Living in the next village to Cashel, I drive by this wonderful location almost daily and I am always taken back by its beauty . This iconic site here in County Tipperary just has to be seen to be truly appreciated . There are thousands of images online and of course in travel literature. However when seen in reality, it just takes your breath away.. The light in Ireland varies from hour to hour, almost minute to minute. So, each time you see the Rock', it is bathed in light that never repeats. Perhaps the exception is on grey days when cloud cover is flat and non directional.. In my opinion dawn and dusk are the times when this Gem really impresses. As can be seen from the above photo taken a few evenings ago, the Rock of Cashel seems so mythical and magical at the same time. It is lit at night, sometimes in different colours to represent a relevant date or charity perhaps... , the picture says a thousand words. Very little post editing was done with this image as the light was amazing. The last remnants of the day's light lit the skies from the west causing golden skies mixed with the cloud layers. Taken about 20 minutes after sunset . Wondering the history of this place going back to the 5th century site of the Kings of Munster and later coming into shape during the 13th century one can only imagine the scene back then in the mists of time. So I recommend that when you get to visit Ireland and region of Munster in the South, do make a point of coming to Cashel, County Tipperary and the Rock of Cashel.
High resolution prints can be purchased from AJ Photography of this spectacular location easily LINK TO GALLERY.. here... www.andyjayphoto.com/The-Rock-of-Cashel-at-dusk
Having relocated to County Tipperary in the last few months, I have taken to exploring my surroundings of the county and have not had to look far ..
The Cabragh Wetlands Trust was registered in 1993 to preserve a large area of wetland previously occupied by the Thurles Sugar Factory. After its closure the settling pools were filled in. These lagoons used to be an oasis of wildlife, in particular for bird wildlife. So the trust having formed, acquired the land near to the filled in lagoons to make sure that the area would again continue to be a resting place for migratory birds. The centre is run by volunteers who are committed to promoting the Wetlands. School trips are organised for children and adults alike and continues to be a major attraction.
So having heard about this place from a nearby wildlife enthusiast in Cashel I headed up to the location which is only ten minutes away from my home, just south of Holycross.. And what a Gem the place is !!!. The list of wildlife habituating this place is impressive. From birds to flora and insects, it is indeed heaven for a photographer and wildlife enthusiast. Walkers, artists and families come here just to sample the peaceful atmosphere and abundant natural beauty of the place. There are various routes around the facility, designed to allow the visitor to enjoy the experience with information boards and raised footways. I cannot recommend this place enough for both the distant visitor to Ireland and those living closer by. The above photograph was taken in late August just before sunset and on a calm evening with stunning skies. The light at this time of day, shows of the wetlands to its best. I have yet to visit early in the morning, but I would imagine it would be well worth getting up a little early before dawn to see the place waking up to the day.
I enjoyed my latest Studio shoot with Emma ( my daughter ) :-) this week.
Having constantly pestered Emma to let her Dad take some pictures, in a controlled Studio set-up I eventually persuaded her to indulge me and go ahead with the shoot. It took a while for us to get in the zone', however once we arrived there I was able to get some nice shots using different Studio techniques. The image above was shot with one light only and a reflector using the Clamshell method in a typical Beauty Dish' type approach. The Main light was from above straight onto Emma and I positioned myself and Camera just below the light and soft box. The modifier for the light was an Elinchrom Rotalux square soft box . It provides a beautiful soft light onto the subject and when positioned close, ( just out of shot ) the light is very soft and diffused. Of course lighting from above does make for shadows around the lower part of the face and chin.. As in the Clamshell method a reflector provides a second source of light reflecting some of the light from the soft box back upwards and eliminating the shadows around the chin and neck almost entirely. Using the reflector method saves the use of a second light below and is favoured by professional photographers in the Studio. So, this was our favourite shot from the session and is a crop of the Original image and little unusual.. for some might not be their style, but i wanted something different. Post production with the crop i used photoshop to sharpen the eyes and very little else.. Emma has lovely skin and minimum work was required to provide softening to the skin.. Thanks Emma for your patience and look forward to the next session. !
