Dog in a lampshade

Poor Oscar. It’s not bad enough that he got the snip but he had to wear what looks to all the world like a lampshade for two weeks. This was only a week after he moved in with us last Summer and the poor fella was not impressed.

Thankfully he got over it remarkably quickly and doesn’t have an aversion to lighting fixtures as we suspected he might have.

Our Oscar is quite a needy little character. He loves human attention. This faq on Shih Tzus is quite good, although it does contradict an earlier page I read that said they are a one human dog. Oscar definitely prefers Jacinta to me, but he goes crazy when he sees me after an absence too!

He sleeps in the kitchen and up to recently we kept the door closed to stop him coming upstairs but unfortunately he has the door half-ruined from scratching and his whining and barking kept us awake many times.
The solution? Train him and be more strict. He’s not allowed upstairs now and I leave the kitchen door open at night. No scratching, no whining. Sometimes he sneaks upstairs and we find him curled up on the landing but a quick and sharp, “Oscar! Get down!” and he’s scurrying down to his bed again.

So, it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Well, a middle-aged one at any rate.

The best photos of 2006

Reuters have their best photos of the year, as do many other publications so I looked through my archives tonight to pick out some of my favourite photos of 2006; and found it was much harder than I thought. What follows are a selection of my best and favourite photos. Some for technical reasons while others are here for sentimental reasons. I know for sure that I’ve missed out some great shots!

January – Road Narrows
In January, I posted a photo taken in Monkstown, Co. Cork. It was later used by Hugging the Shoulder, a theatre company performing at the New York International Fringe Festival.

February – What a big smile!
Taken in Chicago, isn’t his smile great? The photo may be blurred and noisy but the smile grabs me every time!

March – Joe, the Devil and an Angel
Joe, the Devil and an Angel all performing on the street.

April – Dancing in the Street
He looks very happy with life!

May – Spring Blooms
I was married on May 8th so this image is very special for me!

June – Brendan O’Carroll
I was lucky to catch Brendan O’Carroll while he was having a break outside the Opera House in Cork.

July – Child Asleep
I loved the way the light caught the child asleep while all around life continues.

August – This city’s a drag
A child drags two adults through town.

September – Looking out for the kids
During the Ceili Mor a man and his child watched the dancing from the side of the street. He happened to glance over just as I pressed the shutter.

October – The lone daisy
Pictured in Fountainstown, Co. Cork. I spotted this daisy while out walking and simply had to shoot it.

November – Little Communion Girl
I really like this and I’m very happy with how this shot turned out.

December – An Fear Marbh
This is an island off the coast of Kerry, near Dingle. The area is beautiful, and offers some stunning views. Definitely want to get back there soon.

There you have it. Have you picked out your favourite photos yet?

The River, The Brewery and the Cathedral

The River Lee rushes by the Beamish and Crawford Brewery on one side, and O’Sullivan Electrical on the other with St. Finbarre’s Cathedral in the background.

I have discovered there’s a dead pixel on my camera’s sensor. Fortunately it doesn’t seem to show itself much but when I take long exposure shots like the one above a little red dot appears in the top-right of the image. It’s easy to get rid of with the clone tool but also annoying.

The Wacom graphics tablet is great fun to play with but I haven’t got it working fully in Linux yet. Ubuntu thinks it’s simply another mouse device and GIMP doesn’t see it as an “extended device”. I spent quite some time on the Ubuntu forums trying to fix it yesterday before giving up and trying it out on a few images.
It’s a little fiddly to begin with, but I think that’s par-for-the-course when using a new tool. I do find that when dodging and burning large sections of images the brush can get stuck and won’t follow the cursor but I’ve read that once it’s properly configured performance is improved so I hope that is fixed then.

Hope you had a nice Christmas Day!

Jesus Christ Loves You

A man stands alone amid the bustle of downtown San Francisco holding a sign proclaiming the message, “Jesus Christ Loves You”.

This photo brings to mind the preacher in Chicago I photographed while on holiday there. I wonder if the man in San Francisco has the same colourful history.

Happy Christmas to all, I hope you’re having a great day!

Last minute shopping

Today many major cities and towns around the world are going to be thronged with shoppers doing last minute shopping before Christmas Day. Traffic is going to crawl and frustrate and the crowds will be suffocating.

I’m glad I’m staying at home. We may head out to the Lough later for a walk. So stressful!

I like this: Europe – The Parisian Chapter

Take the GoCar around San Francisco

Matt Rudd took the GoCar around San Francisco and I remembered seeing one on my travels there last August!

Sixteen miles per hour and I’m absolutely terrified. You wouldn’t think a grown man could be terrified at such low speeds, but it’s because I’m being chased up one of those Steve McQueen hills by a tram. Unlike Steve McQueen, I’m not in a Ford Mustang. If I were, it wouldn’t be a problem, would it? But instead of the Mustang, I’m in a bright yellow buggy with a top speed of 40mph. That’s 40mph if you threw it off a cliff. Top speed up a San Franciscan hill seems to be 16mph. Sorry, 15mph. No… 13, 11, 9?

Fun at the crib

Fr James McSweeney’s live crib in Ballyvolane was busy with animals and human visitors all through last week but I managed to get some shots the night when we visited.

As I mentioned already, there were all sorts of animals there, from sheep and donkeys to chickens, calves and puppies. Donations are welcome, and all proceeds go towards the renovation of St. Patrick’s Church. The crib last year raised 35,000 Euro for the Cope Foundation so hopefully they can beat that this year!

The crib is open from 5pm to 9pm until the 23rd, so if you’re in the area, call up to Ballyvolane Church and you’ll see the signs pointing the way to the crib.

I like this: Edward Scissorhands – my wife is a huge fan of the film. I wonder how long it took to get the model looking like that?

An Fear Marbh

An Fear Marbh, an island off the coast of Co. Kerry, Ireland, with the setting sun lighting up the cloud over the Atlantic.

“An Fear Marbh” translates as “the dead man” and is so named because of the obvious shape of the island – that of a man lying on his back.
This was taken last September but because today is the Winter Solstice, and the shortest day of the year, I thought it was the perfect image for the day. Days will get longer now, little by little each day.

On the day this was taken we had dinner in Dingle. I watched the sun set and the light travel down the mountains near the Conor Pass. After eating, we quickly drove west to the coast to watch the sunset. Driving down a small road we spotted a car pulled over and someone standing outside watching the sunset so we stopped and got out. Turns out it was another photographer shooting the setting sun! We stayed there chatting for a few minutes before heading off. A few moments later the road turned a corner and this beautiful scene presented itself. I had to stop and shoot a few dozen shots.

Last night we called to the crib in Ballyvolane. Fr. James McSweeney has put together a wonderful crib with chickens, pigs, calves, goats, sheep, lammas, a pony, 2 donkeys and 4 young puppies. I’ll post a photo or two tomorrow, and the crib is definitely worth a visit if you live in Cork.
Visitors are asked to give a donation, and this year money raised will go to the St Patrick’s Church renovation fund. The crib is located 200 metres from St Oliver’s Church in Ballyvolane on Kilmorna Heights.
Fr. James has a photography site at Today is my gift to you.ie where he posts a new photo every day. I’ll be converting it to a WordPress blog in January when things quieten down again!

Christmas Street Lights

The Christmas lights in Mallow, Co. Cork illuminate the streets with a lovely cheerful glow.

A passing car provides another source of light in this long exposure shot on the main street of the town.