June 30, 2016

Ireland XI (Loughmoe Castle, Ireland)

Loughmoe Castle is the ancient seat of the Purcell family. The Castle comprises of a 15th Century tower house, which was extensively added to in the 17th Century.
When researching places to photograph Ingrid, Loughmoe caught my interest both due to its setting (in the middle of a field, and thus less likely to be "peopled") and because the 15th century tower still had access to the third and fourth floors, which made it ideal to photograph in during wet weather. Unfortunately, we arrived to find the stairway up sealed, leaving just the floor level of the ruin accessible.
Ingrid and I started working at the back of the castle; there was a low entry into a VERY green room, which has some beautiful holes and openings in the walls - perfect for Ingrid to pose within. I worked with both the colour and infrared camera in the space, but ultimately decided to intense green of the space makes the colour images more engaging.
While the stairway to the upper floors of the original tower was sadly blocked, the ground floor of the tower provided some stunning light to work with - small windows on the front and back of the building provided perfect rim lighting when looking into the tower from the main building. The exposure proved a challenge, and in the end I defaulted to the obvious - an exposure blend between an image exposed for the doorway and stone-face of the tower, and a second exposure of Ingrid within the tower.
The sheer size of the ruined tower-house was awe-inspiring, and I tried to capture some sense of it in the above image of Ingrid standing within the 17th century addition. Though stinging nettles presented issues elsewhere in Ireland, for some reason, Loughmoe was devoid of them, which made it much easier to work within the sea of brush that had grown up within the castle. 
The last set of images Ingrid and I made within the castle were made on the interior walls, exploiting the contrast between the rocks and ivy. I worked exclusively with the infrared camera here, preferring the luminous skin tones and foliage that approach provides. By this time, Ingrid was really starting to feel the cold, so about an hour after we made our first image, the session came to a close, and we headed back to the car (and what would turn out to be a rainy drive back to our accommodations...no more photos for today!).

Ireland X (Roscrea, Ireland)

Though I have not written much of the influence of the weather in Ireland, it has proved to be a challenge. Ingrid and I have not yet had to cancel a full day of photography, but every day so far has been cool (averaging 16 degrees) and periods of rain seem inevitable. This particular morning was the dampest yet, and it wasn't until close to noon that the rain let up enough for Ingrid and I to start looking for somewhere to photograph.
Although I put days of work into creating my "locations" document (a PDF on an iPad with almost 100 potential locations to work in with Ingrid), as we travelled around Ireland, I also keep a weather eye out for potential spaces. So, just as the rain abated and the sky lightened noticeably, we happened to be driving through the town of Roscrea, and I noticed a derelict and dilapidated industrial building in the distance. Minutes later, Ingrid and I were clambering into the courtyard of the ruined building, and looking around; though there were possible entries into the main building, climbing rickety ladders and clambering through small windows was not on the itinerary.

There was, however, a long wall on the outer edge of the grounds with some very interesting window/door elements set into it. Rather than leaving the space without making any photos, Ingrid and I decided to make a set of images with her working in one of the recesses (which had the added advantage of being a little out of the weather, which has started to get a little wet again.

Given the small space Ingrid was in, and the inclement weather, we didn't work for long with the space, but the ever present ivy and weathered wood looked lovely in infrared, Ultimately, for less than five minutes of work, we produced a couple of pleasing images. I can't help but wonder about the incredible spaces we might have found within the large, derelict building just meters away from where we worked, but given the challenges of access, I'm happy with the above couple of images!

June 29, 2016

Ireland IX (Clontuskert Abbey, Ireland)

