Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sláinte...

I'm here now, typing this from the Travelodge hotel in Ballymun, Dublin. It's kind of weird here to live without AC but only a heater - while the window doesn't permit much cold air in, and permits lot of noise from the main street. Anyway, it is just one night and I'm off.
I think I will be heading to the airport early. My flight is around 11 a.m. but I will check out from here around 8 a.m. and who knows what kind of traffic jams waiting on the road anyway.
As soon as I arrived here I had to get some deodorants from a pharmacy adjacent to the hotel (lucky me!), as my socks and shoes and about everything in me just sucks big time after yesterday's adventure! I'm going to use those deodorants with them and hopefully it will work, temporarily at least.
Tomorrow is the goodbye day to Ireland...

Slán Éirinn, beidh tú a mheabhrú i gcónaí

Monday, October 13, 2014

Inis an Ghaill...

Wow! What a day! I'm so tired now that I can barely write this. Worse though, I can't have a nap before I finish everything for tomorrow; mainly packing.
Today I've head to Inchagoill island (Irish: Inis an Ghaill), which happens to mean "island of foreigners". I'm not sure why it is called like that, but surely I was like a stranger there today! As I've jumped on the boat I've got my camera ready already before hopping in, and fitted my Sigma 70-300mm lens and started to shoot as the boat was ravaging through the lake. It would have been good to use a polarizer in such situations but the shake of the boat would absolutely make this addition useless and helpless. However, I did take a number of images, and I won't be filtering them out probably.

Same house on the banks of the lake shot 5 years ago. This time in close up!

Upon reaching the island, of course we docked and headed down. My "guide," named Patrick, told me where to go: just follow the path. And he headed to other side in front of the dock (there was a rocky dock made) and he said he will be waiting there. Sure I said!

Where I landed. The trees (scotch fir trees) were Patrick headed waiting for me.

The entry to the church.
I followed the path, got lost for a while, but then I've found the church "complex"; well, if I can call it so! Anyway, I did take some shots from outside with 50mm (because it has the largest aperture I have already and helps with shallow depths when needed). My main interest was the designed gateway, which was so narrow for my, and my bag to pass through! After snapping those shots, I started right away setting up my tools to do a panorama outside just in front of the gateway. I'm expecting problems in terms of the exposure and showing details in the sky. Also, seems that using Daylight WB was not the proper choice, but that problem can be easily fixed later on. Strangely, this WB made the ground and some areas of the scene a bit bluish instead of yellowish as it usually does. For this reason, after that point, I had to use the Shade WB.

Things went great in the beginning; panorama outside, panorama inside, and then things started to get a bit wicked. Finishing from this location, it was time then to head to the Coffee House. I got lost again, and luckily I got back to the path again, from which I reached the church. Found some workers on the island (they were there when I landed and started my journey on the island). I asked for directions and they just told me to follow straight in that path. Strangely though, when I asked them about the coffee house, they don't really realize it, but when I describe it as "that little building on the top of the hill" they reckon the building and told me where to go. Again, on the way, I was about to get lost, and then found a gentleman who guided me further and turned me back to the church (apparently I was going in circles) and from there, he told me to follow the path and he left me at a certain point. From that point and on, it was one heck of a way to that building!

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Strangely, forgot to take a general shot for the coffee house with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. However, I started my work directly with a panorama from the outside. I was thinking of doing a panorama inside this small building, but I neglected the idea for two reasons: One, not much details inside that would make up for an interesting panorama, and two, the buzzing sounds of flies, wasps or even bees. Whatever was there, the buzzing sound was really loud inside! On the top of the coffee house, there was a nice view, but again, it wasn't suitable for a panorama. However, I did take some shots for the stairway with my fisheyes. Now, the adventure is about to begin...

