Tagged: Ireland

Blissful Ignorance

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“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
— Joseph Campbell

This even applies to my photography.  It is my practice, when using prime lenses, to make a judgment before I go out as to what lens I will use and then stick with it.  I rarely take multiple lenses with me or change lenses in the field.  I let the chosen focal length guide me to the composition and images I make.  For the above image I was using a 20 mm lens on a micro 4/3 camera so the effective focal length was 40 mm.  Maybe it is blissful ignorance in that later when I get the image up on my computer screen I don’t remember, or miss, what might have been out of view.

Scenes of Ireland

I took these pictures with either a 17 or 20 mm micro 4/3 lens which is an effective 34 or 40 mm in 135 size film.  I used Adobe Light Room 4 to convert them to B&W.  I would like to go back with a narrower prime lens (maybe an effective 75 mm lens) and take a series of pictures with the express purpose of displaying them in B&W.

One View but Far-Reaching

Shores of Ireland

“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts.  And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.”      Sivananda

I use the above quote to remind you that is why I have a blog.  At least I can record and share a few pictures and thoughts about life on this earth with the hope that I can make at least one person’s day a little better … as Charlie so often reminds me.

Invasive Species

I took the above picture in Ireland where Rhododendron seemingly grows wild over many portions of the country, but in Ireland it is an invasive species.  It was introduced in the 1700s from its native Asian location.

“Invasive species are non-indigenous species, or “non-native”, plants or animals that adversely affect the habitats and bioregions they invade economically, environmentally, and/or ecologically. “

Hmmm, seems to me that definition also applies to mankind, especially when you think about what we have done …  just a thought, think about it.

We Often Miss a Lot

We often miss a lot as we go through life.  This applies to almost everything we do as well as in our photography.  Often, especially when touring with a group we only look for, and take, what I’ll call “postcard” pictures.  The pictures that everyone seems to take; the same views recorded over and over by almost everyone carrying a camera.   We don’t take the time to look around, including behind us, for the often more interesting views.

We need to think as we compose our views.  It works two ways.  We need to take the time to compose our shots and ensure that we don’t end up with features we didn’t want, like the classic pole appearing to stick out of someone’s head or some other distracting element at the edge of the scene.   Take the time to review the extremities of your picture before you push the shutter.   The same care needs to be taken to ensure that we do include the local color, or those things which help establish what makes the view different from all the other pictures.  Often when touring highly visited tourist sites our biggest concern is trying to get a picture without people in the shot, when including them can enhance the picture.

How well did you look at the above picture?  Did you see the baby in the lower left portion of the frame?  Click on the picture and then click on the 1200 x 1600 size above it and look more closely.  I think that it adds to the overall image by adding a human element to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin Ireland, the largest Church in Ireland.  This building was built in 1200 – 1270 and later fell into disrepair.  Between 1860 and 1900 a full-scale restoration was carried out by the Guinness family, and we still get to admire the architecture today.  How many views have this human element to help offset the cold, dark, but impressive architecture?

All that I have mentioned above also applies to life in general.  Take time, slow down, look around, take it easy, enjoy yourself, and make sure you don’t miss the finer details in life.

Here are a few more pictures from inside the Cathedral.  They were all a challenge to take due to the low light levels.

PS, for those inquiring minds, these pictures were taken with the Olympus E-P1 camera with the Panasonic 14 mm lens at a wide open aperture of f/2.5 and ISOs varying between 400 and 1600.  They were taken as raw files and then developed with Adobe Lightroom.

Where Does this Path Go?

6th century Clonmacnoise Monastery in Ireland

When I look at this picture I have three different thoughts about where this path goes.  The first is about life in general, the second is about the economy, and the third is about my photography.  Since I have readers interested in all three areas and I couldn’t make up my mind about which to write about, I have decided to make this a three-part article.

Life in General

The first thing that this picture reminds me is that all life follows a very short path and the end is always the same.  All life dies in its due time and the only unknown is how soon; but, others will remember us.  It is our responsibility to make sure that we are remembered for making the best contributions that we can to the long-term evolution of humanity in the short time that we are here.

The Economy

This path reminds me that eventually we will probably have to take a step backwards in time to achieve a sustainable, stable system.  If the correct decisions are made in time, we will essentially hold steady in a very low, to no-growth economy and we won’t need to change much; but, I don’t see that happening.  As I noted in previous articles, I don’t think that the necessary minor changes will be made in time and that we will put off making any major corrections to our economic system and way of life until big changes are needed.  The world has no choice but to step back and recover from its’ debts and make the adjustments to continue in a sustainable way.  The only uncertainty is how soon and thus how big of a change.

My Camera Path

Those of you who have followed this website have seen me go from small sensor P&S pocket cameras to small sensor travel zooms, to the Pentax K-7 DSLR, to the micro 4/3 Olympus Pen cameras, the E-P1, E-PL2, and the E-P3 and the Pentax K-5 DSLR, along with a side excursion to the Canon S95.  In this last year or two I have oscillated back and forth between the K-5, the Pen cameras, and the S95 while seeking a one camera solution.  I have been on a path towards finding & choosing a single light-weight, smaller all-purpose camera with adequate image quality that I can carry with me wherever I go.  At the moment, I have paused along the path and settled upon my Olympus E-P3 along with the Panasonic 14 mm and 20 mm lenses, the Olympus 14 – 42 mm zoom, and the Olympus 14 – 150 mm zoom, but I have kept the Canon S95 for use as a small shirt pocket camera and the Pentax K-5 with the 18 – 55 mm zoom for inclement weather and with the 50 – 300 mm zoom for wildlife shooting.

