Archive for September, 2011

September 29, 2011

Gold Coast

On a recent trip up to Co. Waterford, we turned off at the promising sounding ‘Gold Coast’, near Dungarvan.  Perhaps it was because I was expecting something a little more exotic that the reality was a  bit disappointing – ‘Grey Coast’ seemed a more accurate description.  Nevertheless we had a decent scramble across the beach and I wanted to try and get some dramatic shots with a new roll of Kodak Tmax 100.

There was something about the rocks in the above picture that caught my attention; the lines, patterns and textures all tell a story, one of unending erosion, pressure, climate and sea-level changes.  You know how sometimes when you look up at the stars on a clear night it makes you feel so small in the context of things?  Well standing on these rocks of immense age and trying to imagine how this place first looked at the beginning of time / Creation evoked a similar emotion.  But something else too, not just a sense of smallness, but a sense of God’s vastness and greatness, his capacity to know everything infinitely and his unlimited power and yet even though we might be very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, He cares about us so much that He gave His Son…

Perhaps Gold Coast is not a bad name after all.

September 23, 2011

Bantry Harbour

I rediscovered these pictures last week that I had taken earlier on in the year.  I had gone to visit someone in Bantry Hospital and the little harbour for fishing boats caught my eye.  I pulled the car over and got out armed with my Olympus OM-1 and 50mm lens.  The film was Ilford Delta 100 and I used a yellow filter to help bring out detail in the sky (without it the sky appears just white).



There were a couple of old fishermen about that looked like they had seen more than their fair share of wind and rain and storms enough for several lifetimes.  I wish I’d had the courage to ask them if I could take a photo of them, but we just said ‘hello’ as they continued to eye me with curiosity as I took pictures (about 5 in total) of their boats.  I had taken the clerical collar out of my shirt as an attempt to look somewhat ‘normal’, but I’m sure I still stuck out like a sore thumb!  Anyway I was quite happy with the pictures I had taken and the experience gave me something to smile about on the journey home.

September 20, 2011


Hungry Caterpillars munching away on the remains of our broccoli plants!

One of my favourite books as a child was Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.  It begins with the words:

In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.

Then continues a wonderful story, complete with caterpillar holes in the pages, eventually ending up with the hungry chap becoming a “beautiful butterfly.”

It has been a joy to read this story again to our boys and is perhaps one of the reasons why they get so excited about seeing caterpillars in the garden and especially when they find Pupa delicately hanging from underneath windowsills and other hidden places!

People have often found the transformative process of a caterpillar becoming a ‘beautiful butterfly, as something reflective of the process of coming to faith in Christ; we leave our old way of life behind and begin a new life with Christ (rather than ourselves) at the centre.  Of course the physical reality is usually not so clean, for the Christian continually battles with their old way of life and with selfishness, greed and all the rest of the baggage that we all carry.   The process of change is piecemeal; little by little He works in us and so even if to ourselves (and to those who know us well) there might seem like a very long way to go, the end result is that we shall (eventually) become  the way that we were always meant to be.  We cannot of course take any credit for this change at all, it is all because of His love and His grace…

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

September 19, 2011


Looking at this rusty old bit of metal that forms part of the sea defences at Red Strand, one can’t help but be struck with a new appreciation of the powerful forces of nature. The sea never gives up; day after day, year after year and for millennia. Metal, concrete and stone do not stand a chance, it may take its time, but the sea will conquer in the end.

I don’t know what obstacles you have in your life, but even though they might seem immovable and adamant in their permanence, there is a Force that is altogether greater…

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Mark 13:31

This past few days I’ve had the privilege to spend time with three people in the last hours of their life and then to do the funerals of two of them.  It is impossible not to be affected by this experience, which is both a huge honour and privilege.  It affects me differently each time but perhaps this last week I have been able to understand things from an eternal perspective more; that this life is little more than a preparation, a beginning for that life which is to come.  In the midst of all this we have a God, an awesome God who is always there and who does not change.  He is with us in life and He is with us in death and He is with us in that life which is to come.

And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” (Hebrews 1:10-12)

September 14, 2011

Harvest 2011

Driving along the coastal road heading East from Timoleague, a field caught my eye.  Perhaps it was the interesting light or the geometry of the bales of straw I don’t know, but I thought there was something picture-worthy about the scene.

Amidst the rhythm and routine of parish life, ‘Harvest’ refers not only to the long days of work that farmers put in at this time of year, ever with an eye to the sky and an ear to the weather forecast, but also to the Harvest Season that is an important part of the Church calendar.  Particularly in rural communities where many families livelihoods are linked to the land, ‘Harvest Thanksgiving’ is one of the yearly highlights of parish life.

