Our last trip before the world went belly up

I have always loved black and white photography. Using only shadows and lines to create depth, contrast to create structure. It’s my favourite way to see the world.

Light and shadow

Even photos that end up being in colour: I usually shoot everything in black and white (I shoot RAW, so only the preview is black and white in reality). When I get rid of colour I can focus on composition, it makes me feel focused and able to find new angles.

Lisbon is a city that suits black and white well. It’s a city of contrast, lights and shadows, new and old.

It was also the last destination of our trips, before the world shut down.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to visit it thoroughly, the landscape of rolling hills and narrow lanes was ill suited for my then pregnant wife.

Alas! I am afraid we’ll have to go back and finish the job… 😀

Also, not all photos end up in black and white 😛

The early bird…

One of the perks* of being a parent is getting up at oh-my-is-it-early o’clock every morning and go watch the sun rise. There is something that speaks to us as humans when we look at the night leaving space for the light of day. And there is something that speaks to us when we realise how freaking early sunrise is in Ireland in June…

We have been told that it’s not uncommon for babies to wake up very early during summer; insanely early, in fact. Sunrise around here is at about 4.30am these days, and being able to see it means that you had time to get up, get dressed, get the baby dressed, and then go out.

A little after sunrise in Portrane

Well, since I am up early in any case, I thought I might as well get something out of it; we might as well go for a walk and explore the area: we have only moved here recently anyway… In the past weeks we have been on many walks and hikes all over the coast, within a short drive. And since we are already out, I have started bringing a camera with me as a matter of course.

Skerries

Now, I always have a baby strapped to my chest, so a big camera with multiple lenses is out of the question; after all I am just trying to keep the little one calm (and perhaps make him sleep a little more). For these reasons, my default choice is my Fujifilm X100T.

It’s small, it’s light, it’s battered, and it’s scratched. Severely so. I have had it for years, and I have not been kind to it, but despite everything I have thrown at it, it just refused to break down.

I admit 35mm – in 35mm equivalent – is not my favourite focal length (I usually prefer either 28mm or 50mm), but when I am out and I don’t want to think about what gear I want or might need, then 35mm is fine. Also, the fact that I am picking a camera in a half asleep state at 4am helps me in making a decision: the x100T is the camera I keep by the door. That’s a huge component of why I pick it…

We are lucky to live in an area that has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty, and so close to the sea and multiple parks! The sea is only a couple of kilometres away, so we can just go there and have a long walk on the beach, or on the cliff path to Portrane. Everything is so calm in the morning, and quiet.

There is something oddly satisfying and soothing in watching the sun rise over the horizon, waves crashing on the beach the only sound in your ear.

In many ways I am glad that the little one started waking up so early: I don’t think I would have ever pushed myself to wake up and go out so early. I would have missed all of this.

Going for a stroll

*I am trying to convince myself.

Catching up

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since I last posted anything here. I would try to apologise for it and promise that I will keep this blog updated more often, but let’s be real… I mean, I will try, but I am not going to commit to anything.

So… what’s new? Well not much… I mean, we had a few very uneventful years, haven’t we? It’s not like a global health crisis happened, or anything. And in the middle of all this, to make things more interesting, we had a few family events too: we decided to get married, we did get married, we had a child, we bought a house, and we moved… The pandemic was just there to make things more interesting for us. To make sure we wouldn’t get bored.

I will try to add a post or two about some of these stories, the wedding in particular was a modern day Odyssey.

Life has changed quite a bit, and not all of it was for the best; all of the family developments were the stuff dreams are made out of, but all the rest… social distancing, isolation, anxiety, not being able to meet family and friends… They have taken a toll on us, especially the part about family. We still have grandparents who have not met their grandchild yet. Thankfully things have slowly started going back to normal, and we are beginning to see signs of hope.

In all this, I have decided to start writing again. Not much: I am not making any promises, especially since our lives have changed so much, and I am not likely to be able to do the kind of photography I like the most, since it usually requires crowds and big events… As a consequence, my wife suggested that I could start a new type of post, something along the lines of “How did I get this shot”, in which I explain the whole process behind a finished image. The idea is to describe the choice of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, describe the whole development process, and then explain the choices behind post processing and what I was trying to achieve. Apparently this has been more useful than “me rambling on for hours on photography techniques and theory of photography”… I’m sure she meant it as a compliment…

What else to say; let’s see if I can actually go on writing posts this time around, or if we’ll have to wait another three or four years for the next post.

May you have a good light!

Pride 2018 – late is better than never…

Oooh boy, it’s been a while! Almost 5 months!

I have some catching up to do, and I have decided to start from the Dublin Pride Parade, held last summer (I know it’s been a while, but I did get a few good pics from that one 😉 ).

The day was nice and bright (a bit too hot if you ask me), and the parade was as crowded as ever!

A great crowd of happy, proud people:

And of course, you can always spot the Italians! 😀

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You can always spot the Italians…

Early morning in the mist

“Go to the lighthouse for sunrise!”, they said; “It’ll be grand! You’ll get great pictures!”, they said. “Great idea…”, I thought…

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A grand day indeed…

That was how it began.

