Friday, October 1, 2010

Cashel Rock

Wow! What a windy, tiresome day. I don't even know how I'm typing these words now. After having my shower after getting back to my place, I really don't know how I could bear sitting here for hours preparing and organizing my pictures for today.

My day began with the regular routine of cereals breakfast, and having a bit of coffee. Just a bit, not a mug like I used to do back in Kuwait! However, I think all of this coffee was burnt out on my way to the town center heading to the castle itself; The Cashel Rock.
Although the brochures and the website about this place say that it is around 10 minutes walk to the castle, but anyway I guess I spent one hour reaching the place! Anyway, I think the distance to the castle specifically is almost the same as the distance I used to walk to Oughterard town when I was in Co. Galway last year. On my way, I glanced the castle, which actually gave me hope that I'm on the right track, because I didn't take any maps or anything, simply following the owner's directions which I might have heard in a wrong way or something!

Cashel Rock from a distance, before reaching the town center. Taken with my 55-200mm@110mm.

After reaching the town's center, there were so many shops in front of me for many many stuff. The castle then was obvious from above the houses in the horizon, to my right. I kept on walking to the right and trying to find my way how to head to the castle, because from afar I saw some shops that actually block the way! However, I passed by a church. The St. John The Baptist Catholic Church. At the gate I noticed some dog dung, which was really unpleasant view. Anyway, I got inside the yard of the church a bit and noticed some structures and monuments and graves as well. Not being a christian however, made me a bit buffled and I didn't know much of what are these things. However, and while staring at some grave with a celtic cross as its stone, the father came and greeted me and I told him about my intentions of taking some photos and he also invited me for some ceremony at around 10:30 (and the time was maybe 10:00 or a bit before this). However, to me I have red lines I cannot cross and I didn't know if attending religious ceremonies for other religions is allowed for me or not. However, he gracefully allowed me to take pictures around the place and it was indeed a nice architectural view, except for the sun the almost blew out my mind and eye!

 Some structures from the St. John The Baptist church.

I was always in love with such iconic arts and always wanted to see ones. Although I do wish to go inside the church one day and take a full panorama with my heavy tools here with me, but I don't think that would be easy EVEN though I explained my intent to the father. It's just me that I hate to bother other people and specially in such religious places. I don't think it is proper at all.

Anyway, I walked out from the church and roamed the town center a bit looking for some way to get into the path leading to the castle, but no use! The maps provided there for tourists actually buffled me more! Finally, I've glanced the Tourists Information Office, which I discovered when I got in there, it is also a gifts shop. The lady at the desk there explained it all to me, and the path that I thought it was blocked by some barricade, was actually indeed the path to the castle. I thanked the lady and headed there at once, and one the way I've noticed a tiny museum, but unfortunately, it was closed with no specific timing for openings shown! I walked to the end of the road until I arrived finally at the castle.

The last portion of the path to the castle was going up and it was really hard (with my exhaustion already) to climb. I sat down a little and took some pictures with my fisheye lens for the castle facade. I didn't add them yet to the net because simply, I took them for the mere fun. The facade of the castle had some huge posters and I didn't like the view anyway, but I loved the geological strucutres at the base carrying the castle itself.
After some rest, I climbed up, got the ticket and roamed around. So much was there to see and the place was, for my bad luck, clogged with tourists from all around the world; Germans, Russians (or somewhere from Eastern Europe), British or Australians, Germans and probably Scandinavians! It was so hard to take any decent images at any place. I was trying to walk against the stream of people; I go to the places that they leave or to the places that they didn't visit yet!

Some artifacts in the castle's museum.

The low light inside the castle was problematic somehow and even with high ISO like 800, the HDR shooting was hard to be done and sometimes even for an EV of zero, where the image is usually mildly dark. Now this, granted me another visit to the castle, but surely not tomorrow!
In the castle and even before I go there, in the past two days, I was trying to develop some methodical way to shoot on the go, and I came up with some decisions to work as fast as possible, providing that I won't be needing a tripod or a monopod:
  • Once you get the camera out, hang it around the neck and don't get it back again into the case.
  • The space of the camera in the case is used to dump the lenses for change and use.
  • Do not change or drop the lens from the camera after taking the shot, for the next shot you might still need it. Don't waste time changing lenses.
  • If possible, try using the Tv mode as much as possible with good settings to get a good lit image. High ISO might be needed here. Using built-in flash can be useful sometimes too.
I didn't follow these steps exactly like that, but some thoughts that I might follow from time to time myself. I got out from the main building of the castle to the yard where there were some graves and a nice scene of the fields in the horizon. Pictures at this point were even harder to get, because tourists seldom evacuate the place. A heavy photoshopping job is waiting for me...

A Celtic Cross as a gravestone. 
Took it specifically for a friend who likes them!

After getting out of the castle and taking pictures of a celtic cross and the fields, I headed to the chapel which was added later after building the main body of the castle. Now this place was huge with archs like those I found in Cong's abbey, and according to some tourists guide, I heard him say that the design is mainly affected by the Gothic style which was introduced by the Normans. I think Cong's abbey might be of the same century or so.
The chapel main hall was a place for a panorama. It is the first panorama I shoot so far here in Ireland. I mean a complete spherical panorama because there were little panoramas I took here and there. I was afraid a bit because the tourists never leave the place and, such tools might alert some of them thinking it is something fatal or so! Well, what I can say. Being an Arab is not good all the time! Anyway, I did my work amid the movement of the tourists and the hard movement of the VR-head, and to add to my misery, some haze started to fall on me and my VR-head, but gracefully, not the lens or the camera!

 The map of the chapel printed on porcelain pieces and fixed into a table on the ground.
Taken with my 15mm fisheye lens.

As for the panorama, I think there were some shakes but however, the main concern now is about the people who went on crossing all over the place while I shoot. In fact, I'm thinking of turning this point as a style. In other words, the people or the ghosting effect of moving people should not be removed to add some action to a silent panorama. I should say as well it was a HDR panorama.
The wind got stronger by the time I started to shoot this panorama, and my hair was another story here. Should've brought a hair gel instead of a hair mousse! Anyway, at this point I went outside for a final stage shooting at the graveyard of the chapel, where tourists remained in the place as well and the hard wind froze my face off. I took some images of some monuments or should I say, mausoleums. Also in the horizon, I could see the fields and strange ruins that virtually, had no roads leading to them or anything.

The fields from the chapel's graveyard and the ruins appear on the left side of the image 
(click for larger view).

Finishing all of that and planning at the back of my head for another visit to this castle, and hopefully with less tourists, I headed back on my way to the town center to get me some food for the rest of the day. Well, I spent some minutes wandering here and there until I've finally found it. They call it "Food Market" here and I thought it sells only vegetables and fruit, but it is in fact a small market with stuff other than food. On the way back home my stuation even became more miserable when the plastic bag tore off and some stuff fell down! Boy, ain't I glad to get back home now?!!! My feet are still aching, and for this I think I will have a restful day tomorrow maybe taking pictures around this beautiful house.

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