My Favourite Things

So this #GuruShots challenge is all about my favourite things – the images I submitted are as follows:

  • Mornington Dunes – great area near where I live where I can talk the dogs walking.
  • Poppy Field – the poppies around the Co Meath coast have been unbelievable this year.
  • Trip – no reason required.
  • Coffee – see above.

I’ve another 7 days to go and have reach the Skilled level with a grand total of 274 votes. Let’s see what happens in a week! :-)

#Poppies #MyFavouriteThings #Coffee #Meath

[June 2018]

 

 

 

 

My Neighbourhood

This is a photograph I took one morning at 6:00 am of the River Boyne and I love the light. I submitted this image to the #GuruShots challenge entitled ‘My Neighbourhood’. I’ve 2 days left to go – this is a speed challenge and have reached the Skilled level with 2 days to go.

On the Riverbank

As ever, an update when the challenge ends.

#Mornington #RiverBoyne #GuruShots #SpeedChallenge

[June 2018]

Colourful Flowers

I don’t have many images of flowers but I took a couple recently of poppies growing wild and are absolutely stunning flowers.

There are four days left in this #GuruShots Challenge and I’ve reached the Premier level with 402 votes (still got another 198 to move up the ranking). These are the images – albeit badly cropped versions – that have been uploaded:

At the top is a passion flower which I planted about 7 years ago – it obviously loves the Irish weather as some years, there are over 30 flowers and it looks glorious.

Working from the left on the bottom row, the first image is a field full of poppies I drove past for nearly a week before I remember to bring my camera and take a snap. I took this with my long lens and the original is a much stronger image with the tiny red flowers in focus but the foreground and background blurred – depth of field (I’m learning slowly but surely!). The middle image shows a pair of massive poppy heads – they were about 20 cm across each – and growing against a stone wall on the track to the beach. I’m fortunate I took the photograph when I did as the next night I was walking the dogs on the beach, I noted that someone had taken these beautiful flowers home with them. The image on the right is my least favourite of the bunch and one I simply uploaded to make up the fourth image. It’s of a road in Madrid (not far from Plaza España – literally stopped walking, snapped without much thought and continued. Still, it may not be a great photograph (I know it’s not) but it brings back a good memory.

As ever and update once the challenge ends – I very much doubt I’ll have swaps for this one.

#Poppies #PassionFlowers

Update: I made a switch for a another poppy photo which I also “boosted” taking me to an Elite level – still ongoing at this time but once the challenge is finished, I’ll include the image and the final level.

Additional Update: The challenge recently ended and I didn’t make it past the Elite ranking but I’m still happy with that. The image I swapped and which I boosted is shown below:

Poppy Field

#Poppies #PassionFlowers

[June 2018}

Social Exposure

This #GuruShots Challenge has less than 24 hours to go. According to the blurb, “This Challenge is all about getting some recognition and exposure on GuruShots Instagram and Facebook page! The winners of this challenge will get a special shout out and will be prominantly featured on GuruShots’ socail (sic) accounts.”

I’d had some great feedback (as you do) from my Facebook friends about some recent photographs I took so decided to upload one of these to start with. This is a speed challenge and as such you can only upload one image for voting at a time. This is the image I uploaded:

Gormanston Reflections

It’s not the best ever seascape but I’m actually quite proud of it as I think it’s a fairly decent first (OK, second) attempt. It received 240 votes in total and seemed to stagnant so I decided to try something a little different. This is it:

BVI

The resolution on this image isn’t great – however, this is a screen shot NOT the original (which is better – honestly). It was taken when I was working overseas and needed to go to the Tortola office in BVI (it’s actually the view from the company apartment – sounds like it would be very luxurious but it was anything but). This second image was taken on my ancient Fuji FinePix F480 – a great little snapper and is currently standing at 308 votes.

I’ve achieved a Premier level which is where I suspect I’ll be when the challenge ends. Good stuff – I’m happy with my progress all round and very happy that I seem to be averaging a higher rank in these challenges – although I do know they are not judged in the same way as “proper” photographic competitions. At the end of the day, it’s great encouragement to get up, out and snap. As ever, an update to confirm the end result.

