Raven Point

All of the pictures in this post were taken this year by iPhone, and many are included and can be yours as framed images (for a discounted consideration) from my Instagram Collection  – a selection of photos and images optimised for mobile devices and small prints

 

Raven Point, Curracloe, Co Wexford is Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and an absolute gem of a place to visit at any time of year.

 

Background information:

From Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service

The general area forms the southern end of Curracloe beach, one of Ireland’s longest beaches, unspoiled and not developed apart from a few smallish caravan parks and chalets. It’s a twenty minute drive from Wexford Town.

Raven point itself is one of the best places I know to leave it all behind and get ‘grounded’, to use an electrical term  – meaning to send electricity to earth and render a circuit into a state of discharge. That’s a contradiction in terms as everyone I know comes home from here recharged!

To walk or run the full loop is approximately 9 Km, and there are countless paths ‘off trail’.  Details here. There are many shorter walks too.

 

 

Dawn and dusk are very special times to visit, with spectacular sun and moon rises to be seen, and wildlife and flora is abundant and generally undisturbed. Frequently the seals cast curious looks at us humans as we pass by. As usual in Ireland, you can see all four seasons more or less every day. Spectacular skies are frequent and Winter is just as good, or even better than summer.

 

Raven Woods are State forests and are an essential part of the coastal defences along the peninsula behind which is the famous Wexford North Slob, an area of reclaimed land, well below sea level. There has been some fairly heavy erosion these past few winters, which is a worry. Very high tides can now leave part of the beach inaccessible for a time.

 

Strolling in the woodland is best in the early or late part of the day, when the light comes in nicely.

We usually walk through the woods and cross to the beach by one of the many pathways. The experience of walking out of the woods or dunes onto the beach is magical and can be breath-taking.

Swimming is safe at the beach but not at the point itself, where there can be strong currents. There are no lifeguards in this area. Use your common sense and heed the notices. The beach is often deserted, usually outside of peak hours, at dawn or dusk, or on working days, when nude swimming  is sometimes discreetly practiced (although technically illegal). Despite some reports to the contrary, it isn’t a naturist beach, nor should it be.

Camping is outlawed, but sometimes happens anyway. Only a total idiot would light a fire anywhere in or near these woods. Horse riding on the beach looks and must surely feel spectacular. Yoga at the waters edge, right at the point on a fine summers morning is great. A great place for dog walking as well, but we take care to keep the dog under control, and of course to clean up any little accidents.

Family portrait with dog:

Erosion – these were uncovered last winter:

Although the place is a photographers paradise, and this short essay only captures a tiny taste of it, the real joy of the place is its unspoiled and natural beauty.

Rain over Rosslare:

On a few rare occasions this year, an occasional drone or dune buggy has shattered the peace and quiet, but nevertheless, it remains one of the gems of Co. Wexford and Ireland.

 

Enjoy.

Ger.

 

P.S.  Here’s how the photos look framed from my Instagram Collection.

Sand Sea and Sky

 

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Making a Living

Kelly Cafe_57G9633

My three main areas of interest are photography (since around 2001) and music (since forever). Then there’s cooking, which is a hobby.

Photography and Music make up my income stream.

This week I heard the old joke about “Whats the difference between a 12″ Pizza and a Photographer” (or a Musician), and it got me thinking – hence the post.

Answer – the difference is that a 12″ pizza can feed a family of four!!

Asking a professional musician to come to your house and then expecting them to play or sing socially is the same as asking a plumber to dinner, and afterwards hoping he’ll have a look at that dripping tap. (In my case, being a church organist is a distinct advantage – my repertoire isn’t exactly the stuff of after dinner soirées!)

If he’s a buddy he’ll probably get you out of a hole, but how many times would he keep doing it? and how often would you keep doing it before you started to feel guilty?

And as for wanting photos for nothing – don’t even get me started.

