Friday, February 19, 2010

The Art of Photography.

I am changing direction slightly for this week to address an issue that has been raised with me on numerous occasions by many people. That is the question "is photography really Art". People say to me from time to time that photographers just push a button take an image and then can just put it into photoshop and manipulate the image, where as a painter has to do a lot more work. I won't argue that the detail in many paintings are incredible and leave me in awe of the talent involved. People will often say to me you must have tons of great images of Athassel abbey or The Rock of Cashel and I have a small number from each. You see when you go to create a really good image as a photographer a few things have to come togeather to really make your image special. The weather has to be right, the light has to hit your subject in the right way and you have to go back many times to an area at different times of day and different times of year. I personally do not use photoshop, I prefer to put the time into taking my images at the right time and in the right conditions rather than sitting at a computer tweeking images, but that is only my own personal opionion. To me photography is about trying to get everything right before you press the shutter button, to create a little bit of history. Thats right you capture a little bit of history each time you take a photograph, because it is next to impossible to recreate and get every single element in the image the same , you have frozen a moment in time. People also think photographers and think of weddings and family portraits, confirmation or first communion. The majority of people find it hard to understand someone trying to make a living only producing wildlife and landscape images, most of which are sold as framed images for your wall. Yet in every other country around the world this is considered normal, people say these countries have bigger populations so you have a large customer base, they also have more photographers. This situation is improving with more exhibition spaces and more interest in original art works rather than the framed poster of someplace you don't even know. The public are begining to ask for something that means something to them or that moves them in someway.
This raises another question why buy of one person and not another, price will be key, but that should not be the only criteria. You have to ask yourself is this artist attracting attention, don't accept the artists word, if they say in their blog, award winning ask what awards was it national or international or was it more local. One of the best ways to judge is if awards were given by their peers, did other photographers or artists feel that this persons work was good enough to be rewarded. Ask the artist if their work is represented by a gallery, or if they have work in art collections etc. If you are going to pay for a piece of art why not try to pick up a piece that has a realistic chance of proving an investment in the years ahead. Photography is proving to be a great way for people to start their own art collection without breaking the bank. I suppose the bottom line is I truly believe that photography when done well and with the right subject matter is truly Art, but every person will and must make up their own minds. You may prefer to have a water colour or oil on your wall and your neighbour may prefer to have a black and white photograph, because if we all liked the same thing life would indeed prove very boring. I have only gone back to creating black and white images in the last couple of years, but there is little doubt that they have a timeless quality that most people love. The most important thing as far as I am concerned is that people expose themselves to art, go and visit the local exhibitions open your mind and heart to art. We are not the free loaders that many think, few artists will ever make enough money to gain tax free status, but we can prove valuable in promoting the county and the country. Tourists to Tipperary and Ireland love to have exhibitions and art events to visit, its one more thing to do while they are here. Personally I have always tried to promote Tipperary and Ireland wheather I am exhibiting in Ireland or abroad, and I am quiet sure that most artists feel the same.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A walk in the park.

