Tour of Ireland Riders in Blarney

Tour of Ireland Riders in Blarney

Tour of Ireland riders race through the main street in Blarney at speed. It seems like everyone came out to cheer them on!

Will sent me a text this morning saying the legal requirements for a charity event are too much for the planned Pink for October on the 20th of September, but he wondered if we could organise a photowalk in Cork City on the same day instead. I’m not 100% sure I’m free yet but I think it’s a great idea. I haven’t shot much in town in ages. Anyone interested?

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 18mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/125s

Tour of Ireland Leading Group in Blarney

Tour of Ireland breakaway group

Yesterday the Tour of Ireland rode (quickly) through Blarney village, but the main group was proceeded by these three cyclists by almost 4 minutes. Good thing too, good practice for when the rest sped through in front of us at breakneck speed!

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 28mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/100s

Tour of Ireland

The Tour of Ireland bicycle race passed through Blarney on it’s way to Cork City this afternoon. There was a sprint to the finish line in front of the local Catholic church before the cyclists made their way down the dual carriageway to Cork and up Patrick’s Hill, twice!

I was there ready to shoot the participants, but I was overwhelmed by their speed. It only took the main group about 11 seconds to come around the corner at one end of Blarney and disappear through the other end. I’m kicking myself I shot in Programme mode when I should have been in Aperture Priority mode, but I did get a few nice panning shots that froze the rider while the background blurred into smudges and streaks of colour.

The Canon 40D performed admirably. ISO was set to 100 because it was a bright day, AI Servo focus to track the riders and keep them in focus, and high speed continuous shooting mode which delivered 6.5fps. It was all over so quickly I barely had time to take a breath. I shot around 230 images while waiting and during the short time the racers were in Blarney. I knew I’d go a little mad with the shutter button, so I preselected Jpeg mode rather than my usual RAW mode.

Here’s a transcript of the commentary during the race. This bit, while serious, made me smile:

13.10: The race leader has been to see the race doctor, who reports a very unusual injury. He had a thorn embedded in his tongue – presumably from an overhanging branch, or perhaps even some dried fruit he ate – which was removed by the doctor. The thorn, not his tongue.

Hope you like the gallery, hopefully some of these shots will be posted here in single posts during the week!


Aperture ƒ/7.1
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 106mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/200s

Red and White Flowers

Red and White Flowers

Colourful red and white flowers in the doorway of Supervalu in Blarney. I half thought about posting Damien’s picture from yesterday’s get together, especially after what lexia said but that’d be too cruel!

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 144mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/250s

How to (not) shoot a solar eclipse

solar eclipse

I went searching and found a few pages describing how to shoot the sun during a solar eclipse. All warned against looking at the sun directly.

So, I ignored all that advice and got out my 75-300mm lens and grabbed a couple of shots of the sun with a chunk bitten out of it by the moon. Thankfully the clouds provided a bit of a filter but my eyes are still watering a bit. Worth it?

With hindsight, what the hell was I thinking? I’m lucky my eye is fine, but if you’re going to shoot a solar eclipse, don’t look through the viewfinder. Set your camera up on a tripod and project an image of the sun on a white sheet of cardboard and then press the shutter button. Much safer than actually looking..

Aperture ƒ/45
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 300mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/8000s

Blarney Castle and River Martin

Blarney Castle and River Martin

The River Martin flows near Blarney Castle in Co. Cork on a cold December morning in 2005. The Castle grounds were quiet that day with hardly a soul about! Spencer Tunick would have been hardly known in the area at the time.

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 18mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/100s

Where did all the naked people in Blarney go?

Spencer Tunick shot one of his “installations” in Blarney this morning. I don’t know if everyone congregated in the gardens in front of the Castle, or if it was behind but this is the view from the top of Blarney Castle so Spencer may have taken a shot from here.

Well done to everyone who showed up! Very brave souls. :)

PS. The Evening Echo ran with a wide angle shot of everyone. No doubt the rest of the papers will have similar photos in the next day or so!

Aperture ƒ/5.6
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 18mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/100s

This is poisoning my son

ash from burned plastic

A few days ago, in the middle of the day, I noticed a smell of burning plastic wafting in the open window of my home office. I looked outside and saw small flecks of black soot or ash tumbling to the ground. When I rushed downstairs and investigated, I discovered a thick plume of noxious smoke coming from a neighbour’s chimney. The little flecks of ash are so fine that the merest touch turns them into black smears.

Burning rubbish seems to be a common enough practice where I live in Blarney, Co. Cork. It hasn’t happened as often in the last few months as in previous years, maybe because of stricter surveillance of backyard burning. When it was at it’s height, I jokingly considered campaigning for an incinerator to be located in Blarney. At least that could properly trap all the toxins released by burning rubbish and it would be regulated.

Anyway, I decided that I need to speak to my neighbour. I politely asked them to stop burning rubbish in their fireplace, I mentioned that there was soot all over the patio in our garden, and that it had wafted into the house through open windows too. They were suitably apologetic, promising that it wouldn’t happen again. That’s as far as I took it, because I like that neighbour. He’s a nice guy and his wife is a warm woman with a ready smile.

Imagine my shock this morning when I looked out the kitchen door and say soot all over the patio again. Someone had been burning rubbish last night. What do I do now?

My son Adam sleeps in a bedroom overlooking the back garden. His window was closed last night because of the chill, but if it’s warm, then it’s open. According to this article I should be very worried about what my son breathes.

Children can be at much greater risk. Because of their body size, they inhale more air per pound of body mass than do adults, and can absorb a proportionately larger “dose” of toxins.

Children’s bodies are more susceptible to damage from the heavy metals found in the smoke of rubbish fires because their nervous systems are not fully developed. Poly-Vinyl Chloride, or PVC, is a commonly used plastic for vinyl flooring (sometimes called carpeting or lyno), drain pipes, guttering, shampoo bottles, packaging, and thousands of other products.

Apparently 57% of rural dwellers in West Cork burn their rubbish. That’s 5 out of every 12 households. Blarney is an urban area however with a regular waste collection. Quentin Gargan has a blog post on this and gorse burning. Here’s the Irish Examiner article he mentioned. A note from Cork Corporation reminds residents that burning rubbish is illegal:

Cork City Council wishes to draw attention to the fact that under the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended that it is an offence to dispose of waste in a manner which causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution.

The disposal of household and garden waste by burning is one such method of disposal that is deemed likely to cause environmental pollution and furthermore is a source of annoyance to persons in the adjoining locality.

I have no idea who burned the rubbish that caused the soot in my garden this morning. I could presume it was the same neighbour but there isn’t any proof. I could stay up all night, with a window open, ready to catch the tell tale odour of burning plastic. Or I could call the Cork County Council litter warden.

Besides the obvious damage burning rubbish does to your health, this may also lead to neighbours falling out and fighting. If the same neighbour is responsible, they have put me and my wife in the unenviable position of having to fight this illegal behaviour. If this turns bad for them, if they’re fined, they’re going to blame us even though it’s their fault in the first place. No wonder people don’t report their neighbours.

What would you do?

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 72mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/160s