A quick visit to Ballintoy

A couple of weeks back I made a relatively unplanned visit to Ballintoy beach in County Antrim (with a great photographer Graham Kelly). We gave ourselves plenty of time to get there in time for sunset and arrive about 90 mins before the sun was due to drop below the horizon. The tide was going to be perfect and the weather was looking decent too. By decent I mean changeable...! I find the best weather is often when the forecasters predict sun, rain, wind, hail and snow all on the same day. There are bound to be dramatic skies at least.

_MG_1245So we arrived early as planned but unfortunately, to high winds and drizzle. Also the direction of the wind meant that the sea spray was horrendous. Having shot in worse conditions a few weeks earlier in Donegal we put the coats on and headed West from the car-park for the short 15 min walk to the beach. Having seen some very fine photos from Gary McParland and Stephen Dickey I've wanted to shoot Ballintoy for quite some time. Theres everything here for the seascape photographer from interesting foregrounds to great sea stacks and arches. Elephant Rock being probably the most photographed object in this small bay is truly beautiful and actually a lot bigger than I expected. Unfortunately with the high tide and heavy swell on the sea it was going to be difficult to capture a shot of the rock without getting soaked. Therefore we both decided to concentrate on the other side of the bay where we had a little bit more interesting foreground and a slightly better shelter from the sea spray.

The light began very flat to begin with and we both thought we would get nothing out of the evening. In the last few years I actually think bad light follows me so in some ways I just embrace it and get as good a shot as I can in the conditions that arrive! In some ways grey skies are probably more a part of our countries weather than fluffy clouds and spectacular sunsets.


Before even starting to shoot I took quite a hard fall on some seaweed covered rocks. Much to the amusement of some tourists who where watching this fully kitted out photographer I struggled to my feet and let on as if I wasn't in any type of pain at all. Haha. I couldn't wait until they fecked off so that I could check my tripod, camera, hip, arse and 2 knees (in that order) for damage. Anyway apart from the now football sized bruise on my hip no major damage was done.

The skies improved for literally 10 mins and I made the most of the position I was in, slowly working my way over towards the classic Elephant Rock shot. Unfortunately by the time I reached said position the light was gone again and the rain was starting to arrive. With a few decent shots in the bag we headed on back to the car for the 2 hour drive home. Overall I came away from the evening fairly happy with my favourite shot being one that I might have been able to capture much closer to home in similar conditions. Regardless its the getting out and enjoying whats in front of you that really matters..! Have a look through the few images here to see how I got on.


Posted in general, photography, quick visits, seascape Tagged , , , , , |

Zap those dust bunnies…

Its all too often I see images printed large and then a customer sees the odd spot of dust that was missed in post processing. Some never even notice these spots and they end up framed or even mounted for a judges eyes to scrutinise...! Having judged many competitions these pesky 'dust bunnies' are a pet hate of mine. Plain and simple... if they appear on a print then I immediately take a point off! Especially so in advanced categories where said photographer should be able to see what I can see!!!!!!

Anyway... most modern DSLRs have some form of sensor cleaning but thats generally not enough to remove the stubborn bits.... regardless at the stage where you see them on a print or on your screen its too late.... so.... a quick solution to this problem and one most people even vaguely familiar with Photoshop and layers should be able to muster up the courage to try. So the most obvious tools to get rid of these are the simple clone and heal tools which work a treat once you can see all the spots in the first place. Theres where the problem starts.... if for example you have a blue sky that gradually fades to a darker blue it becomes difficult to see the offending spots. Especially if there are a few fluffy clouds in the mix..! Simply create an adjustment layer, selecting levels as your adjustment, above your main image layer. Then take the levels adjustment and drag the black slider on the histogram and move it to the right. Your image will immediately look very contrasty and weird but the offending dust spots should now be easier to see and therefore easier to remove with the heal or clone tool. Remember to reselect your image layer before trying to clone the spots away. Because you have created an adjustment layer when you are done you can simply delete the layer and your image will return to looking normal but without said dust spots. Have a look at the screen grabs below if you are stuck.

