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]
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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]

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]

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]

Abandoned

It’s been a beautiful day in Leinster today so I took the opportunity to drive up the coast road in County Louth. I wanted to try and capture some photographs for the ‘Abandoned’ GuruShots challenge. The brief simply states “abandoned places or things” and voting starts shortly. I have enough decent shots for some swaps – incidentally, I’m not buying swaps but have won one from the ‘Rocking the Boat’ challenge. I will use it wisely. Or maybe I won’t – we will see! :-)

The first photograph I’ve submitted is a shot of an abandoned cottage which is literally 10 meters from the cliff edge (of all 2 meters) which drops onto the beach. It looks like an old building but it’s not actually in terrible condition – once that roof goes though, the sea winds and Irish weather will quietly go to work on it. I’ve entitled the image “Oh I Did Like to Be Besides the Seaside” and now cannot get the tune out of my head. Check out that blue sky!

Farmhouse By Sea

The second photograph is of a tower of some sorts. I’ve no idea of the history of this building but presumably it was abandoned when the more recent beach buildings (public toilets and a life guard shed) were constructed. I’ve entitled this image “Tower at Togher, Co Louth” and the coloration of the bricks is wonderful.

Louth Beach Tower

The third photograph is of an abandoned house off Marsh Road, Drogheda. The street runs down to the River Boyne and with the right conditions combined high tide, the river can rise significantly – hence the sign. The street is a long block of stone terraces the vast majority have been abandoned, some with sandbags stacked against the door, windows smashed or boarded up and damp creeping up the walls.

Off Marsh St 1

The final photograph uploaded was taken at the end of street above. I walked towards the river onto wasteland which offers possibly the best view in town of the Boyne Viaduct on which the Dublin/Belfast train runs. I guess there is little incentive to develop or even tend to the ground given the floods.

Railway Bridge

I’ll update this post with swap info and the end result.

#GuruShots #CoastalRoad #Drogheda #BoyneViaduct #Abandoned #NoParking

Update: I’ve removed the image of the abandoned house as it wasn’t performing very well. I had a free swap (am not intending to buy swaps on this platform) and replaced it with the following:

Abandoned Car at the Petrified Forest Nortern Arizona

This is a photograph taken of an exhibit to commemorating US Route 66 that ran through the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona until it was decommissioned in 1985.

If you’ve never been here, it’s so worth a visit – it’s desolate and breath-taking. Take a look at the US National Park Service site for more information on the park.

#Arizona #PetrifiedForest #Route66

Update: the challenge has ended and I achieved an Elite status finish and actually got another Top 30% award – Top 30% of Photos. the votes were as follows:

  • 449 for the Route 66 image
  • 60 for the cottage by the sea image
  • 60 for the tower at Togher image
  • 39 for the Boyne Viaduct image

So, there was one clear winner in my photographs! I was messaged by another #GuruShots photographer who had entered the same subject and who pointed out that there was another image of the same subject by a third photographer.

I do believe I could have achieved better scored for the other images had the day I shot the photographs been a bit gloomier and less spring-like. Still, I enjoyed the afternoon and that’s what counts the most to me.

In terms of the levels, this close of this challenge resulted in me moving up from Challenger to Advanced – I’ve a fairways to to reach the next level however ….

[April 2018]

Rocking the Boat & Street Photography

So there are two new #GuruShots challenges in play.

At the current time, there are 9 days left in the challenge entitled ‘Rocking the Boat’. I’ve submitted the following images – from left to right:

  • Three Rowing Boats on the River Boyne
  • Fishing Boats on the River Boyne
  • The Irish Trader (shipwreck on Baltray Sands) – heavy filter use on this image!
  • The Irish Trader (shipwreck on Baltray Sands) – side profile without the filter!

Rocking the Boat

As you can tell from the votes, these images are hardly setting the world on fire. At present time of writing, I’ve reached Popular (along with 3606 others) but it’s great that people have voted for them at all. What is interesting is that the dark image of the Irish Trader has more votes (albeit a small amount) than the lighter image of the same wreck and I think the one with less votes is better.

