Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31-Ireland's terrible beauty

I wrote this while waiting for a flight to Ireland from JFK Airport in New York: In less than 12 hours, I will arrive in the land that my great-grandfathers left over a hundred years ago. I am making a sentimental journey to the Ireland of my mother's memory and my ancestors' discontent...a journey deep into what makes up my being. The first photograph is from Connemara in the west - the incredible Cliffs of Moher. More photographs can be seen in my Celtic gallery.

Three books about the Irish experience of the 19th and 20th centuries, in particular the Irish diaspora, had a lasting effect on me and, I am sure, influenced how I experienced Ireland toward the end of "The Troubles" in the 1980s. "The Great Hunger" by Cecil Woodham-Smith describes the Irish famine of 1845-1852 that killed more than a million people and drove many more to Australia, New Zealand, and the United States - including my great-grandparents. The other two books are both by Leon Uris: his novel "Trinity" and a non-fiction work with his photographer wife Jill, "Ireland: A Terrible Beauty."

William Butler Yeats coined "terrible beauty" in a poem about Ireland following the 1916 "Easter uprising" that signaled the beginning of a free Ireland: "a terrible beauty is born." What many called "the troubles" continued well into the 1980s because Ulster, the province that is now Northern Ireland, remained part of the United Kingdom.

Gerry Tuite, now an businessman in Ireland, was jailed for his involvement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a prison break. Nicky Kelly was a politician who was charged for his alleged part in a train robbery and became a symbol of injustice. A graffiti campaign was launched throughout Ireland. This one was in the west near the Ring of Kerry. Nicky was pardoned and released in 1984. He is still involved in local politics and serves as mayor of an Irish town.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

August 29 photo of the day

Buried berry treasure! There are lots of blackberry thickets all over DuPont but most are picked at the kid-height. Despite a thick shirt and hat, I have scratches from stickers I didn't see until I lunged for a big juicy berry. These will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 28 photo of the day

It's blackberry picking time! I braved mosquitoes and big thorns to pick about two cups of berries for my neighbor who magically transforms them into something even more delicious: jam.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August 27 Flowers of the day

I wanted to photograph roses in favorite vases, The yellow rose - a symbol of the women's suffrage - was a gift from a co-worker to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.

The red roses grow in my garden (the part fenced from deer), along with the lavender, asters, and hardy fuchsia. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26 - Rock of Cashel

Carraig Phádraig - St. Patrick's Rock - the Rock of Cashel was the seat of the kings of Munster for hundreds of years. It is believed that, in the 5th century, St. Patrick converted the king of Munster to Christianity. He also used the shamrock here to demonstrate the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

Here are a few favorites. More to come. I am gradually moving images to my Celtic galleries

Cashel is in Tipperary in the center of Ireland on a rock plateau. The round tower dates to 1100 A.D. and most of the buildings are in ruins. 

When I was there, visitors could climb to a ledge right below where the roof used to be. That's where I photographed two of these images. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25-Ireland Revisited-Yeats Tower

Thoor (Tower) Ballylee was the home of Irish poet William Butler Yeats from 1917 to 1929. A poem inscribed by the door:

I, the poet, William Yeats,
With common sedge and broken slates,
And smithy work from the Gort forge,
Restored this tower for my wife George.

Gort is about four miles from the tower - a 16th century Norman castle built by the family de Burgo (Burke). The tower was restored again in the 1960s and is now a museum. Yeats wife was Bertha Georgina Hyde-Lees.