Finishing from the coffee house, now it is time to go back to Patrick. All what I did is just follow the path down the slope (and had a fall on the way). At one point, I reached what seemed to me like a dead point - no way further with trees filling the way. All what was there is a small outlet leading to the beach area, which seemed to be my only way out! So I did.
The beach was really rocky. REALLY. I can almost say, no sand is there but rocks. Rocks filling the shore and I had to walk on them. I didn't know my location but my pace was slow now and hurtful because of the twisting feet. A tripod on my shoulder, a bag on my hand, and backpack on my back, with a camera around my neck. I even used the tripod (with VR-head attached to it) as a cane to help me go through the rocks. At this point, I realized I'm on the wrong side of the island, but it's too late now to go back. I had to continue and "survey" the shores until I reach the dock!

Map of Inchagoill island (from Wikimapia) and the red circle is supposedly where I got lost I presume, but I'm not that sure about it.

After passing through some muddy ground and dipping myself in water to avoid some branches (heck, I've broken some branches with my shoulders even!), I've reached a maximum point of exhaustion. I literally tried to rest a bit on the ground but the weight of my body and my tools didn't help and I almost fell to the water if it wasn't for me catching the ground with my hands. My head started to twist around, and apparently I do need some glucose in my blood for now! In this journey I was so exhausted to take pictures but at certain point (and before I get so dirty in the mud!) I tried to a simple shot here.

On the rocky beach. It was at this point that I've realized I'm on the wrong side, because the dock is opposite to this piece of land of high scotch fir trees (check 2nd picture from the top).

After all, I made it! With all that exhaustion I did reach Patrick and we had a laugh together! It was a little adventure but surely a refreshing one. The amazing thing here is, in the beginning you feel miserable for getting wet, but when you get extremely exhausted, you would really enjoy the feel of water in your shoes! Later on the boat, the cold air and the splashes of water drops against my body did really help me cool down and enjoy the ride, but this time, I had to go on without taking photos on the way back - and that gave liberty for Patrick to speed up with the boat unlike the slow motion in getting to the island form the Waterfront. What a day.

All of that now came down to some loss. I have to get a new tripod as soon as I reach home because my tripod lost one of its rubbers in one of its legs, and my VR-head lost one of the screws; luckily it was the 3/4" screw designed for larger cameras and not the 1/3" screw which fits my camera. Now, I have to post this and start to arrange my things in order to leave the Waterfront tomorrow. Goodbye for now, and probably this might be my last post in Ireland...



Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Foggy Dew...

And yet another board game played with the weather! It was a real surprise to wake up this morning with mist filling the atmosphere, and I was barely able to see my own hand. It was apparent that my trip to Inchagoil island is to be canceled. However, it was a plan that whenever the fog is dispersed there is still a chance to reach the island. Anyway, instead of waiting, I've decided to head out and shoot in the fog.

In the middle of the marshes.
This time I've headed to the right side of the lake in front of the Waterfront, and technically, this means getting wet. What I like about shooting in foggy environment is the mysterious atmosphere surrounding it. However, in the marshes there are a lot of twisting to the feet, as well as dipping in the mud which would leave you exhausted for a simple 5 meters walk (well, that's a bit more than 15 ft); Needless to say how hard it is to extract things out of your own backpack without really putting the backpack on the ground (to avoid making it wet and muddy). All that increases the strain on the muscles! Follows then, some infrared shots as well.

Infrared shot with Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. Notice the line of the sun, with an exposure of around 13 minutes.

It seems, however, that the infrared gel filter suffered enough scratches and probably the images produced won't be sharp enough. I just might have to make another one with special additives to make it easy to use with this lens. It is interesting that such long exposures done with this filter, like the image above, can produce interesting results with the sun!
In general, I've used my 50mm and my fisheye 8mm lenses the most, but there were some simple shots with Sigma 70-300mm. and, just for a change and experimenting, I've tried my pinhole. Surprisingly, despite being equaled with f/222 (i.e. very narrow aperture), the exposure done in this shot in the fog was just merely 2 seconds long under ISO 100.

The pinhole shot.