The Augustinian Priory of St Mary was founded in the 12th century by Turlough O'Connor, King of Connaught, possibly on the site of an earlier monastery founded by St. Baedán, who died circa 809. The Augustinian Canons Regular established 130 religious houses in Ireland in the period of church reform early in the twelfth century. Of these remains of thirty survive, including those at Kells, Cashel and Clontuskert.
Ingrid and I arrived at Clontuskert Abbey in the mid evening, after exploring several locations that ultimately didn't work out for photographing Ingrid (i.e. WAY too public), and a lovely dinner (Ingrid was in 7th heaven with her Steak & Kidney pie!). As has become our modus operandi, Ingrid romped around the ruins taking photos as I moved a little slower, mentally mapping out locations I'd like to work with.
The obvious first place to start working was a small north-facing window which had its full stone tracery intact. Working first with the inside, and then the outside perspective, Ingrid worked through a whole set of poses using all three of the lights defined by the bar tracery. One of the last things we did was create a full set of poses using all three lights, so I could assemble them into a triptych in post production. Though an image like this (using three Ingrids instead of one) won't be used in the portfolio, it is by far my favourite result from the first coupe of image sets we made at this abbey.
As we finished working with the windows, the evening sun began to break through the clouds to the west, and fall across the northern face of the abbey. Given the apparent rarity of sunshine in Ireland, and the fact Ingrid was more than happy to soak up whatever warmth she could, we spent then next couple of minutes working with the angular light. The only real frustration was the swirling winds, which wouldn't leave Ingrid's hair alone for a second (though oddly enough, my hair didn't move at all).
As the sun moved lower in the sky, it became more and more dramatic, so I shifted to including it in the composition. After some colour images (using exposure blending to ensure detail in both the sky and Ingrid), I decided to see how infrared would handle the high contrast - and was pleasantly surprised at the results. As it was cooling off, we didn't spend too much time working on the exposed side of the abbey (where the wind hit it with full force), but the few images that did turn out are really quite pleasing, with the dramatic sky contrasting well with Ingrid's figure lying on the ruined stone.
Primarily due to the wind, Ingrid and I shifted to working within the nave for the last images of the session. I'd intended to work within a large wall alcove when I saw a shaft of sunlight fall across the nave, directly below the grand east window. Immediately I shifted focus (and changed lenses), and asked Ingrid if she could stand in the narrow band of sunlight, directly below the window. Already having my lens changed, I fought to find the best camera position, refine the composition, and set the exposure before the light moved or changed. As it turned out, I had less than 30 seconds from when the camera was ready to when the light faded due to clouds moving across the sun...however in that time, Ingrid worked through a number of different poses, including the above, which came with a perfect shadow in the corner of the west wall.
When the shaft of light dimmed and vanished, Ingrid and I pursued the images I'd originally intended to make in both large and small alcoves in the nave walls, but we finished up the session with another set of images focused on the east window.

The 15th century east window, pictured above, collapsed in 1918. Restorers managed to locate all of the window components and it was carefully rebuilt to its former glory in the 1970's.

Ireland VIII (Portumna Workhouse, Ireland)

I'd hoped to work with Ingrid at Portumna Abbey (which proved rather hard to find, even with accurate GPS co-ordinates, as it was off public streets, and tucked out of the way). After determining the Abbey was WAY too public for Ingrid to securely pose, we began to wind our way out of the city...only to come to a crashing halt when the Portumna Union workhouse cam into view.
The Portumna Union workhouse was erected one of 163 workhouses operated in ireland between th early 1840s and 1920s. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was intended to accommodate 600 inmates who were badly affected by the lack of both employment and food at the time. If people could not support themselves, they could come into the workhouse.  Here they would do some work in return for food. People had to stay and live in the workhouse and so the system was known as indoor relief.
The Irish Workhouse Centre, opened in the old Portumna Workhouse during summer 2011, is the only centre telling the history of workhouses in Ireland. Ingrid, Angie and I took a short tour of the remains of the Workhouse, and found it awe inspiring, in terms of the dark history of these buildings.

Ireland VII (Lackeen Castle, Ireland)