Of course you can also remove these dust spots in Lightroom or Aperture but in general I leave that job for photoshop. I find it quicker and more precise in there. In saying that, Lightroom 5's Spot removal tool is massively better than previous versions...!

Happy zapping.....!

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Posted in photography, Tips Tagged , , |

Dispose of the disposables at weddings!

As you are likely aware I now work in Mahers Chemist in the photographic department. One of my many duties is to develop and print films... yes films... them things from the past... yes they still exist. I actually really enjoy the whole process as its nice to get away from the digital side of things from time to time.  Of course disposable cameras contain film so they are part of my daily routine..... crack the case open, take the film out, remove the battery (normally still containing most of its original capacity....!!!) and throw the case away. An environmental disaster for a start...! But they still have their place in the photographic world... just about! That time when you've forgotten your camera, lost your smartphone and desperately need a camera! Cheap too. We sell decent quality ones and they only cost €4.99. So yes they can get you out of a hole.

But results/prints are what matter right? Well thats where the problem lies. In the 4 months I have been printing them I have yet to see a decent image. I know its the photographer that does the work and not the camera but the camera in this case is so limiting that it makes it almost impossible to get a decent exposure or sharp image. Also they pretty much do not work at night... even with the flash. Your subject needs to be very close to the camera to be exposed by the tiny flash.

What actually spurred me to write this post was the amount of couples who buy loads of them to leave on the tables at their wedding. The majority of these would be used during the evening or afters of the wedding when perhaps a drink or two would have been had! The cost might not be too cheap either... lets say  15 cameras at €4.99 each. Processing at €7.50 each. Thats a total of around €190. So some couples are paying between €150 and €200 for basically nothing...!

So the solution..? Either pay your photographer to stay a bit longer or hire a second photographer for the afters. I know its an extra cost but at least you should get some useable images. Then you can tell them to come in to us to get them printed...!

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ViewDrogheda.ie launched

Hi all.... I dont blog a lot as you are more than aware. One of the reasons is this... I've been busy for a few months on various little projects with this new website being one of them. Heres the blurb to describe what it is...

"ViewDrogheda.ie is a collaboration between 3 passionate photographers, Richie Hatch, Tommy McDermott and Neil White, who's objective it is to promote the town of Drogheda photographically. Many websites already exist to promote events, advertise business and document individual areas but none exist until now that purely promote the town visually. Drogheda is a beautiful and historic town than in some ways cannot be described in words. We have set out to describe this town in pictures... not any old pictures but carefully taken photos all viewable here on this site. In time all images will be available to purchase. This site is a live site and will change constantly when we have shot new work. Happy viewing."


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Irelands newest Canon Pro Centre

And its right on my doorstep. Official opening next Wednesday at 7pm in store. Worth a look as they will have the new Canon 6D, 1DX and many other yet to be seen and hard to get items on display for a gawk... Have a look at the flyer below for information....

Posted in general, photography, Uncategorized

A wedding at a beautiful location….

Back at the end of July I shot a wedding for the beautiful Annabella and Tommy. Having shot another wedding in the same place a couple of years ago I kind off new what to expect in terms of location. But this one was a little different.... I guess the bride didn't want to very similar pics to her sister who's wedding I shot at the same location. So to make it different we went to probably one of the most beautiful (and appropriate) locations for a wedding shoot I have ever seen. The wedding was just outside Crawley in the South of England, the church being in Crawley itself and the reception in the brides beautiful family house in the countryside just outside Pease Pottage. Having shot the formal shots at the house for the previous wedding I was delighted when I heard we would be going to Nymans Gardens for this wedding. Nymans is a National Trust property which means it is incredibly well looked after. There wasn't a dead flower head to be seen and every part of these huge gardens was immaculately well looked after. This place had absolutely everything for a wedding photographer.... from beautiful brick arches, natural wooded archways to water features and natural stone gazebos..! All authentic and well maintained. I couldn't go wrong inthis place... no photographer of any merit could. This place was a wedding photographers wet dream...! The only thing against me was time. As anyone is aware, weddings can be time stressed enough without introducing extra venues for photography. Then I arrive at this amazing place where I could have shot all day but had to limit my options. The funny thing was that the bride and groom grew up only a couple of miles away from the place yet I think I knew more about it and all its features. I had a very set idea as to exactly how I was going to use my short amount of time to get the exact pictures I wanted. Thankfully some other wedding photographers had shot here so when doing my research I was able to see and plan my route through the gardens. Anyway I wont waffle on.... here are some pictures from the Nyamns Gardens and a few others from what turned out to be a very successful shoot....!


