Belfast Lough Shore

On a trip to Belfast recently enough I was brought to Lough Shore, it was a stunning day and in between taking pictures I had great fun skimming stones across the water. I actually managed to my best skim ever with at least 8 bounces!

Beautiful day, beautiful scenery and beautiful place for photo taking.

The post Belfast Lough Shore appeared first on McAWilliams Photoblog Ireland.

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Glendalough Upper Lake

So my first image on the new blog has to be from Glendalough. It was one of the reasons I went there over the weekend, to get away from it all but also to bring the camera out again. Glendalough featured many times in my previous blog and I feel it makes sense to let it be the first of many pictures from there I plan on putting up here in the future.

 

This photo was taken from the top of the valley looking down on the upper lake. As I climbed up to the top the clouds and winds went mad and angry, and I had a few minutes to take the photos I needed to from up there before the heavens opened and the camera and gear were put away. I must admit though I am very happy with the end result.

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Review : My fantastic new Leather Satchel

No I am not going back to school, but some of you may remember these bags from your school years, well this bag arrived to me from my friend who is making these bags now at the Leather Satchel Co. and since my blog has now changed I thought it would be worthwhile talking more about it. I have always been looking for a good laptop case and I have to say this fits the bill perfectly.

The packaging when it arrived was something to behold, inside the box was a brown paper parcel tied up with twine with a personalised letter for me to read. I was loathe to open the parcel up further but I had to see what was inside.

The smell of leather hit me as soon as I opened the package and there it was, a beautiful chocolate brown satchel. The thickness of the leather amazed me and I could tell my laptop would be very safe in this. One thing I did notice though was that the leather was very stiff much the same as a new pair of shoes. The other thing I did notice was the cut of the leather which was so clean and also the stitching all over the bag was beautifully done, you could feel the strength of the satchel.

Of course I had to try and put my laptop in it to try it out properly and my 13 inch Macbook fits snuggly into it. One thing I did miss was a separate compartment to put the mains adapter in but it does fit in the main area with the laptop, but maybe a compartment would be something they could look into for a different design.

So what else can I tell you about this satchel well after a month of having it, it still looks like new and even after walking with it in the rain I see no water marks at all, and yes the leather as I knew it would has softened really nicely thus adding to the vintage look now of the bag. In many ways I would have loved a handle on top of the main flap, which I know if I had said this from the off The Leather Satchel Co. would have happily obliged to include.

The Leather Satchel Co also provide these bags in different sizes and a massive array of colours, recently they have also started to do personal embossing on the bags aswell. If you want to see their range check out their store on amazon and they also have deals for fans of their facebook page too.

But what was to be found in that envelope, well heres the great thing when you order one of the satchels online you get a 5 year warranty, yes 5 years! so there were the instructions on how to go about registering and also a lovely letter telling me about the bag, but looking at how it is holding up with me using it daily I really dont know if I will ever have to call on that warranty.

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Wilbur goes camping : Wolohans Silver Strand in Wicklow

In a new addition to McAWilliams.com I am glad to let Wilbur tell you all about his camping adventures, and his first outing was down to Wolohans Silver Strand in Wicklow. This was Wilburs first time down but had nice nostalgic memories for me. I will let Wilbur carry on from here.

As a child, John spent the majority of his summers there in his parents mobile home and this was his first time to go back in roughly 19 years. The site is made up of two fields one for the permanent mobile homes and the second field, where we camped is mainly for tents. The site has a few electrical points for camper vans and has water taps dotted around the park. There are also toilet facilities in both fields and showers and washing rooms available too. What you can see in the photo to the left is the main entrance to the park and the green unit in the center is the shop, which has essential food and other grocery items, but it also sells a lot of camping equipment ranging from guy ropes to 8 man tents. The prices are not unreasonable either and compare well to all the camping shops around Dublin and are cheaper on many items.

Obviously the name of the site, “Silver Strand”  means there is a beach nearby, and you would not be wrong.