This day dawned, as every day in Ireland seems to, with drizzle; in hopes to out-drive the rain, I decided to head west, to the abandoned 12th century Lackeen Castle. Standing in a bawn, the fortified house is four stories high with easy stair access all the way up (though it does lack a roof, so the very top of the building's walls is inaccessible).
Lackeen belonged to Brian Ua Cinneide Fionn, chieftain of Ormond, who died in 1588. The castle passed to his son Donnchadh, the last Ua Cinneide chief of lower Ormond who further fortified it against the Cromwellians, but ended up surrendering to Cromwell in 1653. Donnchadh Ua Cinneide descended from Brian Boru, who in the 10th century was High King of Ireland. Cinneide translates to ‘Helmeted Head’, the Ua Cinneide chiefs were the first to wear a helmet in battle against the Vikings. The name ‘Ua Cinneide’ was anglicised to ‘Kennedy’. Post Cromwell the Kennedy family regained Lackeen Castle and restored it.
When we arrived at Lackeen, the sky had cleared some, and there were lovely period of intermediate sun. After some time spent exploring the castle, Ingrid and I set up on the top floor. An east-facing window had some wonderfully worn stone around it, and served as the first location Ingrid posed in for the day. I started with my go-to default - placing the window centred in the composition, with a formal, architectural approach to the space. Having worked through that approach, I shifted the camera to a more acute angle, and suggested a post that create a more dynamic body line, while still interacting with the window

After making another set of images with a small doorway on the top floor, Ingrid and I moved into the spiral staircase, and proceeded to explore its possibilities. I've been a passionate photographer of spiral staircases since 1998, but this was one of only a couple of times I've had the opportunity to work with a model on one (the most successful session with a spiral stairway before this was in a VERY public place in Halifax).

The luxury of having one of my favourite architectural setting to work with, and the freedom to take the time needed to work out compositions and poses was a fabulous gift. Having made a great number of architectural images in stairways over the past 8 years, I immediately knew how to set up my camera (upside down on my tripod, which was splayed almost horizontally, so there were no tripod legs in the image. Once the camera was set up, Ingrid and collectively worked through a handful of different poses, with a number of really pleasing results. I highlight the above image here simply because I particularly enjoy the contrast between the set geometry of the stairway and the lovely curved form of Ingrid's figure, illuminated by the light of the narrow window.

An unfortunate side effect of working within the castle was that a chill set in pretty quickly for Ingrid; within the stairwell, the wind came in through narrow windows, oscillating between almost non-existent and a howling banshee that whipping Ingrid's hair around and stole what little body warmth remained in her. As a result, after finishing the set of images looking directly down on her, we agreed after a couple of more compositions, we'd being the session to a close (to take a break for lunch, and give Ingrid a chance to warm up).

The last images of the session were made in the first landing down from the top of the stair well - the light that fell across Ingrid was just lovely, and while the narrow doorway I was photographing through truncated her arms, I felt the incredible sculptural quality of the lighting would make the abrupt end to her upper arm seem at least somewhat referential to classical sculptures (which frequently are missing arms, and even heads). The above image ended up being Ingrid's favourite of the session for that exact reason!

June 28, 2016

Ireland VI (Kilcooley Abbey, Ireland)

If asked to explain, in a single word, why I wished to go to Ireland to create a figure-based portfolio to celebrate 30 years of photography, I would have to answer "Kilcooley"; of all the places I visited in Ireland in 2014, it was my short exploration of Kilcooley Abbey that cemented my desire to return to Ireland someday with a model, and blend my two loves (photographing the Nude, and gothic architecture) together into a new body of work.
Kilcooley Abbey is a Cistercian abbey founded in 1182 when Donal Mor O’Brien granted lands to the Cistercians. The abbey, which is a sister house to both Jerpoint and Holy Cross Abbey, is considered to be a hidden gem, tucked away in a remote corner of County Tipperary. 

