A line of yew trees leads to the cemetery on the grounds of Maynooth University. The cemetery was opened in 1817 and contains the grave of Dr Nicholas Callan from County Louth, inventor the Induction Coil. That's my son on his scooter you can see under the arch. I graduated from Maynooth University over twenty years ago and still enjoy going for walks around the leafy Old Campus part of the grounds.
I took these shots of the Grand from the Ponte dell'Accademia. It's a classic view of the city of Venice. They were taken about an hour apart as I wandered the area around the bridge. The 16ft-deep Grand Canal has over 170 buildings built along its two-and-a-half mile length, many of them grand palazzos. The majority of these buildings were built between the 13th and 18th century and most open directly onto the canal, making their fronts accessible only by boat.
The domes of Santa Maria della Salute can be seen in both photos to the right. In October of 1630, after nearly a third of Venice's 150,000 citizens had been killed by plague, the Venetian Senate made an offer to God: "Stop the plague, and we'll build a church to honor the Virgin Mary." The resulting church wasn't completed until half a century later, in 1682.
The town of Brive-la-Gaillarde in the Corrèze département is a place that has great significance in my life. It was here in 1999/2000 that I worked as an English Language Assistant. I spent almost a year in this handsome French town. Not only did I have wonderful experience here but I met the woman who would become my wife. I still have a lot of friends from that time and have great affection for Brive and the Corrèze Département.
I have never really had the opportunity to photograph Brive properly but I hope to visit in 2022 and get out with the camera gear and finally build a collection of photos from my favourite French town. I only managed to take a few photos during my last visit including this one. The Romanesque Collégiale St-Martin in the photo dates from the 11th century. It sits right in the centre of the town. Several roads radiate from it linking up to a boulevard that encircles the old town. Like in Paris, this boulevard is build on a former defensive wall.
I think the top photo above illustrates why I love coming to Carton House early in the morning. The perfectly still waters of the Rye Water Lake create a perfect mirror image of the lakeside tree and its surroundings. A light mist hugs the surrounding grassland and three ducks swim into the frame at just the right moment to help complete the shot.
In the second shot, we see the boathouse that sits on the edge of the lake on the left of the frame. There was a beautiful light mist over the perfectly still waters of the lake that morning. The boat house is thought to have been built for one of Queen Victoria's visits to Carton House.
A musician plays under Merchant's Arch which leads to the pub filled Temple Bar district of Dublin. This photo showed me the advantage of shooting with a full frame camera. By increasing the ISO to a high 3200, I was able to shoot this scene handheld without losing image quality. The high ISO allowed me to set a fast shutter speed of 1/400 second which was more than fast enough to shoot handheld.
Merchants’ Arch which today houses a pub forms a part of the former Merchants’ Hall, built in 1821. The building was constructed for the use of the Merchant’s Guild, who originally had their premises at the Tailors Hall in Back Lane, near to Christchurch Cathedral.
This trio of photos were taken in the space of about 40 minutes at Rosenhoedkaai (Quay of the Rosary) in Bruges. When I arrived in the early evening, the sky was covered in steely grey clouds. I headed to a nearby bar and hoped that the clouds would clear in time for dusk and blue hour. As luck would have it, they did. Luck often plays a major role in capturing that special shot.
By now however, I had consumed quite a few glasses of a local beer/rocket fuel called Steenbrugge. I stumbled out of the bar into a totally transformed scene. My sense of balance had been totally transformed too. Thank goodness for tripods. With a rather diminished sense of coordination, I somehow managed to set up my tripod and point the camera at the ever changing scene in front of me.
The three photos taken each about 20 minutes apart from each other really demonstrate how the different light can completely change the look of a scene even during the same photography session. It's always worth being patient at a location.
On the north quay of the River Liffey beside the Samuel Beckett Bridge sits the Convention Centre Dublin. This highly unusual building contains a 2000 seat auditorium. It was the first carbon neutral convention centre in the world and won World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre’ at the 26th annual World Travel Awards in 2020.
