Category Archives: outdoor photography

Summer, Impromptu

Impromptu is often the best. A beautiful summer evening. 23 degrees at 8pm. No kids obligations. We get a bag of chips and have dinner at the beach.

A walk across the ripples. The sun is beginning to set. We pass through the shadow of the big chimneys. All I have is my camera phone. What I get is this.

photo

Impromptu is good.

Location, Location, Location

Another weekend, another shoot for Locks and Lashes. Sonja is all set, grabs her remote release, her speedlite, the portable soft-box, a tripod and off she goes through the rain. She is enthusiastically greeted at the door of the shooting venue. “Can we shoot outside, you think? Has the rain stopped?” It has. And Sonja is delighted because shooting outside, under clouded available light is muuuuuch easier than in the confined impromptu studio with flash. Five models, one era. We were doing the 1940s on Sunday, and a variety of looks including the 1940s  bride, the Marilyn, the relaxed (house) wife, the society lady – and some “casual-sophisticated a la 1940s”. Those are my monikers, no guarantee that that is what those different looks really meant to convey. Here is the latter:

Locks and Lashes 40s (162 of 413)

The fabulous Kat Moiselle

The last in a quick series of shots outside. The freshly painted exterior of a house in the neighbourhood provided a lovely background, with the doorway framing model Kat Moiselle nicely. The demure pose in the authentic garb fits the vintage look very well, I think. Where is Mademoiselle Moiselle off to, one wonders?

Within a range of 100 steps we shot on three different locations, all outside, all with available light, much to my *de*light. Dublin is brilliant that way – just go outside, and you have photo locations galore. That is when the weather plays ball.

Luckily it did – for all of the three-hour session. Upon return to the base, I discovered that I had forgotten an essential part for the studio set-up. Duh. Thank goodness for my clients’ suggestion we shoot this outdoors. Otherwise I’d have been f…

 

 

Landscape at Night

As we are nearing the end of week 2, I better get my skates on and spoil the world with another image *ahem*.

Killarney small

I have always been fascinated by night photography. Because it is difficult – and more a less a contradiction in terms. If photography is painting with light, then how do you paint if there is no light on your brush? Well, ok, there is *some* light available even in the darkest of nights. The moon, the stars and the little Prince, and, in our civilisation-pestered time, street lights etc.

Above picture was taken early last summer in Killarney. This is the Castlelough Castle which is situated in the grounds of the plush Lake Hotel. No doubt, thousands of hotel guests have taken pictures of the suitably dramatic medieval ruin, built in the 12th century. But maybe not quite so many did so at night. Or if they did, with rather grainy, shaky outcome.

Of course I did not have my tripod with me on this trip. I was travelling light – by train. No, space for a kilo and a half courtesy of Manfrotto. But who needs a tripod when there is infinite scope for shitty rigs? All you need is a bench – on the shore and suitably provided by the hotel. I had to balance the camera on lenscap and finger in order to get the horizon vaguely straight. Matters were complicated by an annoying outside light that kept going on and off, f*cking up my WB with interfering neon light (or whatever light it was). I spent at least 15 minutes manually releasing the shutter and avoiding to breathe while capturing this image. And time was of the essence as the atmospheric, misty mountains (…cold, to dungeons deep and caverns old… no chance wasted to refer back to the film du jour) were in and out of cloud coverage. Without the strong illumination of the castle the image would not have been possible (save myself freezing my butt off and holding the bloody shutter open for an hour and a half).

I like the ghostly fingers of the tree trunks.

Happy New Year

The new year is still fresh enough to announce resolutions. Mine is 72ppi.

Ok, lame joke. But nonetheless I am starting off the new year with resolutions good intentions. Same procedure as every year, James.

2014 I want to…

  • take make more pictures
  • try more new things with photography
  • finish at least *one* photography project
  • get more photography work
  • make my blog live up to its name (TWO pics a week, for Cod’s sake, can’t be *that* hard, can it?)

The last one is possibly the easiest resolution to reach. I am making my start now – on the penultimate day of week 1 in year 2014. At least that gives me the opportunity to post the second image tomorrow…

Antrim

Whitepark Bay, Co. Antrim

Happy new year, everyone!

Nerd Alert

It doesn’t happen very often that I literally can’t wait to download my pictures from the card *and* start editing and post-producing them. Usually, it takes something really special for me to be impatient about checking the booty of a shoot – or a commercial project, of course. But would I have ever expected to be turned on by one of the nerdiest photo ops *ever*???

I have spent all afternoon today on the roof of my house. Sheltered by the two apexes of the roofs and in the wind shadow thus created, I had a fabulous vantage point from which to follow the fly-past of the Flight Fest. Despite rain in the morning, it stayed dry all afternoon, and wrapped in my winter fleece and cozy under a Breton woolly hat, I defied the wind bite.

Flightfest 2013 (43 of 741)

Consider yourself teased – there are better shots than this. But this at least gives you the context.