Currently there is a glorious image of flamingos (it’s all pinks and light – it’s really lovely) at the top of the challenge. I hope it remains there too – wonderful.

Oh, and one more thing – I’m updating my Instagram page with photos – please click on the About | Contact page to link and view.

#GuruShots #Ireland #Meath #Gormanston #BritishVirginIslands #BVI #Tortola #Reflections #Seascape

Update: Reached the Premier ranking with a grand total of 322 votes.

[June 2018]

My Favourite Shots

So, it’s pretty evident that the kind of shots that are my favourite photographs are quite different to other peoples. But, that’s what makes the world go around ….

I submitted the following images to the “My Favourite Shots” GuruShots Challenge:

  • River Boyne Estuary at Dusk
  • Beach Pool at Gormanston Beach, Meath
  • Gormanston Beach at Dusk
  • Summer Field at Colp

These photographs were taken in the last week or so and I’ve been practicing my long exposure work hence the dusky pinks and purples.

Gormanston is a tiny village in County Meath, Ireland just on the northern border of County Dublin (which is marked by the River Delvin). There are a number of access points onto the beach including along the northern edge of the River Delvin which runs beneath the Dublin-Belfast railway bridge. The further north you travel up the bridge, the less busy it gets. There is an army barracks at Mosney (between Gormanston and Laytown) with a target range: when the soldiers are undertaken target practice, the beach is closed. Although the gun shots should raise awareness of the ongoing practice, red flags are placed at the entrance points to the beach along with a soldier at most of the points to ensure that any off target shots don’t do any damage to the local population. I’m not sure if there is a timetable as to when the beach is closed – I wish I could find it if there is one as I’ve travelled over a few times only to find myself being stopped by a guy in camouflage gear holding a very large gun.

Anyways, back to the challenge … I was quite disappointed that the Summer Field at Colp has zero votes after 24 hours. I love this image but obviously see it through different eyes than everyone else who saw it. To me, this is a typical view of where I now live in Ireland but also reminds me of where I lived as a young’un back in North Wales. I don’t think the composition is terrible – hardly the most exciting image in the world but certainly not the worst. I can see that the sky has blown out a little – I suspect this image would look a lot better if I’d down a little PhotoShop magic on it. Unfortunately, my current laptop is close to retiring and so the images I post currently only have filters applied via Instragram! :-) Once I get a new computer and install PhotoShop, I think I’ll have a go at editing this image to see if I can improve it. If I do, I’ll blog it here for my reference if nothing else.

Anyways, back to the challenge … I swapped the field image for the Dark Hedges image. I do like this image but the Dark Hedges do look a little light …. I think I’ll have to go back later in the year when the days are shorter to have another go. Anyways, at least this image did get some votes … but not actually that many …. I decided to make another swap and uploaded a photo of Roche Castle which is near Dundalk, County Louth. Built in the 1230s, this Norman castle was built on a rocky outcrop and looks pretty spectacular from a distance. There’s not a massive amount left – it’s an old ruin – but it’s well worth a visit because the drive over there is fab. For more information on this castle, please check out this link .

Roche Castle

There are still 12 days left on this challenge so it remains to be seen how many more votes my images in this challenges get. I may make a swap depending if I can get an decent shots at the weekend (didn’t really get anything sadly this weekend worth trying a swap for). Anyways, as ever, updates will follow.

