do not care. You are not. You are taking your first step towards photographic wisdom.
You are just selecting your subject and are about to approach it directly.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Sick Bed

Sorry all you followers of Mononeil, but I have been in hospital and my bed for the last few days. So no posts, however I am on the road to recovering and will be posting again from tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Camus Bay





It's that time of the week again - SkyWatch Friday -

This image shows Camus Bay, Co Galway. A quick jump out of the car along the R336, which is the road out of Galway city along the coast towards Spiddle and on towards Maam Cross. What we have here is an image showing the 2 mountain ranges of Connemara, which are The Twelve Pins and Manumturk Mountains. Also we had wonderful clouds which transformed the sky. If I'am right I drove the the family mad as we ( sorry I stopped ) stopped so many times. The children were back on my side after a couple of Ice creams later.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Atlantic Drive, Achill Island




Atlantic Drive, Achill Island is one of the most amazing stretch of roadways in Ireland. After you cross the bridge at Achill Sound on to the island the first turn right after the village is the starting point for the Atlantic Drive. It follows the southern tip of the island around Cloghmore and goes up to Dooega. The above image was taken at a spot where many of my image from Achill are taken from. Not only me, but many people stop here because the views are amazing. In this image you can see Croaghaun Mt on the horizon.
I have posted many more images from Achill Island and if you want to see the rest just type 'Achill Island@ in the Search.

Monday, 16 February 2009

All about Composition and your Camera.

All about Composition and your Camera

SELECTION

Introduction

Photographic composition is selection. As a matter of fact, all composition is selection. But with the camera we are confined to selecting things we can see - everybody can see. Imagination will not help us to the same extent as it does the man with the brush or the chisel.
We select our subject. We select the distance. We select the point of view. The rest will then be more or less automatically defined : the perspective, the lighting, the colour or tone values.
Admittedly we are able to do more : we can exaggerate the effect of perspective by changing our lens, we can add our own version of lighting by employing flash, we can apply correction to the tone rendering by using filters. We can go further : play around with the focus, the exposure, and even introduce all sorts of little tricks. We shall hear more about them shortly. Still the picture will basically be designed by subject, distance and viewpoint.
I have got three hints to go with these three fundamental elements of camera work : Be direct. Get close. Try to simply.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Achill Island





Here is the view I was talking about from the top of Mweelin in the Menawn Cliffs post.
From the top of the mountain you have a 360 degree view. The image about is looking west. You can see Slievemore Mt. on the right, Trawmore Beach, Keel on the left and in the background is Croghaun Mt. If you have being watching RTE 1 tonight on Irish television you would have seen a piece on Achill Island on the travel programe. Rain, sun or wind this place is wonderful.

All about Composition and your Camera.

All about Composition and your Camera

COMPOSITION

Limitations

Photography seems a very limited art of expression after all, and those serious gentlemen of an older generation who told us so many a time appear to have been right.
But all the "legitimate" arts, too, have their limitations. Sculpture is colourless, painting two-dimensional and music invisible. Does it matter?
Neither do the limitations of the camera, as long as you recognize them, instead of trying, with innocent enthusiasm, to trespass on the painter's field of work. Do not attempt to "compose" your image as the artist does. Do not let yourself be confused by learned theorists, who would willingly lecture you on the art of photography, using all the imposing terms they can get hold of among bearded connoisseurs of painting, sculpture, architecture or even music.
You will probably find that most of these people have never produced a single decent snapshot of their own, and if you try to take photographs according to their ideas you will hardly get any either. The sun will set, the grass turn yellow, your subjects get dead tired while you are still meditating about some subtle point of aesthetics which your camera cannot cope with anyway.
Compose yourself, dear reader ; you cannot "compose" at all. Not in the arty, nineteenth century sense of the word.
("Is this about composition or is it not? Is the title a lie?" I am afraid it is Slightly.)

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Tulip




Just in case you think I only do Landscape images well here is a Tulip image I took last year as a still life for the camera club comp. It was lit by natural light from a window on the right with a black card behind. This is something I would like to do more off and it's down on my wish-list of things to do in 2009.
Any ideas what flowers I should do next?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Menawn Cliffs





Here we are again at Sky Watch Friday.
This image is of the Menawn Cliffs on Achill Island from Trawmore Beach, Keel. It was a very cold and windy day if my memory is correct. There was nobody on the beach as you could hardly stand up straight. You can see the spray from the water been collected by the wind in the lower right of the image. You can drive up to the top of the the mountain on the left ( Mweelin Mt ). And boy what a view you have from up there. I will post a image from up there for next weeks Sky Watch.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

All about Composition and your Camera.

