Irish Blanket Bogs
One of Ireland’s most characteristic landscape features is the blanket bog lands. Covering 1,200,000 hectares (1/6th) of the island, Ireland contains more bog, relatively speaking, than any country in Europe except Finland. Across Europe, as well as in Ireland, bogs have been exploited in recent centuries as a source of fuel. With many of the bogs in the rest of Europe already gone, Ireland’s bogs now have an increased importance to the scientific community, as well as the tourist industry.
I took the following images last year on a visit to one of the blanket bogs in the Irish middlands.
The hills above Mullinavat, County kilkenny offer some wonderful landscape views of south Kilkenny. I love walking around the lanes up here as it is so remote and peaceful.
Over the last 5 years these hills have become a home to a new feature in the landscape, the Ballymartin wind farm, I took these images on an evening walk back in February along with a couple of images of the surrounding landscape.
While I do understand that many people did not want these wind turbines here, I don’t personally have anything against them, they do offer a better solution than a coal powered power plant. I guess it is unlikely that a coal plant would have been built in this location but these turbines maybe stopped one being built in another place.
They are almost graceful as they make use of the wind rushing across the surrounding hills.
The welsh castle of Dinas Bran is located about the wonderful welsh town of Llangollen in Denbighshire, Wales.
This Castle is a magical place to visit , its the location of a hill fort and remains of a later castle. The walk out of Llangollen to the top of the hill is sort but very steep yet well worth the effort. The views of the horse shoe pass and the surrounding hills is just wonderful.
Whilst the historical record for Dinas Brân is sparse, there are many myths and legends associated with the ancient site.
The popular Welsh song ‘Myfanwy’ was composed by Joseph Parry and first published in 1875. Parry wrote the music to lyrics written by Richard Davies (‘Mynyddog’; 1833–77). The lyrics were probably inspired by the fourteenth-century love-story of Myfanwy Fychan of Castell Dinas Brân, and the poet Hywel ab Einion. That story was also the subject of the popular poem, ‘Myfanwy Fychan’ (1858), by John Ceiriog Hughes (1832–87).
The castle first literary appearance is in a 12th century historical document entitled “Fouke le Fitz Waryn,” or “The Romance of Fulk Fitzwarine.” In this tale the castle, named “Chastiel Bran,” is referred to as a ruin during the early years of the Norman Conquest. The tale continues to tell of an arrogant Norman knight, Payn Peveril, who hears that no one has had courage enough to stay overnight inside the castle ruins, for fear of evil spirits. Payn and 15 ‘knightly followers’ determine to stay the night. A storm blows up and an evil, mace-wielding giant called Gogmagog, appears. Payn defends his men against the attacks of the giant with his shield and cross, then stabs Gogmagog with his sword. As the giant is dying he tells of the earlier bravery of King Bran who had built the castle to try to defeat the giant. Despite King Bran’s attempts against Gogmagog the King had been forced to flee and since then the giant had terrorised all the land around for many years. The giant also tells of a great treasury of idols buried at Dinas Bran which includes swans, peacocks, horses and a huge golden ox but dies without revealing its location.(Oman 1926, 1989)
The Story of Myfanwy
The brooding site is the backdrop for the sad love story of Myfanwy. She is a princess and renowned for her beauty throughout Powys in Wales. Myfanwy is proud of her looks and wants her many suitors to proclaim her beauty in song and verse. Many come to court her but are not able to compose songs that truly reflect her looks. She rejects them all.
However, in the valley beneath the castle lives a poor bard Hywel ap Einion. Taking his courage in his hands the young bard goes to the castle and sings and plays for Myfanwy. Whilst he performs his song to her she is captivated and will look at no other. Hywel ap Einion believes his love for her to be reciprocated because of this.
His hopes and dreams are thwarted when a rich, handsome and more articulate man comes to seek her affection. The dejected Hywel then wanders the forests and lands of Difrdwy and recites this sad poem to his unrequited love:
“Oh fairer thou, and colder too,
Than new fallen snow on Arran’s brow
Oh lovely flower of Trevor race,
Let not a cruel heart disgrace
The beauties of thy heavenly face!
Thou art my daily thought each night
Presents Myfanwy to my sight.”
Yesterday evening I went for a evening walk in Killamery, one of our local woodlands, The Sunset was wonderful and the Sky a deep blue, the moment was charged with atmosphere and I just wanted it to last a little longer than I knew it possibly could.
I took these images to capture the moment and later just put down these words.
Sunset in the woods
As the sun falls away over the trees
I am cold like the colours in the sky.
Blue and crazy for the woods around me.
Beautifully arranged trees and painfully separated.
I follow down this woodland path.
Hoping that the Sun will stay on the Horizon.
Just giving me one more moment to be lost.
Llangollen Canal and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, full name in Welsh: Traphont Ddŵr Pontcysyllte is a aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the River Dee near the town of Wrexham, north east Wales. The Aqueduct was completed in 1805 it was built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop, it is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain.
The images here are from a visit made a few months back, this is a truly wonderful place to walk and sightsee, the hight of the Aqueduct is the first thing that hits you on arriving at the village of Trefor. With the canal quays and Mariana at one end and the small village of Froncysyllte at the other the Bridge crosses the River Dee some 126ft below.
As you walk across the Aqueduct it is very noticeable that it only has railings on one side, the side of the footpath, the other side that contains the canal has none and is fully exposed to the view from and 126ft drop below. At first this is a little disconcerting until you realise that its only really a problem for anyone passing over by boat.