The previous day was nothing but a flurry of “Should we?”, “Shouldn’t we?”, “Let’s do this!”, “But sunrise is at 5AM! That’s too early!”, “It’ll be worth it.”, “Are you sure?”, “Yeah, we’ll get great photos!”.

Once we convinced ourselves that it was a great idea, we got our stuff ready: what do you need to photograph dawn? Most people would be fine with a camera and a lens, but me? No sir, let’s do it big. I should get at least four lenses, and possibly a spare camera, you never know… (don’t judge me, that place is jinxed: while there I have been in a storm once and swallowed by the sea a few months later).

Imagine leaving your home in the middle of the night, carrying a horribly heavy backpack, filled with things that you ABSOLUTELY need to have on you (not really though); imagine struggling to get a taxi while in a crowd of half crazed/half drunk teenagers (it was a Sunday before a bank holiday, and there had been a concert of some kind in the city); imagine getting at your target location after spending a good fifteen minutes trying to convince your cabby to drive you through isolated and dark roads; imagine then looking at the clear sky and at your hopes to get a great pic of the sun rising from the sea…

Now, imagine walking towards your target, and – as you’re walking – realizing that all around you a very thick mist is appearing as if out of nowhere [*sound of hopes being crushed*]. I was kinda like being on a set of a pirate movie…. Water all around, all sounds muffled by the mist, the smell of seaweeds and fish, the sea so eerily calm… it was almost like we were about to be hit by some kind of curse (‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’ came to mind).

No such thing happened (phew).

So we spent a couple of hours half complaining, half making fun of the situation. We also spent some time taking pictures as the day grew brighter:

And the, all of a sudden, out of the mist… a single cyclist (a pretty unexpected event, am I right?).

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The cyclist

We weren’t the only hopeless photographers lost in the mist! Yay…

And that’s when the day turned, when the disappointed photographers started to make their way back to land. That’s when the sun started showing over the horizon (I assume, we couldn’t really see it, but the day grew brighter).

The mist started to fade, we were suddenly able to actually see the sea (did I mention how we couldn’t even do that?).

And that’s also when we saw the sun. We had clearly missed sunrise, as the disc was WELL above the horizon.

And thus my SECOND attempt to shoot sunrise at Poolbeg lighthouse failed. It’s time to start planning for the next. And, you know, third time’s a charm…

Barren Burren

A group of photographers, a wonderful location, and good weather (for Ireland)… This is indeed a good mix 🙂

We spent the nights in the village of Doolin, which we used as base to visit the area around the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren.

Day 1: The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.

After the 7 Km wal from the Cliffs back to Doolin we spent some interesting and lovely time in the local pubs, delighted by the a great local band.

The weekend didn’t last long though: the end came way too early 😦

Great weekend, some decent shots…

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Black Head Lighthouse

We even got to Father Ted’s house, even though we only manage to meet Father Jack :/

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Father Ted’s house

New beginnings in Italy

Ok… I haven’t written a new post in ages… I think it might have been 6 months already :/

I haven’t really taken many photos in november and December 2017, but I did go back to Italy for New Year’s and I did travel around for a few days 🙂 .

Verona

The city of romance: the city of Romeo and Juliet (apparently everybody remembers the love story and forgets about its extremely high death rate and its very short duration).

Beautiful city, if you manage to visit it when it’s not foggy out…

Bologna

“La dotta, la grassa, la rossa”. If you don’t know what that means, you have to find out now 😛

Bologna is a beautiful city (and since I am from Modena, the neighbouring city, it hurts me to say this 🙂 ), rich in history and architecture.

And the food… THE FOOD!!

Venezia

No introduction needed for this one.

Siena

Siena is a gem in the centre of Tuscany. While not as popular as Firenze it sure has a lot to offer…

 

 

Sometimes I wish I could go back more often and roam the country with my camera…

Wild West

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of photographers on a trip to Clare Island (for thos of you who don’t know where that is, I included a map below).

Clare Island

Clare Island

The place is a mixture of wild and civilised: very few people live there, and all basic human necessities can be satisfied (by that, I mean there is a pub on the island).

The trip was supposed to be mostly for landscape photography and to capture the essence of the island, and the island did deliver 🙂

It was nice to see how all the Italians in the groups simply had to take the most difficult path and climb the hill on the island: “It’s there: we have to!”… Crazy people… 8)

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In the bog

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In the bog 2

We were even blessed with clear skies and a beautiful sunrise on the beach:

The island is wonderful, everyone should at least visit it for a day. It can be a very zen-like experience:

Homeless demonstration

The housing crisis in Dublin is getting worse and worse… It even managed to unite a good chunk of the population, which rallied to protest against the insane situation that we’re living.

Th enumber of homeless people in the city is reaching astonishing levels…

Let’s pray the government finds a solution soon. For all people in the country…

Bray air display 2017

Mad day!

DART on the brink of collapse, thousands and thousands of people and air acrobatics! Last Sunday, Bray  was this and much more…

And not only the skies were interesting: th epeople there were an interesting subject too 🙂

It was a pity we missed the start, but getting there had not been easy…

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Give me something to remember