Thematic shoot – Draughts

During the build out of the “Boat House Studio” as it’s no dubbed, I discovered Garett is not only a Plasterer by trade but has also represented Ireland in the Mind Olympics as a master Draughts player.  So when he mentioned he was planning to attempt a world record for winning 500 simultaneous games of Draughts in September, we fell on the idea of some promotional images to drum up volunteers and sponsorship.  Garett mentioned a reference movie from way back – the Steve MacQueen and Faye Dunaway version of the Thomas Crown Affair, and a particular Chess scene which I was not familiar with.   My mind started wandering to all sorts of elaborate location shoots and setups…

Watch me

In the end practical time constraints took over, but we were still committed to making some version of the idea.  So with my next shoot booked with the fantastic model Shasta Wonder we arranged the scaled down shoot in the studio last week.

Here are some of the images from that shoot… Best of luck Garett in your Record attempt!

You wont beat me Under Pressure The Garett Owens Affair Dual

 

1st Circular Exhibition of Photography – “ACRUVIUM CIRCUIT 2016”

I was delighted today to receive the results of the Acruvium Circuit 2016: 29 acceptances in total, including 2 awards.

I received a Salon Silver Medal for “Raphaella on Point”

Raphaella on point

I also received an honorable mention for “Anne”

Anne

 

My EFIAP acceptances continue to grow, and I am now about half way there in terms of Salons completed in various countries.  I have over 50 works accepted at this point.  I still have to work on print images and remaining number of Salons and Countries before the February 2017 deadline.  I better get a move on…

 

Outside the comfort zone…

For me it’s simple, if you’re not working outside your comfort zone, you’re not learning!

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OLYMPUS OM-D MK5 II, 45mm F1.8

Last week, I learned a lot.  I finally got my 45mm lens for my Olympus OM-D MK5 II, so I wanted to try some portraits to see if both new camera and lens lived up to expectations.  My initial test model was my willing son Christopher above, in our home with natural light.

Next was to try the new kit in studio with my first shoot with model Artemus Fauna last weekend.  In a previous blog I mentioned I was still finding my way around the features of this new camera which is a huge departure from my Nikon D700 in terms of ergonomics and more crucially, feature access and settings.  Testing light, I immediately noticed in Manual mode I was not able to set my focal length as I had previously… I was in some weird mode, stuck.  What to do?  Spend time fumbling around with new kit while the clock was ticking on my 4 hour shoot…

I abandoned the Olympus and continued the whole shoot with my D700.  Lesson learned.. know your kit inside out BEFORE a shoot.

The day was warm with broken sunshine, so even though I was all setup in my recently finished studio, after 2 hours in studio I decided the sea shore and cliffs were calling to push me further out of my comfort zone.

We picked out a green dress, gold scarf materials and off to the nearby cliffs.  I had taken shots earlier in the day in case I needed to composite the final image of background and model.  As it turned out the light was great, Artemus Fauna scrambled merrily over the rocks and took up position.  My able assistant Liz, held the scarf ready to throw in the light wind. Click..

Sea Bride

Actually, Click, click, click, click. I had to use 4 shots of the scarf to complete the throw.  It was only later after processing I noticed the wing like shape of the final scarf in the image:-)

For a long time I was convinced an image like this was only possible with portable lights to get the light right, and maybe it would have been better.  In the end I really like the final image, and the fact that it was so straight forward to achieve once all the elements were in place, costume, model, assistant, scouted location, weather…

So now I feel I have the best of both worlds, a studio and nearby location depending on weather.

Looking forward to my next shoot!

 

 

Being there!

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Bridia Pass, The Kerry Way

This weekend I joined a Trail running group Mud Sweat and Runners (MSR) planning a run around the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks in Kerry.  My motivation was of course landscape photography and expanding my horizons.  The trip was organised and lead by Jay JuJu Handyside and ended up being a band of 13 runners of various levels of experience.

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The end of 26k for some, 32k for others.

I’ve struggled for a long time with the desire to capture the beautiful landscape of Ireland and the sheer effort involved in doing so.  I’ve tried walking, cycling, 4×4 vehicles, camping.  All these are enjoyable pursuits, but not ideal for getting to where I want to get to or allowing me to carry what I needed to carry, or even getting me there in a time frame I was comfortable with.

So this year I tried combining two things.  I’ve left my DSLR at home, Tripod and all heavy lenses.  Instead I’ve invested in a lighter mirrorless 16MB Olympus OM-D E-M5II.  After trying it out in California for a few days, I took the plunge in June and have only used my DSLR once since then.

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I’ve not mastered all the features of this machine, but so far I’m totally impressed with its image quality, capabilities, and of course light weight.  The fact that  high quality lenses are also a fraction of the cost of DSLR glass and at least half the weight, means the prospect of running around a mountain with little previous experience was almost thinkable!  Ergonomics and feature access are taking me more time to adjust to, but I knew this was going to be the case.  I could not let that be a barrier for my switch given what I was trying to achieve.  I now feel I have a high quality system, light weight, go anywhere solution to expand my photographic horizons.

The second thing I’ve added of course is running!  I have hated the notion of running all my adult life.  I much preferred cycling and swimming and told my self running had to be bad for your health – joint and other injuries, etc.  With a desk job and a dodgy back I knew I had to do something to improve my general fitness and health for the long term.  So last November, coerced by a “friend”, I tried to do a local organised 5k park run.  It was also suggested to me, a daily run would reduce my jet lag on long haul flights.  This was a real motivator for me since my long haul trips had increased a lot of late.