The environment and atmosphere around the canal here is just wonderful, people walking , artists running small shops from the side of open boats, Families and groups taking boating holidays and then the wonderful landscape views over the River Dee and the Dee Valley are breath taking. If your are visiting North Wales you just have to spend a couple of hours walking along this canal and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in particular.
I hope the images below give some sense of this place as it is very special and well worth a visit.
Llangollen Canal and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Gallery
SMC Takumar 50mm f1.4, classic lens
Over the last couple of months I have posted a little about the quality of older lenses and uploaded some sample images. These post have included a review of the ( 28mm HMC Hoya m42 lens and the Tamron 24mm f2.5 lens).
One other much loved lens I have been lucky to find in great condition is a SMC Takumar 50mm f1.4 M42 Lens. I have owned this lens for a good while and still use it from time to time.
Firstly what is an M42 lens , well this wikipedia article describes these very well, basically they are lenses with a mount to a camera body that was designed to be universal, as to fit any camera designed with an M42 mount.
The stand out feature resulting from this mount is that they use a manual method of control for their aperture blades. Many of these lenses have a switch that can be used to keep the aperture blades wide open when manually focusing the lens then close them down to the required aperture during taking the image, as the view finder maybe to dark to focus otherwise.
I can hear many people asking “Why then would you want to use such a manually controlled lens ?*
Since M42 lenses, lens and Camera manufactures have put much work in-to the development of, firstly Auto Aperture lenses (Apertures controlled by the camera body) then Autofocus lenses with an ability to focus on up-to fifty focus points with an ability to selection from one of them in an image being framed. These developments have opened up a new world to photography, such as sports images that have very quick moving subject in perfect focus.
However there is still a place for old lenses, Landscape or portrait photographs for example do not automatically need auto focus.
Older lenses also offer abilities and features that have been lost in an age of autofocus cameras, abilities such as using hyper focus control for example (Lens Hyper-focus), a method of using lens apertures and focus distance to make sure that a pre-set amount of subjects in your image will automatically be in focus at any given distance range from the lens. In an age of high ISO performance, digital technology, this method is more usable than ever before as you can use Higher ISO settings and ever slower F-stop numbers such as F11 (Thus have a larger depth of subjects in your image in focus) and still achieve fast shutter speeds to capture clean usable images.
As you can see from the images of the Lens above manual focus lenses all contain much needed details such as the aperture being used the focus distance and the depth of field for each aperture.
The two other features that I really like about this Takumar lens are the construction and image quality.
The focus control on the lens is a pleasure to use it is very smooth to turn and wonderful in comparison to even my Pro level Nikon autofocus lenses.
Even though it may appear that this lens has been left behind some as far as new lenses are concerned, the image quality is hard to beat. You can see from the images below that there is no lens flare even when pointed at the sun, the images are sharp from about F2 upwards.
One feature that I feel could be the case is that when these lenses were developed, Black and White film photography was very much still being used as much as colour film was. The coatings on these lenses I feel thus gives a wonderful contrast and deep colour to digital images along with being perfect for great contrast in black and white images.
SMC Takumar 50mm f1.4, Gallery
The Changing faces of the Kings river
The Kings river has its source in the Slieveardagh Hills in South Tipperary and has many tributaries of its own.
It flows southeast from the hills and crosses into County Kilkenny. It is joined by the Munster River before passing through the town of Callan. It continues eastwards from Callan, past Kells and joins the River Nore west of Thomastown.
Having made a small photographic project of the river, the images below are taken over about a five year period. They are just some of the images I have captured, I feel they show how the passing seasons and the Irish weather effect this little river.
The Spring equinox 2014
Today marks the arrival of spring, the date of the vernal equinox, or spring equinox as it is known in the northern hemisphere. Spring equinox. During an equinox, the Earth’s North and South poles are not tilted toward or away from the sun. (Ref :Wikipedia)
This means the sun will rise exactly in the east and travel through the sky for 12 hours before setting in the exactly west.An equinox happens twice a year around March 20 and September 22 when the Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the sun.
For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that is taking people into their winter.
In English there is open access to Stonehenge tomorrow. Access will be from 05:45am until 08:30am.
Druids and Pagans like to gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Spring Equinox, to see the sunrise above the stones.
The Pagans consider this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility. This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility). Her name is also where we get the female hormone, oestrogen.
From Eostre also come the names “Easter” and “Esther” the Queen of the Jews, heroine of the annual celebration of Purim which was held on March 15. At Easter, Christians rejoice over the resurrection of Jesus after his death, mimicking the rebirth of nature in spring after the long death of winter.
It is also a time to cleanse your immune system with natural remedies. In Wiltshire and other parts of rural Britain it used to be tradition to drink dandelion and burdock cordials as the herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after a harsh winter.
The Equinox of the sun : Gallery
Today is the first day of Spring, the year is moving fast and soon we will be treated to the wonderful sights of new plants a wildlife in the landscape around use.
So I just wanted to post some nature images to mark and calibrate the day !!!
Welcome to Spring 2014 !!!
Spring time gallery 2014
This Spring I am planning another visit to the The Saltees Islands, St. George’s Channel. The Islands consist of the Great and Little Saltee, they are situated approximately 5 kilometers off the coast of Kilmore Quay Co.Wexford.
The larger island Great Saltee is the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland and is very popular with both day-trippers and birdwatchers alike. These Islands are privately owned and are one of the world’s major bird sanctuaries.
It’s a wonderful visit to make if your into wildlife and Photography or just a wonderful place to spend the day.
The below images were taken last spring.
Saltee Island Gallery