March 31, 2008

Welcome to the third world - Galway

Most people go to Nimmo's Pier to feed the swans and the ducks. But there are always plenty of scavengers there to lend a beak or two, like these two Jackdaws.

There are times when I wonder if we're are living in a modern city at all. Yet another water outage occurred on Friday on Galway's Westside - due to a burst pipe, apparently [and suspiciously close to nearby roadworks]. Between power outages and a clapped-out water supply, there are times when one's patience runs thin with some of Galway's raggedy-arsed 'charm'.

On the plus side [for me, at least], the onset of Spring means that I get to travel to work [well, travel to the train station] in daylight - around 6.45am every morning. It's not a bad trip either - along Salthill Prom, down by South Park and the Claddagh and then over Wolfe Tone bridge and past the Spanish Arch. These mornings, there's usually a few swans flying in formation along the path of the river, and there's nothing quite like a group of swans in flight.

Posted by Monasette at 08:25 PM | Comments (3)

March 28, 2008

Aughnanure Castle

Last Autumn, I found myself on a road overlooking Belmullet on a dark and starry night. I had arrived in the town about an hour earlier, and noticed that the sky was clearing. I quickly checked into my B&B and drove out of town, beyond the glare of the street lights. The sky was so clear that I could see the faint veil of the Milky Way hanging over the night sky. So I parked my car in a lay-by, walked back to a gateway and set up my tripod so that the lights of Belmullet were reflecting in the sea, and above, the sky twinkled with stars. Without warning, a hot blast of air hit my neck followed by an ungodly shriek in my ear - I nearly expired with fright on the spot.

Ok, what had actually happened was, while I was concentrating on setting up my camera, a black horse had strolled across the field and decided to introduce himself with a friendly whinny in my left ear. By the time my heart-rate had returned to sub-sonic, a thin fog had rolled in (ruining my shot), and my new-found companion had got bored and wandered off. On the plus side, I had inadvertently done my bit for road safety merely by standing in the gateway. Belmullet appears to be the north-west capital of boy-racers, and there was plenty of them zooming down the road where I was standing. As soon as they spotted me in the gateway in a high-vis jacket standing by a device on a tripod, each of them suddenly discovered third gear, decelerated rapidly and approached the town in a manner more befitting a vehicle of the road rather than an incoming jet.

I've been spending more time taking pictures at night recently, simply because, until recently, the nights have been longer than the days, and I don't have much time during the day anyway. Normally, I don't mind wandering through graveyards or forests in darkness too much. It's the open fields that I worry about. My greatest fear is not encountering a bunch of Buckfast swilling hoodies 'on a night out' but a bunch of silage-munching bullocks intent on a bit of pucking.

The original object of my photographic expedition last week didn't work out - I really needed a wingman, and volunteers were surprisingly thin on the ground. The subject was basically a swamp with overhanging brambles (it will look better when I figure out how to take the picture I can see in my mind - honest), and after an hour of stumbling about in muck and getting my face scratched from stuff that I couldn't see, I gave up (hmm...on reflection, absence of assistants might not be such a mystery after all). Since the night was still young, since the sky was clear, since I had managed to avoid any psychotic ruminants and since Aughnanure Castle was nearby, that's where I went.

I didn't plan on lingering at Aughnanure - I was also planning to visit the windfarm near Spiddal - so I only took a few pictures. And in the few seconds that the shutter was open, a shooting star lit up the sky, and became part of the image. So for anyone who couldn't make a wish for want of a star, have one on me.

Posted by Monasette at 08:04 AM | Comments (4)

March 25, 2008

Darth O'Vader and the Little People

Strong is the Force wth St. Patrick. There were some colourful characters in the Galway St. Patrick's Parade this year, but this beats Banagher *.

Camera=40D,lens=Canon 100-400@235mm,aperture=f14, speed=1/320sec ,ISO=400.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2008

From Thin Air

Even in a light breeze on a cold and frost night earlier this week, the wind turbines overlooking Galway Bay near Spiddal were swirling. The effect above was created by keeping the shutter open long enough to expose the the stars without blurring them (after 30 secs or so, the Earth's rotation causes stars to register as streaks in an image), and repeatedly firing two flashes at the nearest turbine. Each flash caused the rotors to be illuminated, so the final image shows the position of the rotors over a number of flashes during the exposure (which is also why the stars seem to shine 'through' the rotors).

More pictures of the wind turbines in Galway here.

Camera=Canon 5D, lens=24-105@24m,ISO=400,speed=30secs,aperture=f8, flash=Canon 430EX & Canon 580IIEX (flashed multiple times), extra light supplied by the Moon.

I'm still getting hassle from spammers, so I've turned off comments. Use the Guestbook instead. No updates until next week.

P.S. You should really check out the Flickr pictures of these two guys, here and here who are doing some really great night photography.

Posted by Monasette at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2008

Vanishing Point

Early morning fog at Lough Nafooey in Co. Mayo, photographed in early February, 2007.

Camera=5D, lens=Canon 24-105mm@24, aperture=f11, speed=1/25sec, ISO=100.

Buy this picture of Lough Nafooey, Co. Mayo.

Posted by Monasette at 11:13 AM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day 2008

For the first time since I began photographing the Galway St. Patrick's Day Parade, in 2005, the sun shone. The parade seemed shorter than last year - there seemed to be less schoolchildren parading. It was a pity, because the kids bring a lot of energy to the parade, and after the drenching they got last year, they deserved their day in the sun.

