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The castle first literary appearance is in a 12th century historical document entitled “Fouke le Fitz Waryn,” or “The Romance of Fulk Fitzwarine.”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
County Kilkenny has many rivers some are wide and flow the full length of the county, others like the river Erkina are much smaller and act as tributaries.
One Morning last year just after a big storm I took a walk along the banks of the Erkina, its was a damp and misty morning full of atmosphere as the river was clouded in a mist.
Misty river Erkina black and white gallery
Sunrise from the Mountains
Poem by : Anna Katherine Green
Hung thick with jets of burning gold, the sky
Crowns with its glorious dome the sleeping earth,
Illuminating hill and vale. O’erhead,
The nebulous splendor of the milky way
Stretches afar; while, crowding up the heavens,
The planets worship ‘fore the thrones of God,
Casting their crowns of gold beneath His feet.
It is a scene refulgent! and the very stars
Tremble above, as though the voice divine
Reverberated through the dread expanse.
But soft! a change!
A timid creeping up of gray in east–
A loss of stars on the horizon’s verge–
Gray fades to pearl and spreads up zenithward,
The while a wind runs low from hill to hill,
As if to stir the birds awake, rouse up
The nodding trees, and draw off silence like
A garment from the drowsy earth. The heavens
Are full of points of light that go and come
And go, and leave a tender ashy sky.
The pearl has pushed its way to north and south,
Save where a line spun ‘tween two peaks at east,
Gleams like a cobweb silvered by the sun.
It grows–a gilded cable binding hill
To hill! it widens to a dazzling belt
Half circling earth, then stretches up on high–
A golden cloth laid down ‘fore kingly feet.
Thus spreads the light upon the heavens above,
While earth hails each advancing step, and lifts
Clear into view her rich empurpled hills,
To keep at even beauty with the sky.
The neutral tints are deeply saffroned now;
In streaks, auroral beams of colored light
Shoot up and play about the long straight clouds
And flood the earth in seas of crimson. Ah,
A thrill of light in serpentine, quick waves,
A stooping of the eager clouds, and lo,
Majestic, lordly, blinding bright, the sun
Spans the horizon with its rim of fire!
Today is St Patrick’s day here in Ireland and its a public Holiday, For many people religion will play a big part in the day.
Personally I love the outdoors far more and will spend most of the day walking and exploring the local landscape, I find nature and open spaces far more spiritual.
The following gallery of images are just some images taken in and around the wonderful county of Kilkenny.
What ever your doing today enjoy yourself and a happy St Patrick day.
Kilkenny Landscape Gallery
Landscape from the Irish hills
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington
The hills of the South east of Ireland are on of my favourite locations to wander and go for long walk, they are not as spectacular as the peaks of the Kerry mountains but there is a stillness here. Space to think and clear your mind and just walk and photograph the landscape.
I will let the words of the below poem say everything else for me, complimenting just how much I like these locations in the soft Irish hills.
S. Weir Mitchell
HERE have I wandered often these many years
Far from the world’s restraint, my heart at ease,
With equal liberty of joy or tears
To welcome Nature’s generosities,
Where these gray summits give the unburdened mind
To clearer thought, in freedom unconfined.
Kind to the dreamer is this solitude.
Fair courtesies of silence wait to know
What hopes are flattering a poet mood,
Stirred by frail ecstasies that come and go,
Like birds that let the quivering leaves prolong
The broken music of their passing song.
Here may we choose what company shall be ours;
Here bend before one fair divinity
To whose dear feet we bring the spirit-flowers,
Fragments of song, stray waifs of poetry,
The orphans of dead dreams, more sweet than aught
Won by decisive days of sober thought.
Landscape of the Irish hills a Gallery
To the River (1829)
by : Edgar Allan Poe
Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow
Of crystal, wandering water,
Thou art an emblem of the glow
Of beauty-the unhidden heart-
The playful maziness of art
In old Alberto’s daughter;
But when within thy wave she looks-
Which glistens then, and trembles-
Why, then, the prettiest of brooks
Her worshipper resembles;
For in his heart, as in thy stream,
Her image deeply lies-
His heart which trembles at the beam
Of her soul-searching eyes.
A walk along the River Suir as it flows through county Tipperary offers some wonderful views, the old stone barns and farm yards have to be amongst the best of these.
I took the pictures below on a spring walk last year, a warm Sunday afternoon.
The Barn by the river Suir, Gallery
The Cult of the Green Man
Of all the pagan gods, the woodland spirit variously called the Green Man or Jack-in-the-Green is one that has lived on the longest in folklore.
The Green Man is seen mainly as a symbol of spring and the rebirth of the earth after winter.Carvings of Green Men can often be seen in churches, usually in the form of faces with branches and vines sprouting from nose and mouth.
The Magic of Trees
Stukeleys DruidIn Britain, the Druids worshipped such trees as the oak and the rowan and attributed great power to them. When people touch wood to ward off misfortune, this comes from the times when guardian spirits were supposed to live in trees. Touching the tree was a mark of respect to the spirit, as well as a plea for good fortune.
This morning it felt like Spring for the first time here in Ireland, we have a good chance of a period of sunny days for the entire week and it was a wonderful Morning.