It was Mark Twain that said "golf is a good walk ruined" now I have little doubt that that many people will argue against that statment. But I always tell my photography class that a camera definitley can add imense pleasure to any walk, so also can the company you have on your walk. Today I was joined on a walk around the park in Templemore by one of lifes gentlemen Mr. Paddy Baines. Originally from Feakle Co. Clare it was his work with Coilte that brought Paddy to Templemore more than fourty years ago. Between his work on Borrisnoe mountain and the knowledge gained from membership of the local historical society you could not ask for better company as you stroll around this incredibly beautiful park. The first time I entered the park in Templemore I honestly thought that it must be one of the best kept secrets in Tipperary. There are two entrances one near the post office in the centre of town and one off the Roscrea rd. You will find pleanty of parking space at most times in the park itself. When you start to walk down towards the lake in the park you hang a right and almost immediatly you will see the ruins of an old church in front of you surrounded by a little moate. The church was built in 1200 and was dedicated to The Blessed Virgin, it was from this church infact that Templemore takes its name. As you leave the site of the church you pass the pitch and putt course, if you do not share Mark Twains sentiment you could perhaps try your hand. We however are here to walk and continue to follow the pathway around the lake, after going over the bridge the pathway forks in a couple of different directions, it is really up to yourself how long or short you want to make the walk, but none of the routes are to long. We followed the path to the right as Paddy was anxious to show me a few horse chestnuts that are probably a few hundred years old. These magnificant trees tower above us and dwarf many of the younger trees in the vacinity. We double back however now and we follow the pathway that skirts the lake, a little further on and you come to another historical site, The Black Castle, this castle was built by the Butlers of Ormonde in 1450. It was later occupied by the Cardens in 1698 and if you were studying the headstones in the church graveyard you will have come across this name.Another family that has associations with the Black Castle are the Purcells, who many will know owned near by Loughmore Castle, the Purcells of course were great patrons of our gaelic games. From the castle you can continue your walk around the lake and back to the carpark.
This park is incredible in its beauty but the most remarkable thing is that many people will have probably driven through Templemore many times without knowing the park exists. Whether you are interested in history or not you will enjoy a visit. While I was in the park I saw a fantastic range of wild birds, you also have plenty of birds who have become more accustomed to human contact. Many people were feeding the swans and ducks, a few were going for their daily walk with the dog. I was in the park in summer in the past and it could easily be mistaken for a park in any city around the world. They keep the park in excellent condition, you can have a picnic, weather permitting, and laze around on a sunnyday. The problem with telling people about a beautiful place like this is that it maybe to busy the next time you return. Paddy and I actually did a couple of rounds of the lake, I was really enjoying our chat and I can only hope that Paddy felt the same. We were really fortunate with the weather it was a glourious sunny winters day. The park also boasts a childrens play ground, as well as an adults exercise area. So for anyone who is feeling really energetic you can run around the lake a few times, followed by a light work out. I also asked Paddy about the fishing stands and he informed me that their is course fishing on the lake, permits and info. available from the post office. I can see from the upkeep of the park that the people of Templemore are very proud of their park and rightly so, any visitor to the county of Tipperary would be delighted to take a strole here. As I said goodbye to Paddy I promised not to leave it as long between visits and I would call soon for a cup of tea. Something struck me as I drove away from the house, this man wasn't originally from Templemore and yet he probably knew as much,if not more than many who had lived in the area all their lives, I would safely say that Templemore has found a special place in this Clareman's heart.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Messing about on the River.

I am starting out on familiar ground, but to me this is a most beautiful walk. It is the River walk from Cashel to Golden. As you leave Cashel you head down the Bohereen Bocht leaving Hoare abbey on your lefthand side. You travel down this road for less than 1 mile where the road swings around at a 90 degree turn to the right, straight ahead is a gate and to the left of the gate is a stile. You enter here and follow the laneway down to camus weir, please remember you are now on the property of Camus park stud, so a little respect please and that goes for each landowners property along the way. You will have seen the black posts by now with the yellow walkers on them you follow these to your left from camus weir. As you follow the river suir you first come to a place called Castlelake, If you look across the river you will see the ruins of Ballinahinch castle. You continue down river to Mantlehill and you come to the islands, a series of islands in the river which are a haven for wildlife. Along here you can often see otters feeding in early morning especially. As you continue down from the islands the next feature you will see is the Moate, this is where the Multeen meets the Suir and as you look across the river you will see the seat set back into the moate. This is a well known fishing spot, but also a beautiful peaceful place to just sit and relax, enjoying the sounds of nature. You are now getting near the village of Golden, one of the next places you pass is known locally as Monkscell, which was a leaper collony in medieval times. You will recognise this area by the steep embankment on your left,which is now over grown, as you leave you will also see the 0ld stone walls and entrance(Beehive huts were visable here up to the 1930,s note the name). The next field down if you look to your left you will see a very old stone bridge which crosses the mill stream if you go across the bridge you are in the field where King William camped and it was at this camp that the charter of Cashel was signed in 1690. Back to the river and as you continue you will now see up to your left the old protestant church in Golden. A little further down just as you come into Golden you have on the left the old mill which I understand was at one stage a work house. You are now in the beautiful village of Golden( no favoritism here), this is your opportunity to grab some refreshments etc. Some people may not want to continue on to the next section of the walk, but I can assure you it is worth continuing.
You now cross the bridge in Golden with the Norman castle on the right in the middle of the bridge. You pass the Bridge house pub and take an immediate left you are now on the Abbey rd. again you follow the walking signs as you cannot follow the river the whole way to Athassel Abbey. The Abbey is only about 1 mile from Golden and on your way you will pass a beautiful weir on the river. But the real beauty hits you when you see Athassel Abbey, situated on the bank of the river, this place is a gem. I have often said that if Athassel abbey were in any other county it would be worth alot of money to the local economy. In Nov. 2008 a conservation plan was launched for the Abbey, we thought that at last something was going to be done. You can imagine our disappointment when in the course of the launch, we learned that the plan was a 50 year plan. Fantastic we now have a 50 year plan coming 50 years to late. Some people however may feel that the Abbey would lose some of its magic if it became to comercialised, perhaps at some stage we can hit a happy medium. Even do we refer locally to it as Athassel abbey, it was in fact an Augustinian priory built in the late 12th century by William the Burgo. In its day this impressive site covered 4 acres, with a thriving town outside the priory walls. The town was sacked twice however during the 1300's and little evidence of the town remains today. It is very easy to forget time when you visit Athassel and I have little doubt that a visit will be enjoyed by young and old alike. Unfortunetly access is over a style and there is no proper path to the abbey, so it may be difficult for some people to visit. You do not have to over exert yourself on this walk and you can arrange to leave a car in Golden if you do not fancy a return walk to cashel, the walk is weather dependant as you will have flooding e.t.c. If you fancy a spot of fishing while out on the river permits are available from the fishing shop in Ladyswell Cashel or from the Bridge House in Golden. If you want further help you can contact me at

