Apr 082010

For me one of the most satisfying parts of photographing wildlife (or at least attempting to) is how even our most familiar wildlife species can offer the opportunity to capture truly spectacular images.

Whether it’s a robin in your back yard, a fox visiting your garden, or a couple of blackbirds squabbling in the local park… there’s action and drama all around you. More common species, are, by definition, more accessible, and are often easier to get close to… improving your chances of capturing that winning shot.

This Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) was hanging around Lough Ine, near Skibbereen on 06 April. I had the camera with me, and took a few shots as it came in to land

 Herring GullHerring Gull (Larus argentatus) on the wingHerring Gull (Larus argentatus) coming in to land

Nikon D90, Sigma 28-200 Zoom (300mm 35mm equivalent) @ f5.6

Feb 082010

Horses sillhouetted on Castlefreke Dunes, Long Strand, West Cork

Walking on Long Strand the other day we doubled back across the dunes and back along the road. It’s a conservation area, and to promote plant biodiversity they have horses grazing the dunes over the winter. I looked up and saw these two cresting a large dune, silhouetted against the overcast sky.

Dec 102009

Help Portrait Picture framing service / sponsorship needed for Help Portrait Cork… can your business help?

Max 75 frames and mounts, needed – contact Paul O’Mahony for details

Paul O’Mahony, of MarketingWriteNow got in touch earlier today about a fantastic initiative taking place at the Clarion Hotel in Cork on Saturday 12 December from 9:30 to 15:30.

Help portrait is an international movement of photographers and other professional who are donating time, equipment and expertise to give something back to those less fortunate than them this Christmas. Here’s a video explaining the initiative.

The idea is to help boost the self image and self esteem of people who would never normally consider or be able to afford getting a professional photographer to take their portrait. Who’s that, you might ask? Well, according to the Help Portrait site it could include:

Who needs pictures? Anyone who wouldn’t normally have access to or be able to afford professional photography.

We suggest the following groups of people for starters…-

  • the homeless
  • orphans
  • single moms (and their kids)
  • single dads (and their kids)
  • sick children
  • sick parents
  • the elderly
  • army vets
  • underprivileged families
  • your neighbour?

Some of Cork’s leading photographers are already on board for Help Portrait, and they’ll be supported by photography assistants, make-up artists and a host of other volunteers on the day.

But the organisers are still desperately in need of support and sponsorship. If you’re in Cork, and would be willing to contribute time, resources, catering or a donation of cold, hard cash to support the initiative get in touch with Paul via the Marketing Write Now contact page.

And especially if you can donate / would be willing to sponsor photo frames and mounts for the event please talk to Paul before the end of the day tomorrow (Thursday 09/12) to get things sorted.

If your a blogger, twitterer or facebooker please help spread the word about this great event.

UPDATE: Read more about who was involved in Help Portrait Cork on Paul O’Mahony’s blog, and see some great photos of the action on the day over on Roger Overall’s blog

Oct 222009

Paul O’Mahony (@Omaniblog on Twitter) was asking for Ferret Photos, so here are a few from the archives of Frida & Frankie… my dynamic duo.

I realised whilst digging these out (and they’re not the best) that I have surprisingly few ferret photos in my library, and will have to remedy that over the coming weeks.

They’re lots of fun, quick on their feet, and full of mischief. They’d probably be great practice subjects for wildlife work.

Aug 112009

So there I was on a remote West Cork headland, chucking a line into the water on the off-chance of picking up a couple of passing mackerel. On the nearby pebbly beach the rest of the family were waiting eagerly for the barbecue to heat up.

View Great spots in West Cork in a larger map

Showing an insensitive, but I have to admit well founded lack of faith in my fishing prowess, our friends had brought along some fresh mackerel, just in case. We’d also packed a supply of emergency sausages, so we wouldn’t go hungry.

The fish weren’t biting, so I decided to switch the mackerel lures for a spinner and try my luck at that. As I turned I saw two people looking out to sea, obviously scouting the location for some reason.

One of them asked if I’d caught anything… which was fair enough. The other asked “Is your name Calvin?”

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Jul 292009

Grey Heron (Ardea cinera), Wildlife, Ireland

Shot from the car window in Union Hall. This fellow was feeding in the lagoon.

For such big birds (up to 1 metre in height with a wingspan pushing 2 metres) they’re incredibly nervous and skittish.

As I stopped and lowered the car window this one moved quickly away, and then took flight. This image is cropped from the full frame (handy having 12MP to play with).

The shot I’m really after is a perfect reflection of a hunting heron in glass-calm water… but it’s proving a tricky endeavour. In the meantime I quite like this shot.

Jul 062009

There seem to be fledgling robins (Erithacus rubecula) all over the garden at the moment… exceptionally cute, noisy and pretty easy to get close to.


Slowly getting used to my Nikon D90… which is turning out to be an absolutely superb camera!

My old (10 years +) 28-200 Sigma zoom from my film SLR days, which I used for this shot, gives me 300mm at the long end with the DX sensor on the D90 (1.5 x magnification factor).

Works reasonably well, but….

I’m already hankering over better glass – need a macro, a decent wide angle and of course a long, fast (=very expensive) super telephoto for wildlife stuff.

I knew heading down the DSLR route was a bad (and potentially very expensive) idea ;-).

Time to start saving….

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Nov 242008

Mullroy Bay II, Baltimore, West CorkI

The Mullroy Bay II wallowing half submerged at high tide – lit with orange filters on an array of 5,000,000 candle power handheld lanterns.

I was invited by Marc Holden of Firehorse Imaging to attend and photograph an extremely unusual event on Saturday 15/11/08. Local artist Sheelagh Broderick was inspired by the half submerged hulk of a disused trawler, The Mulroy Bay II, to highlight the plight of the local fishing industry, and the effect it’s having on West Cork’s coastal communities.

Sheelagh contacted Chantelle Stewart of Guerilla Lighting and together they hatched an intricately coordinated plan to light the stricken vessel from the water. They used two RIBs and an army of volunteers armed with 5,000,000 candle power handheld lanterns and filters to pick out the vessel in the darkness.

I’d been given a Manfrotto 055ProB tripod with the amazing 322RC2 trigger-grip ball-head for my birthday the day before, so jumped at the chance to put the combination to the test. Still, I was VERY wary of the poor low-light performance of my trusty old Nikon Coolpix 5700.

Focussing was a huge challenge, as was time between shots (each was an 8 second long exposures + 8 second “noise reduction” exposure + write time to the card) – but a couple of the images came out OK – including the one they used (without acknowledgement… grrr!) with an article in the Southern Star.


… and the same vessel lit without the orange filters.

Mulroy Bay II, Baltimore, West Cork

The view from the other side of the vessel.

Mulroy Bay II, Baltimore, West Cork

Trying to use a tripod from a RIB moored to a buoy gives interesting results….

As an exercise in low light photography it was extremely challenging; as an experience it was wonderful… racing around Baltimore harbour to church strand on RIBs in the pitch black was invigorating… if a little chilly… and Sheelagh’s hospitality at the house before and after the event was fantastic.