Turn AirPort Off

Turn AirPort Off, Frankfurt Airport, Germany, 2009

My attempt at using my camera to be funny…

When I was coming back from Germany two weeks ago I had to spend a few hours in Frankfurt to catch my flight back to Dublin. When I opened my notebook, first thing I did was to turn off the WiFi (called “AirPort” on a Mac) in order to safe some battery power. Well, there you go. You’re in an airport and you click something on your laptop to turn the AirPort off.

Ok, even if the photo is of limited humouristic value, technically it was somewhat tricky to realise. As this is almost a macro shot, the biggest problem here is depth of field. As you can see, I dialled in a fairly high aperture of ƒ/13 so that the background didn’t get too blurred. I would have loved to go higher, but I didn’t want to increase the ISO any further (and the shot was done hand-held, with the laptop, well, on the top of my lap).

Focal length60 mm
Exposure1/15 s
LensCarl Zeiss 24-70/2.8
LocationFrankfurt, Germany

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, Maynooth, 2008

I made this shot pretty much exactly a year ago, coming back from church where they had the place decorated with these lovely colourful egg-candles. At the end of the day, there were a few left for the taking, so I took these two in order to re-create the flickr logo with those egg shaped candles ;-)

The set-up was very simple — I just placed the candles on a few A3 sheets of white paper and put an external flash on a tripod, together with an improvised snoot made from the carton of a roll of tin-foil. As the flash was just outside the field of view of the lens I got this nice smooth lens flare. The dreaminess was achieved by overlaying a semi-transparent, blurred version of the picture.

In any case, Happy Easter to you all, enjoy the days off, go for a walk, take some photos or just chill out.

Focal length80 mm (≈120 mm)
Exposure1/50 s
LensCarl Zeiss 16-80
LocationMaynooth, Ireland

Trad Craic in the Brady’s

Craic in Brady's Pub, Maynooth, 2008

Another submission for the photo competition. This one was for the category “The Epitome of Maynooth”.

Last year, the Tradition Music Society played every other Wednesday evening in the “Brady’s”, one of the nicer and probably the most “original” pubs of Maynooth (maybe “authentic” is a better word). Unfortunately, these gigs have gotten fewer and fewer, so I hope the Trad Soc will get a bit more organised again to put those wonderful sessions of traditional Irish music on again!

Blurred in the background is Joey working away on the guitar, the Uilleann pipes in the forground were played by Yoann (this is a tradition Irish instrument, somewhat similar but still quite different to the Scottish bagpipes you’re all familiar with.)

To get some of the nice old-folks’-pub atmosphere into the picture I processed it with to a sepia tone (something I’m not too fond of, usually). This photo is again one out of a great many, shot in 5 pictures per second burst mode to be able to pick the one with the least camera shake (1/5th of a second is rather long for hand-holding a lens at 75mm equivalent) but best motion blur on the fingers flying across the pipes.

Focal length50 mm (≈75 mm)
Exposure1/5 s
LensMinolta 50/1.4
LocationMaynooth, Ireland

Green Day

The river Sneem, Ireland, 2008

As promised, here is one of my other submissions for the photo competition.

This was put in for the “Dublin/Ireland” category. It shows the river Sneem down in County Kerry and I shot it last year on my second trip around the Ring of Kerry.

Apart from the heavy cross-processing effect and the strong vignette (both to juice the picutre up a bit, it was a fairly overcast, grey day), the particularity of this shot was its exposure — 1.3 seconds is rather long for a daylight scene and the ISO / aperture values used.

I wanted to expose longer than usual so that the water is rendered dream-like and smooth, almost kitschy. This was achieved using a neutral density filter (ND 1.8 in this case). Such a filter basically just reduces the brightness of whatever you photography, (ideally) without affecting the colours. The filter I used takes 6 ƒ-stops of light away, so that I could expose 26 = 64 times longer than without the filter.

Hope you like it! I’ll be away for a few days again over Easter, so all the best to you and see you back soon!