What I don't understand here, is the fact that the image is supposed to be sharp, because of the narrow aperture. However, the images done with my pinhole are not sharp or close to being sharp at all! Probably it has to do with the distance between the subject plane and the image plane (i.e. the sensor). In using the pinhole, and in order to frame correctly, I've used first my 50mm lens and framed the image, and then replaced it with the pinhole. However, using the LiveView, I was able to see the scene (even at ISO 100) with the pinhole on. Turned out that the pinhole field of view is a bit wider than that of 50mm (normal) lens.

After this little muddling in the mud, I've ran inside the house and my host told me that the boatman would still be able to pick me if the fog disperses before 3 p.m. local time. However, being exhausted and wet, I've decided to postpone this trip till tomorrow, Monday - which is my last day in here. Ironically, in less than hour after this conversation, the fog did disperse indeed and it is a shiny weather again like it is summer. Yep, Irish weather did it again...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Weather Game...

Nice day here, if not for the pranks the weather was playing on me! Well, no going out for today, but we agreed that tomorrow, Sunday, I will go on a motor boat to Inchagoil, just like 5 years ago. Time is running out and I feel I didn't have enough walk around the Waterfront, and I'm thinking of one or two panoramas around the place still.
However, today I decided to head out and do some shots, specifically infrared shots. Luckily, I've found out that I do have a small IR gel filter cut already and it, with some twisting and twitching, did fit at the back of the Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. Thus, I went on to have my chance a bit. I did many shots but I'm happy with the few IR shots.

The "hideout" in IR.
Rock on the banks of Corrib
The exposures, despite the relatively sunny weather in the beginning, did range between 20 to 30 minutes almost. The thing is, it was a nice weather and sun was shining (and almost barely could see a thing in its direction), but when I started to do one long exposure, the rain suddenly started to hammer! As the exposure almost ended the rain became quiet (but there) and then stopped. I picked my stuff and went inside and had something for lunch and uploaded the pictures. The weather, again, looked fine, so I went out again and did some macro shots this time, but again, it did rain and I had to run inside quickly! Seems to me that the Irish weather is in mood for lottery today!
There was some shots done with 2 teleconverters and my Sigma 70-300mm but they weren't much successful, making me wishing for my mirror lens of 800mm. It would be handsomely useful in these situations! Anyway, the nature around the place seems very encouraging for macro and abstract shots, which is something I need to do soon. I was going to keep Monday for arranging my tools in the suit case but seems I will still keep it for some work to be done in the garden and around the Waterfront. There is one particular spot on the right of the Waterfront which I really want to re-discover. However, I have to get prepared to get extra wet because this piece of land is shallow and wet most of the time (and muddy too). I guess I will have to deal with tiny bit of stress in the coming few days! But it's all in a good way...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fáilte go gConga...

Just like someone waking up from a dream, I can't believe that I'm already on my 10th day in here and only 3 days are left till I move out and head to Dublin.
I'm checking things right now for a possibility to visit Inchagoil island, which might take place on Sunday or Monday. Because of the pressure somewhat here, I've canceled my plans to visit Brigit Gardens. It is a nice place but I do need some time to enjoy the nature around the Waterfront B&B too. I do need time too to put my tools down and arrange them in order to fit it all inside my suitcase before heading to the station.

Today, I've headed to Cong town, in Co. Mayo, to the north of Oughterard (which lies in Co. Galway itself). The town is the location of Ashford castle, which is now a 5-star hotel, and Cong Abbey. Thus, in the beginning we headed to the castle.

On the way to Cong

Things had changed a bit since 2009. Apparently, there is now a gate before the golf course and to cross it there is supposed to be some sort of payment. Anyway, we passed the gate without paying anything. My first target was the main fountain in front of the castle, and there I've placed my stuff to do a panorama. It was a fast rhyming panorama because the sun was shining today. After that I've started to search for that mysterious pathway around the premises which I've went through 5 years ago. I remember this path had a name,  a very specific name containing the word "Lady" - but this year I didn't find this sign; it was all entitled as "The Walled Gardens".