So, back in my favourite county, .....Tipperary, I am just getting aquatinted with my new neighbours. Having spent the last six years or so down in Cork, near to the city centre , ( another wonderful part of Ireland ), I would not often see cows over my garden fence there ! Of course the countryside was so close and within a half a mile from Glanmire you could find the tranquil surroundings of rural Ireland in a Jiffy.. And that was where I would find myself , always looking for the wider open spaces of Cork's beautiful rolling countryside and the further west you went the wonderful rugged landscape of west Cork and the Kerry borders. Those that have followed me on social media could not fail to see my images from those locations which were so abundant in photo opportunities . Having hailed from London, working there for most of my adult life I now understand why the countryside is so important to me. Living in a city of 9 million people can be a little claustrophobic at times. Although I loved the vibrance of London and its many facets of life, I was more than happy to re-locate to this stunning country, which is only an hour away on a short flight and even the drive is not too daunting - until you reach the M25, London's orbital motorway which becomes just a large car park in the rush hour times of a weekday. In fact it is always busy. So back to Tipp' the county that I first resided in, seeing my children grow and develop into the wonderful people that they now are. Spending a lot of time photographing GAA for county newspapers sports pages I feel like I am home again. I learnt my way around Tipperary by the counties numerous GAA pitches located in small villages around the premier county and up to Thurles Stadium on a regular basis . As an Englishman I found myself initially in the alien environment of Hurling and Football shooting for the papers until it became something that I relished and was absorbed into this amazing sport of sports. There can be surely be no other game that requires such skills and fitness as Hurling and GAA football - in the world . To be at Croke Park covering an all Ireland final wearing a press tabard and seeing Tipperary's finest go head to head against an equally suited county team is breathtaking and sometimes I would pinch myself whilst concentrating deeply on the action, looking for that Special image that all photographers seek at a sports event.
So, here I find myself once again - AJ Photography Ireland, in a familiar environment camera locked and loaded and still as passionate about photography as ever as I look through my viewfinder at the world searching for that special moment in time. Wether it be sport, family occasions, or news work the camera has that unique ability to freeze and record that never again moment in time .. This is my passion....
Covering the same areas as previously, AJ Photography has relocated to South County Tipperary. I continue to provide all services as before and look forward to Photography in Tipp' the Premier County !!!
Having covered GAA for some years around Ireland, I was staggered at the quality of the ladies game. I was covering the Lidl sponsored Ladies NFL Division 1 this last weekend between Cork and Mayo. The game was played at the Mallow Sports complex in Mallow County Cork, a top class sporting complex and an ideal location for this match. It was an exciting game to watch and photograph and at the final whistle, Cork had won by a single point, a closely fought game played in all seasons of weather it seemed.. from rain to sunshine.The match referee, Seamus Mulvinhill was fair and firm and allowed the game to flow only handing out one yellow card throughout the whole match. Congratulations to the Cork ladies team for a hard fought win..
So, as I write we are already in 2018 ... To me, the days have flown at an ever increasing rate. Each day seems shorter and each year passes just too quickly. I say this with the benefit of quite a few of them behind me, and certainly, lets say .. more behind me than could be ahead of me. So deduce from there. !!!
One thing though is certain. As I grow older, I appreciate that which is around me more. When I was young, a sunset was just another sunset and the dawn skies and their colours were all too familiar to me as my work often involved getting up at 4.30am some days and I wasn't aware of much until my third cup of tea !! Yes, of course I appreciated these times and hopefully didn't take the passing days and years for granted ( too much ), but they just seem more colourful now and special...Nature in general - the same. My aim this year in photography ( from a personal project point of view ), is to better record these changes in the seasons and attempt to get out of bed in time for a few more Sunrise' shots rather than Sunsets' !! I also wish all readers and fellow photographers well for this 2018 and beyond... happy snapping !!!
Pictured is Ronan Nangle owner of Nangle and Nielsen Tree nurseries in West Cork, photographed for the Irish Examiner after Storm Ophelia passed across the southern and west tip of Ireland, causing devastation in its wake. Ronan was left with around 300 thousand euro's worth of damage to his trees alone Many nurtured from small seedlings and up to twenty years old. He emphasised that here is a human cost as it is his, his workers and families livelyhoods at risk. However Ronan was stoical in his response and is determined with his staff to recover and put the storm behind him moving forward.
Sports photography is not for everyone.
It's a genre of photography that covers all types of sports and is a branch of photojournalism for the professional. Sports photography is not restricted to all others and many of us enjoy photographing our children and friends on the pitches at weekends and to some degree at the sports events we go to. I did too. I guess, when it comes to my photography it is the fact that I was bitten by the bug many years ago and have not managed to shake it off ! Todays technology with the ability to send images from the event itself to picture desks , whether from an iPhone or a professional camera is amazing. The image is uploaded and out there within seconds. Photographers at these big sporting events need accreditation from a publication to shoot at the match well prior to the event. A press card just won't cut it... Arriving early is always an advantage and so obtaining a good spot to work - ( at limited positions around the ground ) is all important.
