My hometown

I just returned from two weeks holiday at home, in Slovakia. I do come home few times a year, but usually for shorter period and busy schedule. This time I had to time pressure, so I brought my camera, see If I manage to get some decent photos. Although summer’s not the best time of year for photography, there was few decent evenings.

My dad found out there are guided tours on Friday evenings of Nitra’s Castle, with access to tower. I thought this would be great spot, as it provide 360 degree view of all town. However, it was a little disappointing due to lot of people visiting this place. The tower’s walk around is very narrow, providing only space for one person. I snatched few shots.

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So we walked down to entrance square, which is usually closed on this time of day. The artificial lightning started to illuminate buildings, just as sun was bellow horizon and night started to darken sky.

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The other day I was walking our little dog, the usual route is head into field behind housing estate. To my surprise and satisfaction, this year it was sunflower field, few weeks just before being harvested.  That set my next evening destination.

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For explanation – the strange object in field is air traffic navigation station.

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It perplexed people for years, as there is no information on fence except some safety warnings. But it’s strange shape gives this place significant feature.

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Also I visited another iconic location – Drážovský kostolík. Dating back to 11th century, it’s perfectly located on edge of disused quarry, also a begining point of Tríbeč mountains ridge with Zobor raising above town of Nitra.

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Nowadays it’s very popular place, as it was centuries before, today probably for different reasons. Even on evening of my visit, there were two other photographers among people just sitting in grass and enjoying pleasant warm summer sunset.

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Achill Island

1st of July, used to be remarkable day, start of summer holiday. At present bears no significance to me, so there I set off. Leaving Dublin on afternoon, heading to County Mayo for few days. It’s sticky sweaty hot, temperature in car shows +24 C. It’s a long journey, after 2 hours i’m only pass Longford, still have to drive thru Roscommon – probably the least interesting part of Ireland. Just single carriageway, nothing on surrounding, no houses, rivers, lakes, just forest and hills. Suddenly phone rings – friend of mine was driving in opposite direction, didn’t see him. After passing road sign Welcome to County Mayo, first it started drizzle and later turned into constant rain. Hope it’s not what to come. From Castlebar it’s still long drive, need some break after non-stop 2.5 hours. Stopping at local petrol station, a couple on brand new BMW 1200GS are waiting for rain to stop. Finally arriving at Westport, realizing I did detour, should follow to Newport. Nevermind, full tank, just traffic thru town is not what I like. After Newport sign direct me to Achill, trick is they are in gaelic first, english is second language. And on Achill Island only gaelic, luckily can’t get lost. Finally in heavy rain arriving at supposedly the most beautiful beach in Ireland – Keem strand. IMG_1113   IMG_1125 IMG_1069     Evening it’s still raining, so I’m awaiting in car, eating tuna can, reading Pete McCarthys’s book. Finally rain has stop, so grab my gear and head forth. Sunset is behind hills on my back, casting shadow on beach, but illuminating clouds with some fantastic effects. IMG_1055_1 IMG_1073   IMG_1059_1   IMG_1094 At car park I’m not alone, there is some 5 other cars with clear intention to stay over night, so I don’t see any problems here. Into the sleeping bag and goodnight. Morning is clear, though it was raining during the night. Sunrise is over the hill on left, tide incoming. Perfect conditions, don’t know where to point camera first, everywhere seems to be perfect location.   IMG_1134   IMG_1061_1 IMG_1083 1 After 1.5 hour on beach is time for breakfast and little nap. I’m awaken by procession of sheeps gathering for some morning ritual on beach. Some of them make really strange noise. Time to pack up and ready for road. With no time pressure I take cruise around the island. Scenery is just pure magic, breathtaking around every corner and bend, light casting shadows and illuminating hills and sea. Stopping at 5 minutes intervals, taking camera out of bag and taking pictures in all directions. Dramatic sea cliffs, distant mountains. Roads are narrow and winding, real challenge for driver, but I’m having great time. IMG_1138 IMG_1150 IMG_1157 IMG_1154 Finally, it’s time to leave this beautiful place, but with clear plans for return in future. Next destination – Ceide Fileds on north coast of Mayo. Crossing vast plains, only edged by mountains at far horizon, lush green meadows, occasionally dotted by farms and few small villages. Taking some detours again, just for fun and discovering some hidden beauty spots along the route. Another 2.5 hours later I arrived at Ceide Fields. IMG_1170 It’s not much to see there, but this place makes you think and wonder simultaneously. The guided tour is the key, as this place has more history to listen than thing to look at, nevertheless it’s landscape settings is wonderful. Downpatrick head on far horizon for instance. And there is I’m heading next. IMG_1181 I do quick walk around, just to see what to expect later in evening. It’s still early fo any decent photographic attempt. As I walk up the hill there are few warning signs saying “Blowhole”. I have no idea what does it mean, and as I walk to first one I’m speechless. One could say it’s just a hole in ground, but this one is size of house and has Atlantic Ocean at bottom. IMG_1211 Further up is cliff edge, with old look out hut and aerial signs from WW2. As I walk back to car, I met this girl I saw at Ceide Fields. We smile at each other and start to chat. It turns out she from local newspaper, driving along the Wild Atlantic Way and interviewing interesting people, see what they have to say about this tourist attraction. We exchange few words, she took a picture of me, I handed her my card and say farewell. Down at car park I met the guy I saw again at Ceide Fields, he is walking around Ireland for charity and awareness. His name is Ron, so if you see him at side of the road, don’t give him lift. Dun Briste is a sea stack some 80 metres from 50 metres high cliffs on coast of Mayo. The cliffs in heights may not match Cliffs of Moher, but for scenery and “easy” access right to the edge they are more that equal. IMG_1215   IMG_1240     Like those two local girls who came just to sit on edge and enjoy beautiful sunset. I asked the if can frame them in photo, just to give it some scale proportion, also it makes it somewhat different. The were very happy when they saw the result at back of my camera and even asked if the can take a picture with mobile phone. So I gave them my card and said I email the final photo. IMG_1248   IMG_1232_1 IMG_1255 Sunset was spectacular, clouds casting all different shades, shadows and colours. Time for sleep, morning is not too long away. Sunrise on this location must be something magical at any time, but when you see this colours on horizon, it’s just one step better. It lasted only few moments as sun is quickly hidden behind clouds, but this give me opportunity to go down to beach to take some low tide photos. IMG_1260 IMG_1272 IMG_1266 After breakfast is time to leave again, but again with note of return. Next stop is Castlebar, Country Life Museum. It’s free admittance, so why not. Exhibition is nice, revealing history of life that was not too in past, but as it’s full of tourist from all over the world, I take a quick tour, have a lunch a hit road for home.