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Posted in general, photography, Uncategorized

Podcasts I like….

I spend a lot of time with my headphones on.... be it my 2.5 hour return commute to Dublin everyday, the 8 hours a day in front of a screen in the office or the 2 hours a week walking behind the lawnmower...! That amounts to a lot of hours.... in fact I've no doubt I'm doing some type of irreparable damage to my ear drums. I'd prefer that, than listening to the drone of the bus engine or the endless technical phone calls in the office. Hahaha..... Anyway with so much listening to be done I had to get a decent, comfortable and reliable pair of headphones. I've been a fan of Sennhesier for a long time and wanted something that didnt release sound and annoy fellow workers or commuters but they also had to perform for the type of music and content I listen to. After a fair amount of reading reviews and chatting with friends I ended up with a pair of Sennheiser HD 25 II closed can style headphones. Super stuff which I highly recommend and not over styled like many of the over priced and underperforming rubbish out there...!

Anyway back to the reason I am typing this post... podcasts... I listen to a few photography ones religiously as well as other tech, footy and nerdy ones...! Here is a list with a little review of each... they are all available through iTunes but I'll link to their websites too if there is one... First up the photography ones...

Probably one of the most listened to podcasts on the net and in my opinion probably the best. A great mix of guest speakers and interviews, product reviews and recommendations with a bit of  fun and banter thrown in. Not too tech heavy either.  Its my cutting the grass podcast which is prime time...!!!! 

A weekly Irish podcast run by Peter Cox, Roger Overall and Neil McShane looking at what is going on in the world of photography. 3 very different photographers with very different styles and opinions which makes for an entertaining and informative listen.

 A log running photography podcast touching on every aspect of photography. Martin is great to listen to and also often podcasts enhanced videocasts with reviews, interviews and competition results. Based out of Tokyo its interesting to hear whats going on on the other side of the planet.

 Roger Overall (from The Circle of Confusion fame...!) interviews some amazing and very famous photographers. Very interesting and informative stuff. Really like Rogers style of interviewing. Its a relatively new podcast and am really looking forward to see how this one develops...!

Chris Marquardt podcasts from Germany on a wide range of subjects. Informative, technical and very listenable..! Well... listenable apart from that annoying theme tune that gets stuck in your head for hours after listening. His style often seems a little unorganised but again its very listenable.

There are a couple of other Photography related podcasts that I listen to but irregularly so I wont bother mentioning them...! The next list are all kinda a bit random but please keep reading....

Josh and Chuck discuss the most random of things from 'Can it rain frogs' to 'Body Odor', in what turns out to be a highly entertaining and extremely interesting listen. Probably my favorite podcast of all. When subscribing go way back down through the list to find some seriously whacky episodes.... Highly recommend this one..!

A weekly update on whats going on in the world of technology. Everything from gaming to web and computers is discussed with some great interviews to boot. Worth a listen. The Guardian really do know how to make podcasts.

This is a videocast from the infamous TED talks. Some seriously amazing speakers in front of live audiences discussing everything from solutions for world problems to music and technology. Really worth a listen/watch...!

Being a self confessed Mac geek this is one I enjoy but obviously not to everyones taste . If you are my way inclined be sure to have a listen...! 

I've been a footy (Liverpool FC) fan for a long time. This podcast delivers a weekly mix of Premiership, International or whatever other footy is happening. Funny at times too. The Guardian deliver again...! 

Whilst I dont listen the podcast itself that often I do listen to the show live regularly so I can highly recommend the podcast. Award winning sports show by my favorite radio station...! 

Thats about it for podcasts that I listen to. If you have something worth adding to the list please leave a comment below and I'll add it to the list if its worth its position...! haha

Ill be back soon with another post...!


Posted in general, photography, Uncategorized Tagged , , , |