Tired — it’s all relative…

Sometimes there’s so much going on in life that there never seems to be enough time. Too much work, not enough rest, pressures and hassles coming at you left, right and centre.

You get tired, really tired.

But I came across an old photo lurking on my hard drive this morning that helped put tiredness back into perspective for me. No matter what happens in my life I doubt I’ll ever experience tiredness like it again.

Me with the twins not too long after they came home.

Me with the twins not too long after they came home.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Stranded Fin Whale dies in Courtmacsherry, West Cork

A 19.7 metre (more than 60’) long Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) that live-stranded in Courtmacsherry, West Cork unfortunately died after being beached by a rapidly receding tide.

 Dead fin whale stranded on sandbank in Courtmacsherry, West Cork

For full details see the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) article on the stranding.

Here are some of the photographs I managed to snap in very low light during the few minutes we had around the whale before the tide raced in and cut us off. I might have stayed a bit longer, but we had the children with us, so didn’t want to risk it. It was also raining, and the camera was getting soaked :-(.

These were 4-8 second exposures, and turned out reasonably well, all things considered.

DSCN8532 DSCN8535 DSCN8536DSCN8528 DSCN8529 DSCN8530 DSCN8531

It was absolutely amazing to see such a huge creature up close… but nothing on seeing them alive in their element on one of the Whale Watching trips off West Cork.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Common Dolphin bow riding a Fin Whale off West Cork

West Cork is a truly amazing place for getting up close and personal with some of the largest and most spectacular creatures on the planet. Every winter large baleen whales congregate off the South West coast – with a lot of activity focussed off the headlands of West Cork.

On Friday I was lucky enough to head out on a Whale Watching Trip with Colin Barnes out of Union Hall. We saw a total of five cetacean species on the trip: Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus), Minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena and more than a hundred Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis).

A fin whale surfaces not far from the boat

A fin whale (Balaenoptera physilus) surfaces not far from the boat

Common dolphins bow riding a fin whale off the West Cork coast

A common dolphin ( appears, riding the bow-wave created by the large whale

Dolphin bow-riding large whale off West Cork, Ireland

… and behaves exactly as it would when bow-riding a boat, demonstrating, perhaps, the origins of this curious habit.

We had an amazing trip – the second best I’ve ever been on (my best whale watching trip ever was one four years ago, also with Colin Barnes off the West Cork coast). We saw literally dozens of fin whales blowing all around us, about half a dozen minke whales, four humpbacks, the occasional porpoise and a hundred or more common dolphins. One of the highlights was seeing three different species of whale swimming together – two fin whales, a humpback, and two minke whales in one place. Amazing!

A humpback whale and a fin whale surface together off Galley Head, West Cork

A humpback whale and fin whale surface together just off Galley Head, West Cork

This is the best time of the year to see large baleen whales off the Irish coast… November, December and January are when you get peak whale activity. So if you want one of the most spectacular wildlife experiences on the planet, get in touch with Colin (who incidentally also does gift vouchers, if you’re looking for an unusual Christmas present).

Ireland really is a hotbed of cetacean activity at this time of year – but enough of my wittering, here are some more photos. Judge for yourself:

Continue reading Common Dolphin bow riding a Fin Whale off West Cork

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II

Mullroy Bay II, Baltimore, West CorkI

The Mullroy Bay II wallowing half submerged at high tide – lit with orange filters on an array of 5,000,000 candle power handheld lanterns.

I was invited by Marc Holden of Firehorse Imaging to attend and photograph an extremely unusual event on Saturday 15/11/08. Local artist Sheelagh Na Gig was inspired by the half submerged hulk of a disused trawler, The Mulroy Bay II, to highlight the plight of the local fishing industry, and the effect it’s having on West Cork’s coastal communities.

Sheelagh contacted Guerilla Lighting and together they hatched an intricately coordinated plan to light the stricken vessel from the water. They used two RIBs and an army of volunteers armed with 5,000,000 candle power handheld lanterns and filters to pick out the vessel in the darkness.

