Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Using A Phone

I hadn’t meant to, it just turned out that way. Saturday was a pretty bleak day around these parts but it cleared up sooner than expected.

I had woke earlier, 0500 early, to get out to the lighthouse before the sun did to get a few shots of the lighthouse at dawn. It faces east and is hidden behind a cliff edge to it’s the only time of the day if receives direct sunshine, and in the Irish winter, it doesn’t even get much of it then, which I was to find out quite early.

Having turned off the alarm on its first beep, I crept downstairs making sure not to wake anyone this time. In my still sleepy head, I hadn’t heard the rain outside, but once downstairs and looking out the window, I could see a steady stream of water flowing down the road. It was lashing. I could see the raindrops bouncing off the roof of the car. There was only one thing for it, back to bed before it cools down.

Both disappointed and glad to be back in bed, I was asleep again in minutes and woke to a very grey dawn. It cleared up around noon so we decided to take the kids out for a walk and a bit of fresh air. We went up by the lighthouse to check it out, I hadn’t been there before, I had only seen it on Google maps, so it was handy to see it before I had another chance to make it there again.

I didn’t have any camera with me but the ever present phone (Samsung Galaxy S6) was in my pocket so I snapped a few with that. I was surprised at the shots, the colour (I know this is black and white) was good and it was overall very sharp. As it was on shadow the shot itself was very dull so a black and white was the best choice here. I’m looking forward to getting back there one morning, you never know, I might even get out on time and it might be dry.


One more from my Killeney Beach Trip

In my last post you can see that I was a bit pressed for time when I was last out with the camera. Long exposures are not the best option while watching the clock.

This is one taken using a 3 minute exposure and at F8 but with a 3.0 ND grad filter, also known as a “big stopper”, but was taken a little earlier in the evening before the light was totally lost on me.26022017_001_small

I prefer the colour as I think the sand and stones look too much like a big black mass at the side of the image. Next time I’ll set the tripod up on the rocks for a cleaner image.


To see these shots you’d never imagine that there were plenty of walkers on the beach, one even walking right in front of the camera while the shot was being taken.

Attempting Long Exposures When Pressed For Time

The alarm is set for 0530 so I can get down to the coast before the sun does. The earlier I get out the more time I’ll have as I’ve promised my wife I’ll be back before 0900 as it’s going to be a busy day.

Having recently moved to the area, and not having explored a whole lot, I’ve taken to Google Maps to try to spot an area along the coast with a few features. While a long sandy beach is great for so many things, it’s pretty boring when it comes to photography. After a quick search, I’ve got my spot for the morning, and it’s off to bed I go.

The alarm goes off and this is where it all goes wrong. Now, everyone knows there’s nothing more noisy than someone who’s trying to be quiet so, as I creep out of bed and down the stairs, I can hear the grumblings of our 1 year old. I pause for a couple of minutes in the hope he’ll go back to sleep and let me out the door as planned but as his calls got louder I knew he wanted out of bed, and I also knew that he knew I was there.

Up to his room I go, he’s standing there with a big grin, so I pick him up and down we go for breakfast. I watch the inky blue black appear in the sky, and by the time he’s fed and watered, it was clear that the sun had lost its patience with me and decided it was time for it to rise too. By the time backup arrives it’s 0730 and too late for my planned dawn shots. I head out for an hour anyway but, while the location I had picked had potential the tide had made its way in and it was too bright anyway.

I decide to head for home and with a bit of negotiation I’m free to head back at 1730, it would be dark within an hour of that so time was going to be tight. By the time I get back there the sea was quite rough and the high tide was making its second attempt of the day. With the darkness setting in, I set up and take a few long exposures, each of around 3-4 minutes. The waves were coming in fast and the wind starting to blow hard. I did what I could with the shots but the constant slight shaking of the camera, caused by the wind and waves,  were making fo some very hazy shots.


After the hour of shooting it’s too dark to continue, it was too cloudy for even a few shots of the stars, so I packed up the gear and heading back for the car. Anything that was going to be salvaged from the day was going to have to be done in Photoshop.

The first is the original shot taken. The second is with a touch of sharpening, brightening and cropping done.

I think the exposures are much too long, 20 seconds to see the movement of the water would have been better. I’ll have to head down again, this time I’ll try to leave the house a lot more quietlydsc_736726022017_002_small

Back to the Copper Coast

I headed back to the Copper Coast this weekend as we were getting a lucky break in the weather. The weather forecasters have taken on an almost apologetic tone of late so once I heard we were in for a full day of sun I checked out the tide tables and planned my day.

After a few hours driving around the coast popping in and out of narrow lanes which I hoped would lead me to photographic nirvana, I ended up back on a stretch of beach just by Kilfarrasy. By that time I wasn’t able to make it very far down the beach as the tide was rushing in fast. The seas were still quite rough so I decided to head back towards the car and find a vantage point where I could snap away without fear of making the news for all the wrong reasons.

Just as I made it back to the jetty used by the local coast guard, I passed a man walking his dog in the opposite direction and out onto the beach. I was happy to have made it back in time but he was just setting out. Madness I thought, but he strolled off with a confidence that made me believe he knew what he was doing and before long he was gone from sight while I set about finding my spot away from the crashing waves.