On the top of the entrance of the path.
Now, I think this path is supposedly to go around the "monk's fishing hut" or something like that, but I'm just going to call it "the path". This path also leads or circles the Falconry school in the premises. I have to say I kind of got lost there trying to find my way to the old path I've encountered before 5 years ago. I went back and forth until I've encountered a gateway which I remember clearly that it lead to the gardens and the path, and some of the details there which I didn't catch back then are now into my camera! Once I've found the way, I've encountered a shaded path made of tree branches which was the perfect spot for some shots; and specifically IR shots.

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After taking few shots for this short pathway with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye, I switched to my 15mm fisheye lens (as it is the lens I can use infrared filter with). Unfortunately I didn't have the time to cut a little piece of the infrared filter slide (which I have in my bag) to fit my Rokinon 8mm. Maybe I would do that any time now or maybe I should leave it till I get back home!

Infrared shot for the shaded path.

Now, to take this infrared shot, I was supposed to expose for around 12 minutes. I was somewhat in a hurry and urging to move forward, specially that this spot was in the midway and I was expecting people passing by (the passage is narrow and I was blocking it). Thus, I've decided to shoot it at ISO400 instead of ISO100, which reduced the time from 12 minutes to 3 minutes only. And, they were really long minutes! Another infrared shot was made later in a different position, but at ISO500 to make it even a bit faster. That one took 6 minutes to be done! Those trees surely do provide a good shade.

Going back to the beginning...

On the way I took various shots for the forest and the path in different lenses (mainly the 8mm Rokinon fisheye). In general though, I think they are quite the normal shots like those I've done 5 years ago. In fact, they are even less in number. And here comes the problem which I will talk about briefly later.
After finishing I've just headed to the cab and since I was tired, I asked the driver to just skip the abbey. Thus, no pictures or panoramas from there, despite the magnificent architecture of that abbey. Even when I got into the car, I've left my camera at the backseat and didn't keep it with me to take pictures on the way. I was so tired, not only physically, but also emotionally.

It seems that I'm pressuring myself just to take pictures because everyone was expecting me to take a lot of pictures. This stress, probably, lead to my brain to switch off and I couldn't notice the beauty that I was hoping for like when I was a freshman to this area 5 years ago! I think I've missed the point big time and it is time for me to just enjoy my vacation without thinking about photography - and this is something I'm planning to do soon, just before I leave this place. As for now I've canceled my plans for Brigit Garden, and maybe I will do one night photography in the coming few nights for me here just before I leave…

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kylemore...

Finally it's here. The Kylemore Abbey! I didn't go to this place 5 years ago when I was here so I'm finally there. The road length is probably same as that one to Cong. Well, let's not talk about the expenses.
Before hopping into the car I prepared my gear, and specifically, kept my camera with the old 18-55mm lens around my neck, while the rest of the gear in the backseat. I knew already that I will encounter some nice scenery on this long way - and it was no disappointment.

One of the hills of Connemara taken from the cab.

of course shots taken from the cab aren't as good as stable shots on ground, but I would lose more time if I ask the cab driver to stop now and then. And despite my hate for the old 18-55mm, but it is the perfect lens so far that I have for this mission; shooting on the move. On the way to Kylemore Abbey, we passed through different towns and villages, and one of those was Recess (yeah, it is called "Recess"). This town has a statue of Conn of the Sea (or Conn son of the Sea), namely in Irish that would be Conn na Mara, and hence the region's name is Connemara. I'm not sure what's the legend behind Conn, but I should check it out some time later.

Conn na Mara
raised on 1999.


Now, on location. First I took simple shots for a statue of Jesus, but then headed to the big bite: the abbey. There and in front of the door, I went on working on a complete spherical panorama. Despite the sunny weather, I'm expecting lot of problems with this panorama already because of the moving shadows and the moving people - wish if there is a way to control people just like that! Anyway, we will see to that later on when I reach home hopefully. After finishing the panorama, I did a little "experiment" with my infrared gel filter and 15mm fisheye lens, which yielded and exposure of 9 minutes.