All about Composition and your Camera

COMPOSITION

Artists and Photographers

Much too objectively to please human taste. If you do not believe it, have a look at some painter's technique and compare it with a photograph taken from the point where he was working on his canvas. What has he done? First of all, he gave dominance to the real subject of his picture by spending on it his best colours and working into it much more detail than into anything else. Then, he took some liberties with the perspective. His foreground and his background appear less exaggerated. You can still see that things nearer to us seem to be larger than those far away, but his scale of perspective seems to be mellowed down compared with that of the lens.
From a purely scientific point of view, the painter lies and the lens is right. From the point of view of human experience the painter is right and the scientifically working lens wrong. Yet we cannot persuade our lens to be human, we cannot make it abandon the rules of perspective and correct its views according to our taste.
Just as we do not enjoy another privilege of the artist, who is at liberty to select, emphasise or leave out details of his subject as presented by Nature. If he has got four trees and a telegraph pole in the foreground of the landscape which he is going to paint, but thinks that it would be nicer to have three of them only and no telegraph pole at all, well, he just paints four minus one tree and that is that. Even a painter of the most realistic school will not have any scruples about omitting altogether from his picture a lorry standing in the middle of the road, if he does not want it to stand there.
But we cannot move that lorry if it does not happen to belong to us; and will hardly try to cut down even the most unwelcome tree just because if interferes with our pictorial intentions. We may play around with a still-life arrangement, just as a painter does. We may even persuade a sitter to move his/her head in one direction or the other, choose the background and adjust their cloths. But that is the limit.

Monday, 9 February 2009

200 Post milestone




I want to start by saying a big thank you too all my fellow photographers and bloggers for the comments on my blog over the past couple of years. This is the 200th post and I hope you have enjoyed and maybe learned somethings to help you in your photography.

You may have seen the above image before as it was one of the first I posted. This image is Inch Beach, Co Kerry. This image means a lot to me as it's the first photo that I sold and started the ball rolling on my photographic career. I am now a Professional Photographer ( what ever that means? ) selling my B&W Landscapes from my website ( blackandwhite.ie ) and teaching photography. The one thing I have learned over the past couple of years is this : enjoy this wonderful landscape that surrounds you. If photography is your hobby or you are a Pro, you will never stop learning and be amazed by the wonderful images taken by others.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Furbo Beach




Furbo Beach and Galway Bay for all you Monochrome Monday Maniacs.

This is the reason why I like Ireland for Landscape photography because 10mins after this image was taken and 4 hours before it was raining non stop. But I was in the rigth place at the right time to get 20mins break in the clouds. Luck ? Yes it was, but that's the thing with Ireland. Stay in the same place long enough ( one or two hours ) and you will be rewared with changing light conditions and weather.

Mr Snowman




We woke up this morning to a snow covered ground and this time it stuck.
Here is our 10ft snowman we made with the help of the children big and small.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

All about Composition and your Camera.

All about Composition and your Camera

COMPOSITION

Eyes and the Lens

Our eyes are a pair of very versatile instruments.
Confronted with a landscape, they are seldom inclined to take in the general impression as a whole, but will be fixed for a fraction of a second on a group of trees in the foreground, then quickly follow the bends of s stream, rest on a swallow swooping down on it, fly up with the bird to the clouds, and all of a sudden come down to a little group of bright flowers somewhere in a meadow ; to be diverted again by a butterfly, or even by the foreign sensation of a sound in an entirely different direction.
The space in front of us may be much more limited, yet our eyes never seem to be resting. Instead of regarding Cousin John as a self contained portrait unit, those eyes of ours jump restlessly about from his hair to his shave, from his tie to his waistcoat buttons, from his pockets to his shoelaces, prompting our brains too all sorts of observations and more or less unkind if suppressed remarks.
The trouble is that our eyes do not stare or at least normally they do not. But the lens of the camera does. It stares most uncompromisingly.
Once fixed on a subject, it registers it will all conceivable detail, in its full width and depth, rigidly sharp and putting every part of the picture into its right place : the mathematically correct perspective. Cousin John's face will appear just as sharp and not all more important that half a dozen quaint souvenirs on the mantelpiece, in front of which he happened to sit ; and the inkstand, half-way between him and the camera, will suddenly grow to the monumental dominance of some historic sculpture. Have your eyes noticed that inkstand before? Have they seen at all that he was sitting with his head leaning towards the mantelpiece? Of course they have not. They have been occupied all the time with John in general. But not your lens. That lens did not allow itself to be distracted, and has been imperturbably staring all the time at all sorts of details. That lens does not distinguish and it does not select. It is a mechanical device; it is not only termed an "objective", but is objective and acts objectively.