Mind you, three hours of solidly spying the sky for planes, and keeping Marky Mark plus heavy 300mm zoom at the ready has been quite an exhausting experience. At the end of the afternoon, my wrist hurt really badly from cradling the equipment to keep it from shaking in the gusts of wind and blurring my shots. I will get into that in-depth on another occasion, because as yet I am still in the middle of post-production. Crop tool here I come. There’s a lot of sky in these images, and rather minute aircraft, especially the fighter planes that tended to bank towards the North, while I was sitting towards the South *hmph*. A few of the smaller aircraft thankfully banked in a tight bend and more or less flew directly over our heads. I stole a few good shots there, but it remains to be seen in my post-production what kind of images I can crop from the 80 percent sky/20 percent plane I captured in most.

Until then, I am off to the Big Smoke for another one of my annual trips to London. Catching up on lots of exhibitions. There’s some really cool stuff on, at the mo. But who am I kidding – there *always* is some really cool stuff on in London. How to get it all into my tight schedule is the question.

 

Sunsets for Sanity

Could be the headline for a some new age-y, esoteric therapy that involves people staring into the sunset in an effort to regain their sanity. Come to think of it, maybe that is what it is for me? I keep making these pictures of sunsets. Nothing special – taken from my kitchen window, most of the time with the iPhone. A quick snap. More often than not because I need another shot for my Project 365. If I am honest, it is probably my sanity project. Or that’s what it appears like now that I looked through my camera roll and noticed how many of them there are.

Sunset

This is actually just a selection of them. There’s more. Am I going mental? Or just soft with age? Or lazy? Sunsets are the easiest thing to photograph. Somehow the camera does all the work, creating a stunning image every time. It’s chemistry, really. Well, or maybe it is physics. The low position of the sun near the horizon means that the light has to permeate through more atmosphere. A lot of the usual blue light is thus filtered out, leaving the wonderfully warm orange, red and purply tones. Pollution from the city adds to this – more gas means more filter for the light to penetrate. A natural blue filter – great stuff.

Come to think of it – I must bring marky Mark out and photograph with him. The different WB settings might give some interesting effects.

A Gaggle of Photographers

What do you get when four photographers go on a mini-break together? Two car boots full of gear – and hardly any pictures taken. Well, I exaggerate. The boots also held our overnight bags and a shopping trolley full of bottles. But prepared we were. The four of us were heading off for a weekend in the country. Admittedly, the intention was not to go on a photo excursion. We only wanted to spend some time together, away from it all, enjoying each others’ company. Not since the end of our degree course last summer had we been together so intensely. Plus – without any pressure of impending deadlines or looming exams.

However, the full loot of the weekend away was 12 shots taken with Marky Mark – and 30 iPhone shots. *arrrrgh* And I really couldn’t pretend that there was nothing to photograph. As a matter of fact, the area where we were, turned out to have some of the most stunning Irish scenery I have ever come across. South Co. Fermanagh with its interconnected waterways and Lough Erne was absolutely gorgeous, both on the cloudy Saturday, as well as the bright and sunny Sunday.

Alas, we were not exactly doing photo-friendly things, I suppose… The most stunning vistas passed us by as we were sitting in the car, driving to our first port of call – a cave. Now, I have shot in caves before. (And you can see some evidence of that here…) But – if you have seen *one* cave, you have seen them all… Not that that would keep me from visiting yet another cave. I still love going underground – but this cave was really special because the tour involved a little boat ride on the underground river that has created the cave system of Marble Arch Caves. On the flipside, dark, damp caves are just not particularly conducive to shooting pictures. That coupled with the fact that my footwear was rather incompatible with cave exploration (flipflops should really only be worn on sandy beaches, not rough, wet, subterranean passage ways), meant that I stowed Marky Mark safely in my camera bag because I just didn’t trust myself to slip, bump, stumble or trip and crash the precious hardware in the dark. The iPhone was much quicker, too, as opposed to the fancy-schmancy massive cameras which brought up the rear of the group *ahem*.

If it hadn’t been for the proximity of a particularly stunning view just 2 minutes away from the Caves carpark, I would not have exercised Marky Mark’s shutter even *once* all weekend… What was so beautiful of this view was the absence of signs of habitation in it. There was one farm house in the distance, but everything else was green rolling hills, cliffs, a table mountain in the distance. A few cows dotting the landscape, some trees – this could’ve been Hobbiton for all I know…

Hobbiton, Co. Fermanagh. Awwwww.

BTW, I must point out that I was not the *only* lazy photographer. None of my fellow snappers made many photographs. Does it matter? Hell, no. The impressions are all there in our brains. The eyes are, probably, the best camera in the world. They only really haven’t yet developed a printer that you can rig up to your hippothalamus and print what your eyes recorded. Unless  you consider drawing from memory an adequate conservation and sharing process. Analog, though.

A wonderful weekend it was, nonetheless. And any time spent with good friends is worth-while, even if you don’t make any pictures at all. But if I am honest, I would love to go back – and next time hardly take the camera away from my eye. Must go on my own then, because two many photographers spoil the picture.

