From the homeland…

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4-15-14Dunmore Head

Niamh and Dan are another of my two angels. Both have been an incredible resource to Lori and I as we navigate our somewhat choppy current waters. Hailing directly from back home in Ireland, their accents haven’t waned one bit, and it does my heart good to hear them speak in their classic soft-singing Irish tone. Both doctors in the local community, they’ve shared compassion (and expertise) with our family, though as you might expect in a situation like this, that extra level of knowledge Lori and I have been able to attain has felt especially valuable.

Niamh and Dan have been there for us – in what felt like a life-saving operation, right before I had a PET Scan done it was Dan who somewhat spontaneously and thankfully drained a ton of excess fluid from my lung when I had pneumonia – and as is the case these days, we have a hard time truly expressing our thanks for their support. They’ve been there for us anytime and at all times, frequently asking how they can help, and also providing relevant insights and experience about the entire process/situation – much of which we’re just learning to gather for ourselves.

4-16-14 obrien

We wanted to give Niamh and Dan something of ours… that might mean something to them too… so we had a print of this scene from Dunmore Head on the Ring of Kerry printed biggish at 20×30 right onto metal. From Dunmore Head near Coumeenoole, you can see Great Blasket Island straightaway, Inishnabro and Inishvickillane to the left, and to the right is Beiginis and then Inishtooskert – just off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. There’s an almost 3-D look to the metal printing, and the scene literally pops right off the surface. Turns out Dan has actually spent time sailing in and around these very islands! To my angels from Ireland, Niamh and Dan – here’s a little glimpse from home – thank you.

A Window to the World

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12-8-13 Acadia11 BW(720px)

I’m celebrating the fact that I actually got off my you-know-what and made a new landscape photograph – one that I’m actually prepared to share! I hadn’t visited Acadia in several months, but all that changed this past weekend when local photographer Chad Tracy and I cruised down to MDI for a quick photo expedition. Despite the below freezing temperatures and the biting wind, standing on the rocky shoreline of my favorite national park never felt so good!

I’ll share a few more photographs from what was a beautiful sunrise over the next few days, so stay tuned. After exploring a part of the granite “ledges” along the Loop Road near Thunder Hole, our original plan was to meander back toward Sand Beach to maybe do some long exposures with the surf. We got sidetracked though when I realized how close we were to this unique location, and since the sun was already up, I was excited to visit at a time when I wouldn’t get the willies from it being too dark.

The ecosystem within this sea cave is extraordinarily delicate, so Chad and I were extremely cautious about making sure to walk only on the solid rock. Although not a huge secret, and relatively easy to find, to further protect this little gem I made Chad swear not to divulge the location to anyone else. The approach to the cave – and the floor inside – was quite slippery and tricky to navigate, and to add to the mystique, this location is only accessible at low tide. It was quite an experience to spend some time in here, and as we looked through the window out onto Frenchman Bay, we appreciated the shelter from the chilly winter air. I like this photograph, and I’m going to add it to my portfolio.

If you haven’t seen my full portfolio yet – if interested – you can click on over and check out a selection of my favorite images on Acadia and Beyond (in addition to Acadia, I’ve shared images of Maine, Ireland, Death Valley, Yosemite). If you do visit the site, drop me a line… I’d love to hear your thoughts. If interested in purchasing from the site between now and the New Year, to save some cash be sure to type in the discount code “Acadia” when checking out. A bargain… Happy holidays!

And yes… I’m trying out a new blog theme. Feedback appreciated on that too 🙂

A change of pace…

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dunmore head re-do

I had been searching for the original RAW file of this scene for a while. This is a blend of two exposures… one for the land in the foreground, and one for the much brighter and sun-reflected light on the ocean. I wasn’t thrilled with my first go at blending the two exposures, but for the life of me I couldn’t seem to find the original files to give it another try… until recently. Maybe this is one that would look good printed on metal?

This is from the last trip I made home to Ireland (with Sam), and shows The Great Blasket Islands from Dunmore Head in County Kerry. Here’s the original post… taking the Slea Head Road west out of Dingle, we spotted a little harbor tucked into the rocks with a pretty beach. From a distance it was beautiful, and up close… even nicer. Looking over our shoulder though, we saw what looked like a path winding its way up the hillside toward the ocean. Eager for an adventure and the possibility of a nice view, we started hiking.