Arrived home tired as a horse. IMG_1182More photos in Gallery section.

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On the beach

Earlier this week I went for short trip to Cahore beach in county Wexford. Only 1.5 hour drive from Dublin is perfect spot for a quick getaway if weather permits. Which did provide in my case.

It’s long sandy beach, stretches along Irish sea for miles, to walk, explore hidden beauty and get head cleaned.

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Being middle of the week it was almost empty, towards evening even deserted. For me this is perfect, as people walking on the beach tend to not look down and often leaving footprints, thus ruining a potentially excellent shot. Also, as tide was incoming all was being washed with water.

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If someone is looking for a lot of foreground interest object this beach will disappoint, but it does deliver when one searching carefully with eyes open. You can find treasure at just down at your feet when looking towards distant horizon.

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As evening descent with sunset behind my back, whole beach was cast into shadow, revealing some delicate features otherwise hidden in strong sun light.

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Morning was even more promising than evening, with more clouds covering sky and beach spotless clean from previous tide.

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This was only a short period, as sun rise from beyond horizon and made its way up, it was soon behind usual Irish clouds. But this short time frames is always worth the effort and reminds me why I’m doing this.

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Not bad trip after all, despite the lack of sleep and typical drizzle on way back home. Will be back, hopefully.

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The Burren

This is one of my other favourite places in Ireland. The Burren in county Clare, on south side of Galway bay. It stretches from borders of counties Galway and Clare, creating coast line and ending at magnificent Cliffs of Moher.

On first look it seems there is only rocks and nothing else. But this is full of hidden beauty, only to be discovered by careful and patient eye.

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The coast line turning south from Galway bay at point called Black Head, with little lighthouse on edge of cliffs.

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On west stretches mighty Atlantic Ocean, it’s waves constantly hammering coast and creating new landscape.

On beautiful day, with sun either rising up or setting down over ocean, weather creates spectacular light.

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I found this spot on edge of cliff. Somebody was obviously playing with those stone slabs, probably inspired by previous visit to Poulnaborne dolmen. The very first thing that came to my mind was movie The Spinal Tap, and they take on Stonehenge. So I called this one The Spinal Tap Dolmen.

Quite few times when setting down on location, seagull or some other flying bird is setting down for a little rest. Unfortunately before I can reposition my tripod they take of and occasion is lost. However, this time I got lucky. This seagull touch down just right in my frame, all I fad to do is move tripod head a little bit to one side, as I had everything already prepared and positioned.