I wrote in my journal about signs in Ireland being very specific as to what kind of animals to watch for: "caution cows crossing" or "caution cows and sheep crossing." For the most part, cows were well-mannered, entering the roadway and immediately moving to the left side of the road, where slow-moving vehicles are supposed to be. In Ireland, like the UK, the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle and traffic travels on the left, passing on the right. In the west, there was less traffic so cows needed a little coaxing, especially with young ones in the mix.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24 photo of the day

I live in this incredible place that so often leaves me in awe. Earlier today I was thinking that I was getting bored with the backyard and maybe it was time for a field trip. The sky was cloudless this evening and I was hoping for a full moon shot with a bit of light in the sky. I didn't want to haul my tripod a half mile down the hill where I knew I would get a clearer shot. When Padme the wonderdog and I rounded the last block of houses at the bottom of the hill, I spotted Mount Rainier in a rosy glow. A tripod would have been best. Maybe tomorrow. I made do by propping against a tree and shot at 1000 ISO. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23 photo of the day

The DuPont Historical Society and the City of DuPont hosted the 4th annual Fort Nisqually Celebration at the 1843 site of the former Hudson's Bay Company trading post. People in period dress demonstrated crafts of the era and Nisqually tribal members baked salmon from the Nisqually River. This is my favorite photo of the day: a stonecarver.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22-More Ireland

This is another view of Jerpoint Abbey inside. I'm not sure which part of the building. I think it may be the presbytery. I looked at the floorplan that is available through Trinity College-University of Dublin. This is the downside of shooting slides. Other than a travel journal, I don't have a shooting record. I did an image search for Jerpoint but haven't found this view. Most photographers were more interested in the carvings. I was more interested in the interplay of lights and darks in and around the structure. I tend to shoot for contrast, then have to balance it in the darkroom (or, these days, the "lightroom").

I think Kilkenny was my favorite of all Irish cities. It reminded me a little of Princeton, NJ. It's a university town and has buildings that have been continuously in use since medieval times. Oh! And Smithwick's and Kilkenny ales are brewed there at least for the next couple of years (brewery is moving to Dublin). When I was in Ireland, we only found Smithwick's in southern Ireland. The door was either at Rothe House or Kilkenny Castle.

I am gradually adding images from Ireland to my online gallery. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21-Revisiting Ireland

I decided to sift through several hundred slides from a 1984 trip to Ireland, scan a few favorites, and edit them in Photoshop. What I have learned after a couple of hours of editing two images is that it would be better to plan a trip to Ireland and photograph anew. These were photographed with a Pentax ME Super that I purchased a few weeks before the trip. I had many challenges because, I learned when I returned to the U.S., the camera's light meter was off. Many images were under or overexposed. The quality is nowhere near what I can get with my current digital camera equipment. Still, there were some images I wanted to see if I could salvage.

I don't remember what town I photographed the Lynch's pub but it was the only time I saw a pub with my family name. I cleaned up the image in Photoshop with the clone and healing brush tools, then cut out the car and created a layer. Then I used channel mixer to create a monochrome background, adjusted the contrast and deepened the blacks. You can see how dusty and underexposed the original image was. I bought some film cleaner but need to pick up a lint-free cloth. Just like the old days in the darkroom when a bit of dust would add an hour to printing, digital is no different. If you don't start with a clean negative or slide, you will spend hours editing out dust and scratches.

This image is from a series I photographed at Jerpoint Abbey, a ruin of a Cistercian abbey in County Kilkenny built in 1158. I decided to posterize the image to minimize the sky and maximize the constrast in the rock walls.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20 photo of the day

Whadda ya lookin at human? Nothing to see here. Move along now. And take that wolf creature with you.

While my house was being built, I rented a house at the bottom of Hoffman Hill. Every day, Padme (the wonderdog) and I would walk up Ridgeview Drive right below this spot. We would see four or five deer on the ridge before houses were planted there. I wondered where they would go when the houses were done. They stayed put, especially since the coyotes that used to keep them corralled have moved on. Now they eat roses and lillies in my yard. Their favorite, though, is emerald & gold euonymus. They don't eat the burning bush euonymus or the climbing euonymus (which I have to take out).

August 19 photo of the day

Bings! These weren't as tasty as the Rainiers but I love the rich deep red.