Focal length18 mm (≈27 mm)
Exposure1.3 s (with ND 1.8)
LensCarl Zeiss 16-80
LocationSneem, Ireland

Photo competition

Seachtaín na Gaeílge, Má Nuad, 2008

A few weeks back, the International Office here at the university ran a photo competition entitled “More Than Words“, to which I submitted a few photos for the different categories. Two weeks ago, the submissions were then exhibited over in the library, so Steffi and I went over and had a look. Apart from a few obvious snap shots there was quite some stiff competition there, and way more contributions than I expected. Apparently I’m not the only international student with an interest in photography here in Maynooth…

The award ceremony then took place last week when I was in Germany, so Steffi agreed to go in my stead, not knowing what to expect. Well, turns out one of my photos (shown above) won in the category “The Best Night Out”! Awesome! I actually preferred some of my other photos more (I’ll try to post each entry here in the coming weeks), but then again, tastes are different. The price for that was some university merchandise and a much needed price money (to pay off my equipment ;-)).

But that wasn’t it. Steffi also receive another price for me — the one for the overall best submissions, i.e. concerning the entirety of what I had submitted. Wow. The price for that was a small point and shoot camera, a red FujiFilm FinePix Z20. Nice :-) I guess I’ll use that mainly for taking small videos, and Steffi might just keep it in her hand back. Never hurts to have a small camera around!

So a big thank you to Karen over at the International Office for organising and running this competition, to the judges (Peter Thursfield, Irish Times Picture Editor; Glen Hayward, Metro Picture Editor; and Denis Condon, Film Studies lecturer) who voted in favour of my photos and to Steffi for going to the ceremony! This is definitely a huge boost for my photography and I hope this will not the last competition I’ll partake in!

PS: Technical note about the picture: The secret here was to use so-called “slow sync”, that is you expose fairly long (an 8th of a second here) with a high ISO value, but also use the flash on the second curtain. That way, you get a lot of motion in the shot, but also freeze some of the elements at the end of the exposure. Same technique as with the falling egg the other day.

Focal length55 mm (≈82 mm)
Exposure1/8 s + flash
LensMinolta 28-75/2.8
LocationMaynooth, Ireland


“Blaaaa”, Pritzerbe, Germany

Before heading off to Germany for a week (I’m going to Elgersburg, near Ilmenau), let me post an image that I took last year, also in Germany.

A bunch of friends from uni got together and we went on a small canoe tour on the river Havel, photos here. While readying our canoe on the pontoon where we left, I notice this super old ship just rusting and pretty much dying away, a great photo opportunity.

The shot presented here is a detail in the ship’s hull planking. Having cropped it a bit, I gave Matt Kloskowski’s cross-processing LightRoom preset a got, and I think it works great. This was inspired by an episode of the lovely Photowalkthrough podcast, in which John Arnold showed a cross processing technique for Photoshop, applying it to a similar “nautical detail”.

Funnily enough, the hose coming out of the hole now almost looks like a tongue stuck out of it, hence the title ;-)

Focal length55 mm (≈82 mm)
Exposure1/100 s
LensCarl Zeiss 16-80
LocationPritzerbe, Germany

I [Heart] You

I ♥ You! Maynooth, 2009

Let me tell you a little story: The story behind my latest photographic “creation”.

I was pondering for two weeks about another photo-assignment, this time on the topic hart (as in, the German word for “hard”). After a while I came up with Hässlich Aber Richtig Teuer, which means “ugly, but really expensive”. I was thus looking for an object (or subject even…) that would fit this description, like an u.b.r.e. piece of jewellery, an u.b.r.e. car, or whatnot — but unfortunately I didn’t come across anything fitting this tagline, and the assignment’s deadline was approaching fast.

At some stage I remembered this Boing Boing post, more specifically it’s title: “Man in ‘I [Heart] My Marriage’ t-shirt arrested for domestic battery”. Bingo. “Heart” is a beautiful homonym of “hart”, so there we go.

Next up: How to render “heart” in a photo. Well, many people (including myself) sometimes end up expressing their affection towards someone using “I ♥ You”, so that’s it. Finally. Here’s my image.

Tuesday then I set up my camera with a long cable release (that I operated with my toe), some flashes and a black background and went ahead for a series of silly self-portraits, the end result of which you see above.

I think this is another nice example how photographic assignments can really fuel your creativity (or weird associations).