I do quite like the building; It does kind of look a bit like a huge tin of peas wedged in a giant box though. In Dublin, we have a habit of giving our landmarks rhyming nicknames eg. the ..... ahem ..... “Stiffy by the Liffey” for the Dublin Spire on O’Connell Street (yes, really). For some reason, the convention centre seems to have escaped this tradition. Might I suggest the “Box in the Docks” or maybe the “Peas by the Quays”. You heard them here first!
The Hague is a great city with a really cosmopolitan vibe. I love the mix of old and new architecture in the city and how well they coexist together. The skyscrapers of the business district rise over the older parts of the city such as the handsome restaurant and café lined Plein in the bottom photo.
In the top photo, they provide the background to the Mauritshuus Museum in the centre of the frame. The museum houses the Royal Collection of Paintings which consists of mostly Dutch Golden Age paintings. The collection contains works by Vermeer, Rembrandt among others. The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer is perhaps it's most famous piece. It's well worth a visit.
For this shot, I set up my tripod in the centre of the Sean O’Casey Bridge and took a shot towards the Docklands area that included plenty of the pale purple toned dawn sky. The sun hadn’t risen yet but the orange glow on the horizon meant sunrise and the golden light it would bring wasn’t far off. The Samuel Beckett Bridge and Conference Centre with its glowing blue lights are visible in the left of the frame as is the silhouetted mast of the Jeanie Johnston famine ship that is permanently moored on the Liffey.
The Custom House in Dublin is regarded as one of the jewels in the city's architectural crown. The building is a masterpiece of European neo-classicism. It took 10 years to build and was completed in 1791. Today the Custom House houses the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
I took these pair of photos early in the morning. As I was setting up I met @adrianhendroff and @ronan_kennedy_28 who were also setting up their tripods. It's always a pleasant occurrence to meet fellow photographers when out with the camera. In a sign of the times, I've found that quite a few photographers I meet introduce themselves with their Instagram handle!
I've spend a lovely morning walking around the lush grounds of Carton House in Maynooth. This is another example of a photo which shows a combination of natural man made beauty. The beautiful rose's in the foreground complement the handsome Carton House building in the background. The wide angle lens adds a sense of drama to the sky.
I took these two shots on a chilly but sunny winter morning. Bachelor's walk looks great in sunny weather with the range of buildings of various colours. On that particular morning, there was no wind leading to perfect reflections in the River Liffey.
In July 1914, a hostile crowd accosted a column of troops of the King's Own Scottish Borderers on Bachelors Walk. The troops responded to stone throwing with bayonets and rifle fire, resulting in the deaths of several civilians and injuries to dozens more. The event later became known as the Bachelor's Walk massacre.
Pink Rose by the Bell Tower of the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral
Set atop one of the city's few hills, known as Mitropoliei, the Patriarchal Cathedral has been the centrepiece of the Romanian Orthodox faith since the 17th-century. The bell-tower which is next to the cathedral was built in 1698, and restored in 1958.
I like creating a juxtaposition between natural beauty like the pink rose and man made beauty like the bell tower. A moderately wide aperture threw the bell tower slightly out of focus but not so much that it is unrecognisable. It still allows the rose stand out however.
These three photographs of O'Connell Street were taken during the evening blue hour, one of my favourite photography times. There is nice balance between the ambient light and the city lights at this time. Also, I find that the deep blue sky at this time makes for far more attractive photographs that the pure black sky of later at night.
In top and bottom photos you can clearly see the “Dublin Spire“, erected to mark the millennium. The famous Nelson’s Pillar used to occupy this space until 1966 when the IRA decided the street would be better off without it. On the night of March 8th, a bomb went off that had been hidden inside the pillar and Admiral Nelson took the first (and last) flight of his life.
We Dubliners have a tradition of giving our landmarks nicknames that rhyme. The Dublin Spire has been bestowed with several: The Nail in the Pale; The Stiletto in the Ghetto and ahem…. the Stiffy by the Liffey. Hey, we’re not the city of Samuel Beckett and James Joyce for nothing you know.
What a difference the choice of focal length can make to the perspective in a photograph. Take a look at these two shots taken in Venice a few minutes apart. Both depict scenes looking out across the lagoon towards the island of San Giorgio Maggiore but the sense of distance between shoreline and island is very different in each.