Monday, February 8, 2010

Teaching is such a buzz.

There can be no better feeling than to share your knowledge with other people. Since I started teaching photography a couple of years ago my enjoyment of photography has increased also. To talk to people who share your interests and to exchange information is a wonderful feeling. I only do a few classes for the vocational education committee each week and it is only a part-time position however I am starting my own workshops and photography tours. Not only do I have knowledge and vast experience of photographing Ireland I also have a certificate in tour guiding, you can join me and not only learn about photography, but also about the history and culture of Ireland. This is not an add, but if you do not put information about then how can people learn what you are doing. It is so hard to explain to some people how for me photography and my love of Ireland go hand in hand, I cannot imagine one without the other. Whether it is people photography, or landscapes and wildlife I will always try to insure my images have an irish feel to them. With St. patricks day fast approaching I always look at this date as the start of my new season, days are getting longer and its time to start creating some new images. I seldom travel to far from home during the shorter days of winter as it does not really make economic sence. As usual anyone who would like to contact me can do so on

Friday, February 5, 2010

Long way to Tipperary.

As the words of the song go,its a long way to Tipperary, but I can assure you that you will not be sorry you made the journey. As a photographer who lives here everyday I am in complete awe of this beautiful county. With a number of mountain ranges, the Galtees, the Comeraghs, the Knockmealdowns and Slievenamon to name just some Tipperary is a walkers paridise. If mountain or hill walking is not your thing then there are lowland river walks. Boasting some of the most famous historical sites in Ireland, like Cahir Castle, The Rock of Cashel, Athassel Abbey, and Holycross abbey and that is only in south Tipperary. The Shannon flows through part of North Tipperary and again you have great walks and historical buildings like Roscrea Castle & Round Tower, Nenagh Castle and the famous Ballinhinch Castle Hotel. These are only a few of many sites and places to visit while in Tipperary which boasts a long and varied history. Legend and Folklore are also to be found in this mystical county, wheather its Fionn McCool and Slieve na mon or the Devil and Borrisnoe mountain you will find stories a plenty. Wheather you are walking, driving, or cycling to come to Ireland and not to put Tipperary on your itinery would be a mistake, to live in Ireland and not to have visited Tipperary is a sin. You have read the opinion of one man, all I can say is I have exhibited the Beauty of Tipperary, and Ireland around the world and in each place people have left my exhibitions saying they will have to come and enjoy such beauty for themselves. As usual if you think I can help you in anyway you can e-mail