July 07, 2016

Ireland XXIX (Moyne Friary, Ireland)

Moyne Abbey, was founded in 1460 by the powerful de Burgo family, on the orders of Mac William de Burgo. It thrived for almost 150 years, before it was burned in 1590 by the notorious Sir Richard Bingham, the English Governor of Connacht appointed by Queen Elizabeth Ist. It is possible that friars continued to reside in the friary until the end of the 18th century, when the friary began to fall into ruin. Today the remains are still incredibly well preserved and a fantastically atmospheric place to visit.

Of all the locations Ingrid and I worked with in Ireland, this took the most effort to get to; but based upon the photos I'd found online, and what I'd read about both the site's accessibility, and remoteness, I decided the time and expense would be worth it. So after a long 2.5 hour drive, and a walk though a farmer's field (with a Beware of Bull sign, but no bull), we arrived in the early afternoon at the most spectacular religious ruin I've seen in Ireland.

The abbey turned out to be everything the images I had seen had hinted at and more - and its greatest treasure was an intact, complete cloister, which is where Ingrid and I started working together. In all, we spent an hour working with the beautiful light and form of the covered walkway, and it is challenging (to say the least) to select a favorite portrait from the images we made, but the above, which strikes a balance between confidence and sensuality, wins out for me.
A more technical achievement was the creation of the above photograph, capturing the grandeur of the cloister, while keeping Ingrid front and centre (literally, as well as creatively). Even with the incredible contrast-controlling nature of my infrared converted Canon 5Ds, I needed to combine three different exposures to record the tonal range from the brightly lit grass in the centre of the courtyard, to the shadowy figure of Ingrid on the inside wall of the cloister.
After a break for some lunch and exploration of the rest of the abbey, Ingrid and I moved up to the second floor of the Refectory, and worked with a lovely deep alcove (a remnant of an earlier design which was built into the wall of a later building). We started with Ingrid working in the recess, with my camera straight out and parallel to the alcove, but then I switched to the infrared camera, and moved the camera down and to the side, for a more dramatic (and less classical "Eric") composition. This paid off in spades, with a couple of very striking images coming out of the experiment.
The last set of images Ingrid and I made within Moyne Abbey were set in a dimly lit room to the side of the cloisters; I just loved the dramatic lighting in the room, and combined with an ultra wide lens, the sense of space and mood was just sunning. Ingrid and I made dozens of exposures of a handful of poses in this room, taking as many as 10 of a pose, to ensure we had at least one without motion blur (with standing poses, an exposure of 1/6th of a second is challenging to hold still).

The session was brought to a close at 4pm, after Ingrid and I made a couple of photographs of her in the fields behind the abbey, with the ruins in the background; I had realized we'd been focusing on images within ruins, but had few with ruins as a backdrop, so on the second-last day of the project, I made a small effort to rectify that situation!

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