In the parish where I serve, we have four church buildings and each has an annual Harvest Thanksgiving service.  In Courtmacsherry, a church which is only open for Sunday worship in July and August, we have already held the service on the last Sunday of August.  The small church was packed and as always it was a wonderful atmosphere.  A dairy farmer there reminded me that for anyone who milks cows the harvest is every day, all year round!  This Sunday we celebrate the service in TImoleague (at 11.00am), then on Sunday 25th at 10.00am we celebrate in Kilmalooda.  Finally on Friday 7th October, we celebrate in Clonakilty at 8.30pm.  If you would like more information, have a look at the parish website here.

1. Praise and thanksgiving,
Father, we offer,
for all things living
you have made good;
harvest of sown fields,
fruits of the orchard,
hay from the mown fields,
blossom and wood.

2. Lord, bless the labour
we bring to serve you,
that with our neighbour
we may be fed.
Sowing or tilling,
we would work with you;
harvesting, milling,
for daily bread.

3. Father, providing
food for your children,
your wisdom guiding
teaches us share
one with another,
so that, rejoicing,
sister and brother
may know your care.

4. Then will your blessing
reach every people;
each one confessing
your gracious hand;
when you are reigning
no one will hunger,
your love sustaining,
fruitful the land.

Albert Frederick Bayly (1901-84) altd. – From Church Hymnal, Fifth Ed. 

September 12, 2011

Roll 30

A few recent pictures.  These are taken with a Nikon F100 and 18-35mm and 50mm lenses using Ilford FP4+ (125 ISO), developed in Agfa Rodinal and scanned using an Epson 4490.  Kinsale harbour

Red Strand

Red Strand

Kinsale harbour

September 11, 2011


Photo: U.S. Flag at ‘Utah Beach’, Normandy.

We were living in East Belfast at the time and I was driving to see an elderly man in a nursing home when I heard the news on the radio.  I was listening to 5live and it was Simon Mayo (I think) who broke the news, (which at that stage was still quite vague), about a plane flying into one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York.

The man I had gone to see was a World War Two veteran, he had been one of the U.S. infantrymen who had landed in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944.  He had a photo of himself in uniform from those days above his bed.  He had just heard the news himself, and we discussed the implications, it was the beginning of a new era, we agreed that the world would never be the same again.

I didn’t do any more visits, I just wanted to get home.  I arrived to find Sonja sitting in front of the television horrified at the pictures being shown; she had been watching live footage when the second plane had struck.  I think we hardly moved away from the T.V. for the rest of the day.

It would be easy to be cynical about and condemning of America’s response to these attacks over the years that have followed.  Our freedom of speech and comfortable lives allow us to do this from a lofty place of priviledge and without any fear.  I may join in the chorus of critiscism one day, but not today.

Tags: ,
September 9, 2011

Summer’s Curtain Call

September 1, 2011

Attempting Street Photography in Sarlat

Sarlat-la-Canéda is a wonderful old town that we came across during our holiday. Stuck in a traffic-jam, we had plenty of time to admire the magnificent old buildings and enjoy the lively and bustling atmosphere (and also breathe in an unhealthy dose of exhaust fumes)! We returned to visit the town on a Saturday (which also happened to be Market Day), this time getting the bus from our campsite so as to avoid any more traffic nightmares.

If you don’t mind the large crowds that frequently become bottle-necked in the narrow and winding streets then you will love the market. There is something for everyone, from food and wine to books, hats, jewelry, toys and much more besides, a really great day out.

From the photographers point of view, especially if you enjoy ‘street photography’, then this place is as good as it gets. It’s not easy though trying to expose accurately in the high contrast environment of bright light and dark shadows. I chose to use the largest aperture my lens would allow of f3.5 which gave me a useable shutter speed of about 1/160 sec most of the time.  I tended also to use spot metering more than I normally would, as the matrix metering was often fooled by the extreme light and shadow in many scenes – and all this whilst balancing our 4 year old son (who was worn out with all the walking) on my shoulders!


Not a stall for vegetarians!  I enjoyed watching the interaction of the two people working on the stall; she was the flamboyant saleswoman, he the quiet and efficient businessman…


This man had a great view of the street from his hotel window.


A lot of street photography is about juxtapositions, opposites and contrasts.  Here is one (quite accidental) example – happy/miserable, in focus/out of focus, far/near, older/younger etc.

The ancient Cathedral.


This  lady was selling pottery birds that when filled with water (and blowed as a whistle) made a tweet noise!


Some colorful fish that caught my attention.


Sarlat is a beautiful place and we had a really great time exploring just a small part of it.  Writing this now almost a month later and looking out upon leaden West Cork skies, it seems like a million miles away…