I’ve also entered the GuruShots challenge entitled ‘Street Photography’. Like the ‘Rocking the Boat’ challenge, there 9 days to go before this challenge closes and voting starts in approx. 1 hour from time of publishing this post. Shown (in the update below) are the images I’ve submitted – from left to right:

  • Umbrellas in a Dublin Side Street (taken Monday 9 April)
  • A Quiet Sunday Morning in Madrid (taken in 2016)
  • Graffiti on a North Quay Dublin Building (since demolished) (taken 2016/7 through my car window when stuck at traffic lights)
  • Oil Spill on Leeson Street, D2 (taken earlier this year)

Each of the ‘Street Photography’ images were taken on an iPhone 6 and I’m happy enough with the results. These days, mobile/cell phones have great cameras and are perfect for taking quick hassle-free images.

I think my images in ‘Street Photography’ are a little better than those in my ‘Rocking the Boat’ challenge but I’m a lot more interested in the results of the latter challenge because all the images were taken in the last few weeks on my Nikon D3400 DSLR. By uploading these photographs – and trust me, I do know they can be improved upon – I just feel that I’m making (some) progress in my ultimate quest to take great photographs.

In an attempt to try to earn more GuruShots points however, in due course (possibly after the weekend), I’ll try to dig out some other (better?) images that I’ve taken in my pre-Nikon D3400 days and try out a few swaps. As I’ve noted before, GuruShots is at the end of the day a game but it is also an interesting way to share images and measure my own progress at the same time. As usual, updates will follow as relevant.

#Dublin #Baltray #RiverBoyne #Umbrellas #IrishTrader #Shipwreck

Update: The Rock the Boat Challenge has finished and I got a Skilled ranking. Happy with that! :-)

Update: Delighted and quite surprised to have achieved an Elite ranking. As I thought, these images were more popular than those in the Rock the Boat Challenge and the final votes were as follows:

image001

[April 2018]

Newbie of the Month

I’m hoping that I will be moved from the #GuruShots Newbie level to Rookie when my next few challenges come to a close. So in order to qualify for a’Newbie of the Month’ challenge, I had to be quick.

I submitted the following images earlier today (5 April 2018) – from left to right:

  • Three Rowing Boats on the River Boyne
  • Fishing Boats on the River Boyne at Dusk
  • Mornington at Sunset
  • Stormy Clouds over the River Boyne

Newbie of the Month April 2018

This challenge ends in 12 days time – I suspect, I’d have been better submitted images from the very beginning to maximize potential votes but it’ll be interesting to see how these images (two to the left, brand new) get on. As ever, an update will be posted when the challenge ends.

Update: The challenge has just ended. In terms of voting numbers ,  I received the following number of votes (from left to right as above): 16, 14, 42 & 17 resulting in a grand total of 89 votes putting me firmly in the Premier category. I’m happy with this result: to anyone reading this you may have voted for any of my images, thank you! To put into context, Premier was the most populous category of this challenge with the following number of members in the categories below:

  • All Star = 57
  • Elite = 9366
  • Premier = 26814
  • Skilled = 11, 034
  • Popular = 5117

Some of the Newbies in the All Star category are clearly not new to photography. Their images are fantastic. It’s is actually a very clever tactic to wait and submit stonking images to finish near the top of the Challenge in order to increase changes of moving up to the higher levels at a later date. Good on them – playing the game tactically! :-)

[April 2018]

Bodies of Water

As a Speed Challenge, I can only display one image at a time but have submitted three views of the River Boyne which I can swap. From left to right, the images are:

  • View from the bank of the River Boyne at Baltray,  towards Drogheda at dusk
  • View of the River Boyne rowing boat from Mornington
  • View from of River Boyne fishing boats from Baltray
Bodies of Water

Bodies of Water Challenge

There are 91 hours for voting so let’s see how this challenge goes. Updates to follow soon.

Update: My swap (see image below) significantly boosted my votes and took me to Premier level which I’m really happy about. I’m getting the hang of the tactics for this game although I need to refine my tactics and obviously submit more decent / better photographs to improve my rankings further. Given that I’ve only had my DSLR, a Nikon D3400 (a beginner level digital camera but decent enough with its Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens) since September and haven’t really been able to use it thanks to the awful weather in Ireland, I’m looking forward to less rain so I can practice.  I want to get to grips with the technical elements of the camera and start taking some of those fancy long exposure seascapes in the very near future.

Importantly, I have moved levels up from Newbie to Rookie and I’m chuffed to bits about that. :-D

Clouds Over River Boyne

[April 2018]