Sunday 28 June 2015

8 Mile

I met a man today sitting in his garden beside a dried out canal who told me tales of horses pulling barges along that canal in the 1940’s. John Flanagan had been born near Grange in Co. Westmeath, worked for much of his life as a post master in a village in Co. Offaly and was now twenty years back where he was born, retired and tending a garden of potatoes. He said he remembered Guinness barges tied up in the harbour in Tullamore when he was in primary school there. I told him that yesterday I’d stood on the road where those barges were filled and that there’s no canal there anymore either.

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He asked where I was from. I told him I grew up by the sea, but I loved canals and that today I was walking along the route of a dried out canal because someone has to remember that there were boats here once. He laughed and told me that it was 8 mile to Ballycommon and I’d see no water before that. I think he thought I was a bit daft to be planning to walk the whole way. When I told him I was walking there and back the look he gave me said that he definitely thought I was daft but he just said, you’ll need to be fit for that.

He told me to look at the limestone blocks under the bridge at Grange, on the towpath side, to see how the ropes the horses pulling the barges had worn away the stones. He was right, those stones remember more than a century of horses.

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I told him I thought that his garden was a delight. He was proud of his potatoes; Prince Edward just losing their blossom, British Queen’s coming into blossom and Golden Wonder which had yet to bloom. He joked about his “English potatoes” but then turned serious when he said they were the best to grow.

He told me he always wanted to see the canal in Sweden that linked Stockholm and Gothenburg. I admitted that I didn’t know it but he assured me it would be worth seeing, that it had amazing buildings right beside the canal. I told him that I thought that Kilbeggan Harbour had a pretty impressive building right their beside his canal and it was definitely worth seeing. I said I was glad I’d seen it today and that he was lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

And then he told me he’d never seen it. He was around 80 and had lived for much, if not most, of his life within an hour’s walk of it, and had never seen it. I was struck by just how normal that would have been, and possibly still is for some, but how strange it is now for someone like me to think of anyone living within a few minutes of such a beautiful spot and still have never seen it.

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I walked from Kilbeggan Harbour to Ballycommon today. 16 miles round trip. It’s not way marked but there is a fully accessible walk all the way to the Grand Canal, following the old tow path. It tracks the eastern bank for almost its entire length apart from a 200m section at the Wood of O’ Bridge, around the 9km mark. It’s much more of a hike than I’m used to but it is a great walk. And I was mobbed by butterflies, hundreds of butterflies.

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Sunday 21 June 2015

Street Art in Dublin: C125 Christian Guémy

We can’t claim him as our own unfortunately but C215 has been here and left a few really nice examples of his work around town. As it stands I’ve found four, all within a few minutes walk of Smithfield. His work is mostly portrait style, stencils with a very distinctive flavour that I find amazingly evocative. His philosophy about street art is also interesting, he specifically calls out in this interview that there is a difference (to him) between work that is destined for galleries and that destined for the street. Regarding the latter he makes the point that the street [is there] to devour, transform, smash... In any case Dublin is lucky to have the examples of his work that it has.

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The Botanic Gardens and Emo Court

I went for a bit of a wander yesterday into town to see if I could find any interesting things to shoot in order to practice getting some good shots out of my AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G lens. I’d taken it to The Botanic Gardens yesterday and while I got some interesting shots I had a lot of issues, framing was a challenge, exposure was poorly thought out or I got the depth-of-field wrong, or whatever. There was a lot of potential but I’d forgotten how much more careful I have to be when shooting with this lens.

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These two are particularly egregious examples of the over-exposure thing. Nikon DX camera’s problems with overexposing the red channel is not as bad on the D5300 as it is on the D-40x but when combined with my lack of attention, ugh. The orange one was just me being dopey – I just shot it too fast ( f1.8 in full sun) on aperture priority, shutter speed maxed out and I and wasn’t paying attention to the exposure.

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I headed off to Emo Court today because I thought they had a nice flower/walled garden but apparently not. It’s a nice spot for a leisurely walk in a wooded garden but if you’re looking for flowers and more bio-diversity than trees and grass it might not be the place for you. It is very scenic though and the statues around the house a pretty interesting. The cafe is absolutely worth a visit all by itself mind you. In any case I think I did better with the lens today, but I didn’t see enough that was interesting to tell for certain. I think I got a better ratio of technically OK shots this time though.

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Sunday 14 June 2015

Strange Stickers in Dublin

I’ve been looking at a lot of stickers ( slap tags ) around the city lately and there’s the usual mix of interesting, crazy, political and commercial trying hard to be down with the kids or something. I snapped these ones over the weekend.

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However a couple of really weird ones have shown up over the last couple of days that have me intrigued. I’ve found one or more of these in about 8 locations, most near Stephen’s Green/Dame Street area but I also found a cluster on the North side near the Dublin City Fruit and Vegetable Market on Mary’s Lane.

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Each sticker has a GPS coordinate as a reference starting point and all are in or around the Sunset district of San Francisco. Each one then has an offset ( 1 or 1.5km NE or SW) which locates the landmark in question. The same reference starting point is used for both the Tank Hill and Sutro Tower stickers, and that reference point is very close to where the Corona Heights point works out to be.

The three points are just random spots near the referenced landmark as far as I can tell from things like Google Maps but they are all on the same 45deg bearing along a dead straight line. That's a no-brainer though because there are only two fixed reference points given and two directions so they all have to be on the same line.

Sticker 1: Sutro Tower. 37°45′22″N, 122°27′05″W

( Ref: 37.76558947 , -122.43935213 then 1.5km SW)

Sticker 2: Tank Hill. 37°45′33″N, 122°26′51″W

( Ref: 37.76558947 , -122.43935213 then 1km SW)

Sticker 3: Corona Heights. 37°46′00″N, 122°26′22″W

( Ref: 37.76032291 , -122.44747923 then 1km NE)

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Tank Hill (200m) and Mount Sutro (277m) are in the top 5 highest hills in San Francisco but Corona Heights (160m) isn’t all that special.  ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hills_in_San_Francisco ). Also the Sticker is fro the Sutro Tower which isn’t quite the same thing.

This will probably turn out to be something really dull but at the moment I’m intrigued.