A few more shots from my visit to Baltray Beach in County Louth, Ireland all which were taken in and around the sand dunes.
As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.” Antisthene
The wreck of the MV Irish Trader lies off the east coast of Ireland in the Irish Sea near the mouth of the River Boyne Estuary at Baltray Beach, Drogheda, Co Louth. The wreck can be accessed from the beach at low tide with a little care due to some soft sands. I had seen a few photos of the wreck before I visited the site so I had a clear vision in my head of what I wanted the photo to look like. At arriving at the beach, the tide was just about clear of the wreck. In hindsight, I would have the wreck bigger and more dominating in the photo. I could crop in on the photo, but I quite like the balance of the reflection in the photo and don’t want to cut it in half. I also quite like some of the lines and shape in the sand. I used a 10-Stop ND filter in combination with a 2-stop ND soft grad to achieve the long exposure and balance the exposure of the foreground and the sky.
Death sanitised through credit” Manic Street Preachers
It is now two decades since James Dean Bradfield was venting the Manics diatribe on high-street banks and credit policies with the song seeming more relevant than ever in these modern times. At first glance, the bank that features in the blog post is not one the aforementioned high street banks but in todays modern post-credit crunch society where banks are subsidiaries of banks which are more than likely in some shape or form owned or part-owned by governments and tax payers alike, Ulster Bank is in fact a subsidiary of the National Westminster Bank (or Natwest for short) which is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group which was bailed out by the UK government.
The building, located on Georges Quay, Dublin is the headquarters of Ulster Bank Ireland but not of Ulster Bank Ltd which is in Belfast. Confused yet?
I was attracted to the strong shapes of the building which give the appearance of a triangle against the softer but equally dramatic clouds in the background. I also like how the line of the left hand edge of the cloud mirrors the diagonal edge of the building and is almost an extension of the line of the building. It was one of those days in Dublin where we had four seasons in one and this was shortly after a heavy down pour. I played around for a while with a colour version of this image which i gave an overall bluish tone, but in the end I settled for a high contrast black and white photo.
Oughterard Round Tower and Cemetery is located to the west of Kill in County Kildare. The tower is situated on a hilltop site overlooking the neighbouring low lying lands and is contained within a high walled cemetery with a ruined church. The site dates to the back to the 6th century as a monastery although there is no written record of the round tower until 1792. The ruined medieval parish church sits in the centre of the cemetery which features undulating terrain and graves from the earlier 1700 up to modern times. In shooting in places like this you have be sensitive as although eager as we are to get the shot, we need to be mindful to be respectful and not go trampling over the graves, pitching our tripods on grave sites etc etc. Sure this might mean having to comprise on composition, but we all need a code of ethics to live by.
On this visit I struggled with my aim of getting a shot of the tower. I really wanted a Gothic feel to the photo was was desperately trying to avoid any modern elements in the photo.Unfortunately, there are two modern stones propped up against the tower with a few additional stones in the vicinity of the base. I tried to get a shot from all sides shooting narrow and wide, portrait and landscape, close up and further way but didn’t get anything I was happy with. In the end, I decided to shoot for the details and in particular one high cross (celtic cross) which captured my eye. Waiting for the sun to go down, I had plenty of time to explore the rest of the site including the ruined church.
The barrel vaulted ceiling building contained a large flat tabletop stone which was illuminated by the light from the nearby window. I decided to shoot this from both the door side and window side using multiple bracketed exposures to capture the large dynamic range. The multiple exposures were then tone mapped in Photomatix Pro and finished in Lightroom. I think the shot from the window looking back towards the door is more effective.
Although I struggled a bit with this site I think I will return here. There is a small copse of trees on approach to the site from which the tower is visible. I think there may be potential in capturing an angle of the tower from this location.
Not deterred from the previous week, I awoke early again to catch the sunrise. This time it was back to Greystones beach. I should have been heading to Naylor’s Cove in Brey, but in my tiredness in the morning set my sat nav to Greystones instead of Bray. Only realised after I had driven all the way through Bray and out the other side!
The tide was low but this worked in my favour, exposing a set of seaweed covered rocks a little along the beach. The beach itself is quite featureless with only some rocks at the end of the beach at the car park so the low tide offered something different. The beach is a gravel rather than sand meaning it is quite hard work trekking along the shore but on the positive means it is much easier to clean your tripod at the end of the day. The lack of foreground interset worked in my favour in this situation. It forced me to really work the scene, shooting different angles, wide and tight, portait and vertical. I knew soon enough the sunrise wasn’t going to be great so the pressure was off. I could relax, experiment and have a bit of fun.
Suddenly from nowhere, the sun appeared above the horizon, but with enough intensity to shine through the dense cloud low on the horizon. This actually caught me by surprise. I had been shooting a long exposure tight-in amongst the rocks, so I had to wait for the exposure to finish before recomposing for the sun.
Below are a selection of the various compositions I plated around with on the morning. I finished the morning trying some beach abstracts but I will save those for another post.
If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” W.C.Fields
Sometimes you win with the light and other times…..
Last weekend was one of those times.
I decided to head to a new location at Bull Island in Dublin. I had a particular shot in mind looking to capture the iconic red and white stripped chimneys of Poolbeg Power Station. The Chimneys are located on the Poolbeg peninsula on the south side of the entry to Dublin Port. This area is heavily industrialised so I decided to head over to Bull Island which is located on the opposite side of the port.