I’d been given a Manfrotto 055ProB tripod with the amazing 322RC2 trigger-grip ball-head for my birthday the day before, so jumped at the chance to put the combination to the test. Still, I was VERY wary of the poor low-light performance of my trusty old Nikon Coolpix 5700.

Focussing was a huge challenge, as was time between shots with 8 second long exposures – but a couple of the images came out OK – including the one they used (without acknowledgement… grrr!) in an article in the Southern Star.

 DSCN8117

… and the same vessel lit without the orange filters.

Mulroy Bay II, Baltimore, West Cork

The view from the other side of the vessel.

Mulroy Bay II, Baltimore, West Cork 

Trying to use a tripod from a RIB moored to a buoy gives interesting results….

As an exercise in low light photography it was extremely challenging; as an experience it was wonderful… racing around Baltimore harbour to church strand on RIBs in the pitch black was invigorating… if a little chilly… and Sheelagh’s hospitality at the house before and after the event was fantastic.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

A little piece of Kryptonite?

On a West Cork beach this Summer (during a brief respite in the soggy summer weather) I spotted this tiny piece of lustrous green glass worn perfectly smooth by the sea.

picasabackground

I couldn’t resist getting down on hands and knees and taking this snap – I love the juxtaposition of the manmade glass and the natural gravel. To give you a sense of scale the piece of glass is only about four or five millimetres across.

If you click to enlarge the image you’ll see what I think are salt crystals on the surface of the glass.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Hanging out – teddies on a washing line

This is the most popular image in our photo wedding invitation line up. It’s the photo that inspired the business, and the one that best captures what Image Invitations is all about.

Hanging out – a photograph that inspired a business

I know this isn’t a forum for commercial promotion, and that’s not the aim. I thought I’d share the image with you here on its own merit.

The teddies, which belong to my twin daughters, were hanging on my parents’ washing line in North Wales after a much needed “bath”. I took several images from a variety of angles… this was the one that stood out.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Violet Oil Beetle (Meloe violaceus) photos

When staying at the Glengarriff Lodge in April, these bizarre looking creatures were all over the place. Didn’t have a clue what they were until further investigation revealed that they were violet oil beetles (Meloe violaceus).

Violet Oil Beetle (Meloe violaceus) 

Violet Oil Beetle (Meloe violaceus)

I keep meaning to upgrade from my aged Nikon Coolpix 5700 – but this dated 5 megapixel camera still manages to surprise and delight me with the quality of image it’s capable of producing.

I’ve been toying with getting a DSLR for ages now, but while the kids are young I’m loath to swap what is a very capable and compact package for the bulkier SLR and associated paraphernalia.

Naturally there are times when I miss the speed and responsiveness of an SLR… but much less often than you might think.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Life imitating art

Up in Dublin for a meeting last summer I found myself wandering near the canal when a scene on the bench opposite caught my eye.

DSCN0926

I think this tourist was trying to photograph a map of Ireland, for some bizarre reason. The unintentional (or at least subconscious) similarity of his pose and that of the sculpture alongside him made for an interesting snap.

It’s a “grab” shot… like a lot of my photographs (I tend to have kids swinging off one arm while wielding the camera one-handed, hoping fervently for high enough shutter-speeds to compensate for the inevitable camera-shake) – and is perhaps technically challenged – but the curious juxtaposition rescues it.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge photographs

Here are a couple of shots taken in Sydney last time I was there – one of the Opera House, the other of the Harbour Bridge at night.

II0024

I like the pattern of the tiles in this shot. I contemplated having just the pattern in the composition, without the sliver of sky, but found that eliminating the sweeping curves of the dome detracted from the overall image. It rendered the iconic suddenly unrecognisable.

II0039

SHB by night… ‘nuf said! Have used this image for clients on wedding invitations… works very well!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

More dramatic photographs by changing perspective

Here are a couple of other photographs illustrating how taking a different perspective can dramatically alter photographs of the same subject.

DSCN1645

This Don Quixote sculpture stands outside a hotel in Toledo, Spain. It’s often photographed by tourists head-on… or with people standing next to it.

DSCN1644

By moving in close, and silhouetting the head and spear against the sky and including the impressive building opposite the hotel it makes for what I think is a much more interesting image.

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)