Ingrid and I began working with the most distinct feature of the abbey - a beautiful west window complete with delicate stone tracery. I actually made three sets of images, making the most of the lenses I had with me - the first is above, made with a long lens and Ingrid quite far from the window. This created some great compression of space, and helped keep the window from overpowering Ingrid's figure. The other two sets worked with Ingrid much closer to the window, and actually upon the window (which is Ingrid's favourite).
Once we finished photographing with the West Window, Ingrid and I moved a little further into the abbey, where we worked with a lovely doorway and hall, which was lit by a pair of lancet windows. The space was rich in possibility, and we made a whole series of really pleasing photographs. One that stands out for me, however, is the above image her arching in the lovely window light, with the the beautifully carved wall behind her.
As Ingrid and I moved through working in the abbey, I was in seventh heaven - the light was stunning, the setting was captivating, and Ingrid and I were clearly drawing upon the almost eighteen years that we have worked together. The only real challenge was deciding which of all the different options the abbey presented to pursue next. Fortunately, one obvious location to work in was a beautiful tomb located in near the East Window. The final resting place of a knight named Piers Fitz Oge Butler, who died in 1526, the tomb is famous for carvings of 10 apostles on the front side.
After working on the stone floor in front of the tomb, Ingrid and I shifted to exploring the possibilities of a beautiful small circular window set in the side wall of the nave. I worked in both colour and infrared with this space, unsure about how important the colour would be to the final results (I am finding that colour is not all that important to most of these images). Of all the spaces we worked at in the abbey, Ingrid enjoyed this on the most. At the very end of the explorations of the space, I asked Ingrid if she could do one additional pose with her on the tomb in front of the window, specifically thinking that adding a second figure to the images of Ingrid working with the circular window would work well.
The last image set of the day was made of Ingrid with the yew tree, which was planted in the centre of the cloister (though sadly no actual cloisters remain. Ingrid and I had worked our way slowly over to the tree, and were in the middle of working with it (in it in fact) when Angie came around the corner, and let us know there was a hiker approaching. Within a minute, we were all wrapped up, and after some discussion, decided to call the session (and the day's photography) to a close.

Ireland V (Fennor, Ireland)

The second day of the photography for the Ingrid Portfolio began on a downer - over the night before, Ingrid's hot water bottle had sprung a leak, soaking her blankets, sheets and bed, and robbing her of a good night's sleep. Due to the night's disaster, we were late setting out, but as they day was damp and gray to begin with, I didn't feel much was missed.
The main reason for the location of our first week's home-base was its proximity to a number of locations that I'd photographed in 2014, and wished to return to with a model. At the top of this list was Kilcooley Abbey, which was both stunningly beautiful, and isolated/unknown enough to likely be easy to work in with Ingrid.

As we approached Kilcooley, however, we came upon a couple of long ruined churches, right by the road, and I just had to stop. After wandering around them and making a couple of images in Infrared, I asked Ingrid how she'd feel about doing a small set of photos in a particularly ivy-covered opening in one of the church's walls.
After a careful exploration of the location, ensuring it was out of sight of the road and had no other approaches, I set up the first composition, using a long angle to look out the opening towards the graveyard the another ruined church, and Ingrid disrobed and began to explore the space for poses. The first set of images focused on Ingrid by the right side of the opening, where a large headstone helped define the edge of the frame.

After a couple of pose variations, Ingrid shifted to the other side of the opening; the wall itself had a small opening in it (between the outer and inner skins) but it proved to be too rough for Ingrid to work in. In the end, we mirrored many of the poses we'd already done on the other side of the opening, but with more focus on the ivy and background, than the headstone.

In the end, though Ingrid and I only photographed for 5 minutes, I was really glad we'd made the short stop!

June 27, 2016

Ireland IV (Monaincha Abbey, Ireland)

