Oh, Muddy Hell!


When I threw open my blinds this morning, I saw fog blanketing the Cashel countryside. This was exactly what I had been hoping for. I wanted to revisit Hore Abbey and capture it in fog, so I wasted no time getting ready and driving over there. Lucky for me, there was no one on the road or at the crumbling abbey; I had it all to myself – a photographers dream!

I had a particular shot in mind, and it required hiking out into a cow pasture. As I sloshed further out into the marshy field, I had the faintest idea that I may have made a bad choice. I tried to stay on the most solid-looking pieces of turf but soon realized I was in big, muddy trouble. And then it happened…My right foot sunk deep into a slurping pool of something I can only assume came from the back-end of a cow. Muddy hell!

Of course, I couldn’t let a little bog juice spoil my fun. Even though my shoes and pant legs, up to my knees, were soaked, I carried on and got my shot. Photographers will understand – certain sacrifices must be made in the name of composition.

The Third Time is the Charm

I love how Irish people pronounce “Ireland”. They say her name like that of a new lover with whom they have just parted ways, wistfully enchanted, possessed by a fondness that can never be fully realized. I have caught myself saying it that way too – love and loss rolled into three syllables. Ireland.

Who couldn’t help falling in love with her?

She is magic, an enchantress who sings of adventure and romance from her Celtic shores. She lures you in with her bittersweet song and haunts you long after she tosses you back to sea. Ireland.

She is cold reality, forcing you to swim back against the salty currents, wounded, just to get another burning glimpse. Ireland.

She makes her peace with you – once you let go of your own agenda and just love her. She opens up a colorful promise, like a rainbow painted across a steal-blue sky, sweet hope against heavy sorrow. She plucks you from the desolate beach of disappointment and offers a gift. Ireland.

Ireland’s gift to me is a story,”Spirited Away”. She gave me the time and space to discover that I am a writer, and unlike the fickleness of romantic love, writing is a passion that can’t be taken away from me. So I have returned to the Emerald Isle a third time to do just that – write. Who knows, maybe I’ll finish my first book while I’m here?

In Desperate Need of a Do Over

Do you ever look back at your old photos just to appreciate how far you’ve come as a photographer? Do any of those old images shock and horrify you?

In the Site Stats section of WordPress, I like to browse through the “Clicks” to see what pictures people well, clicked on… I’m always curious about what images inspire people to linger a bit longer. Today, I found that someone clicked on a very old image from when I was in Ireland in 2010, and seeing it again horrified me. Back in October 2010, I had just started using a DSLR, and I just had to shoot everything manually because shooting in auto would have been too easy. Considering I had no concept of ISO at the time, it’s no wonder so many of my photos look like crap to me by today’s standards. On top of that, I thought I had to post process everything and bump up the saturation. God knows why. Anyway, I decided to re-do a couple of the pictures I posted on my blog so long ago and do a side by side comparison.

Let’s start with this sad example. What the heck was I thinking here? I can’t believe I posted this to my blog with the sky all over exposed and over saturated. Why did I think this looked good?

Do over

Next, let’s examine poor old Mary, who appears to be praying for less saturation and a sky color actually found in nature. Again, I was a little heavy-handed with the wrong buttons while editing. Natural is better.

Do over

And finally, we have Hore Abbey. Yes, truly an unfortunate name and a victim of post processing errors. In the first photo, the focus is on the cows in the background and the abbey is very dark. In the do over, I lightened up the foreground using “Levels” in Photoshop. Levels is one of my favorite tools – you can make minor corrections to a photo that make a big difference.

Do Over

I considered replacing the pictures in the posts from 2 years ago but ultimately decided against it. For better or for worse, that’s just where my skill level was at the time. My blog documents my journey through life and photography, and that journey isn’t always perfect.