There is a great, well equipped press/media office at Croke Park for photographers to file their images and many do use this facility. Others- choose to do it live partially from the side of the pitch with a laptop in all weathers with a big brolly to keep dry, (and I take my hat off to them). Press agencies like Press 22, Sportsfile and others have an urgency to file images during the game for their publications.. I choose the comfort of the warm and dry press office , should I be required to send them in for a deadline in rare cases. But holding a large monopod with a large lens and Camera(s), and umbrella whilst trying not to miss the action and uploading images to a Laptop, and sending them in same time, is, and art and skill.. ! A laptop with a good connection is essential and I use this method from various locations ie, GAA sport, soccer and rugby from various locations....
For the budding photographer, who wants to be a sports photographer, a route I would recommend is via their local newspaper. Initially they should send in their best work from attending local games, Sunday leagues and the like. Having a reasonable camera and lens is of course important especially when you reach a professional level, but again a consumer camera is where most people start, with the kit lens although again for shooting in low light and all weathers for publications a professional body' a fast lens is essential.
It's raining today...... grey and not particularly inviting to the landscape photographer .
The light is flat and although I could force myself out the door with Camera and tripod, I just don't have the inclination to.. So time to update the blog and where better to start than a picture.. The image above was taken last summer here in Cork... in the garden on a better day ! Mid summer the garden is alive with interesting subjects and flowers. If I remember it was in the middle of the day and the light was harsh , ( not ideal for landscape photography ). The hover fly in the image is tiny. They are smaller than wasps and very active, so photographing them takes patience and a bit of luck.... well maybe a lot of luck in my case..:-) Focus is the issue with such subjects, as there is little room for error. Using a macro lens, ( which is a specialist lens that allows the lens to get really close and with a 1:1 ratio , thats life size) is the only real way to get this type of shot. The actual image is very large and one can see the detail on the head of the fly. However in this version, it is scaled down for the web and proof marked. So, how was the shot obtained.. ? Camera was a Canon 5DsR, which is a 50mp, full frame sensor which produces ridiculously large image files.. too large in fact, but ideal for this type of work and favoured by the Stock Photo agencies. I used a diffusor panel to camera right and high to shield from the suns harsh rays.. the result is a softer light and well diffused . The next bit is the harder bit.. Basically lying down on the grass beside the flower bed and the plant in question.. The camera is in manual focus mode to prevent the lens from " hunting" around for focus. So, the focal point is locked and focus is achieved by very small movements back and forth in the area of where the hover fly is, or will be. Its a bit like the hobby of Fishing..basically waiting for the prey to come into your area..The camera's shutter is in burst' mode, which is firing several shots per second, depending on the camera's ability to do so. The 5Dsr only has a burst rate of about 5 images per second, which is not really that fast in today's technology.. To be fair the camera is not intended for sports or high speed shooting and is more a studio camera or Landscape camera with the ultra high resolution, allowing images to be blown up to billboard size if needs be. So, at that rate, the hit' rate can be low and it could take some time to get a really sharp, spot on image of the subject.. I believe that I was down in the prone position for about 15 minutes to get this shot, but it can take longer and frequently no success at all ...! But, it is so satisfying when it does work out.. you have an image that looks great in print and is saleable..but mostly the enjoyment of looking at the image first time on the screen in detail is the reward.. I can recommend Macro photography .. it's great fun and addictive so, be careful !!
I had the privilege to meet Kay Curtin when I was assigned by the Irish Independent recently, to photograph her for an upcoming article. .
Kay is an advocate for Melanoma awareness, being a stage 4 patient herself. I photographed her at her home in Burncourt, County Tipperary on a beautiful autumn day, ( one of those days that you feel good to be alive but, sometimes take for granted)
At the age of 32 Kay was to discover that she had a melanoma, a mole that had changed its appearance. The mole was excised and she was told that the melanoma had only a 35pc chance of re-occuring Kay agreed to take part in a clinical trial , also grasping the chance of helping and indeed improving her chances of the condition not re-appearing. Over the next two years Kay received numerous injections with various side effects which she describes as " unpleasant", causing swelling and temperatures. However the trial was stopped suddenly and she was told that the treatment had proved ineffective . Kay though was confident that her condition would not return and continued to have regular checks on her moles which were mapped at Cork University Hospital. She continued to get on with her life being a positive person until ten years later she was diagnosed again with stage four cancer, with no options for surgery . Subsequent findings on the drug trail revealed that if patients on the drug trial relapsed , in some cases their condition progressed faster. This explained the sudden halt to the trials. Kay has continued to be an advocate for patient trials and has been receiving regular treatment as her particular mutation allows some medical intervention. This treatment has, Kay says " kept me alive" and she has been travelling to various countries including the U.S. and Europe attending conferences and speaking about the condition. She is also part of of a programme of educating patients together with UCD and other organisations . She works with doctors, researchers and companies helping them to understand patient needs from treatment to living beyond cancer.