Bull Island was created as a consequence of the construction of the North Bull Wall which provides protection to the main navigation channel at Dublin Port. Naturally, deposited material started to gather behind the constructed wall and over the decades started to form the island. The main residents on the island, with the exception of golfers, are birds with the island designated for national and international scientific interest.
For my trip I stuck mainly to the Bull Wall, but ended with a wander along Dollymount Strand which is the sandy beach on the east of the island. There was no dawn to speak of with the morning just becoming gradually brighter as time passed.
An artist’s duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration. You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany. ” Nick Cave
Old Kilcullen Round Tower is one of my local sites which I have photographed a few times now. The site itself is quite tricky. The Round Tower faces the wrong way to capture a good sunrise, but is situated just below a ridge on a local high spot so is not ideal for sunset either. The graveyard is mainly old gravestones and a high cross but a few more modern gravestones are located sporadically throughout so careful composition is required to hide these in the scene. Due to these limitations I quickly became bored of shooting at this location.
At a recent South Kildare Photo Club meeting one of our members Sean Dunne, who is fantastic landscape photographer, was presenting his portfolio of work to the club with some stories about the photos along with some hints and tips. One of his photos was sunrise on a cold and frosty morning at Old Kilcullen. I was taken with the great colours from the sunrise combined with the atmosphere of the frosty graveyard, but in particular the low lying lands of Kildare against the Wicklow Mountains in the background. I was immediately motivated to shoot at the site again to try and improve on what I had already captured there.
The following Saturday I decided to give it a go and the photo must have rubbed off on a number of the members and two other friends from the club also appeared that morning. This was especially useful as it allowed me to compare my photos against those shot in the same conditions. Kenneth’s photo of the cross is on flickr - I love the angle of the cross and how Ken filled the frame with the cross.
We treated to a great sunrise, but I feel there is still more to get from this location. I think my composition is too low resulting in cutting out a lot of the middle ground between the graveyard and the Wicklow mountains. This effect is exaggerated by the wide angle. I already have the recipe for my next shoot in my head. Shoot higher with a longer lens to compress the background and middle ground. With a some low lying mist in the valley I think this could be quite effective. My favourite shot is the third photo with the long exposure. The photo is split toned with a blue in the shadows and a sepia colour in the highlights.
You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Police Chief Martin Brody, Jaws
The Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Northern Ireland is a huge modern waterfront urban regeneration project centred around the site where RMS Titanic was designed and built. Not surprisingly, the regeneration programme included the construction of Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction, which is located at the head of the slipway where Titanic was constructed and launched. The building itself looks certain to become an icon of Belfast and modern architecture. The building design reflects the maritime theme with four huge plated hull shaped structures dominating the form of the building around a central atrium. The hulls of the building are clad in reflective aluminum emphasising the waves and ice of the ships demise.
The attraction is split into 10 exhibitions chartering the progress of the ship from a starting point of life in early Belfast, to the ship yard and construction and ultimately the sinking and exploring of the wreck. The attraction is nearly all visual displays; a lot of which are interactive with one short ride explaining the construction of the ship. This left me feeling like I was moving from TV screen to watch different films and I would have liked more physical models, reconstructions or similar artefacts from the period or sister ships. Nevertheless, the experience was enjoyable but I can’t see the need for any future visits. The building was definitely the highlight of the trip but that is probably the Engineer in me.
I finished my trip to Collins Barracks in Dublin with a trip to the nearby Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park continuing the military theme of the day. As with the Barracks, the fort which was originally constructed in 1735 and was used by the British army until Irish Independence when it was taken over by the Irish Army. It now lies unused and abandoned in the Phoenix Park.
My trip to the fort was with the sole purpose of long exposure photography. The sky was blue with a scattering on clouds propelled by an increasingly stong wind. Good conditions for long exposures. The first site I chose was the entrance gate. The long exposure of the entrance was not great so I ended up using one of my original frames (below) I took when testing the exposure. At this site the clouds were moving from left to right across the frame and is not as effective when they are moving back to front. I moved around the side of the building to the imposing gun positions. With the clouds now moving back to front in the photograph the long exposure is more effective. The two minute exposure is shown in the feature image of the post at the top of the page. Both images have split tones which I applied in Lightroom.
Home to garrisons of British Army since the early 1700s and more recently the armies of the Irish Free State, Collins Barracks has witnessed much of Irish modern history and fittingly today houses the National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History including exhibitions dedicated to military history with particular emphasis on Irish military history.
The trip to Collins Barracks was organised by South Kildare Photography Club. I was slightly hesitant as I was unsure of what we would be photographing but it turned out to be a good day. The trip provided the chance to capture the neo-classical architecture of the Barracks which has lots of interesting details. We spent around an hour walking around the exterior of the museum before heading for a well earned coffee. The rest of the time was spent exploring the museum with very little focus on photography and just enjoying the exhibitions. My favourite shot is off the window and bannister – I love the way the light is falling on the wall exposing the texture.
The very last shot is a close-up of a large format film camera which a friend recently purchased and brought along to the barracks. The camera is hand made and you can tell it was not manufactured but sculpted with the utmost love and attention. You generally do not see that level of craftsmanship in modern goods.
© Greig Houghton 2013. All rights reserved