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]


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.


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]

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]

Old Mellifont Abbey | ND & Grad Filters

I took myself over to Old Mellifont Abbey in blue hour yesterday evening to practice with my ND and grad filters. The Old Abbey was as noted on the Heritage Ireland website, “first Cistercian monastery in Ireland founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh, its most unusual feature is the octagonal Lavabo c. 1200. The Visitor Centre houses an interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages with fine examples of their craft on display.”

The old abbey is located in a secluded area of County Louth, about 10 minutes from the town of Drogheda. Having done little research before my visit, the site was a complete surprise to me and it was fantastic to have the place to myself, allowing me time and space to practice in the peace and quiet. Not everyone’s idea of a top Saturday night, but I enjoyed it! :-)

For the shots shown below, I used a Cokin ND 8 filter together with a graduated ND 4 filter and set the speed of the shutter to 2 seconds. Given that one of my tripod legs is a dodgy (and I’ll have to invest in a new and better tripod soon), I was limited to how I could set up the shot on it to some extent.

As anyone with a smidge of DSLR interest is aware, filters are used to balance the sky with the ground. By focusing on the abbey, the colours – I think anyways – blend in well together and give the sky (in the image on the left) a delicate dusting of pink. Without the filters, the ground and ruins would be silhouettes against a grey sky. Below is a comparison of two images – one taken without a filter (left) and the other with the same set up as before:

The photographs of the field aren’t of particular interest: I just took them to compare the end results. I actually prefer the non-filtered version but it would have been impossible to get a decent image (including the detail of the ruin’s walls) without the filters.

Oh, and I’ve been updating (finally) my Instagram page – you can check it out here (or as the About page of this blog. Comments & constructive criticism welcomed – obviously positive comments preferred! ;-)

#Ireland #CountyLouth #OldMellifontAbbey #Cokin #NDFilters #GradFilters

[May 2018]

Trees | Dark Hedges

For the ‘Trees’ GuruShots Speed Challenge, I uploaded a photo I took over Easter 2018 of the Dark Hedges. With 801, this photograph has achieved the most votes for a single challenge to date so I’m delighted with the result. I ended up in the Elite category – ranked # 99 – which is fab because I “only” need another 6 elite finished to move into the achieve Veteran status. Hilarious but also cool – here’s the image.

Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, Co Antrim

#GuruShots #SpeedChallenge #DarkHedges #GameOfThrones

Update: Elite ranking :-)

[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]


Another challenge to have a go at and there are nine days left. I’ve uploaded the following:


From left to right:

  • Statue at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • Dandelion Clock
  • Dragon at Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Temple at Mekong Delta, Vietnam

The statue was a really interesting subject outside the main temple of Angkor Wat and was really striking. The image of the Dragon at Hoi An was in the main square of the town. It’s a beautiful small town full of colour and lanterns – I think the most wonderful stop on the Vietnamese tour although I did find the Mekong Delta very impressive too. I suppose the dandelion clock looks a little daft sandwiched between the travel photos but I thought it was right to include it was it was about the curviest subject I had in the bag! :-)

In nine days time, I’ll post an update.

#GuruShots #AngkorWat #Cambodia #Vietnam #HoiAn #MekongDelta #Dandelion

Update: Elite level :-D  5 more until I reach the Veteran rank.

[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]

Starts with L

There’s always a lot of scope for images with the ‘starts with’ challenges. If only had I better images of lighthouses in the bag. Nevermind, this is what I uploaded:

On the left is an image of a lighthouse in the Kornati National Park, Croatia. I was on a boat at the time and couldn’t get any closer to the rocks – it was very breezy. On the right is the image I took of the Point Cabrillo lighthouse in Mendocino Co, Califorina. I opted to put the image into mono as the light was so poor due to a really overcast damp day. Terrible weather on both trips then but great days!

BTW I know the perspective on the Californian lighthouse is a little iffy. The camera I was using had a very limited zoom so had to tilt the lens up to get the framing I after. I actually think it adds a little bit of interest – it wasn’t supposed to be an architectural image after all.

The next two images for this challenge are of animals:


On the left is one of hundreds of Llama shots I took on a trip to Peru & Bolivia. I think this was my favourite llama as we had a very similiar hair-do. Mine’s a little whiter these days however. On the right is an image of a leopard prowling about – didn’t seem to be in a particularly good mood so didn’t hang about too long.

There are a few days left before the challenge ends – currently I’m floating about at the Skilled level – which I’m very happy with. I’m going to try not to be tempted to swap as I’m simply pulling old images which I’m not overly happy with (just meeting the challenge criteria). Need to get out at the weekend and start snapping again!

#GuruShots #Kornati #Croatia #PointCabrillo #Mendocino #Llama #Leopard

Update: The challenge ended and I achieved a Premier ranking which is great. I’m actually hoping to push towards the Veteran status and need more Elite rankings but given that these photos are oldies, I’m still very happy with the result.

[May 2018]

Color in Nature

A speed challenge! :-) #GuruShots #SpeedChallenge

Voting hasn’t started yet but I’ve submitted a photograph I took in early January 2018 at Laytown Beach, Co Meath, Ireland.

Laytown 1

It’s one of my first attempts at long (ish) exposure and has resulted (through luck rather than skill) in some beautiful pastel shades. It’s not a particularly clear image as my half decent tripod which although very willing, couldn’t really hold it’s own against the wind and it was sooooooooooo cold. Tip: buy decent gloves and a shutter release control you can use with hands in pockets!

Update: Challenge over and I got 227 votes which is pretty incredible. I achieved the Skilled level so happy with that.

[May 2018]