July 05, 2016

Ireland XXVI (Castlegrove House, Ireland)

Castlegrove is a seven-bay three-storey country house, built c.1830. The house and vast estate belonged to Edward Blake but it would eventually ruin him. He decided that the road from Tuam heading north ran too close to the house so he built a new road to divert traffic away from it. This was just one of his over ambitious plans and he was unable to pay back money borrowed and so was forced to leave Castlegrove, when it was sold in 1853. He died 20 years later. 

Of all the places I hoped to work with Ingrid in Ireland, Castlegrove was the one I had the highest hopes for; I learned of it only weeks before we the trip, and the images I found of Castlegrove online were hauntingly beautiful. While the only post I could find with details about it indicated it was hard to find, but when I overlaid the Google Maps satellite image with an historical land plan from the 19th century (below), it was clear where the buildings would be...I hoped.
The research paid off, and after parking the car and a short walk further along the road, I could see the ivy-covered walls of the house in the middle of the haunting woods. I don't think I have worked in a more magical location in all of my 30 years of photography (which is rather cool, given the Ingrid portfolio was planned as a way to celebrate 30 years of photography!). 
The greatest challenge of working at Castlegrove was deciding what to work with; as I have said with other locations, Ingrid and I could have worked all day, or even for multiple days, within the ruins, and still not scratch the surface of the location's potential. As they had caught my eye in the online photos I found of the ruins, I suggested Ingrid try working on the fallen stone columns; their strong lines clearly contrasted with the forest floor, and permitted me to set the ruins of the house in the background for some location context.
After working some with the main door the house, Ingrid and I moved into the building itself - and couldn't resist working with the smaller trees that were scattered around the interior. While I tried some images in colour, it was the infrared photographs that I felt worked the best - there is nothing quite like how it renders skin tone, and the luminous foliage keeps the focus on the foreground.
As much as we were at Castlegrove to work with the house ruins, I couldn't resist asking Ingrid to pose for a few images focused on the ever present forest that surrounded (and even grew into it). Again, I felt the infrared worked best for the above image, as it keeps the focus on Ingrid, sitting on a fallen tree.
Towards the end of the session, Angie suggested Ingrid and I work with a bed of Queen Anne's Lace she had found just outside the building; we'd seen some elsewhere the size of sunflowers, but as they were beside a road (and a rather busy one at that), we agreed to keep the idea of working with the flower somewhere else more appropriate - and this turned out to be the place!

Ultimately, we would have worked for another hour or two at Castlegrove, but the session was brought to an abrupt close when a family came romping through the forest. Even with the interruption, I am incredibly pleased with the work Ingrid and I did in the ruin, and certainly would return to work with it again, if I had the chance.

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