For the top photograph I used a wide angle lens and set a focal length of 20 mm. I set up my tripod right on the water’s edge. This exaggerated the perspective somewhat. The island and tower appear to be quite far away across the Venice Lagoon.
For the next photo, I set up my tripod about 50 metres back from where I was standing for the first photo and zoomed in to a focal length of 60 mm. Even at this moderate zoom, the island and church now appear much larger and closer to the water’s edge. The perspective has been completely compressed. The elements in scene seem to be “stacked” much closer together. I still wouldn’t advise trying to swim to the island.
Located at the completely renovated Grand CanalDock, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is a 2,000-seat theater at the heart of a multi-use complex conceived as part of a plan to revitalize the docklands area the city. Studio Daniel Libeskind completed the theatre in 2010. The angular theatre is fronted by a 10,000 sq metre plaza designed by landscape designer Martha Schwartz. The red poles that dot the plaza light up in a vivid red colour at night as you can see from the three blue hour photographs in this series. Tripods aren't allowed in the area so I had to creative using my camera bag, bins and stone benches to steady my camera.
The first photo was taken from the Pont du Carrousel just beside the Louvre Museum. The view from here is one of my favourites in all Paris. In this scene, the Pont des Arts is in the foreground with Île de la Cité and Pont Neuf in the distance. The towers of Notre Dame Cathedral are clearly visible to the right, as is the spire of Sainte Chapelle. The conical towers of the Conciergerie prison can be seen on the far left. Marie Antoinette spent her last night here before being led to her excecution on the current Place de la Concorde. I stayed in an Ibis Hotel myself.
For the next photo, I wanted to shoot the Pont des Arts from the opposite side so I sprinted, ok I ran, maybe jogged….fine, I walked quickly to the Pont Neuf and set up the shot looking towards where the sun had set about 20 minutes previously. The sky was a beautiful mix of pale amber and pink hues which provided the perfect backdrop to the scene along the Left Bank of the Seine. Again, the Pont des Arts is in the foreground but this time, the Eiffel Tower itself is visible as it rises over the Left Bank. The Musée d’Orsay can be seen in the far right of the frame.
The canals of Bruges are a photographer's paradise. They present you with an endless selection of pretty stone bridges and handsome Flemish architecture. In this blue hour shot I used the stone Bridge as foreground interest to create a sense of depth in the frame. The beautiful architecture of Bruges did the rest.
There are some times when it all just comes together. The morning I took this photograph in the Dublin Docklands was one of those times. It was a chilly January morning and I was out testing my new Canon 6D MkII for the first time. The light conditions that morning were what photographers crave. Not only was there a beautiful golden hour light but just enough cloud to make the sky interesting. Not only that but the windless conditions made for mirror like reflections in the River Liffey.
I took this shot as I was walking back towards the older part of the city along Sir John Robertson's Quay. We can see the Dublin Conference Centre reflected in the water and the Samuel Beckett Bridge further downstream. What pleases me most about the photo is the sky. The warm early morning light created some really beautiful colours as it bounced of the clouds. A few scattered clouds are always welcome in the morning and evening when out shooting.
The Loire Valley is teeming with exquisite châteaux of various eras, scales and styles. The whole region is a travel photographer's dream. Two of the most stunning are Chenonceau (top) and Azay-le-Rideau (bottom).
The castle at Chenonceau was built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was later extended to span the river. During the Second World War, the castle was used as a means of escaping from the Nazi occupied zone on one side of the River Cher to the "free" zone on the opposite bank.
The castle at Azay-le-Rideau is considered one of the best examples of early French renaissance architecture. It sits in a picturesque location on an island in the middle of the Indre river. On the day I visited, there wasn't a breath of wind which created perfect reflections in the water.
St. Joseph's Square on the campus of Maynooth University looks glorious when it's in full bloom. I took this photo of a yellow rose on a sunny July day while going for a walk through the handsome Old Campus side of the university. For this shot, I focused on the rose, set a wide aperture and blurred the College Chapel in the background. Maynooth University is a place I am very familiar with as I graduated from there twenty years ago. I had little time for photography back then however. I was far to busy drinking beer and going to parties .... I mean .... discussing French philosophy and literature with my fellow scholars.
