I love the great outdoors, and, despite living in the sunny South East of Ireland, we still get a lot of rain. So when the weekend comes and the weather is good, its time to get out and do something that involves a bit of adventure.
Mount Leinster is 796m high and lies about 15km west of Bunclody, a small picturesque town in County Wexford. We – wife and two kids – drove for an hour to reach the foot of the mountain, parked the car, and then set out on foot.
Our kids (10, 5) do athletics twice a week, even so, the hike to the top is a long walk with a steep incline so we took our time. The kids were mainly motivated by promises of chocolate and sugar at the summit.
The locals were very friendly.
Hanna takes a self portrait!
Views along the way were spectacular. We were blessed with great visibility and good weather.
Summer is nearly upon us – although here in Ireland it currently feels more like November.
It must be nearly a month ago when I spotted the arrival of the Swallows. They never fail to stop me in my tracks. To watch them flit and speed through the air is pure delight, their distinct chirping chatter heralding the coming of Summer.
Two years ago I attempted to capture some of their energy on film. Its only when one tries to photograph a Swallow with a manual focus film camera that one realises just how incredibly fast they move. I felt slow and clumsy as the little bundles of pure energy danced and darted around me, making me dizzy.
Some of the photos I have been posting here as part of my Ghost Estate (temporary title) series have perhaps been a little too descriptive. What I am trying to achieve with the photos is to convey a sense of place, an atmosphere, and to use the phrase again, something just beneath the surface.
There is a very fine line between descriptive and suggestive (if that is the right word). During a recent tutorial where I was showing a very loose edit of around 80 photos, a fellow student suggested that there are opportunities for two projects in the collection: It all comes down to editing. I could choose a set of photos that are great, and descriptive, and have immediate visual impact. Or, I could choose a set using my intuition, my feelings, and perhaps take a few chances.
I am being reasonably conservative with my shooting – finances are tight – and if I were shooting digital I would probably shoot off at least a hundred frames per location. As it is I’m going through on average a roll (36 exposures) per location, depending on interesting features, lighting, time constraints, etc.
So far I have shot around ten rolls of film for the Ghost Estate photo project; thats around 360 photos. If I get three or four good shots per roll I’m reasonably happy.
That seems like a pretty low success rate, and maybe it is, perhaps I should be aiming higher. The problem with film is that each frame is a risk. Sometimes what you thought would be a great photo (at time of shooting) turns out to be mediocre. And sometimes you take a chance and hope for the best, and you might get lucky. What you see in front of you is not always what the camera sees.
Taking a good photo is relatively easy – with practice. Taking consistently good photos that reflect your true intentions is a totally different ball game. You win some, you lose some.
One, possibly two of the photos below might make the final edit.
Here are a few shots from a recent photo-shoot on a ghost estate in the South East of Ireland. Last week in Athlone, a toddler drowned in a small pool of water on an estate similar to this one. My heart goes out to the grieving family.
Access to sites like this is generally easy, and as you can see in the first photo, some kids have turned the abandoned building supplies into a temporary playground. I have years of experience on building sites, but I was still treading very carefully to avoid getting a rusty nail in my foot.
I have paired these two images together as there are some visual similarities, despite the difference in scale of the subjects. This is where sequencing of images plays a key role in the presentation of a series of photos.
I don’t know if either of these images will make it into the final edit, but its always good to plan ahead as the deadline approaches.
I set out with the aim of photographing the landscape, but also to photograph – if possible – something just beneath the surface.
Raymond Moore put it rather eloquently: “the no-man’s land between the real and the fantasy”