This week I've chosen my favourite shot of the lovely Bramble flower (Rubus fruticosus agg.). These beautiful flowers will grow into nice juicy blackberries in the autumn. What I like about this shot is the dark background, as well as how it shows both the leaf and the flower.

Bramble Flower
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1/640 sec
  • Focal Length: 135mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -1.0ev

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I spent so much energy writing my big HDR article last weekend that I didn't get around to posting my Photo of the Week, so another double post this week to catch up. I thought I'd stick to the theme of HDR, and also pick two shots of the same subject, the Royal Canal. This canal is very special to me as it's where I get most of my exercise, and the vast majority of my nature photos, as well as many of my railway shots too! I do a lot of pseudo-HDR shots where I tonemap single RAW images, but I hardly ever take the time to create 'true' HDRs by combining multiple separate exposures. Last month, for the first time in ages, I spent some time shooting some 'real' HDRs, and these two are my favourites.

The first is a very low-key naturalistic HDR showing two boats moored above the 14th lock on the Royal Canal at Jackson's Bridge near Maynooth as a spring sun sets. This HDR was generated from four brackets.

Sunset at the 14th Lock
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure:
    • Bracket 1: 1/100
    • Bracket 2: 1/200
    • Bracket 3: 1/400
    • Bracket 4: 1/800
  • Focal Length: 22mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/11
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Full Manual
  • Processing: created by combining four RAW images into a single tonemap in Photomatix Pro, then running that tonemap through Topaz Adjust before importing into Aperture 3 for a few final tweaks

The second shot I've chosen was processed to capture the feeling and atmosphere of the scene, rather than to capture it exactly as it looked to the eye. This is a much more extravagant HDR, and perhaps a little hyper-real. It was the absolute sea of Dandelion seed heads and the reflection of the setting sun in the water that caught my eye and inspired me to stop and set up my the tripod for a full HDR. This beautiful stretch of the canal is located between Maynooth village and Jackson's Bridge, and the wall running along the canal here is the boundary wall for St. Patrick's College (SPCM). This shot was also generated from 4 brackets.

Sunset on the Royal Canal
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure:
    • Bracket 1: 1/50
    • Bracket 2: 1/100
    • Bracket 3: 1/200
    • Bracket 4: 1/400
  • Focal Length: 42mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Full Manual
  • Processing: created by combining four RAW images into a single tonemap in Photomatix Pro, then running that tonemap through Topaz Adjust before importing into Aperture 3 for a few final tweaks

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Another double post this week, no real excuse for being late other than not being well. As always with double-posts, I've picked a theme, and since it's been a long time since I shared a butterfly shot, that's the theme I chose.

The first shot I've chosen is the best shot I've managed to get (so far) of the Ringlet Butterfly (Aphantopus hyperantus). Although this butterfly is listed in books as quite common, I've not come across many of them around Maynooth, and those few I have come across have been very restless and easily frightened, so they proved difficult to photograph. After much persistence I did manage to get this shot though, which I'm rather happy with.

Ringlet Butterfly
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1/320 sec
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.6
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Full Manual
  • Processing: Apart from the usual basic tweaks in Aperture this shot was also tweaked a little using Aperture's Dodge & Burn plugin.

The second shot is of one of my favourite butterflies, the beautiful Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus). These guys are the complete inverse of the Ringlet Butterfly. They are not at all easily frightened and will happily sit there and let you shoot away for ages. They also love basking in the late afternoon sun, which is the absolute perfect light for photography. I don't know of any other species in Ireland that's as friendly to photographers as the Common Blue.

Common Blue Butterfly
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1/1000 sec
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.6
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority

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I was bold again last weekend so this is yet another double post to get caught up again. The theme for this post is the new(ish) Irish Rail Class 22000 InterCity trainsets. These modern looking diesel multiple units have now replaced more traditional locomotive-hauled trains on the majority of Ireland's InterCity routes. As well as being quite fast (rated to 100 miles an hour in Ireland), they also have plugs at every table, and are both quiet and comfortable. A nice modern addition to the Irish Rail fleet, at least from a passenger point of view. The die-hard train spotters all hate them for not being locomotives of course, but change always comes hard to fanatics. Personally, I love to travel on them and I think they look good and are very photogenic, so put me down as a fan 🙂

This first shot was taken on a beautiful summer evening and shows No.22043 rounding a corner at about 80mph as it approaches Maynooth with an InterCity service from Sligo to Dublin. The unit was quite new when this shot was taken, but already one of the covers for its couplers was missing.

Irish Rail Class 22000
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1/640 sec
  • Focal Length: 165mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.3
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Full Manual
  • Processing: tonemapped lightly with Topaz Adjust, then tweaked a little using the built-in Dodge & Burn plugin in Aperture 2

The second shot is a more recent one, taken on a lovely spring evening this February, and shows the same trainset, this time approaching Pike Bridge with an InterCity service from Dublin to Sligo.