Stormy Weather

Oh dear, when will I ever learn? This is the woman who has changed lenses while sitting on a sand dune where the Namib desert meets the Atlantic Ocean. I.e. where there’s plenty of sand and strong wind. Granted, it was only my 350d at the time. And did I not pledge here, in this very blog, that I would take greater care of marky Mark and honour and cherish him and never expose him to the elements while exposing images onto the sensor?

Hmph. Fail. I didn’t quite go as far as taking off the lens, but I think poor marky Mark may have suffered a bit on this “surfing adventure”. I was on the beach the last three days, and try as I might, I just could not avoid getting the fine sand of Tullan Beach into my trusty old camera bag and onto the camera. It is a bit of a crux – I want to USE my camera because it is my chosen means of documentation or communication. But I also need to preserve and protect it. What to do? Of course I shot with it. Despite the sandstormy conditions. It was just too beautiful, too interesting, too memorable. But marky Mark is overdue a proper clean. I have spotted some spots again; and despite hearty efforts at cleaning lens, UV filter, viewfinder, there are a couple of spots I just can’t seem to wipe off. It’s time for a trip to the camera cleaners. Or some lengthy sessions with Ps.
Back home to less sandy conditions tomorrow. But no rejoicing – while the camera won’t be threatened by sandstorms on the East coast, it looks as if Dublin is drowning in heavy rainfall. Jumping out of the frying pan into the fire…

Pastime – Past Time

So, an involuntary extension of my holiday. How to pass the time. With a pastime? Possibly of past times? Bingo – inspiration can strike from nowhere, I guess. Although this time I can actually pinpoint exactly where the inspiration came from. 
This year was the third time that we rented a holiday home on Holmsland Klit (stop sniggering!!!), a narrow strip of land between the North Sea on the Western side and a lagoon called the Ringköbing fjord on the Eastern side. On the beach of the Klit are a number of goosepimple-inducing reminders of the last great war – bunkers left by the Nazis, built as part of the so-called Atlantic Wall. 
History excursus: The Atlantic Wall was a massive fortification and defense enterprise thought up by the Nazis. Nearly 3000 km of coastline from Spain all the way up to Norway were fortified with bunkers, anti-aircraft batteries, and minefields. The defense line was never properly completed, but those buildings that were finished remain there until this day. They have been moved by tide and time, however, and while the coastline is being eroded by the onslaught of the waves, the bunkers which were originally built into the sanddunes, are now slap bang in the middle of the beaches. They look like giant building blocks, haphazardly thrown into the sand by a giant baby (strangely, that is almost a fitting metaphor for the lunatic that led half of Europe into doom and disgrace 70 years ago…)
Anyhow, faced with these relics, I thought of the human price that was paid for the war. And it occurred to me that the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2 is coming up in three years’ time. Which also means that fewer and fewer contemporaries are around to tell of the times. 
However (and now we are finally getting to the point), in Germany at least, there are some visible reminders of the last war. Every village in Germany has a war memorial. But as the war slips from living memory, the war memorials, too, seem to become forgotten, despite their rather conspicuous presence on village greens, hills and all sorts of exposed spots. The history nerd in me is piqued – war and memory. Unfortunately that is an ever-current topic as wars never seem to stop. Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan. 65 years ago, the victims of war were “immortalised” by plastering their names on bombastic memorials. But does anyone ever look at them? Are they in our consciousness or have they somehow blended into their surroundings? Maybe it is time to document them before they are also lost in the black hole of time and oblivion. 
“Vermißte” – The Missing    
If nothing else, it will certainly fill my time – because there are loads of these in the villages and hamlets around me home town… MIA, S.

Holiday Snapper

Hello there from my holidays! They have just been extended due to unforeseen circumstances. It seems as if my gran – who may RIP now – had decided to hear my plea for some sun and relaxation and this way wangled an extension of my stay in Germany. So, more opportunity to do some holiday snapping?

After all my disillusion with photography, the holiday probably was just what I needed. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking marky Mark with me. In fact, I carried him around every day, despite his considerable weight. More often than not I did not pull him out: my hands were greasy with sun tan lotion. Or there was a sandstorm on the beach. And the seaspray was misting up the lens. But a quick glance at my DCIM shows me, that I took pictures (almost) every day. 
The images mainly amount to holiday snaps. Documenting the holiday accommodation. Sunset on the beach. A trip on a rail cycle. Landscape photography. Some history nerdism in view of the half-sunken Nazi bunkers of the “Atlantic Wall”. Most of the images are devoid of (recognizable) family members – a characteristic of all of my holiday snapping ever, which tends to focus on architecture, attractions and landscape and tries to ignore any reference to the human company I am keeping. What conclusion can be drawn from that??? (Let’s not go there, methinks…)
I suppose we all have our own approaches to holiday photography. How do you snap on holidays? Am I a total weirdo with my strictly-no-people!-approach? Humour me and click the poll!
Your holiday photography approach: