Starting my 2019 Blogging …..
I always like to start my blogging for a new year by changing my site heading image.
This year my first image taken and posted – my new site header image was taken on Sunday Morning at first light, I was on an early morning walk and the weather was cold with a full covering of cloud. I had just about completed the 5km walk I had planned to do and had almost given up on capturing any images as the light was just so unexciting when the sun came bursting through an opening in the clouds and located itself just about some trees in the distance.
I have taken a little time off-line over the Christmas and New-Year period just to give myself an old fashioned way to celebrate and recharge my batteries, I spend some great time with family and friends 🙂 and as a result I feel great and am looking forward with new energy to 2019 and the future 🙂 , my blog and my love of photography still play a massive part in these plans 🙂
I also noticed that the number of likes and visited to my Blog (started in 2011) went well over the 350,000 mark while I was away – I would like to say a massive THANK YOU to you all for this, I don’t post here with such figures in mind , I post to share the things I see and capture around me – That said ! Getting this level of interest and support with so many likes has been a massive boost to me and a huge reason to drive me on in keeping sharing my images and a love of both Art and Photography!
THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.
`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.’
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.
This time last week during a weeks holiday to both counties Sligo and Mayo, in the norths west of Ireland, we hiked up Croagh Patrick or “The reek” as locals know of it. This mountain is one of Irelands Highest peeks and is most famous for being climbed by pilgrims on Reek Sunday every year, which is the last Sunday of each July. On this Sunday, thousands of pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in honor of Saint Patrick who, according to tradition, fasted and prayed on the summit for forty days in the year 441.
It has been a personal aim to walk the peeks of a list of mountains in Ireland for a couple of years and “The Reek” is just one of these mountains to hike in the next couple of years.
The weather on the day was perfect and we started our walk about Midday having driven some 80km to the main car park used to start the hike. The start of the walk is good, being flat for a while and then only slowly rising in level, so you get a little time to warmup before the main slopes higher up the mountain side. Once you hike the first slopes the path levels off for a while until you come to the bottom of the main peek.
I really enjoyed this hike, its hard – no getting away from that fact but when you do finally get to the top the views are amazing, you can see most of county Mayo and well into county Sligo from here. there is a step that surrounds a small chapel that you can sit on to eat and have something to drink. We rested here for about 10 mins before walking around the top of the peek.
As you can see these images below are mostly taken at the top, when I finally go to open my bag and get my camera out. As I said you truly feel on top of the world here, this point is some 764 metres (2,507 ft) above sea level, not the highest mountain in the country by about 250 meters but here you start your walk at sea level so it could well be the highest distance you have to walk to get to the top…..
I will let these images do the rest of the talking for me other than to say , this is one of the most enjoyable walks of my life and I cannot wait to walk more Irish mountains in the months yo come ..
Croagh Patrick, County Mayo, A gallery
My Mountain Ash Tree
Season after season.
I’ve gazed upon you
through my window.
I’ve seen the snow hang low
upon your branches.
With white upon red berries.
I’ve watched the snow melt away
to reveal new buds,
ever so slowly,
to leaves so green.
In early Spring.
I’ve watched all the creatures
hop, climb, and fly among
I’ve watched the birds taste
your blood-red berries.
I’ve seen songbirds…
finches, and chickadees.
Come to the feeders.
That hang from you.
I’ve seen the squirrels steal
seeds from the birds.
As their little paws unlatch
a little hook.
I’ve heard the birds sing among your
I remember when the chickadees
built their nest in you,
and then watched their young fledge.
I remember the year the woodpecker
came knocking at your trunk’s door.
As he drilled his beak into you.
And made a hole.
You were never the same anymore…
I watched your life slowly end.
More dead branches to be severed.
As your story slowly drew to a close.
they chopped down what was left of you.
But I will always remember you.
And I thank the Lord for the joy
of beholding your beauty.
Of watching your story.
You have blessed so many creatures.
Beautiful Mountain Ash tree.
The weather plots his journey
Town to town in dead of night
Fields dead and on a gurney
He comes in to make it right
A rainmaker, people call him
A psuedo-scammer others say
He sells himself as godlike
He comes quick and does not stay
He tells people what they wish for
He beats the storm in to their town
He seeds their minds with his tall stories
He promises more green than brown
Like an evangelistic angel
He beats the weather to the ground
He’s a salesman like no other
He picks their pockets with no sound
A rainmaker, just a scammer
He works the towns where nothing lives
He is an alchemist non-gratta
He always takes and never gives
He sells snake oil and concoctions
He is a shaman in disguise
He promises rain where none has fallen
There is more moisture in the farmers eyes
He takes credit for a rainfall
He promises gold where once was straw
He’s a rumplestiltskin with their feelings
He sells them only what they wish they saw
He may believe in what he tells them
He always puts his name out on a stake
But, can he truly make the skies open
That is a choice the desperate make
On Wednesday I posted some picture showing the results of a Wildfire on the bog lands of Littleton in country Tipperary, having done so I just wanted to share some more images from another Bog land in county Waterford and share some of the history of these amazing places along with some details about the history of turf cutting in Ireland.
The Irish tradition of turf cutting
In the past, Irish people heated their homes and cooked their food using turf taken from from the bog as fuel. Turf was cut from the bog by hand, using a two-sided spade called a sleán. Entire families often helped to save the turf on the bog.
Saving the turf involved turning each sod of turf to ensure the sun and wind could help in the drying process. The turf was then placed upright or ‘footed’ for further drying. Footing the turf was a back-breaking job and involved placing five or six sods of turf upright and leaning against each other. Finally, the turf was brought home and stored in sheds or ricks.
In the midlands and the West of Ireland, the tradition of using turf or peat as fuel has continued in many homes.The turf is mainly cut by machine nowadays, but saving the turf still involves lots of work and requires good weather.
The six week long heatwave that we are experiencing here in Ireland during June and July has brought with it some of the best summer weather many can remember, yet it has also at this stage created water shortages and with the ground being so dry we have also had many forest wild fires along with fires on the open bog lands.
I enjoyed capturing these pictures a lot! as the atmosphere on the bog was amazing, the smell of smoke and the cracking of still burning small fires, with dead wood smoking all around me, nothing but deep ash on the surface.
I took these pictures this morning, they show the results of a large wild fire on the bog lands at littleton, county tipperary. Most of the trees and heather have all been burnt, these fires are mostly just on the surface and when we see the return of some rain the environment will recover very quickly. The question is just when will we see our usual Irish summer return , with its rains at least once or twice a week ?
As the name implies the Meeting of the waters is where Killarney’s famous lakes converge. The Upper lake, Middle Lake (also known as Muckross Lake) and Lower Lake (Lough Leane) all come together at this beautiful spot. It is a little haven of tranquility and can only be reached by foot or bicycle. Also found in this area are Dinis cottage and “The Old Weir Bridge”.
The easiest way to reach the spot is by walking along the well signposted path from Muckross House for approximately 5km or if you don’t feel that energetic then approx one mile beyond Torc Waterfall (direction Kenmare) there is a parking spot on the right hand side of the road. Dinis cottage is signposted from here and the cottage and “the meetings of the waters” is a 15 minute walk from here. Its definitely worth the walk on a fine day.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
it is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
One reason I love shooting Landscape images with square format prints and images in mind for the final results is that your images get closer to your subjects, you loose lots of details in the frame that you mostly do not need.
These images are taken at Lake Windermere in the Lake District and I feel that their square format helps in capturing this great place in a truly focused and closer way.
River Ghosts, By: Chris Smedbakken
Chris Smedbakke web site
Gazing into the Stars
Wishing for what there could never be
“All of the stars I dedicate to thee,
the spirits of the forest and the songs of the sea”
She, the River Ghost of his long lost dreams,
singing mournful songs among the silent streams
Pale, dark eyes uplit by white moonlight beams
Beware, the fate of her is not what is seems
Frozen flowers, sunset eves
Deathcold breeze in the icy leaves
Autumn goddess surrenders and then she leaves
for Lady Frost to conquer a world that grieves
Her the River gave in to and turned to ice
Restless fay gave up a scream towards the pale blue skies
Fooled by a vision of Winter in disguise,
she lies down to final sleep in the white of her despise
He, the sun, weeps silently at her lonely grave
The lost dreams did not die with the River wave
Missing, longing for the water’s song, the happiness it gave
The sun mourned the frozen River, that its warm light could not save
I am that kind of person who would rather give you a story than an introduction. You would be hard put to find something that doesn’t inspire me. Feed me a theme and I will give you back a text, it’s almost as simple as that.
More … About Chris Smedbakke
Time lapse video, created using a slow shutter speed to blur the water and then added into a time-Lapse video.
The Weather today here in Ireland has given us one of the best days for weeks, In the afternoon we did a 10km walk around the Nier Valley in Country Waterford. This walk is high-up in the hills and it was about 4:30pm as we returned to the Car, the Sun was setting and I got these shots of the Last sunlight of this weekend.
What a perfect walk and end to the weekend …..