The final session of the first full day of photography for the Ingrid Portfolio was at the small ruined Augustinian abbey of Monaincha. The location is both isolated and relatively unknown, and was one of my first little victories of all the research I did before the trip - it was easy to find, and turned out to be the perfect space to finish our first day of photography.
Founded in 1140, but built on a site of an earlier abbey founded in the 6th century by Saint Elair or St Cainnech of Aghaboe, Monaincha Abbey is described by locals as "Tipperary's best kept secret". The abbey's name comes from Mainistir Inse na mBeo meaning "The Monastery of the Island of the Living". Originally the monastery was on a small island surrounded by water, but agricultural drainage works in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries drained the bog and left the monastery perched conspicuously on top of a mound in a cow field.
More by happenstance than planning, Ingrid and I arrived at the Abbey as the setting sun was falling across the main doorway; the weathered Romanesque chevron designs and scroll-work carvings were easy to make out with the angular sun, and it provided the perfect setting to start working with Ingrid. I began with my colour camera set low on my tripod, and used a wide-angle lens to frame the entire doorway, looking through to the high cross and arches beyond. Ingrid experimented with a number of different poses and I shifted my camera camera angle occasionally, but the above photograph of Ingrid's body back-on and low in the doorway, with her arms reaching up and anchoring the inner arch above her is by far my favourite. The dark shadowy interior behind her is the perfect counterpoint to the almost sculptural quality of Ingrid in the doorway.
After some further explorations of the doorway and nave spaces, Ingrid and I moved into a small addition to the abbey, added in around the 15th century. The original purpose of the small chamber is unclear, though it is thought to have been either the priest's quarters, or a sacristy. The vaulted room was only a little higher than my head, and was lit by two small windows. Though the light was low, it was also lovely and dramatic, and Ingrid and I struggled for sometime to find a pose that did the space justice. In the end, a simple composition from the side of Ingrid crouching, and leaning back upon the tomb at the end of the room proved to be the most pleasing. Dealing with the high contrast of the location needed four separate exposures to be combined into the final image - in retrospect I wish I had thought to try the composition in infrared - I suspect it would have been even more pleasing, and would have needed just a single exposure to realize. 
Though the light was lovely in the vaulted room, it was also easily the coldest place Ingrid modeled all today, so after a couple of other compositions, we moved back into the main body of the abbey, and after Ingrid spent a few minutes dressed to warm up, we set to work in the ruins of the east window. After a couple of photographs made in colour, I shifted to working with the infrared camera, as the glow it gave the trees behind Ingrid helped separate her figure from the background. Working relatively quickly, Ingrid and explored more than handful of different poses with the window - the most successful were those with her standing, and arching back against the sea of trees moving behind her in the wind. 
After about 45 minutes of working within the abbey itself, the light levels were starting to really drop (sunset was just after 10am, and we'd arrived at the abbey at 9pm). Given the small island the abbey was on had some massive trees on its outer edge, I decided to finish up the session working with the ancient hardwoods. Though I have photographed the Nude for close to 30 years, I have to admit, I have never really worked out how to fit the body into trees...they are incredibly challenging to work with.
As it turns out, the larger the tree, the easier it is to work with, and after some pose experimentation, Ingrid I managed to make a number of really pleasing images, including the above photograph which really thrills me - the lovely tone of Ingrid's body set against the rich shadow tones of the tree behind and beside her. Just lovely.
We brought the session at Monaincha Abbey to a close at sun set - by 10pm the air started to cool, and both Ingrid and I were feeling the length of the day - three sessions and several hours of driving only a day after landing in Ireland had worn both of us out. The final session left us both feeling elated, however - in the single hour at Monaincha, we'd made some incredible images, working with both beautiful light and a stunning setting. An auspicious beginning to the two-week long project in Ireland!

Ireland III (Dangan Castle, Ireland)

After a short break for lunch (Ingrid warmed up some with a hearty soup), we drove off to find our second location, while simultaneously slowly working our way westward, towards our first week's accommodation.