#Gormanston #GormanstonBeach #RiverBoyne #BoyneEstuary #Summerfield  #Colp #DarkHedges #RocheCastle #Meath #Louth #Ireland #GuruShots

[June2018]

Reflections – I’m a GuruShots Veteran

When the “Reflections” challenge ends later today, I’ll be a #GuruShots Veteran. Ha ha ha …. Anyways, this is the image I uploaded:

Gormanston Reflections

I’m chuffed to bits because I’m moving up the rankings but it’s also completely aware that this is in reality slightly meaningless as a measure of how I’m improving technically in my photography. That said, I’m going to take this as a pat on the back because I do think the quality of my images (in terms of clarity) have definitely improved – probably due to a better tripod so more stability – but also with a massive pinch of salt. I am certainly NOT a veteran so I think it’s the description more than anything that tickles me and makes me chuckle. Still, I think overall pleased with the move up the GuruShots rankings as I have been making an effort to get out and practice more so – as I’ve noted in previous posts – this is my primary incentive in taking part in challenges and on this basis, I’m winning!

I’ve had the DSLR (Nikon D3400 – a decent entry level camera) since around Sept/Oct 2017 and have been using a tripod since the workshop I attended in Jan 2018. Given the freezing cold weather, I didn’t really start practicing in earnest until the weather warmed up slightly towards the end of March (by which time I had to watch a lot of YouTube training as I’d forgotten a lot of the “finer details” of the workshop such as white balance).  The first tripod I bought was a CaseFlex – exactly like this one (https://www.caseflexaccessories.com/caseflex-premium-alloy-camera-tripod-pro-blue). It was and still is mostly a great little tripod but I took it to the beach one day and managed to get some sand or grit stuck in one of the twist locks and now cannot lock the lower part of one of the legs. I can still use it if I don’t need a lot of height but you do get what you pay for and this is a fairly lightweight tripod. I’d certainly recommend it for absolute beginners who only want to use it online and not in the sea or in rivers and when there is no wind. The legs are quite flimsy but if only the higher (thicker) parts of the legs are extended, and provided you’re happy to bend / sit down behind the camera, it’s fine.

The second tripod I bought is a Manfrotto Pixi Evo 2 which I bought for trip to Edinburgh when I didn’t want to take the CaseFlex. This tripod would be best described as a table topper – it’s fine for using with my Nikon D3400 and kit lens and fine with the Sigma zoom but I do notice that it slips a little with the latter. I have used it in the evenings, propping it onto of my camera bag, and it’s excellent for quick filter shots – I’ve enjoyed using it and it’s light enough not to even realise you’re carrying it but unless you’re happy to lie on the floor to take images, it’s no substitute for a regular tripod.

I’ve invested in a new tripod – it’s a Vanguard AltaPro 263 AB 100. This is a blindingly good beginner / amateur level tripod which is super stable and amazing good value for money. Unless the CaseFlex, which has twist lock legs in four sections, the Vanguard has flip locks and three sections which makes is a fair bit taller when collapsed than the CaseFlex – I’m not bothering measuring to get an accurate difference (it’s not that interesting a topic). The Vanguard is also quite a bit heavier: I think I could carry the CaseFlex attached to my camera bag (a LowePro Tahoe HP 150 in “Galaxy Blue” no less – https://store.lowepro.com/tahoe-bp-150) but pretty certain if I tried to attach the Vanguard, the mesh pocket would be destroyed. So, if I go on a hike (unlikely but who knows), I think I probably would take the CaseFlex – and/or possibly the Manfrotto as I imagine I’d be lying down anyways a fair bit.

Anyways, if anyone is interested in a sub-£150 tripod recommendation from a (GuruShots) veteran photographer (LOL), I don’t think you’d need to look much further than the Vanguard … hopefully it’ll be my tripod for a few years to come.

#GormanstonBeach # CountyLouth #Ireland #CaseFlex #Manfrotto #PixiEvo2 #Vanguard #AltaPro #Tripod #LoweProTahoe #GuruShotsVeteran #SpeedChallenge #Veteran

[June 2018]

All in Black & White

Five days left in this #GuruShots challenge and I’ve reached the Premier level with the following images:

  • Callao, Madrid
  • View of the River Boyne and the Maiden’s Tower, Mornington, Co Meath
  • Chuch at Sidari, Corfu
  • Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, Mendocino Co, California

I uploaded these images a few days back but this evening have swapped out the image I took earlier this week, that of the River Boyne and Mornington Tower for an oldie of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. Let’s see if this is a successful swap. More when the challenge ends.

