On Location: Game of Thrones

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock – or you don’t subscribe to HBO – then you will be well aware of the epic “Game of Thrones” TV drama series. The show is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin, and “Game of Thrones” is the first book in the fantasy series. Not for the faint of heart, the show combines the drama of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the debauchery of The Tudors, with blood and guts, sex and betrayal, crime and punishment all front and center. Anyhoo… the visually impressive series is filmed in all sorts of exotic locations including Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco, and… my home country of Northern Ireland.

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I believe it was at the end of the second series that the scene above was introduced as the “Road to Harrenhal”. Locals in Northern Ireland know this special place as “The Dark Hedges”, a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim. I was fortunate to be able to photograph this intriguing place on a recent visit home, though I believe that a new shiny green fence has been installed along the roadside since I was last there, somewhat negatively impacting the aesthetics. It is a moody place nonetheless, one that is rumored to be haunted by the Grey Lady, a ghostly figure who walks the lane beneath the beech trees.

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Many other scenes from Game of Thrones have been filmed in my home country. The picturesque location above might be recognizable as part of the Iron Islands, but I know it better as the working harbor of Ballintoy. I’ve always known that Northern Ireland was filled with some of the most stunning landscapes imaginable, and it comes as no surprise that the visionaries who brought this series to life chose to film there. The Glens of Antrim, the Mourne Mountains, the Antrim Coast, and Ballintoy Harbor… these are just some of the locations that have been highlighted as the stunning backdrop to what is one of my all-time favorite shows.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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Just a short post this morning with a couple of pix to celebrate what was always a fun day growing up in Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday back home, and although it hasn’t quite reached those heights here in the US, there are enough ex-pats to make sure that it gets plenty of attention. Anyhoo… here’s a sampling of photographs from my home country, leading off with The Dark Hedges, and followed by a few other famous and not so famous sights…

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BWDunmore Head

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Kinbane Castle

See more of my Ireland photographs…

here: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com/p641596536

and here: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com/p830260940

Touch it and feel it…

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Actually… I wouldn’t advise that you touch and feel prints, not unless you want to get smudgy fingerprints all over them! While viewing photographs on-screen in a computer slideshow or on a web site can be impressive, there’s definitely something about physically holding a print in your hands that just can’t be beat. It’s similar to that comforting feeling of turning the page in an old-fashioned paper book, even though I do enjoy reading on my iPad. By the way, if you do get smudges on your print (like I always do), you should be able to simply “polish” them gently away with a piece of soft cotton.

In reality, I don’t get that many images printed, so when I do, I always get excited for when they arrive. I have had my adventures, or should I say misadventures, with printing, mounting and framing photographs, so these days I take a rather lazy route… but one that I can be fairly sure will be successful. It’s simple actually… I let the experts do the printing and mounting, and I buy off-the-shelf frames that I think will show the prints well. To this point I just haven’t uncovered the desire to print, mount, cut mats and make frames myself.

Known as “The Dark Hedges” – this is a scene from back home in Ireland where a magnificent row of 300 year old beech trees rather spectacularly line and frame a local roadway. I love how the trees reach high above the road to become tangled as an overhead canopy, and the side-lighting from the overcast day added a nice layer of depth to the landscape. I have wanted a print of this photograph for some time, and just this week I finally took the time to get it done. I used a California based company who accepts online orders – Aspen Creek Photo – and I couldn’t be happier with the quality of the print (and the whole ordering process). It was printed on Fuji Pearl paper, a metallic paper that renders the scene almost 3D-like, and this time for reasons of stability, I also chose to pay a little more and have it professionally mounted on 3/16″ Gatorfoam.

Just for fun… here’s the un-framed image below, and for those following my travails with selecting a new WordPress theme, this is still the same one (Nuntius) that I have been using for a while. I’m having a hard time deciding on a new theme, so to buy myself some time, I made a few tweaks to the color scheme. Simple, and hopefully sharp.

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

The Dark Hedges: before the bright shiny fence

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I just talked to a college buddy of mine who now lives quite close to the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, and he informed that a new, bright and shiny fence has been installed inside the tree line to help maintain control of the local livestock. Apparently it doesn’t exactly add to the splendor of the view, and that’s a shame, because this is a popular scene that has stirred the imagination of many photographers. While I totally understand the rationale, I can’t help thinking that a different strategy might have been employed… one that kept the sheep where they needed to be, and one that maintained the quality of the view.

This is a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim in Northern Ireland that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. Supposedly haunted by the “Grey Lady” who appears at dusk among the trees, I had an opportunity to visit here a few years back and although I did not see any ghosts, I was fascinated by what was once a pretty spectacular driveway leading to Gracehill Mansion, home of the Stuart family.

As you can see, over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a remarkable sight. People flock from all parts to photograph this scene, and although it certainly might look pretty cool on screen, seeing it in person is far more impressive. If looking for directions on how to get to there for yourself, check out a post I made from a while ago… just one of the many remarkable sights to be found back home in Northern Ireland.

I can’t imagine what it looks like with a bright and shiny fence 😦

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

A famous row of trees

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More from Ireland…. bear with me as I get my fix from home 🙂

The image above is of a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. As you can see, over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a remarkable sight. Many people photograph this scene, and although it certainly does look pretty cool in this photo, seeing it in person is far more impressive. If looking for directions on how to get to this place for yourself, check out a post I made from a while back. Just one of the many remarkable sights to be found back home in Northern Ireland.

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

How to get to The Dark Hedges

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I check the stats for my blog every now and then, and when I do, I invariably find that certain posts are more popular than others when it comes to search terms. A post about a famous stretch of road in Northern Ireland from September 10, 2009 which I titled Dark Hedges is one such post. Other than three of my posts which were “freshly pressed” on the front page of WordPress.com generating views in the thousands, this has been my most viewed blog post. There isn’t a day that goes by where it hasn’t received at least a handful of views, and since I figured people must be looking for information on how to get there for themselves, why not share the location.

If this were a fragile ecosystem where sharing the specific location and encouraging additional foot traffic might endanger the local environment, I might be more reluctant to share specifics, but since it is a public road that just happens to be pretty remarkable, I don’t see any harm in helping others see it for themselves. This is a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy in County Antrim that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. As you can see, over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create an impressive sight. I have only visited this place one time, and on that occasion the light and atmosphere were not especially dramatic. For those of you planning on photographing this scene for yourselves… here’s hoping that the conditions come together perfectly for you, and that you come away with a special image that you are proud of 🙂

Directions: From Belfast, take the M2 north out of the city and look for the A26 just north of the town of Antrim. Take the A26 north toward and around Ballymena, and about 7 miles past Ballymena look for where the road forks with an option to take the A44 (Drones Road) toward Armoy and Ballycastle. Stay on the A44 for another 7 miles or so, and before reaching the village of Armoy, make a left onto the Bregagh Road. After about a mile you will cross over the B15 (Gracehill Road), and stay straight for another mile until you cross over the Ballykenver Road… turn the bend and prepare to say “Wow”.

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

The Dark Hedges… a spooky scene from Ireland

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In about six weeks Sam and I will be hopping on a plane to begin our journey back home to Ireland. Needless to say, both of us are very excited to spend time there exploring what we expect to be some familiar, and some not so familiar, places.

The image above is of a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy in County Antrim that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. As you can see, over the past 300 years or so the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a remarkable sight. I have previously shared color images of this place, but in this case I processed the image as a black and white, hoping to accentuate the strange and twisted shapes of the tree branches.

Perhaps this time around we might squeeze another visit to this wonderfully spooky place into our itinerary… wouldn’t it be cool to see this scene with heavy, low lying fog on the ground?

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com