Broken Clay Pipes

One of my favourite photographs in Henry Morton’s book, In Search of Ireland (pub. 1930), is Fair Day, by Thomas Holmes Mason (see bottom of page). While looking at more of his work in the National Library of Ireland Catalogue I came across a photograph entitled “Salruck Graveyard” (ca. 1890-1903).

Two things struck me about this photograph taken in Connemara: the young lad who’s literally dressed in patched tatters and the clay pipes placed on the grave in the foreground. It turns out that clay pipes were made available to mourners at wakes. Later, in the graveyard, the pipes were typically broken and laid on the departed’s grave.

Further information can be found HERE.

Dressed in such rags, this child must have lived in extreme poverty.

Dressed in such rags, this child must have lived in extreme poverty.

Fair Day, by Thomas Holmes Mason, taken from Morton's book, In Search of Ireland. Click or tap for more detail.

Fair Day, by Thomas Holmes Mason, taken directly from Morton’s book, In Search of Ireland. Click or tap for much more detail.

The Lugnaquilla Indicator

In County Wicklow, Ireland, at the top of Lugnaquilla mountain you’ll find an etched disc that impressively “shows the direction of the principal mountains, etc, visible from the summit…”

Click or tap on the image below for a more detailed view.

This small drawing on the disc captures the essence of what it means to escape into the mountains.

The summit of Lugnaquilla.

Further information on Lugnaquilla can be found HERE.

 

 

Zoomscaping

Using a zoom lens to look over the top of Doan to Slieve Binnian in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland.

Using a zoom lens to look over the top of Doan to Slieve Binnian in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland.

It’s understandable why wide views of big open spaces are so popular. In fact to get us right into the scene all the way from the in-focus foreground detail at our feet to the distant view it’s essential to use a wide-angle lens. But as many landscape amateurs and pros will affirm, taking along a telephoto zoom significantly extends our creative options. Picking out distant details while experimenting with focal lengths can add interest and drama to a shot.

When I first got into landscape photography I found myself switching to longer lengths quite often. Although it adds to the weight I’ve to lug around over rough steep terrain on skinny legs, I always carry a zoom that takes me to 300mm (35mm equivalent). Farther might be even better. Some time after I’d moved over from Canon to Fujifilm (though I still hanker for a 6D) I bought the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

If you plod wearily around online you’ll discover that there are mixed views about this lens. Not that it matters much because let’s face it—there are mixed views on everything, often shot through with mind-numbing hair-splitting opinions. Recently I was on a forum where a Fujinon zoom lens got slated as being literally the worst Fujifilm produces, yet a few posts further down it was praised for its capabilities. So, pinch of salt!

The fact is that in my experience as a somewhat-hard-to-please amateur this stabilised Fujinon is very well constructed and has brought home really good handheld results, typically at ISO 400 or more. More than good enough for me then. And, zoomscaper that I am, I won’t head out into the landscape without it.

Now come on—why would anyone snap a stinking old sheep? It just added something to the composition of this shot of a passing bee. By the way, that’s Doan in the background. This small-scale detail, nominally sharpened, helps illustrate the resolving power of the Fujinon 55- 200mm. Is it good enough for your needs? Fujifilm X-E2, 1/2500, F4.6, 164mm (246mm equivalent), ISO 400.

Now come on—why would anyone snap a stinking old sheep? It just added something to the composition of this shot of a passing bee. By the way, that’s Doan in the background. The small-scale detail, which needs properly sharpened, helps illustrate the resolving power of the Fujinon 55-200mm. Is it good enough for your needs? Fujifilm X-E2, 1/2500, F4.6, 164mm (246mm equivalent), ISO 400.

If you’re new to outdoor photography and you’ve been concentrating on wide-angle shots of open spaces, maybe you could try experimenting with longer focal lengths. Find out how it suits your shooting style. I’ve discovered it really helps if I can include someone in the shot. Unfortunately, I prefer the place to myself and an early low sun. So in the summer months especially that sometimes means shooting a deserted landscape through the lingering mist. You can’t have everything.

To see more of the Mourne Mountains click or tap HERE and HERE.

The shadowy bulk of Slieve Bearnagh not long after dawn.

The shadowy bulk of Slieve Bearnagh not long after dawn.

Slieve Bearnagh. I'm not sure about the processing on this one. But it was worth a go. The original is a little weak and was exposed with the rays of sunlight in mind.

Slieve Bearnagh. I’m not sure about the processing on this one. But it was worth a go. The original is a little weak and was exposed with the rays of sunlight in mind.

Slieve Bearnagh from Slieve Corragh.

Slieve Bearnagh from Slieve Corragh.

Snapped from the top of Cove someone starts his descent from Slievelamagan.

Snapped from the top of Cove someone starts his descent from Slievelamagan.

Hares' Gap from Cove.

Hares’ Gap from Cove.

Although shooting through a broad expanse of air in the mountains can sometimes degrade the quality of an image, software can now help where filters may have struggled with haze and mist in the past.

Although shooting through a broad expanse of air in the mountains can sometimes degrade the quality of an image, software can now help where filters may have struggled in the past with haze and mist.

Walkers make their way past a thin waterfall on the flank of Slieve Binnian.

Walkers make their way past a thin waterfall on the flank of Slieve Binnian.

It’s tough enough walking and climbing in the mountains, but here’s a runner making his way across the top of The Devil’s Coachroad.

Climbers practising on a rockface. I normally shoot RAW+JPEG to hedge my bets. But while adjusting the ISO to 400 for a series of handheld zoom shots I accidentally shifted the Drive Dial to the Multiple Exposures setting. If you have the Fujifilm X-T1 you’ll know how easily this can happen. I got a message in the viewfinder telling me to “Try Again”. So for whatever reason I ended up with a single JPEG of my best shot—not that it mattered. It’s been enhanced and colour corrected.

