Posts tagged ‘Co. Cork’

June 30, 2010

Golden Hour

Towards Castlefreke and Long Strand

Towards Castlefreke and Long Strand

There’s a time in the evening when the sun is thinking about setting but seems reluctant to do so.  Low in the sky the light is soft and filtered, imparting a certain ‘glow’ to everything.

As I stood in that field of Barley, I felt like I was in the midst of a great painting, a work of genius, by the great Artist.  It was a moment of beauty; I could hear the sea rush against the shore to my left and I could smell the earthy ground, still wet from the recent rainfall.  A breeze was gently blowing across the fields so that the Barley seemed – almost – to mimic the movement of the nearby waves.  There was a mist beginning to rise in the distant hollows and I knew that the special light was about to leave, so I reluctantly did the same.

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June 11, 2010

Time and West Cork Time

One of the advantages of rural life in Ireland (as I suspect is true of non-city life almost anywhere) is the way time is treated.  Country time is not the hard slave master that city time can be; everyone in a hurry to be somewhere to do something to meet someone etc.  In West Cork, time is not a precise phenomenon, it is merely an advisory instrument that may or may not be relevant for the conduct of any given day or occasion.  Things will happen when they will, people will arrive when they mean to and not a moment sooner or later.

What got me thinking about time?  Well if you’re still reading then you must be vaguely interested so I’ll tell you – The Innishannon Steam Rally.

This grand occasion happens over the June Bank Holiday weekend every year. It’s a great family day out, but what really caught my interest was (wait for it) … the “Slow Tractor Race”.  It’s complicated, but basically the winner is the person to drive their tractor the slowest without stopping, so the person who comes last is the winner.  Ingenious!

Can you imagine such a thing happening in New York, Tokyo or London, where millions of people race around as if their lives depended upon it all day every day?  After witnessing this race – there were two heats and a final and it took a long time (but nobody was in a hurry), I know where the better quality of life can be found…

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

(2 Peter 3:8)

May 17, 2010

The Moon & Venus

Nikon D70s, f4.2, 1/5 sec, ISO 200, 85mm

When I consider your heavens, 
the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars, 
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, 
the son of man that you care for him?

(Psalm 8:3-4)

This was the view from the Rectory garden just after ten o’clock last night.  Too large to be a star, my best guess is that it’s Venus (see here).

Photo notes (If you’re interested in the technical aspect of the picture):  I set my camera on a tripod, placed on firm ground and put a timer delay so that there would be no vibration for the long exposure necessary.  To my surprise I noticed however that even though there was no wind and I didn’t touch the camera during the exposure the picture is still slightly blurred.  The only conclusion I can come to is that the slap of the viewfinder mirror caused it.  Unfortunately my camera does not have mirror lock-up, which would have prevented this.  Next time however I will take a much longer exposure and hold the lens cap over the lens for the first second so that the initial vibration is not recorded on the final picture.

May 5, 2010

Rathbarry Church

Nikon D70s, 1/160 sec, f6.3, ISO 200, 105mm equivalent (click to enlarge)
This is the now long-abandoned remains of Rathbarry Church, on the Castlefreke estate, near Rosscarbery.  It was quite a gloomy day so I greatly appreciated the fact that the clouds parted just enough to allow the sun to light up the ruins for the photo.  This light only lasted a few seconds and then was gone again.  It seemed to us that access to the church was no longer available, but I was reliably informed the other day that as the church yard is still open for burials, the track leading to it is a public right of way.  The local land owner has made a convincing attempt to make it look as though you would be taking a very grave (excuse the pun) risk in setting foot on the road, but maybe next time we are taking a walk on the nearby beach at Long Strand we’ll take a better look.  
Seeing closed and derelict church buildings dotted around the countryside (of which there are many) could cause one to be a little downcast at the current state of the Church today.  “Numbers are not what they were you know”.  A Rector taking a service at which there are six people present (including the Rector) is encouraged by the words “In my day there were at least oooh ten thousand people in these pews at 5.30 am on a Sunday morning” and clergy are blessed by tales of how “in the good ol’ days” they had great fun breaking the ice in the font in order to baptise the queues waiting outside.  Make no mistake, these are challenging times.  
I’ve always had a great respect for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors with no boundaries, frontiers or borders) and I just love the name and what it means and what it implies.  Of course, the same idea is true of the Church also.  We are (or at least we should be) a church without boundaries, frontiers or borders.  Yes we meet together in buildings that are beautiful, historic (and cold and costly) but we are not limited by them.  Even if we had no buildings we would still exist (though the buildings committee might have to find something else to do).  A “church without walls” is not a new concept, but it ever remains an attractive one…
April 22, 2010

It was THIS big!