A beautiful private sandy beach can be accessed at the bottom of the first field. It is kept very well and is nicely surrounded by high cliff faces thus helping keep the winds down. You can see from the photo to the right that the beach is unfortunately not accesible to wheelchairs or those with mobility problems, as the climb down to the beach, down the side of a cliff is very steep, at the same time if steps are not an issue the beach really is stunning when you get down there. Litter wise the beach was very clean and a lot of people had used the beach the day I went down. If you want to swim there is no better a beach to swim from with a very gradual sandy walk to the depth you require to swim, no nasty drop offs to be found on this beach!

One disadvantage that affected us was the fact that dogs are not allowed on the beach, this obviously helps the cleanliness of the beach but most dogs enjoy swimming and fetching things from the water and it also makes it difficult to go down to the beach since you cant really leave a dog in the tent on their own. Dogs are very welcomed to the park but need to be tied up at all times and on a leash if you want to go walking.

Rates for the site start at €20 for 2 people per night for a tent, but the price is based on the amount of people rather then the pitch itself, and the price increases by roughly €7.50 per person thereafter. Even thought the site was very busy over the weekend there was lots of room for children to play football, tennis, badminton etc and also the site is very secure with the owner John Wolohan driving around each night nearly hourly making sure everyone is ok, also the gates to the field are locked up at 12am approx, adding to the security.

So would I return again, yes I would for sure but possibly not on a bank holiday weekend, it was quite busy and people were constantly passing the tent so you had no real privacy at all, but with its proximity to Dublin and the stunning beach it would bring me back tomorrow without a shadow of a doubt.

Additional Images
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Review : HP Officejet 7500A wide format printer

So in a first on McAWilliams.com, I am glad to bring you my review on the HP Officejet 7500A printer.

I was asked as a photographer to try out this printer for the past month, and I must admit I have fallen in love with it, for many reasons. Not only is this a fantastic A3+ printer, but it is also an all in one machine comprising a scanner, copier and fax machine in one, which makes it perfect for the small business or home office.

This was one of the easiest printers I have ever set up and I would think within 10 minutes I had the printer unwrapped loaded with ink and ready to print. One thing that won me over instantly was that I could connect to it wirelessly through the WiFi in the house, allowing me to set it up in the spare room and print from anywhere in the house. Obviously you can connect using wires but who wants that these days. This was a first for me to experience and I honestly can’t believe how quick the data transfers from computer to printer through wireless. Drivers were found easily on my Mac and worked without difficulty.

So as I say even though it can scan, copy and fax, my main reason for testing was to print photos, so I loaded up the printer with some Epson A4 paper (not the best idea using Epson paper with a HP printer but it was in the house) then booted up lightroom, went to print and hey presto within 30 minutes I had my first print completed from taking the machine out of the box, thats how simple it was to get ready.

Another cool feature with the 7500A is the fact it has a touchscreen display for all operations but that also allows you download HP web apps, this was something I saw while I was Turkey at the launch of the new range of HP web enabled printers, and something HP were excited about announcing (you can read about that here). Apps you can download can range from news articles, sudoko puzzles to colouring pages from disney or nickelodeon for the kids. The big advantage of this is the fact that you can print these without the need for a PC or Mac, making printing again so much easier, and I now understand HP’s excitement.

Another thing I was very keen to try out was ePrint, which allows users to print from mobile devices. Again like everything else about this printer this is easily set up, you can go to ePrintcenter webpage and register the printer with your email address or a number of email addresses, creating a whitelist of emails that can use the printer. Then from your phone or tablet you can email a photo, document or what ever you need printed to an email address that is dedicated to your printer. In essence if you can e-mail it, you can print it. Again this worked without any hitches at all, but there would be one thing I have a gripe with which I shall reveal in a minute.

Because this is more an office printer, I was not expecting amazing results for photo printing but I must admit it does not do a bad job at all, there did seem to be a slight redish hue and a lack of contrast on the images but this was easily rectified in lightroom once I realised it was there, the printer can also print full borderless images which I adore. I would not say you should get this printer if you need fine art prints but if you need better then standard prints the printer does an excellent job.

One of my main problems with printers is the cost of the ink, which obviously is important if you are printing photos all the time, cause ink runs out fast. Well thankfully it only uses 4 inks, but it is still expensive to replace all 4 and this is something I wish HP and other printer manufacturers would work to rectify.