Kylemore Abbey

Unfortunately, I didn't head inside the abbey because of the "population" jam apparently. I wouldn't be able to walk around easily among people and taking photos with a backpack and carrying other stuff with me while the camera is hanging around my neck as well. So, I had to call it off and I shot some details from the outside of the abbey.

Statue decorating the top of the gate of the abbey.

For such details I had to use my Sigma 70-300mm and with a teleconverter at some point. Anyway, I continued my walk on the trail after the abbey and reached a simple decorative waterfall and did some tiny long exposure there (in fact holding the the shutter button with my finger instead of using the remote cable here). I didn't process this image yet but anyway because of the stack of ND filters, it became reddish and some WB fixes needed. I'll keep that for home as well. At the end of the way, another panorama was conducted in front of the Gothic Church, and some shots for some details there as well. The trail was going on further but at this point, I had to return (specially with my bladder getting full!).

Now I'm not sure what's the plan for tomorrow, but after tomorrow is supposedly the day for Cong. It is a long road as well. Probably I'll just have a long walk to the downtown again, to use the ATM machine! Anyway, time to post this and have some rest. My legs still aching after the long walks!



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Achadh na nIúr...

Well, I didn't post anything yesterday mainly because of the "surprising" weather that struck me on my head yesterday. My plan in the beginning was to head to the downtown and buy some stuff, but then seeing how the weather was nice in the morning I thought maybe I should stretch some muscles and head to the castle. However, half way to there, the rain started to hammer. I continued to walk as I was hoping the shower would stop, but it increased further and it came to me that I won't be able to change lenses that way! Thus, I had to head back home with a shower look! Once I reached home, the shower stopped - talk about Irish sense of humor; weather-wise.
Anyway, after coming back home I did order a cab and headed to downtown to get some food. However, I came back and noticing how the day was beautiful AFTER the rain, I decided to head out near the lake and do some shots and wait there till it's dark and do some long exposures. Before the darkness I did a little macro shots with my 50mm and 30mm tube.


I will try to work with those long exposures later when I get back home. Unfortunately, the long exposures done yesterday were not much dynamic because of the slow wind; but the weather has surely gotten colder than before!

Now, as for today, I headed as planned to the Aughnanure castle and not much has changed since then, but this time I'm in with a proper gear for panoramas. Because of the technical issues I'm having here, I won't be able to work on these panoramas of course. In total, there were 3 panoramas done: 2 interior and one exterior. Among those, a panorama was taken from the topmost floor in the tower of Aughnanure castle which, in fact, is the most interesting one for me because of the wooden roof structure. Back in 2009 I did take an awkward partial panorama for this "room" but of course without the tools I do have right now - which made it kind of useless and I don't remember stitching this panorama at all back then. Now, the chance is better. I did even take a shot for the roof (and the small balcony) with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens, but unfortunately I couldn't center it exactly - specially with this showcase in the middle of the room (which is sad really because it corrupts the view completely!).


There was also some work on single shots here and there, exterior and interior, and even some infrared shots. On the way back home there were some extra infrared shots (during which the rain hammered heavy for a while!). But I will keep all that for later. Now, going down from the tower was such a big deal and an exhausting "workout" - and I do think I do have claustrophobia now! Well, if I don't have it already.

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The plan now, as it seems, is left for activities out of Oughterard, which means as well lot of money for the cab drivers (not good with buses). Beside that, I might get the chance to visit the Kylemore Abbey (which seems it is even further away from Cong town to the north of Oughterard, in Co. Mayo). Also, I wanna check with my host for a chance to visit Inchagoil island again - and by the way, the rooms in the Waterfront B&B are named after islands, and my room right now is the IInchagoil room!