I’m still on a path towards having one camera along with a simplified choice of lenses.  I’m still trying to decide on whether I wish to use zoom lenses on my E-P3 or to just use faster prime lenses such as the 14 mm, the 20 mm, and a 45 mm.  At the moment I’m leaning toward using the 14 – 150 mm, f/4 – 5.6 zoom most of the time along with the 20 mm, f/1.7 prime for when I need low light capability or to keep the camera under my jacket or in a vest pocket and/or for when I wish to be a little more discreet.  Ultimately, the choice will probably be driven by how fast a lens I need.

I have paused on my path to find my one-camera solution until I learn whether I can get along with just the E-P3 and until I see if there is another new camera coming out that will be worth the cost for my single camera; but I’m thinking at the moment that I will settle for a while with just the micro 4/3 system as it seems to be an excellent compromise on flexibility, quality, size, weight, and cost as the best camera for recording my views along my path through life.

Looking Through a 20 mm lens at Ireland in 2011

I have been going back through some of my pictures from our trip to Ireland and thought that I would put a few of them back up in a slightly different form.  All of these were taken with the Olympus E-PL2 micro 4/3s camera and the Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7 lens.  It’s nice to think back about the year, but I had an ulterior motive.  I have been looking back through various pictures taken with different cameras and lenses to evaluate them and have found that my best pictures were taken with the 20 mm lens.

Note that we took our hot Irish coffee at the end of a cold, wet, and windy walk quite seriously.

Prime Lenses Work Well for Light-Weight Travel

Low tide, Ireland:  Olympus E-PL2, 20mm Panasonic lens, converted to B&W using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2

During my last trip, which was to Ireland, I experimented with using prime lenses to keep the weight and volume to a minimum while still hopefully getting good pictures.  From my perspective it was a resounding success.  I only used a zoom a couple of days just for reference.  I have waited for my fellow travelers to review my pictures ( the 12 previous postings) to see how they reacted before I finally wrote this posting.  Since all the comments and e-mails were very favorable, I’m now ready to deem the experiment a complete success.

For the experiment, I was using a micro 4/3 camera, the Olympus E-PL2, along with two fast prime lenses:  the Panasonic 14 mm, f/2.5 and the 20 mm, f/1.7.  My primary choice was the 20 mm, f/1.7.  It was great for shooting inside dark castles and churches and has great resolution which enabled zoom-cropping if necessary. I generally used one lens per outing and did not change lenses in the field.  I labeled each day’s shootings with the lens combination that I used on the cover slide of each video so you can evaluate any differences.

The micro 4/3 camera-prime lens combination is quite light and small, and I never had any problems always carrying it.  Since these lenses and the camera were not weather resistant, I was able to carry the camera on a strap around my neck and keep it under my rain jacket for protection … and whip it out and take pictures quickly when it wasn’t raining or blowing too hard.  It also enabled me to discreetly take many pictures using just one hand.

My only concern was the limited dynamic range of the micro 4/3 camera.  My first reaction when I looked at the pictures was that they were better than from a smaller sensor camera but not as good as many DSLR’s produced; but, this was before I worked on them with LightRoom 3.4.1.  After I started working on “developing” the pictures, and learned how to best “fine-tune” them I was quite pleased.  I did not take jpeg pictures.  I took all the pictures in the RAW format and thus had greater range to develop and adjust the images.  It takes a little longer than allowing the camera to make the decisions for you, but the quality of the final pictures is greater when you have the time to individually “fine-tune” each shot.  This turned out to be a blessing while taking pictures in Ireland under the widely varying lighting and weather conditions.  But, if you prefer to take your pictures as jpeg files it still works quite well under good lighting conditions.  To check this out, take a look at my Tunisia pictures where I took all of them as jpegs using the Olympus E-P1 camera.

From now on I will probably travel with just a micro 4/3 camera with the 14 and 20 mm Panasonic lenses whenever I need to travel light and am touring towns and country sides with lots of cities, churches, markets, castles, etc.  Basically this is whenever I’m traveling internationally with just my carry-on bag, don’t plan on taking any wildlife pictures, and don’t have room for a larger DSLR camera.

National Stud Farm

On 2 June, 2011, we headed back to Dublin, Ireland and stopped in Tully, County Kildare to visit the National Stud Farm of Ireland.  There we toured the Japanese Gardens as well as looked at the horses.

After we arrived at our hotel, the Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa, we had our farewell dinner.  On the morning of 3 June we all parted ways and headed back to the United States.

The following video is the last of my daily video journals of Ireland.   I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed making them.

We had a great time, had a great tour group, and enjoyed our experiences traveling with Odysseys Unlimited on their “Enchanted Ireland Tour” … and hope to travel again with them.

Kilkenny

On the 1st of June 2011, we toured the city of Kilkenny, a medieval city known as Ireland’s cultural capital.    It is known for Ireland’s artisan and handcraft industries and boasts important historic and architectural sites.  We walked from the hotel through the city to the 12 th century Kilkenny Castle.  We toured the castle, but were not allowed to take pictures inside.  We also toured the Dominican Black Abbey and St. Canices Cathedral.