The vast majority of preparation for this trip went into researching locations for Ingrid and I work with in, and one of the most exciting was discovering the ruins of Dangan Castle, an old stately home built upon the foundations of an even older castle. The house has been uninhabited since the 1840s. Its most famous occupant was Great Britain's greatest military commander, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington , who famously defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The Duke was born near the castle and spent most of his youth there.
After a lovely walk out to the ruins, Ingrid and I started working not with the house, but with a massive tree that was situated in a field beside it - though the tree was healthy and green, the heart of the trunk was mostly missing, with enough space for Ingrid to clamber right inside. Initially I photographed in colour, but I quickly realized the light was SO green (given all the leaves around us) that getting a colour colour balance on Ingrid's skin would be challenging (this turned out to be the case, so the only "colour camera" images of Ingrid in the tree are in black and white). So I switched to the infrared camera. This presented its own challenges (the infrared light under the tree was VERY low in contrast), but side-stepped the colour issue all together.
After working with the tree until Ingrid and I ran out of poses, we walked over and began working with the house proper. Without the doubt the most prevalent features that remain are the massive windows, so after making a small number of images of Ingrid in the main door, I helped her up into one of the stone window frames and we proceeded from there. The magical part of the space was the fact that the window frame we worked with was partially filled in (on an angle, just to make things different), so while Ingrid was in a massive window, she was also posing against a background to weathered stone and render. 
Ingrid and I worked on the face of the building for half-an-hour or so, experimenting with camera angles and lenses, and different ways for her to interact with the space. Working at Dangan Castle was a very different experience than our first session at the Abbey - at that location, there was a steady flow of interruptions from other visitors - Ingrid and I could never really lose ourselves in the process, and get to the point where a natural rhythm emerged in the session, as we moved from image to image. At Dangan Castle, the only interruption was a local dog walker, who we'd seen at a great distance, and easily worked around. 
One to the reasons I was so keen to work at Dangan Castle (apart from the tie to the Duke of Wellington) was because of the images I had seen of the interior of the castle - it is incredibly overgrown with foliage, and even small trees. I'd hoped to make a whole series of images with Ingrid within the building, working with the magical juxtaposition of such a massive building, and the hand of nature reclaiming it, but sadly, I had forgotten about stinging nettles ( Urtica dioica ). Even walking through the fields to the ruin, we came across the nettles, and the interior of the castle was overrun with them. I did manage to clear a small path for Ingrid, but a standing pose, feet inside the doorway, was all we could manage with the space. 
The last images of the session at Dangan Castle were made in a small out building, beside the main house; Angie had found it during her own photo exploration of the site, and she thought it might provide some contrast to the other spaces we worked in.

The first images in the shed worked with the ivy that flowed over the building, and hung down over the opening; after these images, Ingrid moved further into the structure, and lent back against the stone wall, working her hands in among the ivy. This lead to the final set of images, working with the soft, yet directional light coming in through the only entrance into the building.

Ireland II (Bective Abbey, Ireland)

After a rough night's sleep (who knew Sunday night in Dublin was such a party-fest?), we loaded up the rental car, and drove out from Dublin to our first location in the creation of the Ingrid portfolio. After more than half-a-year of planning, I can honestly say, I've known for months were the first place I'd planned to work with Ingrid was - Bective Abbey. Why? Well, it is a ruined abbey, it is close to Dublin, and it has a small covered area of cloister - therefore it would work for my purposes, rain or shine.
We arrived to find the abbey totally empty, so with a smile on my face, I pulled into the parking lot...only to be followed by a couple of other cars...in no time whatsoever, these disgorged enthusiastic visitors (both locals and tourists) who headed straight for where, moments before, I'd envisioned Ingrid and I happily working - a theme of sorts for our first session. While it was true the first group only stayed for fifteen minutes or so, the tour bus which pulled up moments after they left took a little longer.

Fortunately, Ingrid and I were expecting (or more accurately, resigned to) this possibility, and spent much of our time while waiting exploring the ruins, and roughing out ideas for images we could make together when there was no-one around. It didn't take too long to work out the couple of locations that would work well for photographs, and by the time the tourists cleared out (the first time), Ingrid and I had a solid game plan in mind, and swung into action, setting up and making a solid handful of images, before we suddenly had to halt, get Ingrid clothed again, and wait out the next set of tourists.

A more subversive assault on the session came from jet lag. The first set of images of Ingrid in a cloister window, was made with my colour camera, and somehow, I neglected to focus the lens...so the first 26 images (4-5 images of each pose) were a total write-off. All I can think is that I neglected to check if the lens was switched to auto-focus, and then forgot to check the focus in live-view (which is my normal approach to working these days. The simple fact is I was tired, and made a mistake.

Fortunately, the second group of images of Ingrid in the cloister windows had no such issues, as they were made in infrared, which I always have to manually focus (using live-view).

It took three separate tries to make all the images I wished with the cloisters - two more cars parked in the lot, and disgorged tourists who romped around the ruins while Ingrid and I milled about, waiting for them to leave. While this totally disrupted the flow of the session, it did give Ingrid a chance to warm up between images.

