July 01, 2016

Ireland XV (Rock of Dunamase, Ireland)

July 1, 2016 marks the 18th anniversary of the first time Ingrid and I worked together!

Angie and I first visited the Rock of Dunamase during our Irish trip in 2014, and I was impressed by both its dramatic setting, and the relative isolation of the site (during the couple of hours we spent there, only a couple of other visitors came along briefly)
The Rock of Dunamase is a massive rock outcrop, over 45 metres in height, with a ruined castle perched upon it, totally dominating the surrounding landscape. The rock is thought to be drawn on a map by the greek cartographer Ptolemy under the name "Dunum" in the 2nd century. Dunamase started as an early christian fort known as Dun Masc "the Fort of Masc". The earliest historical reference to Dunamase is in the annals of the four masters where it states that Dun Masc was plundered by the vikings in 843AD and the abbot of Terryglass was killed.

Though there was no plundering when Ingrid and worked at the rock, there certainly was a surprising number of invaders; apparently the Rock of Dunamase is a popular place to visit at sunset! Though Ingrid and I began working several times over the early evening, each proved to be a false start, as inevitable, we'd receive warning that "visitors are coming", forcing Ingrid to revert to her clothed state. Photos were made, but it was never long before another visitor or two was headed up the hill.

Fortunately, one of the early min-sessions proved fruitful, letting Ingrid and I create eight separate images of her on a rock-wall outcrop, overlooking the Irish landscape, with the evening sky behind her. It is hard to select my favorite from the series - some I like the pose in, but feel there isn't enough landscape and sky around Ingrid, but the above, with her leaning back as the light from the evening sky hits her torso, has the perfect balance, and even some nice lines in the landscape, complimenting the composition.

As the sun moved further down in the sky, the visitors eventually stopped venturing up the hill, and with about 30 minutes of light left, the last of the cars (other than ours) vanished from the parking lot. At last Ingrid and I could work without interruption!
By this time, the sun had moved below most of the clouds, and was bathing the entire western side of the hill in golden light. Ingrid and I began working with the light as it fell on the wall of the ancient great hall. It was challenging, given the contrast of the sky, but some careful exposure blending (what others refer to as HDRI) I managed to include the sky in some images, while other used a single-frame approach, and just focused on the light on Ingrid alone. I particularly love the above image, which has both great light and an almost bucolic expression on Ingrid's face.
As the sun moved lower in the sky, I shifted to trying to incorporate the sunset into my compositions; being unfamiliar with Ireland, it was a little surprising that nothing really happened with the sky - I am used to Canadian sunsets which frequently turn golden or red...in Ireland, there was a little colour, and then it just got dark. Regardless however, as long as the sun light was falling on Ingrid's figure, there was this wonderful golden highlight on her body, shown best in the above photograph of her arching back as the last light of the day passes through the doorway and onto her figure.

I cannot think of a better way to have visually celebrated the beginning of my 18th year of working with Ingrid than to work with her within a dramatic ruined castle, on a rocky outcrop, overlooking a lovely sunset slowly falling across the centre of Ireland!

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