Ok so enough of the good stuff surely there are problems too?

Thankfully not many, my main issue is the fact that there is only one paper tray that can hold only 150 sheets of paper. While not an issue if you are only printing a few photos, for the small office this could be an issue. Another problem I had with this is that I would have loved to have had a tray for photo paper and another for plain paper, because as I learnt very quickly when printing an email through the ePrintcenter from town, Photo paper is not necessary for an email print out, but it was left in the tray from the previous nights printing, so that was an expensive but easy mistake to make, but could have been easily avoided if there was a second tray with plain paper in it. I also found that on occasion even though the printer was connected to the WiFi in the house I could not connect to it on occasion from my Mac even though it could have been right beside it, this was rectified with a restart of the printer.

So would I recommend it to photographers as a printer, well as I said if you are looking for professional fine art prints, no. But for me and the fact I am not printing for art galleries but more for prints at home I love the fact you can print A3+ borderless photographs fast and with decent enough quality at a very reasonable price.

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Glendalough chasing ducks

glendalough chasing ducks

Yesterday while the sun was shining myself and Sarah decided to go to Glendalough to go to take some photos, it was down in Glendalough just over a year ago that we went on our first photo outing together and so it was due a revisit.

The upper lake always grabs my attention as soon you get up to the sandy area there, the views are stunning looking up valley so much so that we decided to walk all the way up to the top of the valley and up the mountains at the end. It was a long walk but so worth it and hopefully over the next few days you will be able to see why.

Anyhow I was down at the beach before that walk and decided to take some photos looking up the lake, when this woman flew past me chasing ducks into the lake. I have no idea what she was thinking really but I was glad I was in the perfect position to capture this photo.

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Winter Tree

Winter Tree

My first image to upload to McAWilliams.com since I changed the layout about, heres hoping it works!

This is a photograph taken in Kells on the morning of one of the heaviest frosts I have ever seen in Ireland, thankfully that winter is well and truely behind us now and the weather is looking great for a good summer so far.

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The Irish Blog Awards and the end of an era

So its time for my yearly Irish Blog Awards post. This is my 6th one now to write, and it seems my last.

The awards took place up in Belfast much to the delight of the northern contingent who have been campaigning for it to cross the border for years, and fair play to Damien he delivered. The Europa hotel was the venue on the night and the “blogosphere” (I hate that term) went from all corners of Ireland.

Now before I continue, I should add that for the first time in the blog awards history, I could not attend, and what annoys me more is the fact that Damien Mulley, organiser of the awards, announced that he would not be organising the Irish Blog Awards again. Will someone else step up to the mark?

Well offers have been made according to Mulley’s twitter account, but personally I hope he hangs on to the brand and maybe resurrects it in a few years time……

Possibly.

I am happy Damien has done this and if the truth be known I kinda expected it, but actually thought it may have happened 1 or 2 years ago. Every year has had its fair share of people moaning about the night, moaning about the venues, moaning about the judging etc. Normally I laugh at the ignorance of these moaners, but this year proves exactly why it’s the right year to finish. In many ways it has gone down the same route as ICAD did years ago, but after a break, the ICAD awards came back stronger then ever. Maybe the same could happen for the bloggies.

I have read 2 blog posts today, thankfully these sorts of posts are in the minority, scathing the organising and structure of the blog awards, one of these posts was written by someone who I dont know but I was disgusted by what I read and I don’t even feel like linking to her post to give blog love her way. As for the commenters on this post, the majority of them do the usual thing of jumping on the bandwagon just to be cool, but with no knowledge at all in what they are talking about. But why do I get so het up with all this? surely thats for Mulley to worry about.

Well this post starts saying its the first awards she has attended, so knowledge of previous awards does not come into play, yet she harped on for over 1000 words like she is the most knowledgable event organiser around and like she knows so much about these particular awards. Not once did she commend the awards which she was nominated in and which she advertises on her sidebar, which I find so contradictory.

People are very quick to begrudge, especially the Irish, and unfortunately over the last three years this has become more and more prevalent.