Kay say's " I am doing this because I'd like the time that I have left to have purpose " She does though say that she is " on borrowed time ". Kay is now 46. She is very active on social media and blogs about her condition openly and honestly. She has inspired many others to face cancer with a positive attitude having been educated or informed by such activity understanding treatment options available. It was indeed a privilege to meet Kay .
So, why do we take pictures ? More so now than in any other time in history....?
It's a very wide question, one which been asked many, many times . I could go straight to the present and talk about mobile phones, app's and the like. But, I think we need to look back a long long way and to the beginnings of man's existence on the planet that we call home. Earth. It could be argued that the very first time that early man became aware of his self existence and looked down at his shadow or his footprints in the sand or mud, he was already creating an image... We know that the earliest cave paintings and decorations date back to around 40.000 years ago in the prehistoric ages . We cannot be sure if the early ones were merely decorations or efforts to make pictures ? Were they trying to communicate with others or attempting to tell a story..? It is clear that later on in man's development, but still early days, he would crawl to deep caverns in the hillsides , through narrow crevices to the areas were these paintings have been found. He would have had to illuminate the dark Caverns using fire and torches .. Scientists believe that man discovered fire around 2 Million years ago..! Im no expert on early man. But, it is clear that from the earliest day's in man's development , we had a need to express ourselves outwardly for the present and, for our ancestors to come.
So onwards through time, man has scratched, scrawled and drawn with tools that became more and more elaborate as time went on. Whether the early cave paintings or those of the modern era - the Middle ages through to the Renaissance painters or even street artists like Banksy... It is, a matter of perception and all have a part to play. So where does photography fit in ? I would suggest that it is absolutely the same and an extension of that desire to record and express ourselves as early man did all those years ago. The earliest known photograph was taken around 1826 and developed by a French photographer and pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépre. It was a process called Heliography, or sun drawing. The actual exposure time was unbelievably about 8 hours. 30 years later it had become a product for relative wider use and on and on it went. Today we take for granted having a high quality camera in most of our pockets. The mobile phone. It is truly a wonder of technology . We shoot selfies and landscapes, portraits and send them up to the Internet within seconds.. We truly are in another golden age of photography !!!!! Enjoy your camera ....v
The area around Cobh , County Cork is rich in opportunities for the photographer. You may have realised that this is a favourite haunt of mine, being about twenty minutes from my home and easily accessible . The upper picture was taken about 30 minutes before sunset at East Ferry, Cork. This is one of the places I revisit at varying times of day and the light is always different. I find the vicinity enchanting . In this image the light was fast going down to the left of the picture, with some higher ground just extinguishing the suns light, prematurely. The weeds and grass was for a moment lit by these fading rays of sunshine enhancing their colours, and I had to act quickly to grab this image. Taken with a Canon 5d Mk3 and a 24-105mm lens, exposure about 15/th of a second. Thus a tripod was need and a low angle for the shot to include the foreground vegetation. Minutes after this shot the light disappeared, the ground no longer magically lit by the evening sun....
Second image is of an old gatehouse, in the area of the townland of Waltertown . I do not know the history of this old Gatehouse, but of course relates to an entrance to land and an estate of long ago.. The spot is beautiful and if you look at the picture you can see flowers at the lower window. It is obviously a place treasured by those living nearby. The shot was taken late afternoon and again within minutes the light disappeared behind trees ,. This image is actually a blend of three images. It is as the eye percieves the scene, but the camera and its sensor is unable to record the full range of highlights and shadows in the image..So, taking three images - one just underexposed to retain the cloud detail in the sky, one correctly exposed to shoot the scene and one slightly over exposed to record the shadow details... It is a technique called High Dynamic Range photography , or HDR' as it is referred to by photographers. When the image is combined and special software in Photoshop, the image comes to life as the eye saw is at the time. The human eye is a wonderful thing and has a wide ability to perceive light and shadow.. Who ever made us, was a clever one..... !