I snapped away for a short while and my brave companion emerged from the rocks narrowly escaping the soaking of his life. He stopped and we chatted for a short while and the topic soon turned to my photography. I showed him a few shots I had just taken and happily he seemed suitably impressed. We began to talk about the area when he told me he’s been looking for a decent panoramic shot taken of the coast that he could give to his daughter, who was living just up the road, and if I would be able to take one. I said I’d never even tried to sell a photograph but before I knew it I had his number taken down and found myself commissioned.

For the next hour, as the light began to fade, I agonised over each shot. I wanted each one to be a masterpiece. I was chuffed with myself…

Here are the results, I’m putting them up here in the same way I sent the examples to give the impression of what they would look like framed. I’d love to hear your comments, good or bad, or any advice on how you would do them differently. I’m going back there next weekend an hour before high tide (9:35 am) to look around for something similar.


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The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

I wandered around Waterford’s Copper Coast today ducking in and out of the rain into caves dug into the cliffs long ago. I’d never been down around that area before so I wasn’t too sure what I’d find.

I was keen to try out the replacement big stopper filter (10 stop, ND 3.0) this weekend. The previous one I had couldn’t be used above f11 due to hundreds of tiny black spots inside the filter. The one that arrived as its replacement, thanks to the very nice returns department at Teamwork Photo, looks perfect. With the weather being especially blustery (gusts of up to 130KPH) and plenty warnings for people to stay away from coastal areas I picked up the camera bag and tripod and set off for the Copper Coast.

The Copper Coast is a stretch between Dungarvan and Tramore in the county of Waterford in the south east of Ireland. Named after the 19th century copper mines that lie at its heart it boasts a spectacular 25km drive with stunning views of the coastline most of the way. It’s famed for having some of Ireland’s best beaches and I must admit I’m quite ashamed for not having visited there sooner. It’s only about 70 KM from where I live so I’ve had no excuse.

Copper Coast Map

Having parked up the car at Kilfarrasy beach and received my warnings from the coast guard who were out combing the cliff tops for those less sturdy on the their feet, I set up the shot of the sea arch in the distance. I decided I’d record how the picture was taken instead of just posting up the final result. I’m going to take this approach to new shots I take as part of my Slow Photography Movement. The challenge I set may be over but I want to keep putting more thought and effort into what I do here.

Having set up the camera and tripod, I first I took a meter reading of 1/80 sec at F22, ISO 100. The ND3.0 filter is supposed to drop the light by 10 stops resulting in a shutter speed 1000 times slower. Having remembered my times tables from school this should have resulted in a shutter speed of 12.5 seconds. I was hoping for longer to blur the waves properly but the glare from the water was just too bright.

As you can see from the pics the filter was held on by a couple of hair ties kindly “donated” that morning by my better half. I didn’t have filter ring adapter for the 72mm handy but the ties worked just as well. Having set the camera up in manual mode I took the shot at 13 seconds F22. The exposure was much too dark even though the automatic exposure without the filter was fine. I then shot a few more increasing the aperture and time and settled on F18 for 25 seconds. It just goes to show that filters can be very different to what they say on the box.

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The shot needed quite a bit of sharpening in Photoshop due to the wind shaking the camera though I tried my best to hold it down by pressing the tripod into the sand as the shutter remained open for what seemed and age, and using the channel mixer to change it to monochrome (25, 35, 40) I added the sepia affect (10, 0, -10) using the colour balancer.


And there we have it, the final image. I’m really looking forward to the longer evenings soon so I can get out more and not have to battle the sideways rain that seems to be a feature these days.

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Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again.

Beach Groynes, Youghal Co.Cork, this time in colour

I posted this image yesterday in Black & White but after re-opening the shot in Photoshop I think it’s better in it’s original colour. It gets it’s purple hue as it was taken just after sunset while the sky was still a mix of reds, yellows, oranges and some very black clouds thrown in too. The HiTech ND3.0 has some pretty bad colour casting too which added a touch of magenta.

I wanted to go back and look at the original colour after reading a post from a very talented photographer, David Patterson who writes the great blog Stories From home.

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Beach Groynes, Youghal Co.Cork

Here’s a shot taken this afternoon in Youghal Co Cork, down the south east of Ireland.

It started off yet another wet and windy day so I knew I wasn’t going anywhere with the camera today. It was really bucketing down so I decided I’d tackle the mess that’s been building up in my office at home. you know things are getting bad when you can hardly see the surface of your desk any more thanks to all the clutter.

The window in the office faces south easterly and after many hours moving junk up to the attic I saw a glimmer off in the horizon. Against all weather forecasts the clouds looked like they might be breaking for the day. Before I knew it, the rain had stopped and the sun was in full wintry glory.

I grabbed the camera bag and tripod and headed off to Youghal not knowing what I’d find. The storms of late would surely provide some spectacular seas so it was worth a shot.

It took just 30 minutes to get there by car. When I got out onto the beach front it was thronged with walkers all snapping the rough seas with their iPhones. I made my way down the sand but the high tide and heavy swells didn’t allow me to stand there for long. As the tide was turning I decided to wait a couple of hours passing the time snapping away but not getting a decent shot.

Finally the groynes started to make an appearance as the tide receded just in time for the sun to dip below the horizon. It was getting dark quick and with 5 minute exposures (plus 8 minutes to “process” by the unbearably slow Fuji X-E1) meant I wasn’t going to get many shots taken.

This is the best of the bunch, the groynes themselves aren’t as sharp as I’d like as a few of the waves came in over the top but overall I was happy. It’s another place I have to come back to re-shoot but at least I got my eye in.

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