These people don’t realise the work Damien has put into these awards over the last 6 years, the hotel organising, the website hosting, the PR, the gathering up of judges, the selling of the awards to sponsors etc etc. All they see is the night itself the majority of the time. Yes Damien has a load of people helping, take Rick O Shea, who has hosted every blog awards since the first 100 or so people gathered in the Alexander Hotel in Dublin, then you have Ryan Whalley who has taken photos for the awards over the 6 years and then Brian Green who has provided entertainment after the awards for, again, the last 6 years. There are loads of other names who have contributed, myself included, all because we have seen that this event cannot be organised by just one person, and people want to help where they can.

When it comes to the judging people think its just the usual suspects winning awards, there is a perception out there that these awards are the twenty major awards or nialler9 awards, has anyone ever thought that maybe these blogs deserve it for consistant good posts etc, oh no it all boils down to a clique supposedly that exists in the blogosphere and if you are in said clique you win awards! I have even been told myself that I belong to this clique!

Well let me make it clear, I don’t, cause this clique does not exist, if it did I would have won a photoblog award over the 6 years surely? I have won nothing at the awards because my blog is not up to the standard of so many others, and I fully accept that, Twenty Major has not won a blog award for 2 years now for Twentymajor.net, seriously its been 2 years! so again all this clique talk is proven to be unfounded. Nialler9 is an amazing writer constantly, and deserved to win, so, tough fucking luck! Personally I saw so many winners this year that I had never heard of, surely if they were in the clique I would have.

Judging is a bitch, many people have commented elsewhere over the years about why, a photographer say, is judging a political blog or even a beauty blog, and why not judge what they specialise in. Well for starters if I was to judge just the Photoblog category, I could not be fair in my judging, many of the photographers have become good friends over the last 6 years so that idea can’t run. What Damien has done though is totally fair, he has over 100 judges (who volunteer) each year judging the awards and every judge may get 20 random blogs to judge, obviously whittling down once it gets towards the finalists, so each blog is judged at least 5 times in general. I can’t see a fairer way to judge then that honestly. People talk about transparency for the judging, my response to that is, why? I have not seen any other awards I have been to, have to explain why such and such won an award, there is no need for it, you accept it, congratulate the winner, cry in the toilets, come back out and get pissed.

I am so glad to see so many people say thanks to Damien for holding these awards for the last 6 years, I have many many fond memories from each one I’ve attended, I have met some fantastic people and encountered some horrible people too who shall remain nameless, but overall, my blog awards experiences have been amazing, and I know I am not alone with this thought but am I shocked the awards are over not at all. Thank you Damien for everything and best of luck with your future endeavours.

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Welcome to the rejuvenation.

Well its been a tough few days but I am glad to announce that McAWilliams is now back on track. Gone are the days where photos are all you shall see here, I shall also be updating with some written posts, but photography shall of course remain at the fore. So what has changed?

Obviously the layout, which will enable the above written posts to be entered nicely. The Darkroom still exists but can now be found in the main navigation menu, under photography. I have also included a Contact Me button where you can get in touch if you need too. Since facebook has become so big too I have now got a “like” button under posts if you are that way inclined and also “share” buttons too for the likes of facebook, twitter, stumbleupon etc.

Finally I have a logo of sorts, many thanks to Sarah for her help in that.

There will also be some back end updates which hopefully wont be as noticeable to you but for me will ensure the site is looking as good as it can, but obviously if you see anything that I may have over looked please do get in touch with me and let me know.

You can get in touch with me in a few different ways which are down below such as facebook, twitter or linkedin and then obviously the new contact form too.

Anyhow I do hope you enjoy the site as much as I have in setting it up.

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The changes begin

So the long awaited changes to McAWilliams are underway expect nothing much here for the next few days while I attempt to get this theme working just how I would like it, this involves changes to how I import my photos to the blog and also how written posts can be incorprated into the blog also.

At present none of the images will show up due to a plugin I have used for years so all my images will have to be re-uploaded in order to cancel said plugin out of the equation.

Please bear with me cause I promise to return with a bang as soon as I get this all ready, thanks for your patience.

John

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