Bridge House

When the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning I was sure I had made a mistake in planning a photo shoot at the nearby Blessington Lakes. I needed more sleep. Anyway a deal was a deal so I got myself up and braved the cold, started the car and let the frost thaw from the windows.
We arrived at the lakes at around 6:30 and settled on a location that would give us a good view of the sunrise. After about 15 minutes the grey skies began to glow from the sun rising behind the hills. It was amazing how quickly the light was changing and we knew it would not last very long as there was a lot of cloud around.
I got several shots that I was reasonably happy with and I will post them here over the coming days.
Here is the first;

Blessington again…

We went for a drive yesterday afternoon with the intention of parking somewhere and going for a stroll. “How about the lakes at Blessington” I suggested. It was agreed and we headed off. Half an hour later we were getting out of the car when I noticed my camera bag ;). “Better not leave that in the car I said”. I figured I would be pushing my luck if I grabbed the tripod as well so that stayed put. We set off on our stroll. The weather was good and I think I managed to balance conversation and photography fairly well :).

During our walk I noticed a lot of exposed tree roots where, I presume, the soil had been taken away by the high water levels. There were also a number of exposed tree stumps in the water which the low level had revealed. I thought these would make some interesting B&W photos. Here are some of the results….

The shots were fairly straightforward..all handheld in aperture priority. The light was bright so I was able to set a small aperture for best DOF (f18/22). Processing was in Photoshop.

For anyone who knows the area it`s well worth a visit. The car park is the one opposite the Russborough House entrance on the N81. After parking the car follow the shore past the fishing boats.

Evening Reflection

Ok. So here goes…my very first photo upload…

I took a drive to Poulaphuca Reservoir near Blessington Co. Wicklow on Monday evening. I had been there last week and knew that the water level was low which made the lake shore much more accessible. It was getting late and the light was fading but this suited me as I wanted to try some long exposures with a Neutral Density filter. As I walked from the car to the waters edge I realised how good the conditions were. It was a mild evening and the water was still with some good cloud detail reflecting in it. I had a quick scan around and identified a few potentially good compositions. I fired up my camera with a Sigma 10-20 zoom fitted (probably 90% of my photos are with this lens). I have become a bit obsessed with HDR photography recently, so, with that in mind, I went about setting up the camera. I used the cameras autobracketing feature to take 3 exposures, one at the correct exposure (as per the cameras meter) and the other 2 at 2 stops above and 2 stops below. I set the aperture to f22, ISO to 100 and the focusing to manual. I then fitted a Cokin P Neutral Density filter to the lens in order to lengthen the exposures (the Cokin P filter holder causes vignetting with the Sigma 10-20 so to get around this I have modified the holder by using a hacksaw to cut away the front section which would hold a second filter and I trimmed the corners a bit – not pretty but it works). All that was left to do was to mount the camera on my new Manfrotto ox55PROB tripod and snap away with my cheapo wireless shutter release that I bought on ebay for a few euro. I stayed there for an hour or so covering about a kilometre of shoreline and went home happy that I had gotten plenty of fresh air and hopefully one or two decent photos. I did my usual when I got home..straight to the computer with my SD card before saying hello to anyone. I was happy with several of the photos after doing the HDR processing but the one I have posted here is the one I like the best.

3 exposures  f22  10, 2.5 and 30 seconds @ ISO 100

I tonemapped the exposures in Photomatix (tutorial here), saved the photo as a 16bit TIFF and then made some contrast and saturation adjustments in Photoshop CS4. Usually, thats as far as it goes with the processing but this time I tried out a new Photoshop plugin called Topaz Adjust. You can get some great results with this but you need to be careful with it as some of the presets can be a bit overdramatic. I think it works well with this shot. I would be interested to hear what people think.

Anyway, thats it for my first post..let me know what you think…

Gerry