Mount Errigal in County Donegal.

Mount Errigal in County Donegal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Man of Binnian?

The Old Man of Binnian? Yes, I just made it up. But I've seen worse.

The Old Man of Binnian? Yes, I just made it up. But I’ve seen worse.

We’ve got The Old Man of Hoy and The Old Man of Storr, and so on, and if you believe everything you read on the Internet, when you look at the Mourne Mountains from the north you might see a man lying down who has Slieve Binnian for a face. He has my sympathy—I’m heading that way myself.

Recently I was making my way off Binnian and glanced back—something photographers should be in the habit of doing. Back up the track a big boulder seemed to have a face of sorts. So I christened it, The Old Man of Binnian. It’ll do me. What do you think?

I increased the saturation in the sky to add useful detail for the black and white conversion.

Earlier, after heavy clouds had lifted, and the temperature too, I’d sat down and rested among the heather not far from Binnian Lough.

The sun finally breaks through over Binnian Lough.

The sun finally breaks through over Binnian Lough.

Greencastle, County Down

Walking below the old wooden pier in Greencastle suggested it was held together by seaweed and 100 dead starfish. But it’s stronger than it looks. I know that because a group of sturdy sailor blokes in luminous jackets walked the length of it and sailed off in a wee boat. If it’s good enough for them…

The top image shows the view from beside the pier looking out towards Haulbowline Lighthouse, a B+ listed structure “of special architectural or historic interest”. (County Down has 164 Grade B+ listed buildings, don’t you know.)

The rugged wooden pier in Greencastle, festooned with seaweed and starfish.

The rugged wooden pier in Greencastle, festooned with seaweed and starfish.

Before I fired the shutter I was quickly thinking ahead to how the shot might be processed. The original image was one of 3 that were deliberately underexposed to hold detail in the early morning sky, but in this one I got it wrong and went too far. Worse still, it was the only image were the composition seemed ideal. Each boat was turning about in the current and in this shot everything lined up diagonally across the entire frame, from the distant lighthouse to the white buoy.

To get a reasonable result, everything but the sky was processed in Lightroom to lift the tones and mimic a much better exposure. The processed data was saved as a TIFF and opened in Corel PHOTO-PAINT, a program I first used in 1990. I’ve often used Corel’s Object Transparency Tool to fade a shot to clear in a layer placed exactly over a background image that’s been processed ignoring the sky. (Adobe probably has a similar tool.)

Working in Corel PHOTO-PAINT.

Working in Corel PHOTO-PAINT.

It can occasionally be an advantage having all the image tones to work with rather than bluntly darkening the original with a digital graduated effect. In this case I loaded the identical JPEG version over the processed TIFF, faded it appropriately, worked at a few other details and eventually combined the layer and background together.

There are other ways to do this—and better ways no doubt—using a variety of techniques and programs, but this is what worked for me. Topaz ReMask is certainly worth looking at. Pricey though.

 

 

 

TIP CONTENTS

About and Contact

PHOTOGRAPHIC:

1) From SLRs To A Mirrorless System
2) Capturing Seasonal Light
3) Nothing Worth Doing Is Easy (Photography’s Testing Learning Curve)
4) The Negative Advantage (Shooting Colour Negative Film)
5) Pet Practice (Practising Photography On Your Pets)
6) Under the Christmas Day Moon (Extending DR While Handholding)
7) The Top of Ireland (Shooting The Highest Places In Ireland)
8) Gadgetitis and Photography’s Big Spenders (Don’t Be A Gearhead!)
9) Lose the Dead Shots (Just Keep the Good Photos)
10) Take a Balanced Approach to White Balance
11) RAW and JPEG: What’s Your Preference?
12) Metering Modes
13) Grips for the Fujifilm X-E2 and X-E1
14) Control the Range of Focus (Understanding Depth-of-Field)
15) Winter Apples (Making An Arty Image)
16) Murlough Bay, County Antrim (A Scenic Location To Shoot)
17) Can Composition Be Taught?
18) Something Lasting (A Triptych From A Consumer Camera)
19) A Camera To Paint With (The Camera Obscura)

OTHER:

1) Rethinking Outer Space (Is Space Exploration Worth It?)
2) The Mint Below the Seat (A Personal Collection of Poems)
3) Colour Will Be the New Black (Why Tyres Are Black)
4) Fit, or Fit For Nothing? (Keeping Fit With Free-standing Weights)
5) A Ruined House in County Donegal (Losing Irish Vernacular Houses)
6) In The Mourne Mountains: Trassey to Corragh (Video-making)
7) Silly Island (On Dementia)
8) The Border Terrier (History and Hunting, and Not Stripping Him)
We Could All Do Better:
9) Darrow: The People Person
10) The Golden Rule Pass (Mutual Respect)
11) Bad Behaviour Is Never A Mistake (Guilty As Charged)


IMAGES:

1) Rock
2) Misty Cottage
3) Art In Glass
4) Hare’s Gap
5) Famine Wall (and other images)
6) Inner Glow
7) Pink
8) Dead Wood
9) Slieve Foye
10) Murlough Bay
11) Torr Head
12) Seeing the Moment

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock

I worked at the Fujifilm .RAF original (see below) for an age in Lightroom but couldn’t exactly get the sky detail I needed. Maybe an expert could do better.

Eventually I gave up and switched to the plug-in Topaz B&W Effects which managed to dig out useful detail in the sky without harming the image anywhere else.

Fantastic view from the top!