Olympus OM-1, G.Zuiko 50mm, Ilford HP5 plus, 400 ISO

Of course I have no idea what the conversation was between this faraway couple, but it may have been something along the lines of the above title post.  In the picture they are dwarfed by the expanse of sky above them, the vastness of the sea on one side and the dark rocks on the other.  Without getting too existential about it all, it makes me think of the smallness of us people.  We have all been given a humble reminder these past few days by a certain volcano with an unpronouceable name of just how powerless and small we all are in the grand scheme of things.  But then I listen to our two-year-old singing “My God is so Big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing that he cannot do!”  Yes we may be small, but we do matter to Someone, very much indeed…

March 10, 2010

Keeping a curse at bay


Nikon F100, Nikkor 28-105 f3.5-4.5 D, Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400), (Bigger)


There’s a pub nearby with an interesting history. Noel Phair’s was owned by a well-off family in the late 1800’s. They brought the bailiffs in to evict a widow from one of their tenant cottages. Justifiably upset she pronounced a curse on the premises, saying a time would come when grass would be seen growing in the door. To stop the grass, the owners had a metal plate set in the threshold. As you can see from the photo the metal plate is still there. (From Damien Enright’s book “Walks of Clonakilty Town & Country” ISBN 1 902631 021)


“…but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”
James 3:8-10
March 7, 2010

What’s the word?

Taken with an iphone (enlarge)

I’ve been trying over the last day or so to think of the word or term in literature where the weather or environment reflects the human emotion or condition being displayed. So for example, when a person is broken hearted it is raining outside, lightning erupts when they are angry, it is sunny when they are full of joy etc.

This all came to mind as I was coming away from the meal after a funeral. We had earlier buried someone and spent the hours since trying to come to terms with the ending of a long, good and happy life and pledging our ongoing support to those left behind.
As I walked out the door the sky was clear and the sun was setting. But it was more than the sun that was setting that day. To me it was a display of something beyond words, yes a life had set but it would rise again in eternity…
The best term I can come up with thanks to a search on the internet is “Pathetic Fallacy“. That does not seem to be the term that we learnt in school though – it seems too harsh to describe something that can be so powerful and beautiful and … numinous.
February 20, 2010

Around Clonakilty Bay

We’ve been here nearly four months now and today was the first time we got to take a drive around Clonakilty Bay! Where has the time gone? These photos were all quick snapshots taken on a iphone – I look forward to coming back with an SLR and some film…




February 12, 2010

Staring at the Sun

Nikon F100, Nikkor 28-105 D, Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400) (click to enlarge)

No I wasn’t really staring at the sun, but this picture reminded me of the U2 song of that name. Apart from having the very interesting line “stuck together with God’s glue”, the chorus is fascinating too:

I’m not the only one starin’ at the sun
afraid of what you’d find if you took a look inside
not just deaf and dumb I’m staring at the sun
not the only one who’s happy to go blind.

Perhaps not one of Bono’s jolliest lyrics! In an attempt to get some insight into these words I found lots of discussion on the internet, specifically here. Some think that it’s a comment on society, how people are happy to be blind to the reality of the mess that this world is in, others think that it’s a reference to a group of hippies who whilst stoned on LSD stared at the sun until they went blind. Another theory relates to Plato’s famous cave, you know how humans are trapped in a cave staring at the light only from a fire which they think is the real light but then one of them (the philosopher) is set free, his enlightenment happens and he turns around and sees the real sun outside. Of course the light is blinding at first but then he realizes that what he is seeing is real and what he saw before were only shadows.

Perhaps even Bono doesn’t fully know what he was saying. But it does lead my thoughts further … to the gospel reading for this Sunday:

“…he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made!” (from Luke 9 The Message)

And a prayer:

Jesus Christ is the light of the world,
the light no darkness can overcome.
Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening,
and the day is almost over.
Let your light scatter the darkness
and illumine your people.

Amen.

February 3, 2010

Some thoughts on HP5 plus

(Waffle warning: Only read if you have a nerdy interest in photography :-)

Woods near Castlefreke, Co. Cork
Olympus OM-1, G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400) (click to enlarge)

One of the joys of using film cameras is that you get to experiment with lots of different films. I think it takes at least a few rolls of a film to get a feel for it and see what its strengths and weaknesses are. For my first foray into developing black and white film at home I bought a packet of ten x 36 exposures of Ilford’s HP5 plus. Rated at ISO 400, it’s quite a ‘fast’ film, which means that it is quite grainy and not as smooth as others. The advantage of the high ISO does enable faster shutter speeds and/or smaller apertures. This makes it great for taking pictures of fast moving children, indoor shots, or where you need maximum depth of field at hand-held shutter speeds.

Fallen Tree, Castlefreke Woods
Olympus OM-1, G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400) (click to enlarge)

The Big But though is that it does tend to result in pictures that lack the detail of something a bit slower, such as Ilford’s FP4 plus, (or of course a picture from a digital SLR).

View towards Long Strand, Co. Cork
Olympus OM-1, G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400) (click to enlarge)

So while I have been very pleased with portrait pictures using this film, the landscapes have been lacking in detail. So although I have four rolls left (which I will use at some point), I have ordered something a bit different to experiment with. Unfortunately they were sold out of FP4 plus so I found a compromise, Delta 400. I’m sure it is not going to be perfect but it is supposed to have much finer grain than HP5 (though it will almost certainly be harder to expose and develop). We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I am really enjoying photography with film at the moment – I am not turning my back on digital it’s just nice to have a bit more of a challenge…

Approaching Storm, Co. Cork
Olympus OM-1, G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400) (click to enlarge)