Irish Rail Class 22000
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Sigma EX 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM
  • Exposure: 1/200 sec
  • Focal Length: 30mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/3.5
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Full Manual
  • Processing: created by tonemapping a single RAW image with Photomatix Pro, tweaking the result with the Topaz Adjust 4 plugin, and finally making a few small adjustments in Aperture 3

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It's been a while since I missed a week, but I didn't get around to posting a Photo of the Week the last two weekends, so this is a double-post to get caught up. As is my tradition with multiple posts, these are two related pictures - very related in fact, being two different renderings of the same picture!

The shot was taken on a fantastic summer day over-looking a field of Rape-seed flowers with an ancient ring fort in the left mid-ground, and the ruins of Rathcoffey Castle on the horizon.

The colour version was generated by tonemapping a single RAW image with Photomatix and Topaz Adjust, while the monocrhome version takes the colour version as it's starting point before using the channel mixer in Aperture to convert it to a nice contrasty black and white shot.

Rathcoffey in Summer
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/800 sec
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Processing: created by tonemapping a single RAW image with Photomatix Pro, tweaking the result with the Topaz Adjust 4 plugin, and finally making a few small fixes with Aperture's built-in Dodge & Burn plugin

Summer in Rathcoffey
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/800 sec
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Processing: created by tonemapping a single RAW image with Photomatix Pro, tweaking the result with the Topaz Adjust 4 plugin, and finally making a few small fixes with Aperture's built-in Dodge & Burn plugin before using Aperture's Channel Mixer brick to convert the image to monochrome

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One of the things I really miss with all this being sick is spending my lunch times out and about enjoying the grounds of St. Patrick's College, so I thought that this week I'd share one of my favourite shots of people enjoying those great grounds. As you can see from the photo - it's "Pedestrian Traffic Only" along this lovely avenue of Linden trees, but that doesn't mean it's not busy 🙂

This general part of the college is known as 'the Graff' (technically I think the original Graff was one path to the North of this one) because it's apparently as long as Graffton St. in Dublin city. Not sure how true it was, but when I worked as a tour guide for the Students' Union during Freshers Week in the past that's what was written on my script!

Jogging on the Graff
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/100 sec
  • Focal Length: 38mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -0.67ev

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This week I thought I'd post a re-mastered version of an image from two years ago that I think really captures the beauty of spring very well. This was one of the first shots I ever edited with Aperture (then version 2), and re-visiting it with the upgraded Aperture 3, and two years more experience has really paid off (you can see the original version on Flickr).

This shot was taken in the old part of Laraghbryan Cemetery (just outside Maynooth, Ireland), next to the ruins of the old church. The cemetery is still in use, but the part of it around the old church is very old, and now out of use. It's full of very old and very worn tomb stones like this one, and is blanketed in beautiful Snowdrops (Galantus nivalis) each spring.

Snowdrops in Laraghbryan Cemetery
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/1250 sec
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.3
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -0.67ev

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This is an older shot that I recently stumbled across in my library, I thought it was worth sharing as a Photo of the Week. This is a great example of why bad weather can be great for photography - I believe Americans call this "storm light", where you have weak soft sunlight against a dark angry sky. Here we see swans swimming along the river in Carton Estate near Maynooth in Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Swans in Carton Estate
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/800 sec
  • Focal Length: 38mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -0.33ev
  • Processing: created by tonemapping a single RAW image with Photomatix Pro, and tweaking the result with Aperture's built-in Dodge & Burn plugin

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This is the second shot from my walk along the Sliabh Beagh Way around this time last year. This shot was taken near the Penal Cross at the top of the mountain as we started our descent backdown. As you can see - these are very gently rolling mountains - not as dramatic as craggy peaks, but with a beauty all their own regardless.

The Sliabh Beagh Way

on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/500 sec
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Processing: created by tonemapping a single RAW image with Photomatix Pro, and then tweaking it a little in Aperture

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Something I've not really mastered is minimalist shots - this is very much the exception that proves the rule. This wonderful view is out across Lough Atalia in Galway, Ireland taken from in front of the Radisson Hotel where I was staying for a conference. The entire massive sweeping bank on the far side is artificial, built by the Midland Great Western Railway (MGWR) to allow their main line from Dublin to cross the lake and enter Galway city. In the distance you can see the last train of the evening from Dublin to Galway crossing the embankment. The train is an Irish Rail Class 22000 six-car diesel multiple unit (DMU).

A Galway Evening
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/125 sec
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -0.3ev
  • Processing: created by tonemapping a single RAW image with Photomatix Pro, and then tweaking the resulting image in Aperture 3

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