#Madrid #RiverBoyne #Mornington # Sidari #Corfu #PointCabrilloLighthouse #Mendocino

Update: Hurrah – finished with 878 which on this challenge resulted in an Elite ranking. This means I only need one more Elite finish to be a GuruShots Veteran. (Still chuckling to myself ’bout that). Given that I’ve another couple of challenges (not yet logged – bad Cath!) and one (“Relfections”) is a speed challenge in which I have also reached the Elite ranking, when this one ends, I WILL be a veteran. Putting the champagne on ice as I type! ;-)

[June 2018]

GuruShots Photo of the Month | May 2018

Each month you can enter your best performing image in recent challenges into the Photo of the Month competition. The image got that the most votes in one challenge this month was that of the Dark Hedges. I’m not going to repost the image – click on the right-hand panel to find the relevant link.

From here on, I’m going to make a note of my Photo of the Month entries. I’ve added a side bar entry so that all applicable posts can be quickly accessed.

Only four days are left so I don’t expect I’ll reach the dizzy heights of the higher rankings but I’ll continue to gain #GuruShots points which can’t help either.

Update: Well, I did much better than I had anticipated, finishing up with an Elite level finish. I’ve three Elite finishes to go before I move up into the Veteran ranking which is cool. :-)

[May 2018]

The Path

Another late entry but better late than never. I’ve got 70 hours until this #GuruShots Challenge ends and these are the photos I’ve uploaded:

I know the rules say that similar photographs shouldn’t be uploaded but I couldn’t decide which image was best and I do like them both. They are of woodland paths around the Cu Chi Tunnels,  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Viet Cong built a massive network of tunnels as part of their resistance against the American invasion. For more about the brutal history, click here.

The image on the left was taken about 11 years ago on the top of the Bluff on Cayman Brac. The cliffs are only 43 metres high and are a jagged limestone littered with birds. Standing at the end of the path, there is absolutely nothing but turquoise and blue sea. For more about the Bluff, click here.

The image on the right was taken in Arizona, on the walk to view Montezuma’s Castle near Camp Verde. This was sometime in November 2007 – check out the flame orange leafs – in reality, the colours were incredible – not sure I’ve captured it in this image but there’s certainly a hint of the depth of colour.

Let’s see what happens in this challenge.

#CuChiTunnels #VietCong #Vietnam #Bluff #CaymanBrac # CaymanIslands #ColoursOfAutumn #FallColours #MontezumasCastle #CampVerde #Arizona

Update: Premier finish – I did swap the photo of the Path at Montezuma’s Castle with an image I took in County Kerry on Skellig Michael.

[May 2018]

Centered

The #GuruShots challenge states “it happens sometimes the best composition while shooting is to center your subject”. I’m not sure mine do actually but I’ve submitted images and am currently at the Premier level with 5 days left. A little about the images I’ve submitted below.

IMG_2138

This image was taken on an iPhone around September 2015 (or possibly 2014) just after sunset in in Zadar, on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. It is known for the Roman and Venetian ruins of its peninsular Old Town and it’s a fantastic and compact city to explore. The Italian influence is evident in everything – from the architecture to the number of pizzerias (and I tried to taste test as many as I could!). I snapped this along the coast road while walking into the old town for supper one evening. Can’t remember exactly what I had but quite possibly a pizza.

Smart Card 5 1003

This is sandstone butte located somewhere around the Utah / Colorado border – cannot remember exactly where but I do know it was a little before we drove down Monument Valley.

The last two images submitted have been in previous challenges:

The image on the left is one I took a week ago today at Old Mellifont Abbey, Co Meath and the image on the right is one I took over a decade ago at Point Cabrillo, Mendocino County, California.

As ever, I’ll update this post when the challenge ends – not sure I’ll be swapping any images.

Update: I got a Premier ranking at the end of the challenge. I’m very happy with that so off I go and search from more challenges!

[May 2018]