Another Miracle




Here is another image from the day I was in Donabate with the Canon G10. This time we are looking in the other direction. You can see Howth Head on the horizon with the sun rays. As with the other image posted, hand holding with one hand, standing on the rocks with a gale blowing. I believe you can get an adaptor for the lens which you can attach a filter system too. I will have to look into this.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

All about Composition and your Camera.

I came across a book called "All about Composition and your Camera" a couple of weeks ago. This book is over 50 year old and explains Composition in photography which still holds up today in this digital age. I will be over the next couple of weeks be posting extracts from this book for you to read and hopefully learn from.
The posts will cover the following starting with the introduction here and then - Eyes and the Lens - Artist's and Photographers - Limitations - Be Direct - Get Close - Try to Simplify - Size - Definition - Light - Colour - Depth - Movement - Unity of Purpose - Unity of Matter - Unity of Manner.
So let's get started.

All about Composition and your Camera.

COMPOSITION

Introduction


As a matter of fact, I should have preferred to call this a spelling-book of photographic expression. Whether you will have any need for it at all I don't know. Happily, some people seem to be born with all kinds of knowledge. Others must just pick up their wisdom as they go, almost sub-consciously. Still, most of us feel more confident with some sort of reference-book within reach.
I am sure, however, nobody will expect to produce masterpieces of photographic art merely by memorising rules and adhering to them. Nobody is known to have ever become a poet by studying the rules of rhythm and rhyme; or a painter by reading all the theories on colour. But millions of people have been enabled to produce nice letters by learning how to organise their thoughts into paragraphs and how to compose their words into sentences.
"Composition" does not seen to have a complicated meaning after all. To compose a sentence, a letter or a picture, means merely to put it together in an orderly, purposeful fashion. Similarly, composing a photograph is just to organise its contents as clearly as possible : making our picture show the subject and only the subject which we meant to take, and to show it as we saw it.
Camera manufacturers promise a lot, but they cannot possibly claim to do this for you. True, you press the button and can be sure to get a picture. the question is only what kind of picture you get. You may be pleased with it, because you know what you meant to take and the image seems to show you what you saw. But look at the faces of your friends as they go through your images. If they are not very self-controlled, they seem often enough unimpressed, a bit douthful, almost critical. They may even be inclined to ask you questions.
Is that grey patch in the background the Wicklow mountains? And are these blurred lines in the left corner Sarah's toys?
This inquisitlveness is the more embarrassing as the picture in question was merely meant to show a family group picnicking - and just a family group picnicking. Not for a single moment were you considering the Wicklow mountains and Sarah's toys. Of course, they were there and some other things, too, but you did not care about them when pressing the shutter button. And although one cannot help noticing them now, they should still be of the same unimportance. Why should your friends bother about them ? Why on earth should other people's attention be fixed on such trifles?
I am afraid the main trouble is caused by the peculiar way in which our eyes perceive things and the definitely different methods of the camera lens.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Derry Veagh Mts.





Well the snow has melted. Lasted less than a day. If you want to see some snow pictures check out a new link I have put up on the "PhotoBlogs from around the World" called Drammen Daily Photo.

So no more snow images. I dug this one up from last May. It was taken by the road side on the R251 heading towards Dunlewy. This shows the turf cutting bog which lies at the foot of the Derry Veagh Mountains. If my memory is right this was the last image I took on the Donegal trip last year. I packed the cameras away and started on the 5 hours drive home.
I like the way the line of the turf follows the mountain line. Also the shadows cast by the clouds an the mountains makes them a bit more interesting.

What The Duck

Let it Snow




Well it has being snowing here in Ireland the past couple of days. However it's very patchy and you could drive 2km's up the road and have no snow. Quite strange. The children were hoping that there would be no school today but sadly it was raining and this melted the snow. However I did manage to get out today to get the above image. I had clear blue skies but could see in the distance clouds were a coming. It's like this all day bursts of sunshine followed by snow falls and melting as fast again.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

A Little Miracle




That's what it is, a little miracle.
What I am talking about is the camera used and the conditions under which the image above was taken in. I was standing on the rocks down on Donabate beach today with gale force winds and spray from the waves every couple of seconds. I was holding the camera in one hand and holding a grad filter in the other hand up against the lens. Oh yes the camera, The Canon G10.
The G10 was in my pocket while myself and the rest of the family went for a walk along the beach in Donabate before we payed a visit to my sister. I think the children lasted about 15mins in the very cold and strong winds. I wanted to stay longer but they won in the end and we headed back to the car.
So their you have it, the G10 a little miracle.