July 02, 2016

Ireland XVI (Clare Abbey, Ireland)

Clare Abbey is a ruined Augustinian monastery founded in 1195 under the sponsorship of Domnall Mór Ua Briain (Donald O'Brien), the king of Thomond. After the suppression of the monastery in 1543 the parish lands were given to the barons of Ibrackan by King Henry VIII of England.
This was our transition day - shifting from our first week's accommodation, located in central Ireland, to our second week's home base, 30 minutes west of Galway. The day (as usual) dawned wet, but by late morning, when we arrived at Clare Abbey, just outside of Ennis, the sky was clearing, and patchy sunshine was starting to become more common.
When we arrived, a farmer was just locking up his fields, but after he left, there wasn't a soul in sight, so after a quick look through the entire space, Ingrid and I set to work. The first set of images worked with a stone and iron wall that ran around a small mausoleum beside the nave; at the corner, a small tree provided Ingrid with something to pose against, and kept the hash sun off her figure. In colour, the image was a mess of highlights and shadows, but with the infrared camera, the contrast of the scene was reduced, and the luminous foliage helped create a more balanced image overall.
After we finished working with the outer corner of the wall, I had Ingrid pose against the iron fence looking out from the abbey grounds; the late morning sun presented some challenges, so I continued to work with the infrared camera, enjoying both the lower contrast and rich tonality it gives to the resulting images. Though I worked both straight on, and on an angle to the fence, in the end the more formal look of the straight-on approach appealed to me the most.
After a short break due to a couple of visitors, Ingrid and I moved into the nave, continuing my exploration of the possibilities of gothic windows combined with the Nude; the question of scale and weight still challenges me. In this case, I wonder if the small window in the distance isn't overpowered by the dramatic arch of the main tower directly above Ingrid. The stone plinth Ingrid posed upon was just too perfect a setting to pass by, even if the balance between the elements feels a little off in the end.
The last set of images in Clare Abbey explored the possibilities presented by one of the lower windows in the nave. Low enough for Ingrid to easily climb up and pose upon, we worked through a number of different poses before hitting on the above - by far the most pleasing of the images, it presented a striking contrast between Ingrid's smooth, organic form and the more graphic, dramatic vertical elements of the window above her.

With the finishing of the images in the window, Ingrid and I agreed it was time to bring the session to a close, and seek a locale to have our lunch in!

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