I took the chance to visits our nearest Mountain Slievenamon and walk around its lower paths and fields, one of these fields contains the remains of an old Norman Motte. From the top of which you get some wonderful views of the Landscape around this area.
A Motte is the foundations for a motte-and-bailey castle with consisted of a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade. These castles were built across northern Europe from the 10th century onwards, spreading from Normandy and Anjou in France, into the Holy Roman Empire in the 11th century. The Normans introduced the design into England and Wales following their invasion in 1066. Motte-and-bailey castles were adopted in Scotland and Ireland.
This is a location I will return to many times this year just to capture how the seasons effect the look of this wonderful setting.
By : Daniel Dawes
I watch the light move across the land,
Gliding across the fields with ease,
Shades of green shifting constantly,
Darkness and light working together.
A single tree simply surviving,
Gracefully accepting all seasons,
Its deep roots keeping it grounded,
Its leaves allowing it to sing its song.
I watch its movement in the breeze,
I since its aliveness,
I feel its stillness,
I understand its far more than its label.
The invisible wind changes direction,
The sun falls behind the clouds,
It becomes colder,
The senses pick this up but the stillness remains.
A thought passes through my mind,
A simple question,
I choose to follow it,
It simply sits in my awareness.
What is this stillness?
That does not change with the environment,
That is unaffected by thought,
That senses the sensations.
I look back to the tree,
The awareness looks back at myself,
The mirror begins to reflect the same thing,
I thank the tree for its lesson.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Who’s woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
And me with a promises to keep!
The White Lily
By : Jack Shaka
By the river bank
The frogs croak and caress
Hoping along the river bank
From here to there
At a distant
The swallows twitter with fondness
The lilies rupture with the morning sun
The water reeds sway
As the wind blows along
The river bank
But yet….i feel lost
In this scenery of dexteric desires
I feel caught in lifes pedestals
Tender steps i make….
Along the river bank…
The white lily…
The purity of those souls
Enmeshed in loves frame
The white lily
The fire that burns within circles
The white lily that symbolises
Long lost desires
Re-invented and rejuvenated
In this river of dexteric desires
The white lily
So white…so pure…
By the river bank
I watch the white lily float and dance
Along the river waters
Their is tenderness in the river
The fishes swim with tenderness
The waters flowing
With a lovers moan
Rythmic drums can be heard from afar
I sit and stare at the white lily
With a longing yen….
By the river bank.
The Comeragh Mountains, Tipperary, Ireland
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington
– Li Po. Translated by: A. S. Kline’s
You ask me why I live on Green Mountain ?
I smile in silence and the quiet mind.
Peach petals blow on mountain streams
To earth and skies beyond Humankind.
You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain?
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows down stream
and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men.
Using Old M42 lenses on a digital SLR
Over the years that I have been taking images using SLR cameras both film and now Digital, the items that I have always show the most interest in are the lenses I have Purchased.
These days lenses are usually purchased as a secondary item to the camera body, with all the dazzling features and technology that goes into cameras and marketing them, it is easy to forget just how important an item a lens is.
It is the lens that produces the image, the camera just records this image and if its a great lens then your image stands a good chance of being so too.
Something that becomes very clear to you, the longer your into photography is that for the most part, lens technology the parts of the lens that really create the image, has been very good for a long time. Little development is needed with the type of glass and the coatings that are used on the lenses.
Most of the development today is with adding lens features such as image stabilisation, the process of moving some of the lens elements to allow for any movement in the camera while it is being held in your hands and help produce a stable image.
So just how far back do you have to go to get a good if not great lens ?
Hoya is a lens filter and lens coating company, they have done huge amounts of research and development over an very long period of time. you may know of them mostly through their UV filters that are attached to a lot of peoples lenses.
Back in the 1970’s along with a lens manufacture Tokina they also sold a limited number of great lenses, I am lucky enough to own a Hoya 28mm f2.8 M42 lens in very good condition, it cost £50 in 1975. I have used this lens for many years for Landscape work and have always been very happy with its results.
This is a fully Manual lens , No auto focus, no stabilisation, No auto exposure and just perfect for Landscapes.
I feel that landscape photography should take a little time and the fact that everything is fully manual with this lens, just adds to this experience. You have to think through all the settings and this extends into your thoughts about what your taking images of.
I feel that this Hoya lens is one on the best I have for reproducing great colours, contrast and sharpness.
The Gallery below is just a quick sample of some very recent images taken using this lens.
Hoya M42 28mm, f2.8 lens gallery
A Heron in flight, Galway bay, Ireland
Photography : Nigel Borrington
by Linda Hogan
I am always watching
the single heron at its place
alone at water, its open eye,
one leg lifted
or wading without seeming to move.
It is a mystery seen
but never touched
until this morning
when I lift it from its side
where it lays breathing.
I know the beak that could attack,
that unwavering golden eye
seeing me, my own saying I am harmless,
but if I had that eye, nothing would be safe.
The claws hold tight my hand,
its dun-brown feathers, and the gray
so perfectly laid down.
The bird is more beautiful
than my hand, skin more graceful
than my foot, my own dark eye
so much more vulnerable,
the heart beating quickly,
its own language speaking,
You could kill me or help me.
I know you and I have no choice
but to give myself up
and in whatever supremacy of this moment,
hold your human hand
with my bent claws.