So how do you politely get out of this without offending or embarrasing your friends, or indeed prospective (or current) customers. I’d say you don’t, unless you are very polite and very charming about how you answer.

I do free work for two charities that are close to my heart, and thats it. Anyone else asks me, I tell them ‘sorry, I gave already’ –  and that as my bank manager requires me to bring in at least a small amount of money every week, I can’t really oblige! In fairness, most people offer to pay, so the trick is to graciously thank them when they offer to pay you, to make a fair deal, and then to take the payment.

Commercial clients are a bit different. Just make a deal before you start shooting and STICK TO IT! And include payment terms.

We self employed have the best and the worse of both worlds – only we can decide which side of that fence we sit on!!

Instagram for personal expression

New Image.jpg

We photographers undertake personal work as a means of self expression, to satify our need to take pictures, and to give our viewers a personal sense of what we like, as opposed to commissioned work, where we take pictures to fulfil  our clients particular requirements. Admittedly we are often hired because our personal style is attractive to our clients, but that isn’t the same as the total freedom of personal work.

In 2011 Annie Leibowitz suggested that the iPhone was the new snapshot camera. Since then it has continued to evolve, to the point where many  professional photographers are using one as a business tool. Read this article. Compared to carrying a camera around, the iPhone is always with me, sometimes in flight mode if I’m ‘off duty’. I may or may not be deliberately looking for something to photograph. With Instagram (or without!), photographers of every skill level can make work that pleases them, and of course, if the picture are good, they please others as well.

My personal style is evolving to fit the various possibilities of the iPhone and apps. I automatically set the iPhone to square format when taking photos. I’m at the point where I’m ‘seeing’ the finished image in my mind when pressing the ‘shutter’ button, and most of the time, I’m expecting to apply filters, rather than delivering ‘straight’ photos. As I said in a previous post, my carry everywhere Sony camera is virtually obsolete, even if I did use it for the picture in this post! And although I keep saying that I will, I haven’t put a roll of film in my most favourite camera of all, my Leica M6 for almost a year. That’s a as much because of my current workload as anything else though.

Most traditional photographers had or have a film/developer/paper combination which gave them their particular style. Latterly, this translates to the way images are processed and put on line. Many of the great photographers have a personal style which earns their livelihood, a satisfying, but I’d imagine a difficult area for most of us mere mortals to make a living! Contrast Martin Parr with Steve McCurry – each distinctive, and consistent.

With Instagram, many of the best collections display a personal style and vision which shows the personality of the photographer.  Using the built in Instagram filters, but also other image processing software in-phone, such as Fotor and Prisma, (but carefully), photographers can develop a personal style of presenting the world that they see around them. Like playing a musical instrument, practice makes perfect, and like playing the pipe organ, remember, you don’t have to pull all of the stops out all of the time! Mix them around for the desired effect.

 

 

 

 

Irish Stew with a twist.

GL Stew © Ger LawlorToday’s experiment – I try different variations every time I make stew!

  • 1 large onion – sliced
  • 1 head Celery – sliced
  • 4 large carrots- chopped roughly
  • 1.5 lbs stewing beef in chunks
  • 2.5 tablespoons (or so) of flour
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • A good glug of Worcester sauce
  • 1 bayleaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • A handful of mixed herbs, preferably herbes de Provence, or if using ordinary mixed herbs add some extra rosemary. Don’t be mean with them.
  • 1 level tablespoon of cocoa powder – honestly – trust me!
  • Olive oil
  • Hot water
  • 500 ml can of Guinness (optional)

Prep time = 15 minutes.

Cooking time = 2-3 hours

Serves less than 4 as you’ll want second helpings, or 4-6 if you have starters/dessert.