I thought I was going to have a heart attack… too many Irish breakfasts and too much Guinness lately had me struggling to keep up with Sam. When I finally did get to a flat spot, I dropped my backpack and told him to go on ahead… I needed a rest.

So… in the photograph above you can enjoy the view I had from the spot I decided to rest. The headland we were on was called Dunmore Head, and you can see Great Blasket Island straightaway, Inishnabro and Inishvickillane off to the left, and to the right is Beiginis and then Inishtooskert. This was classic windblown and rugged Irish coastline, and as has been the case most everywhere we went on that trip… it was totally deserted and ours alone.

Here are a couple more photographs to help give a sense of where we were. The first shows our first look at the scene (the arrow shows where we were when I made the photograph at the top of this post), the second is a more intimate view of the harbor and beach, and the third is the view from the other side of the headland in the late afternoon sun. After out hike we headed back into the town of Dingle for dinner, and you can just imagine how good Guinness Stew for Sam and Shepherd’s Pie for me tasted in a local pub… all washed down with a nice pint of course. Beautiful.

St. Patrick’s Day

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March 17 holds significance for me in two ways. First of all, and most obviously, it is Saint Patrick’s Day. Growing up in Ireland I can remember many a day spent very unproductively celebrating whatever it was we were celebrating… usually from an early hour too! Last year Sam and I were lucky enough to be in Dublin to join in with the locals as they did what they do best… great experience. If you want a quick fix from the Emerald Isle, check out my gallery of Ireland photographs, including the one below from Dunmore Head looking out toward Great Blasket Island.

Secondly, as I check the weather forecast for the coming week, I am pleased to notice that we are expecting a brief spell of almost 70 degree temperatures here in Maine. While definitely abnormal for this time of year, March 17 and St. Paddy’s Day always spell the end of winter for me. The clocks have just sprung forward, we are in the throes of March Madness, and in a couple of weeks we get to enjoy the dogwoods of Augusta during The Masters golf tournament. For me… this is a good time of the year, so cheers!

Shiny and silver…

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Every now and then I get the urge to print something, and I figure if it’s worth printing then it’s worth printing BIG! I just sent this one off to be printed on metallic paper at 24 x 36, and I have a feeling that when it comes back I will like it. I love how landscape photographs appear almost 3D when printed on metallic paper, and the black and white processing should make this one really pop.

If I ever got serious about this whole photography thing I would love to spend some time learning about what goes into making a really good print… but in the meantime, I will trust (and pay) those with the ability and resources to take care of such a task. I am definitely developing an attraction to large prints, and I can’t wait to see this one up close 🙂

From Dunmore Head near Coumeenoole, you can see Great Blasket Island straightaway, Inishnabro and Inishvickillane to the left, and to the right is Beiginis and then Inishtooskert – just off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.

Toward the highest mountain in Ireland

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Another from the Ireland stash… this is from our last evening in Killarney before we headed north toward Galway. There is a path just to the right of where I planted my tripod that leads toward the highest mountain in Ireland… Carrauntoohil (3406 ft). Carrauntoohil itself isn’t actually visible in this photograph, and I’m not entirely sure what the correct name for this path is, though I think it is either Lisleibane or Cronin Yard Loop. It was a spectacularly beautiful way to spend time as the early evening shadows stretched across a landscape that is known locally as Hags Glen. Can you imagine what this looks like when everything has greened up?

The moment was better than the photograph

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This is one of those instances when the moment of actually being there was better than I was able to represent with the camera. Sam and I had arrived at Ross Castle in Killarney with plenty of time to spare before the sun was scheduled to rise, and as we walked from the parking lot toward the castle, I couldn’t help but notice this scene.

The morning air was cool and damp, and I never get tired of that feeling of expectation and excitement you get when exploring somewhere new in the pre-dawn light. An almost eerie mist on the water off in the distance helped create a mood of tranquility and peacefulness like you wouldn’t believe, and there wasn’t a soul around as we stood on a little bridge admiring this scene and listening to the sounds of the wakening morning. The reflections on the still as glass water were remarkable, and as the sun slowly climbed in the sky, I was once again reminded of why it is important to get up at this time of day.

In the photograph below I broke out the longer lens (70-200mm f4) and  tried to bring everything good about this scene a little closer. The two-dimensional world of photography can be somewhat limiting when it comes to truly representing an experience, but at least I have these two images to serve as a reminder of a wonderful morning shared with Sam… in a place and at a time only he and I experienced… pretty neat.