The Palm House and Sundial at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin
The impressive Victorian Era Palm House dominates the entrance area of the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. It was completely dismantled into 7,000 pieces and renovated before reopening in 2004. There is a handsome sundial dating from about 1800 on the pathway leading to the giant glasshouse. For the second photo, I focused on the sundial and slightly blurred the glasshouse in the background.
A shutter speed of 1/3 sec was slow enough the create the right amount of motion blur in this shot. The waterfall which is actually man made can be found in Sonsbeek Park in the Dutch city of Arnhem. Sonsbeek Park was a site of the Battle of Arnhem, a key military conflict at the end of the Second World that formed part of disastrous Operation Market Garden. The famous bridge featured in "A Bridge Too Far" is not far from the park.
These photos were taken in the beautiful Italian hilltop town of Cividale del Friuli. The bridge the top photo is called the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil's Bridge). Local legend says that the devil made a deal with the townspeople. He would build the bridge you see in the photo but in return, he got to keep the first soul to cross the bridge. The clever residents of Cividale del Friuli then sent a cat across the bridge first much to the devil’s annoyance! The lesson for photographers is: Always check that your contract with a customer is absolutely watertight!
The National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin in Dublin are a pollinator's paradise. I took this shot of a bumble bee there during a pleasant stroll around the gardens on a sunny day in July. The gardens were founded in 1795 and contain over 20,000 plants.
The shot was taken with my Panasonic ZS100 compact. It's perfect for this type of photography as well as being very lightweight and portable. I love getting out with my full DSLR photography kit but sometimes it's enjoyable to travel light.
It's a case of old and new in this pair of photographs. O'Connell Bridge in the top photograph was completed in its current form in 1880 whereas the Rosie Hackett Bridge is one of Dublin's newest having been opened in 2014. It is the first Bridge in the city to be named after a woman; Rosie Hackett was trade union activist, who was involved in the 1913 Lockout, and later the 1916 Rising. Both photos were taken on the same morning about ten minutes apart. The Rosie Hackett Bridge photo was taken from O'Connell Bridge. The beautiful colours in the sky that morning made the early start more than worth it.
A lone figure walks down Bloom Lane off Bachelor's Walk in Dublin. This area is another one of those dilapidated old areas that has been transformed beyond all recognition in recent years in the city. Today it is known as the "Italian Quarter" and boasts a selection of restaurants and cafés with a little square in the middle and plenty of outdoor seating. It's a welcome addition to the north side of Dublin and serves as a good model for regenerating similar streets. The "W" sign on the left stands for "Wallace's Taverna" a restaurant owned by controversial Irish politician Mick Wallace whose construction company developed the area.
The beach at Hammamet, Tunisia was the perfect place to experiment with a 10 stop neutral density filter to create some extreme long exposure shots. The fishing boats scattered on the sand provided interesting foreground interest in the frame. The beautifully coloured clouds were perfect for capturing some motion blur as they moved across the evening sky during the long exposure. It can be tricky to focus when using a ten stop filter. Calculating the hyperfocal distance and using it to set focus manually is a good option in this case.
Sadly much of the Bucharest Old Town levelled at the behest of Nicolae Ceaușescu to make room for his collosol ego-driven House of the Republic (Palace of Parliament today). Thankfully, some of the charming Old Town survived including Strada Stavropoleos which is the location of some fine architecture such as the early twentieth century Palatul CEC (today a bank). This is the building at the end of the street in the photograph. The Caru' cu bere restaurant on the street is well worth a visit to sample some delicious Romanian dishes.
These two photographs feature the Sean O'Casey Bridge in Dublin. I took both shots on a cold but sunny winter morning in January. The Customs House and Liberty Hall are in the background. The bridge which opened on 2005 swings open to allow large boats pass. The bridge was unable to open between 2010 and 2014 however because ........ and I'm being completely serious here ......... somebody lost the remote control.It was probably down the back of the couch.
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