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Beautiful photos of Dublin

The Irish Architecture Foundation and The Irish Times are running a competition through Flickr to promote a great initiative called Open House Dublin.

People who enter are asked to submit photos (a max of one a day) until the competition closes on October 8. It opened on September 20 and my friend Sophie sent me a link to it yesterday and suggested I enter it, so I did, even if I am a bit late to the game.

I have to say I am way, way out of my league! The work in there is incredible, have a look! here for a visual feast!

All the usual Dublin landmarks (photos have to be from Dublin/Dun Laoghaire) you’d expect in an architecture focused photography competition are in there (lots of Beckett Bridges and Custom Houses etc), but there really are some stunning shots, it’s well worth taking a look.

As I entered yesterday, I’m up to two photos now, one that has appeared on this blog recently and one that hasn’t been on it before (though others of the same feature have). I have posted them below. They are the only two photos so far on my brand new Flickr account.

There is a public prize, for the photo that is “favourited” the most on Flickr and then a judge’s prize too.

But, in all sincerity, while I haven’t a prayer, it’s great to have something like this to enter to see what’s being done out there by others, the extremely high standards people are reaching and – most importantly of all – it’s another excuse to try find time in my increasingly busy schedule to get out and about with the camera, something I am struggling with at the moment, due to the demands or work and life.

Thanks Sophie!

Moore Street Dragon

Fountain, People’s Park, Dun Laoghaire

All your photos are of you

It can be fascinating to observe photographers in action.

We all enjoy looking at a great image, but I’m sure you, like me, often find yourself wondering about the means which achieved that visually appealing end.

Seeing a snapper in action can give you a greater insight into the person behind the camera – from how they see the world to how they interact with people – than you might hazard a guess at from just seeing the final image.

I know quite a few photographers and they all have different ways of doing things, but who they are and the images they produce are inextricably linked.

I firmly believe that truly great photography is borne not out of a love of the act of photography itself, but a love of people and the world around us.

Canadian photographer Claire Bouvier is a great example of this and I hope she won’t mind me making her my case study for this post!

I met Claire last weekend through her friend, namesake and fellow Kingstonian, the beautiful Claire Hefferon, whom we both like to take photos of – I just get far more opportunities!

Ms Bouvier is a talented photographer, managing to combine a keen eye with an enthusiastic and effervescent approach.

Her eyes and imagination are very quick to pick up on what is going on around her and she’s also quick on the draw with her camera when she likes what she sees.

Claire is what I’d call a “constant framer”, always creating stills of real life with a photograph in mind.

Making people feel at ease with a camera aimed at them is not easy for most of us, but Claire has that happy knack.

It was great to see this lively shutterbug set off into the crowd at a concert armed with her camera, self-confidence and charm, making friends as she captured impressive images. No mean feat.

The drive to explore and discover, allied with a deep interest in the people and world around her are what seem to fuel Claire’s passion for photography.

The substantial point I’m driving at in this post is that no matter what or whom you aim your camera at, ultimately your photos say just as much about you as anything or anybody that may appear in them.

They are an expression of how you see the world, how you feel and, ultimately, who you are.

(Here’s a couple of unfiltered/unedited shots from the gig. Happy snapping Claire!)

Should I take the leap?

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” – Lewis Hine

I love photography.

Looking at it mostly, but this year I’ve also started taking some photos again following a protracted period of hibernation.

And what rekindled my dormant interest? Well, the iPhone, sort of. I got it in February and it’s the first phone I’ve had that it’s really been worth taking a photo with.

I can’t remember what started it, but I saw something, I took out the phone and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the image (I am, of course, referring to the camera’s capabilities, not my own).

From there on in, I’ve been taking my pocket camera out on a whim. The instant availability appealed to me I guess and as I don’t have what you’d term a “proper” camera I finally had a substitute that I almost always have with me.

So, for example, if you call down to your sister’s and her kids are playing with a bubble machine or on a trampoline you can try capture the joy!

But what really sealed the deal for me was Spain and, in particular, Seville. It is a stunning city and I was compelled to reach for the camera phone countless times. The banner on this blog contains part of one of the many photos I took in Seville.

The colours in Seville (like a lot of things there) are truly amazing and this also really got me going on the Instagram app, which is for sharing photos with others, but also allows you alter them.  The first two photos in this post have been “Instagramed”, the third hasn’t.

Instagram is a phone app that allows you run your photos through a selection of different filters . You can do a lot of things, from emphasizing colours in a variety of ways to going black and white if you like, it all depends on the photo you have to work with really. A lot of people would suggest it’s a Hipster app and I won’t argue with that, but it’s definitely fun!

I generally find some photos cannot be improved with filters (when you get it really right or get lucky), while others can be spruced up quite nicely. This photo of a phone box in Ranelagh/Saoirse Ronan poster is an example of an image I took and then made more striking through Instagram.

As well as occasionally admiring phone boxes, I am also an avid people watcher. We’re a fascinating species really! A lot of the time when you see people who look really interesting or are doing something really interesting, social etiquette/manners/fear will stop you capturing that image, but sometimes you can (safely!) indulge your interest. I love when that happens.

If you’re feeling really brave you can even take photos of people’s underwear…

Best to disregard that last piece of advice!

So I have taken photos in lots of places and of lots of people in recent months and I have really enjoyed it. But there comes a point when if you want to move it on a step you’re just going to have to go and invest in a good camera.

I got thinking about this today when talking to Mick Harpur about a competition I was urging him to enter. Look at photos like this and you’ll see why.  Looking at the Clean Coast website you’ll see the standard of the competition entries from last year. They are fantastic.

Now Mick is one of those people who really knows what makes a great image and has a sharp eye for an opportunity. You can’t really teach someone that I reckon. And just because you have a good camera doesn’t mean you’ll take good photographs.

As good as the iPhone camera is, it’s still a phone camera and I see a lot of images I just can’t capture with it. But I’m not sure if I have the required ability or interest to justify the “proper” camera investment (in terms of time and money).

Will those images I can’t really capture due to the limits of the iPhone really be that much better than the ones I’m getting with it? Will I devote enough time to it to make it worth it? Will I progress enough to make my new camera sing?!

I do think I would really enjoy it. Maybe that should be among my most important criteria when making this decision? If you’ve taken the leap feel free to pass on your advice.

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