My kids sleep under the stars

My kids sleep under the stars

Every so often it’s great to step outside, marvel at the stars and feel so totally insignificant. And then, spin around and around until your dizzy (or perhaps that’s just me).

The clear nights recently have provided us with some great views of the stars and planets, though unfortunately no Aurora like we might have seen earlier in the week.

 

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The Light and Clouds Show

The Light and Clouds Show

“The Light and Clouds Show” regularly tours the country but the performances are extra-special in Kerry. I think this is probably my favourite image of 2012 so far. Yes, there’s lens flare but I think it adds rather than detracts from the image. And I love the surfer highlighted by the sun as he walks off the beach. It’s also a slightly unusual image for me as for most of the summer the sun will set to the North and behind a ridge of mountains.

Since I’d probably forget to post them individually, here’s a bumper blog post with e selection of the best that Kerry had to offer last weekend:

Layers and Lines

More layers (note the difference in colour between fresh and saltwater)

"We're not going to stop here", said my wife as we reached the top of the Conor Pass. Oh, yes I did!

One of the highlights of the show

I'll never tire of seeing sunshine filter down through those blue clouds

…and so here's another one

Obligatory surfer pic (re-toned)

"Err… I think I'm going down to the beach to take some photos" *abandons family*

Want sunbursts and lens flare? We can totally do that!

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Finn McCurl

SONY DSC

There’s a fine line between inspiration and imitation, and I’ve probably bulldozered across it today. But flash photography, particularly using multiple flashes, is a very new experience to occupy these dark evenings.

I was looking at Stephen’s wonderful kids portraits  from the weekend and I knew instantly that I wanted one of my own. I was particularly taken with the use of a light behind the model to catch the hair and outline of the shoulders. And I knew just the model for the job.

Finn has these wonderful curls which is mother and grandmother keep threatening to chop off. In fact, they already had a slight trim before Christmas much to my disappointment. I really wanted to show off these curls before they were gone forever, lost to the march of childhood or a scissor-wielding relative.

So I gave it a go. The challenge was to get a black background without actually have a black background sheet. It required a f/13 and 1/200sec on the camera, low power flashes (1/32-1/16) and a little finessing of the lights to ensure there wasn’t enough bouncing around show the radiator behind the model. And after a little faffing around experimentation, a few tandrums from both model and photographer, and a small quantity of jellies, this is what I came up with:

Setup: a Sony HVL-42 with a small Lumiquest LTp softbox, 2x bare Minolta 5400xi flashes

If you’re interested, Stephen shared his lighting setup here. I think the main differences are the much bigger softbox which gave a more pleasing light, and he didn’t need to kill the background light as much as I did.

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In a field of bubbles…

In a field of bubbles...

The kids were playing with bubbles and for some reason they were sticking to everything instead of bursting. We had bubble hedges and a bubble lawn. Liveview + tilt screen was made for these opportunities 😉

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Autumn… and then the dark

Autumn colours

It’s been a long few months since I last posted a photo which is ridiculous because I’ve shot over 3000 photos since then and there’s some really good stuff. Mostly family photos rather than landscapes but still some things worth sharing.

This was taken yesterday at Farran Woods. I just loved all the contrasts; the autumn colours against the dark interior, the deciduous trees and the evergreens. Perhaps I’ll dig myself out of the rut I’m in and actually process and post some more this week. No promises though.

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A Good Sunset

A good sunset

Around 7:30 this evening I looked West and thought, “hmmm… that might develop into a nice sunset”. By 8pm, I was sure. The horizon was clear , strands of thicker clouds hung just above it, and then thin wispy clouds overhead. This meant that we’d get direct sunlight at sunset but also the high clouds would light up well afterwards.

I’m on a bit of a “crops & sunlight” binge right now and I had a nice field in mind — but when I got there I realised it faced in the wrong direction and wouldn’t give me a view of the sunset. So I drove on looking for west facing fields, at the top of a hill, ideally with some crops for the foreground and no telegraph wires. After about 20mins of driving down single-land roads at determinedly urgent speeds, I saw this field.  Climbing up to the fence, I saw the nicely curved track left in the field and it seemed like a pretty good compositional element.

I really liked the image straight off the camera but there was a little too much lens flare and the sunburst was a little dusty. I cleaned this up in Photoshop in a rather ham-fisted manner although I think it looks ok (this is probably the most work I’ve ever done on an image in PS)

The original, unprocessed RAW image.

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Cobh, as seen from Spike Island

Cobh from Spike Island

This weekend’s photowalk started off in Cobh with a short boat trip over to Spike Island. My enduring memories of Cobh from taking the B&I ferry over to Ireland on holidays has always been this view of the towering cathedral and colourful seafront. In fact, I dare say this is the best way to experience Cobh.

It must have also been depressing for the prisoners of Spike Island to look across at the colourful town, in such contrast to the fate that awaited them in Barbados, Australia or Tasmania.

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Couch Diving

Couch Diving

Norah, like most 3-year olds, loves jumping and falling on anything soft and bouncy. Although it’s obviously a composite image, the funny thing is that Finn didn’t react at all to his sister landing beside him.

I shot this as part of my SoFoBoMo project and spent about 2hrs editing it together. The book is already past the deadline so hopefully the other 900 images won’t take as long to process!

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The Storm Blows Over

The Storm Blows Over

I received a Hitech 10-stop ND filter for my birthday and was slightly gutted not to have it in Kerry where there’s plenty of moving water to play around with. However, I played around with it a bit in the back garden to get a feel for the exposure and the effects. It has roughly the same light-stopping abilities as my welding glass but the optical quality is much better, the colour casts can be corrected and, of course, it costs more than €3. On the plus side, it is cheaper and more available than the Lee “Big Stopper”.

Finally, I noticed a pretty good scene unfolding: there was hardly a breath of wind so the field of corn was mostly stationary but the storm clouds were moving. This meant I could get the crops sharp and the clouds blurred (unlike yesterday’s attempts which had everything blurred because of the wind).

By the way, this was the scene an hour after the photo above was taken (unfortunately, I was too busy to get the camera out again):

An hour later and a stunning sunset

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The stars revolve around this house

startrail_noaircraft

As part of my sofobomo book, I wanted a startrail of our house and I didn’t think I’d get one after the lens fogged up on my last attempt. Anyway, here’s a 1hr star trail taken in 30sec intervals and stacked together using the StarStaX application for Mac OS X

Next time I’ll leave it out there for longer, but it’s been over a year since I last shot a star trail so this was a good breaking-in exercise! I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll use the version without or without the aircraft streaking across the sky.

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