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I managed to take few shots, before seagull finally decided to leave. But she managed to photobombed my shot.

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Nature given, nature taken

On August Bank holiday 2012 I went for trip with my friend to Kerry. Specifically, location of famous shipwreck Sunbeam on Rossbeigh beach, near Killorgin. We rented a small cottage in settlement called Glenbeigh, which was conveniently close to beach.

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This shipwreck is was probably the most famous and photographed one in entire Ireland, thanks to it’s iconic shape and location. It was laying on long beautiful sandy beach, with just beam poking out of sand, with tide regularly washing over, facing west was added bonus for dramatic sunset caption.

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The ship itself beached in year 1903. It lasted until heavy storm in January 2014, when huge Atlantic storm hit Ireland for couple of days. The result was massive damage on infrastructure across country, but worst hit was West coast. Only days after storm passed on the most significant damage was revealed –  Sunbeam was resurfaced from sand and moved some 300 meters away to new location with some further damage to it’s battered remains. The following weeks Facebook was loaded with shots that will never be repeated. Photographic community wept in tears.

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Back to our trip. Prior to it, I did a little Googling, for I did not know what to expect and also I always do some research before I go to new location. The searching resulted in hundreds of photos, all looking very similar to each other, with very little variations in creative approach.

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Due to unpredictable Irish weather we got only two evenings out of four days of decent conditions. First evening was more getting to know, also due to low tide it was lacking any drama and beach was littered with footprints in sand.

However, the next day – and our last evening also everything came together. We were soaked in couple of brief showers, followed by the most spectacular light shows on clouds as sun went down. Tide was slowly coming up, covering shipwreck and then again receding, leaving spotless stretch of sand around.

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I was pretty happy with results when I got home. Little did we know this is the experience not to be repeated. As I said early, Sunbeam shipwreck is gone. It was probably beached in similar storm that caused it’s destruction hundreds years later.

Nature given, nature taken. Circle completed.

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My LIPF success

So far my greatest success and achievement was receiving LIPF. What is that? It stands for Licentiateship of the Irish Photographic Federation. It’s distinction of first level out of three in nomenclature of Irish Photography Federation.

One side of this is the outer side. That other photographer who holds similar or higher distinction judged my pictures and found them adequately good to receive my distinction. Requirements are, that pictures must show photographer’s understandings of skill of composition, knowledge of focusing and exposure and generally to have “photographic” eye – ability to see picture where others see scene only. Pictures are submitted as a panel of 10, where this panel also must be well placed together, all pictures must blend into pleasing composition  – subject, colour scheme and theme. There is no limitation on subject, in fact since LIPF is first level is expected that photographer will show variety of work – landscape, portrait, macro, abstract etc. in one panel. I decided – since I consider meself t be landscape photographer that my panel will be mono thematic.

So I started process of selecting pictures for panel. I had brief idea which pictures will be, should be and might be included in panel. Since I had good run the previous year in my camera club competition (in fact I won novice category) most pictures would be those. And then working other pictures around these.

How I did it? In Photoshop I created new file, then created layer containing only individual pictures. So that’s 10 layers. This way I could see which picture fit and which not, or placing them so they fit together. Some pictures were dismissed and replaced with new ones. Reasons – they were different subject – urban landscape was one of them and it was distracting in way it dragged too much attention. Other were too similar to selected ones, or they colours were again too distracting.

The final version is bellow.

As I said, decision was landscape panel for LIPF, which was bold, brave and quite naive. Since I had not idea how these distinctions are held I took a risk. Would I know what to expect, I probably wouldn’t change anything.

Here I come to other meanings of receiving LIPF. That’s my inner side. Inside job.

The year before was good run for me. Winning novice category in my camera club competition was boost and motivation to improve my photographic skills and vision. I was encouraged by fellow photographers to apply for distinction. Which I did – the last day for entries I send my application along with preview of panel. The next day I planned trip to my favourite spot in Glendalough. Which ended me crashing car. Luckily that was only (but total) damage. Me unhurt, camera intact. But in some way it put me off from photography for good few months. So I wasn’t sure for few days whether I will actually go for distinction. But as things settled down – and since I made application – I did. Good decision. The rest You read already.

After succession I show panel in my camera club and received hearty congratulations from fellow photographers. And few question – since LIPF should be general theme and higher distinctions mono themed, you did LIPF mono themed-what would you choose for next distinction? My answer was – well, since LIPF was landscape, I stick with theme, only I will go further.

 

 

 

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to Eirelandscape.

As You might guess, it’s collection of landscape photography from and around Ireland.

This web is still under construction, so for now some teaser of what to come.

Hope You enjoy it!

Martin Jakubik

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