Focal length50 mm
Exposure1/250 s
LensCarl Zeiss 24-70/2.8
LocationMaynooth, Ireland

Unexpected stock

Picture used for <i>RUHR.2010 European Capital of Culture</i> publications, Stuttgart, Germany, 2008

Today’s photo has been taken at a Poetry Slam in Stuttgart, just over a year ago. I was visiting Steffi (who was doing her internship at the time) and we had decided to go to one of the slams in the Rosenau which that hosts them regularly. I took a few pictures at the event, all excited to test my Minolta 100mm ƒ/2.8 macro as well as the KonicaMinolta 28–75mm ƒ/2.8, both of which I had just bought on eBay and gotten them delivered to Steffi to save on the shipping.

When I got back, I processed the pictures and posted them, as usual, on my flickr account. I also sent the artists (that had performed on the night) links to their pictures — to make them aware of the fact that I posted them (in case they mind), and maybe to sell them. In the end, I didn’t sell any, but offered them for free to the project, as it turned out to be non-profit (which I didn’t know at first). They were glad to be able to use some of the photos for their websites and other promotions. As a small thank you, I got a few free tickets.

However, the best bit was that one of the more “stock” like pictures was used in a number of print publications for RUHR.2010 European Capital of Culture events as well as on their website. This was the first time one of my photos was published — and I was all to happy to “license” the picture to this non-profit organisation. I would never have thought it when I first took the picture, so watch out, maybe one day you’ll get an email with people kindly asking permission to use one of your snaps…

Focal length75 mm (≈112 mm)
Exposure1/60 s
LensMinolta 28-75/2.8
LocationStuttgart, Germany

Sugar Loaf

Hiking to the “Great Sugar Loaf”, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, 2009

Last Sunday a bunch of colleagues and Steff&I went on a little hike to the “Great Sugar Loaf“. It is (by orders of magnitude) less impressive than the real deal, but it makes for a very nice hike (provided it’s a nice day ;-)).

After a bit of random walking and not really finding where the track started we finally were ready for the ascend. Up there, we were really surprised to find hordes of people going for the summit, and quite a few of them rather not suitably dressed for the tast… But they were lucky and the weather played along nicely.

So on the way up I took this spontaneous photo of Łukasz’s girl friend Christina. Apart from the strong flare in the bottom left (I still had my polariser on when I took this shot) a pretty nice photo, except that it was completely overexposed. I’ve recovered as much as I could from the RAW file, but large parts of the sky are still blown out. Also, as a result, all the dark tones were way to bright and looked rather washed out. However, photos like that don’t have to be lost — just increase the black level until the dark tones are back dark again. You will then get a nice high-key type of picture with tons of contrast and nobody will complain about blown out skies ;-)

PS: My photos from the hike can be seen here.

Focal length24 mm
Exposure1/100 s
LensCarl Zeiss 24-70/2.8
LocationKilmacanoge, Ireland

Old Folks

Old folks in JJ Smyth's Pub, Dublin, 2007

Here’s one of my earlier photos, after I had gotten my first DSLR.

I shot this photo (secretly) in one of my favourite pubs in Dublin, the JJ Smyth’s. Its upstairs part is fairly famous, being one of the main Jazz locations in the city; there are small gigs almost every day, and every now an then someone famous plays there too. On the street level, however, it’s just “normal”, pub — but a very nice and original one at that (i.e. with pretty much no tourists). Usually, you can see some pretty cool, funky old folks hanging out there, downing pints of dark stout at a rate I could never keep up with (or afford, for that matter)…

In any case, it was a very dark situation, so I had put on my brightest lens, a 50mm ƒ/1.4 and set the camera’s ISO setting to the highest possible value (1600) — this gave me a 1/40s of a second (which is still “handholdable”, thanks to the stabilised sensor). However, at the time, Sony was with their Alpha 100 even worse when it came to noise at high ISO values than they are today, so the picture had some really brutal noise in it.

So here comes the cheap solution: Try converting your picture to black and white. Depending on your camera, the noise may then look rather natural and pleasing — adding to the “flair” of the pictures.

Focal length50 mm (≈75 mm)
Exposure1/40 s
LensMinolta 50/1.4
LocationDublin, Ireland