Heat the oven to 150-160 degrees celcius

Take a large cast iron casserole and soften the onions gently, on a low heat in some oil. Set aside. Redden the pan, add some more oil and brown the meat all over, in about three lots. Set aside. Deglaze the pan with some more oil, stirring in the carrots and celery. Turn down the heat. Add the meat and onions back in. Sprinkle the flour and the cocoa powder into the pan until the juices are soaked up – don’t overdo it on the flour, it will thicken. Be careful it isn’t too thin either. The mix should be dry’ish at this point.  Add the hot water (and if you like the Guinness) just until everything is covered – allow for some evaporation in the oven. Add the herbs, bay leaf, Worscester sauce and the Oxo cube. Season with salt and pepper – don’t stint on the pepper. Give it a stir. Put on the lid, pop it in the oven for two hours or a bit longer, until the meat is really tender and the onions and celery have begun to disappear. Check and adjust seasoning as necessary

Serve in soup plates with some nice onion mash – buttery mashed potatoes with half of a small onion chopped finely and mixed through, add a little cream as well if you have it. Put some chopped fresh parsley on top if you want to impress even further.

P.S.

To make it into a posh Boef Bourgignon, double everything except the celery, leave out the water, Guinness, oxo cubes, Worcester sauce and Cocoa, and cover it with a bottle or two of nice burgundy wine instead. Add some chopped mushrooms and some lardons of fried streaky bacon half an hour before the end. Serve it with rice this way.

P.P.S. A blatent advert: I photograph food for clients. www.gerlawlor.com

(and I cook for friends)

 

 

A horse of a different colour

  • Saturdays blog post reached almost two thousand people!

Today we’re back to photography – specifically the most eccentric digital camera I’ve ever used.

The Sigma Merrill series of cameras see the world differently than any other camera. They are tiny marvels. Their unique sensors read all of the colours simutaneously, as opposed to filtering out red, blue and green side by side (like the TV screen in reverse). The result is a very different ‘look’ and a sharpness that is far beyond their native resolution. Each of these little wonders has a high grade lens designed to exactly match the sensor. The camera’s output can under certain circumstances match that of medium format equipment costing tens of thousands of euros. I have photographed artwork for a client using it and the colours are just stunning.

And there’s the rub. The cameras are impossibly slow to use. Even when pre-focussed, when you press the shutter it might fire immediately, or it might wait for up to a second – its completely random as far as I can make out. The sensor design means that it can’t be used in anything less than fairly bright daylight without a tripod. The battery lasts about as long as a packet of jelly beans in a creche. That’s all just about forgivable, but what isn’t is that it can take up to five seconds before I can check the image on the cameras screen, and as the files are unlike any others, they can only be processed by Sigma’s bespoke software, which, despite its ability to produce absolutely beautiful files, is one of the most diabolical pieces of code ever written, with a user (un)friendliness from hell.

What kills it completely is the realisation that if the processing power and beautiful user interface of my normal imaging software, the worlds best digital image processing engine:  Capture One Pro could be used on these files, then these little cameras would give a fantastic financial return for a very small investment. And without the back-breaking-ton-of-gear a photographer often has to lug about on jobs. As it is, they are magnificent curiosities: just about useful for landscapes, still lifes, and the odd portrait, with a very patient sitter. Its like seeing a pearl, always just beyond reach…..

I want to sell it, but I can’t bring myself to.

Not, at least until I get a much better main camera system. But instead of a saddling up our horse of a different colour, we’ll postpone dipping into that particular kettle of fish for another day!

If you are up for it, I’ll make you a portrait using this camera – www.gerlawlor.com for contact details etc.

G

All photos are for sale.

In lovely frames too…..

 

Roll on Spring

It’s been a particularly nasty winter for outdoor commercial photography. Wet wet wet doesnt even start to describe it. Grey skies, wind and of course water everywhere doesn’t make for ease of work. As the wettest winter on record, that means the number of opportunities to complete commissions were fairly limited. And then there are the election posters. Hopefully no more of them for a while, but actually, I wouldn’t be betting on that one!

Bruce Shaw St Pats Drumcondra
St Pat’s Drumcondra on a rare fine January evening and minus the election posters