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]

Soothing Places

I’ve joined another #GuruShots challenge a little late but what the heck – I’ll see how these photographs get on vote wise. It’s always interesting to which images receive more clicks – the ones I expect to do reasonably well sometimes aren’t so well received. Anyways, these are the images I’ve submitted:

  • Top Left = Kaibo, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
  • Bottom Left = Laytown Beach, Co Meath, Ireland
  • Middle = Rum Point, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
  • Right = Baltray at Dusk, Co Louth, Ireland

Lots of blues in these images – blue is soothing a soothing colour, right? Bingo.

There are 8 days left for this challenge. Let’s see how things go for these photographs – as ever, update will follow.

Update: Elite finish – whoo hoo

[May 2018]

Silhouettes and Shadows

I’ve actually uploaded four images for this challenge before the voting has started! There are a massive 18 days before the challenge ends.

I’m not a massive fan of silhouette images in the main but have taken a few that I’m happy with. Shadows I think make for a more interesting topic but I’ve no images that I’m happy to upload for the challenge. The images are from left to right:

  • Mornington at Dusk
  • Mornington Beacon
  • Sunrise on my Commute
  • Sunrise in April 2018

Silhouette and Shadows

As this is a speed challenge, I probably won’t have time to work on new images for potential swaps but we’ll see how these get on. As ever, updates as I go along.

As a by the way – and straight from Wikipedia – the word silhouette is actually derived from the name of a French Finance Minister, Étienne de Silhouette, who imposed severe economic demands and try to find, as modern politicians would describe it, finding best value for money. As a response, his portraits were also created cheaply in the form of silhouettes.

[May 2018]

Amazing Skies

Another challenge and another one I’ve joined a little late! As you’d imagine, a challenge called ‘Amazing Skies’ will include some incredible images and the top photographs in this category are as ever outstanding.

I’ve contributed the following:

Amazing Skies

From left to right:

  • Sunrise – as seen on my commute
  • Evening in Mornington – I was walking the dogs and saw the sun breaking through the clouds
  • Sunset from Baltray
  • Sunset from Baltray 2 – a slightly closer view of the same area overlooking the River Boyne – also slightly different lights in the clouds.

The key difference between my photos and the top photos (aside from obvious things like quality and composition!) is colour.  There is a lot more purple in my images than the top photos which have a base of pastel blue and then are saturated with warm shades of gold and orange.

That said, my images have done very well – within an hour of uploading, I’d achieved a Premier ranking. I doubt very much I’ll move any higher up the rankings than that but I’ll take that for sure.

I’ve got about 2 days left for this challenge so I’ll vote for more images myself to push up my exposure and maybe this will push up my ranking. This is after all – as I’ve noted before – a game so tactics are required.

Actually, that’s one thing that does make me question that quality of the voting system on this platform. In order to gain views, you have to vote for other images. I suspect that many voters simply vote for the top x number of photos in the listing they are presented with in order to improve the visibility of their own work.

Also, the fact that I’m now at the Advanced ranking and not far off pushing through to Veteran doesn’t actually mean my photography is actually improving. It simply means that I’ve achieved more votes for my photographs which I thought possible and potentially because of the exposure I’ve created for myself through voting. Although some of my images aren’t terrible, some a quite average and I’ve been surprised how many votes they have achieved. I get more of a buzz when someone takes the time to like my photos than I do from the voting number. This is especially true if I visit the profile page of the person who has liked my photo and find that their photos are quality images.

I know that outside the GuruShots world, the rankings and grades achieved are essentially meaningless but I do find it interesting to see how each image submitted fares. Some of my favourites photographs don’t perform particularly well while some of the images I was in two minds to submit, perform very well indeed – I don’t know if that says more about me or the people who vote for the images! J

For me, the available GuruShots tips are useful, the articles are of interest and what I really get out of the app is the immediate access to so many exceptional, great, good and even not so good images. This helps me to identify what works and doesn’t in terms of composition etc. I know I could get similar data from the likes of Flickr and Instagram but rather than snapshots, GuruShots in the main at least has photographs where people have really worked to capture and image rather than just shoot a picture. I also appreciate the image data and camera settings that is usually uploaded with the images – as someone who still has a lot to learn about ISO, shutter speeds and focal length, I find this kind of information very useful.

I’ve no intention of buying “swaps”, “boosts” and “autofills” so at the moment, GuruShots is costing me nothing – if this changes the longer I’m on the site, then that’s something I’ll have to think about when the time comes.

However, I’m currently enjoying contributing and participating in the challenges and the app is doing exactly what I wanted it to – making me get out and practice my photography.

As ever, an update will be posted.

#GuruShots #AmazingSkies #GuruShotsReview #Mornington #Meath #Baltray #Louth #RiverBoyne #Ireland #Sunset #Dusk

Update: the challenge ended a few days back but my laptop wasn’t feeling up to cooperating. My final ranking was Premier – not complaining about that at all.

[May 2018]