So for weeks I used the 0 to 5k Apps and go out for some warm up runs.  I could barely run 100m before gasping for air and walking.  It took me months to figure out I was running too fast, aerobically unfit, and lacking all technique to make a go of it.  It was only after taking a trip to the US and used the hotel gym treadmills that I finally started slowing down and running at a pace my lungs could keep up with.  It was the frequency of runs however that really made me realise less is more, as long as it’s very often.  So instead of running once a week (on a good week), I increased that to 3 or 4 runs a week.  The result was by April I finally ran my first 5k non stop in under 32 minutes.  Not a time to win any medals with, but for me it was a great achievement.

So obviously the next thing to do was run up a mountain… Yet another arm twist and I joined an introduction to trail running in Wicklow on week 4 of an 8 week intro.  Highly recommended with excellent technical training by the aforementioned Jay.  Somehow four weeks later I found myself on the side of a wooded road with a bunch of seasoned runners waving goodbye to Phillip our bus driver who would meet us 25k up the road, with no possibility of early pickup given the bus restrictions in the Gap of Dunloe. Great!  When given no choice and knowing you left most of your food (and beer) on the bus, it’s amazing what the body will do:-)

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Old Kenmare Road, The Kerry Way

I still have about 500 images to process but from what I’ve seen so far I think I’ve achieved my goal of being able to get where I want to go, camera in hand to get the pictures I want.  I think I will still need much more Trail running experience, and probably night running experience, given I really want to see the landscape at dawn and dusk if possible.  That’s another days work…

Success for Ireland in FIAP 33rd Biennial

Hands Laid Bare

Hands Laid Bare

Last April I got a message from Bill Power asking for a high res version of one of my images for submission in the FIAP 33rd Biennial – Monochrome as part of the IPF Irish panel entry.  I was delighted and honoured to be asked to represent the country, only problem, I was in California at the time.  So with a crash course in Lightroom export my wife Liz kindly obliged and supplied the image “Hands Laid Bare” to Bill on my behalf. Thanks Liz!

Well as it turned out Ireland’s panel was well received, achieving 2nd place overall out of 48 countries which entered – See IPF article here.

My image received a Special Mention award and Morgan O’Neill received a FIAP Silver Medal.

Thanks Bill and team for considering my work, and congratulations Morgan and everyone else in this great panel.

 

Acceptance in 154th Edinburgh International Exhibition of Photography 2016

In order to achieve my next FIAP distinction – the EFIAP, I’ve started entering Print Salons internationally to achieve the required 25 print acceptances criteria for EFIAP.  My first attempt was the prestigious Edinburgh Exhibition which receives over 3000 entries each year and only exhibits 202 prints.  This year my work “Raphaella on Point” was accepted in the colour section.

Raphaella on point

Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II Review

Standford_1

Last April I borrowed a friends Olympus EM5 MII to see if mirror-less held any sway with me for my future photography needs.  I took the camera to Stanford University grounds for a days trial.  This report is not a detailed technical review of this kit, more my experience as a 10 year DSLR only user dipping a toe into mirrorless.  If you want more technical details for this machine try here.

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My biggest fear was the user interface and usability of this smaller (non-Nikon) camera was going to be too high a learning curve and would take all the fun out of things.  On paper the spec compares well to my own Nikon D700 and the extra pixels in the 16MP sensor was the direction I’m heading anyway.

Since I’m traveling so much more with work, and pleasure these days, it is always a chore to lug a relatively heavy body and lens around with me, especially since on a weeks travel I’m in the habit of only carrying cabin luggage!  This kit below all weighed about half my usual kit for travel.

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That’s an iPhone 5s above, this bag was also great to carry the kit as well as water and snacks for the day with room to spare.

Usability:

OK, lots of nobs and buttons and menus… overload.  Switch to Manual.  Problem solved.  Just work as normal, used viewfinder info for F Stops and Exposure readings… take pictures!  It’s in auto-ISO, I can deal with that later.

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So like many Irish people, a lot of our travel involves finding the sun, so I guess if I’m going to buy a travel camera it better handle dynamic range well.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and handling of high contrast images above.  If the dark areas were too dark, pulling them back in Lightroom was not a problem and noise was not noticeable.

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I didn’t get much time to try other types of shots, portraits, seascapes etc.  The main objective of this test was usability and travel shots.  I’ll keep you posted on what this camera has done to my photographic progress shortly…

 

 

The road to gold…

Tulip StudyIt’s been a while since I won a medal in Celbridge Camera Club league competition.  In fact it’s been seven years!  My last success in the league competitions was as novice when I won Novice Photographer of the Year, 2009.  Since then I’ve had some montly placings, but not enough consistency in my work to be placed overall in the medals for the year.

Well, this year that has changed:-)  I was delighted on Friday night to receive medals in all three sections, silver in both Mono and Colour, and joint Gold with Gerry Kerr for Projected Image.  Congratulations to Gerry and all the winners, and thanks to Christine Taylor for organising the league competition throughout the year.  Thanks to Lilian Webb for sharing the prize giving images.

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I’ve made a gallery of the images I submitted throughout the year: Celbridge League entries 2015/16.

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These medals are hard won.  When I think of everything else I’ve done in the intervening seven years, a Masters in Image Processing and Analysis, AIPF distinction, AFIAP distinction.  The work towards distinctions definitely focused my work and improved my output.

So now as I catch up on Salon entries to try make EFIAP next year, I wonder will I have what it takes to achieve the coveted Advanced POTY 2017… always a next goal:-)