Family at the beach

Dad carries the forgotten kite, daughter walks through the water and mom basks in the sun of a glorious September afternoon at Inch Strand, Co. Kerry.

Tonight is theme night at the camera club. My theme is “The sea” so I went through my archives yesterday choosing suitable photos. This will be one, which is possibly stretching the definition a little but it does have breaking waves on a beach.

Vignetting was done using an overlay layer and a separate overlay was used to make the shadows of the clouds deeper. I could have burned them in as well but I like the way it turned out.

Cupid’s Arrow and the birds

Cupid’s Arrow in San Francisco provides an interesting silhouette against the evening sky. If you’ve payed close attention to my photos in the past you might think this is a duplicate of another shot but it’s from a slightly different angle and wider, and I feel stronger because of the pattern the birds make in the sky. What do you think?

The Cork County Hall and the web

Early one morning I visited the County Hall in Cork and took a few photos. In fact, this one is from the same shoot.

Webs covered a tree behind the building, and the early morning dew sparkled in the sun. I was hoping for an ominous feel to the photo but I failed, and instead I have something that mixes nature with our man made presence on this world.

I quite like the way the strands of the web stand out too!

The red and white man

A street entertainer on stilts entertained the crowd at the Midleton Food and Drink Festival last September. I took photos of him in Cork too and I think he recognised me and my wife as he made a beeline for us and stopped to chat.

This was shot from below as he was towering over us, but I cropped a much larger shot. I used flash to illuminate his face against the bright sky.

Caution Children

A sign at the entrance to my estate warns motorists to watch out for children playing on the street.

Just to prove that you don’t need a big digital SLR to take interesting photos, this was taken with my Panasonic FZ5. I saw the great cloudscape in the sky and illuminated the sign with the onboard flash.

Cobh at sunset

The tide is out in Cobh, Co. Cork while the sun sets in the west casting an orange glow over the water and boats in the harbour.

Method
This required some work to expose properly. The sky is bright while the harbour, houses and landscape are in shadow. Out with the layers, top layer for the sky was darkened and the opposite was done for the ground.
Then it’s the simple task of adding a layer mask to the top layer and rubbing out the dark bits to expose the brightened landscape.
When using a layer mask, never paint with an opacity of 100%, try 30% or even 5%. Don’t be afraid to do a rough job of exposing the bottom layer because with a layer mask you can always reverse the procedure by swapping the colour of your brush with an opposite colour!

Thank you all for the comments on yesterday’s post, The Lonely Swan, it’s great to get feedback and I’m glad when people get something out of my methods when I describe them. See what you’ve done? I did it again!

The lonely swan

A solitary swan swims on the calm waters of The Lough as the sun disappears at the end of the day.

Believe it or not, this is a 10 second exposure that turned out much better than I could have hoped! I balanced my camera on the edge of the Lough, set it to Aperture priority mode at f/11, dialed the exposure down two stops, flipped up the camera flash and took the shot.

How does this work?

  • By setting the aperture to a fairly high value little light is let into the camera sensor.
  • By setting the exposure down two stops the whole scene will be underexposed but bright areas will be exposed mostly correctly.
  • Given the above settings, any dark moving objects will be completely invisible so when the flash fired it picked out the swan swimming past and even created a nice reflection in the water.

Hope that helps!

The gull and the flag

Two teenagers watch a seagull on the way back from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. The US flag flutters in the same breeze that keeps the gull aloft, who no doubt is hoping for food from the boat full of tourists.

I’m going to be shooting at a fund raising night for Cope Foundation tonight. It’s an Eighties Night in the Ambassador Hotel here in Cork. It starts at 9:30pm, tickets are €12.50 on the door, and there’ll be spot prizes throughout the night! All are welcome, especially if you can get out your 80’s gear again. Time for big hair, leg warmers and shoulder pads?
If you’re there, watch out for me and say hi!

Bay Bridge Reflections

Light from the Bay Bridge in San Francsico shimmers in the waters of the harbour. To the left one of the fire fighting boats of the SF Fire Department can be seen.

Posting this landmark of San Francisco today as most of the rest of Automattic make their way to Mexico. Here’s another shot from another night near the bridge.