After another tourist-imposed break, Ingrid and I moved a little further into the ruined abbey. I have always had a love for spiral stairs, and while the stairs in Bective went no-where (literally, they ended at one-floor up, in a drop-off back to the ground), Ingrid was quite keen to work with them. Like much of the abbey, the stairs and walls were incredibly green, which proved challenging for the colour in the above image - thus black and white came to the rescue, keeping the colour casts at bay. 
While we were working on the stairs, Angie was keeping an eye on the parking lot - but also caught a glimpse of Ingrid through a small window, and suggested I come around to the outside of the building to take a look. It was challenging to make (using both an exposure blend, and a focus blend), but the final result is both unusual within my work, and pleasing, so it was well worth the effort. 
The last set of images, made in the corridor by the main entrance, took the longest to create...not in terms of the making of the images, which took only a couple of minutes, but in terms of the wait we had to go through for a time without any visitors in the abbey. After what seemed like forever (and was actually about fifteen minutes, we had our opportunity, and without hesitate, Ingrid walked through the poses we'd discussed working with the side wall, and then did some improvisation on the rock floor, before we packed up, headed to the car, and drove off looking for lunch. 

June 26, 2016

Ireland I (Dublin, Ireland)

After a little more than four hours of flight time, we arrived in Dublin, tired, but happy to finally have the project properly underway. Having learned from my 2014 trip to Ireland with Angie (who was also on this trip, as a part-vacation, part-assistant, part-documentary photo/videographer), the hotel bookings I'd made in Dublin all had early check-ins. As a result, after picking up the rental car, and fighting with the GPS (it is ironic that the first GPS co-ordinates used on the the trip, to the hotel, were the ONLY co-ordinates that were wrong...sending us to a totally different location), we arrived at the hotel in a timely fashion, and by 10am, were unconscious in comfy beds, recovering from the trans-Atlantic flight.
After a good late-morning nap, we headed gathered ourselves and headed into Dublin; after some debate we decided to save the taxi fare and have me drive (on 4 hours sleep) into the city...fortunately it was Sunday, and traffic was light. We found an awesome parking spot next to the river, and then struck out of foot, with cameras in hand!  
The weather was quite pleasant (especially as the forecast had been for rain) - overcast with pleasant temperatures. Without a specific goal in mind, we wandered south across the river, taking the Capel Street Bridge, which is famous for its Hippocampi light-posts. 
As soon as Ingrid saw the hippocampi on the bridge, she wanted a portrait with them - my first image of her in Ireland. 
The last place we explored on our all-too-brief visit to Dublin was the Library of Trinity College Dublin, home to the famous books of Kells. The instructions to visitors were none-too-clear, with "no photography signs all over the place, and then "no flash" signs, next to tourists (like us) taking a million photos a minute. Very odd.

The 65-metre-long (213 ft) main chamber of the Old Library, the Long Room, was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the Library's oldest books. The Long Room holds one of t last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. This proclamation was read by Patrick Pearse near the General Post Office on 24 April 1916.

June 25, 2016

Ingrid, The Ireland Portfolio Begins (St. John's, Newfoundland)

The 2016 Ingrid Portfolio project began as an abstract almost nine months ago, when I realized I was only a couple of months away from the start of my 30th year photographing. Well over half my life spent pursuing a single passion, focused on a single goal - the pursuit of "the image". 
When I finally put my idea in front of Ingrid, asking her if she'd be willing to spend a couple of weeks working with me in Ireland, to produce a portfolio to celebrate this milestone in my career, she didn't even hesitate, and said she was on board.
The it was simply a question of making things happen (sounds easy, doesn't it?). It took about 6 weeks to prepare for the 30 day Kickstarter campaign, and then another couple of months after the campaign was over to finalize the planning, but today, we boarded a plane in Halifax, and spent an evening in St John's, Newfoundland, while waiting for the late night flight to Dublin, Ireland.
Because of how the flights worked out, we had almost 6 hours between the two flights, which was more than enough time to catch a taxi into the city proper, and eat a meal in downtown St John's. After dinner was over, we still had a little time to spare, so another hour or so was spent walking around town, camera in hand, enjoying what I love to do the most. Making photographs.

I've always just walking with a camera, and the hour I spent in downtown St. John's was no exception. The evening light was stunning, and there was no shortage of things to photograph. All good things must come to an end though, so by 9pm, we were back in the airport, through security inspection, and waiting for the last big step before the creation of the portfolio began - the overnight flight to Ireland.