August 18 photo of the day

The sky was more interesting the day before but I didn't have my camera (cardinal photographer's rule: always carry a camera). The moon is always a wonderful subject. This was photographed with a 300mm lens at 1000 ISO, f 5.6, 1/250 sec.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17 photos of the day

Ok this is a shameless promotion of my current hometown - DuPont, Washington. DuPont is the original site of Fort Nisqually  - a trading post of Hudson's Bay Company established in 1833, then moved in 1843 to a site directly across Center Drive from DuPont City Hall. The grove of locust trees planted from seeds brought from England are all that remains. The two surviving buildings were moved to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma in the 1930s. These are from the 1843 Fort Nisqually Site Celebration last year. Local salmon caught by Nisqually tribal members is featured on the menu. Click for more info.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 15 photo of the day

Back to my blooming hibiscus...these are my two favorite images. The flower that is just opening was unusual because it seems to be deformed. It is opening only on one side. Hibiscus flowers don't last. They take about three days to open from a bud. They are very showy when the bloom is fully open, then the flower withers the next day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14 photo of the day

Ok, this is cheating...a little. I photographed these birds at one of the farms that was open for the lavender festival in July. The peacock and peahen were at the back of their fenced enclosure directly against the fence. The peahen was rather shy and stayed behind the shelter. The peacock tried enticing his mate out into the yard without success. She did show him some love, though. The background was really distracting, so I created a layer with the birds and then added a Gaussian blur filter to drop the background out. There are two other images in this series that you can view on my website.

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13 photo of the day

Beautiful summer day at the farmers market - 85 and sunny.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12 photo of the day

I walk the dog, sometimes with my son, almost every day past a drainage pond a couple of blocks from my house. Earlier in the summer, barn swallows nested in the rock wall at one end of the pond. Insects and frogs are the reason for the movement in the water - a perfect spot to teach baby barn swallows to fly and pick up dinner at the same time. I am gradually building a new website for my fine arts images. I hope you will check it out and let me know what you think. My current site will eventually be for portrait and event photography.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11 photo of the day

Maybe I should call this one "flower of the day." I love all four of these images, so I want to share them. At the top of the stairs in my house is a tropical biosphere of sorts. There are two windows in the stairway which faces south-southeast. The stairs and the upstairs hall are always bright and the warmest part of the house. Among a half dozen or so plants, there are two bird of paradise in giant pots - one blooms in late November and early December. A double exposure image that I call "Fan of Paradise" can be seen on my new Kate Lynch Photographs website.

I have a tropical hibiscus in a large pot in front of one of the windows that usually blooms in late winter and early spring. I've had the plant - a shrub, really - for about 10 years. I bought it at Home Depot in Phoenix right before I moved to Washington. For the past few weeks, the plant has been showing a couple of blooms every couple of days. This week, I have noticed about six buds. One started to unfold last night. I didn't photograph it until first light this morning. So I'm calling this series First and Last Light. I photographed the tighter blossoms about 6 a.m. and the open blossoms about 8 p.m. The flowers are really spectacular at every stage. I plan to photograph another blossom from the very beginning.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10 photo of the day

Unusual plant with fruit that looks like furry pointed cucumbers about four inches long.

August 9 photo of the day

Old barn on a road between Thorp and Ellensburg, Washington.

August 8 photo of the day

Spent a bit of time in Thorp, Washington, en route to Leavenworth. There is an old mill there, now a museum, with a beautiful loop walk over and next to the mill stream.

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 7 photo of the day

I'm not sure what this plant is - some sort of thistle, I think. The flower and cone are about three inches long. There were several in Thorp, WA, a little town on the east side of the Cascades near Ellensburg. I couldn't decide which one to post, so I'm posting both.

Bees here are so much friendlier than the ones in Arizona. I was pretty close to this guy - maybe a foot away.

August 6 photo of day

I'm a little behind in my daily images. I did a lot of shooting in a few different locations over the weekend. I'll share my favorites over the next few days. These two really go together. Same bar in Leavenworth, WA, a few minutes apart.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1 photo of the day

Lughnasadh Sun. August 1 is the Celtic harvest festival and celebration of the ancient deity Lugh, believed to be a sun god. The sun was redder than in this image which recorded a red corona and ghost sun image.