I'd hoped to get some pictures posted tonight, but, realistically, it will be sometime tomorrow before I get a gallery together. Meanwhile, feel free to browse the pictures from 2005, 2006 and 2007.

UPDATE March 20th: Finally, the gallery of pictures from this year's St Patrick's Day Parade in Galway.

Posted by Monasette at 10:22 PM | Comments (1)

March 12, 2008

The New Irish

A Little Egret has a bit of a stretch while feeding in Rusheen Bay, between Salthill and Barna in Galway.

Camera=Canon 40D, lens = 100-400mm@400, speed=1/400 sec, aperture=5.6, ISO=400, Spot-metered.

Not all of the immigration to Ireland in recent years has been of the human kind. My copy of "The Shell guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland" was published in the mid-eighties and lists the Little Egret as, at best, a summer vagrant. Not any more.

The Little Egret [egretta garzetta] is quite a bit smaller than the Grey Heron but they are both members of the same [heron] family. There's at least 3 Egrets feeding, and nesting, in Rusheen Bay [behind Silver Strand] right now in Galway. Who knows - if there is a little egret-on-egret action soon, we might have more by the summer. There's no shortage of food for seabirds and waders in Rusheen Bay, and on Saturday, the Egret (pictured above) was feeding constantly for the hour or so that I watched it.

A while ago, there was a complaint about the surfers in Rusheen Bay - allegedly from a bird watcher. Well, I felt like doing some complaining myself after watching two dogs chase every single bird off the stretch of beach in front of the Small Wood [which is a Birdwatch reserve] while the owner blithely looked on. Of all the beach available from Salthill to Barna, why pick the one small spot reserved for bird-watching? Only in Ireland

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Posted by Monasette at 06:36 PM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2008

When the Levee breaks

The Spanish Arch looked a bit post-apocalyptic this morning at around 6.50am. And by that, I mean post-apocalyptic in the "I Am Legend" / nobody about sense rather than the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"/ bodies in the street effect that one sees during Race Week.

Met Eireann predicted storms and flooding over the weekend but we were spared most of it in Galway. Until this morning. A combination of a full tide, and a lot of floodwater coming from the Corrib meant that the sea began to slop over the quay wall at the Spanish Arch. The City Council clearly weren't expecting it either - normally, they fence off the edge of the quay during floods, but there was no sign of any council workers this morning. A few more pictures in the Spanish Arch gallery here, and a video of waves crashing against Silver Strand yesterday afternoon [I'm experimenting with short video clips since I got the G9 - listen to this one with the sound off - it's just wind noise].

UPDATE: March 12. It was much wilder last night. Along Salthill Promenade, a ferocious wind, accompanied by the odd shower of hail and sleet, kept most people off the Prom. But not everyone. I'd hoped to put together a montage of video clips of the storm but thanks to an unsavoury incident between Windows Vista and Adobe Premiere Elements, no editing was possible. It's not exactly Cloverfield, but this clip should give you an idea of what it was like (as a bonus, it shows me getting my comeuppance.

Posted by Monasette at 11:32 PM | Comments (5)

March 09, 2008

Blown Away

Last week, the Government announced a new sustainable energy plan which is aimed at implementing environmentally friendly policies and also developing 'green' industries in Ireland to take advantage of the Government's investment.

Probably the most recognisable sign of green energy in Ireland is the silhouette of a wind turbine - to be seen on many hills across the country. Wind energy attracts significant grant aid which is why there now so many wind farms across the country. They are not without their critics - from their visual impact on the countryside to the amount of energy expended to build the things in the first place. However, since we live in a country without huge reserves of fossil fuels, it would be a shame not to use the free energy blowing in from the sea [and I'm writing this as a gale is blowing across the country]

The wind turbine pictured above is one of five on a site overlooking Spiddal and Galway Bay. At the base of some of the turbines, turf is still cut. Whatever about the future of wind turbines, the future for hand-won turf looks bleak. Turf is still officially classified as a smokeless fuel in Ireland, as are peat briquettes. But the new set of turf-fuelled power stations built in the Midlands will probably be the last [their power output is small], and less and less people are harvesting turf every year [most new houses have oil-fired central heating and many of the new apartments and town-houses don't have a real fireplace]. As someone who spent many a childhood evening stuffing sods of turf into a Stanley Range, an Ireland without turf would seem strange. I don't miss having to cut it, though.

The wave energy company Wavebob also announced a new energy project with Vattenfall last week - I photographed their experimental wave-power generator almost 2 years ago.

Part of the Transitions image series.

Posted by Monasette at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2008


Light streams from passing cars as they cross the bridge over the River Suck at Ballyforan, Co. Roscommon.

Camera=5D,lens=Sigma 10-20@10mm,aperture=f4, speed=25sec ,ISO=1000. Sigma lens causes vignetting on a 5D so final image was cropped.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2008

Spring at last

A new moon, birds singing at dawn and going to work in daylight - Spring has finally arrived. Picture of Blackrock diving board in Salthill taken this morning at around 6.45am and posted to the site from the 7.15 Galway to Heuston train.

Comments still off due to spammers - please use the Guestbook at for comments.

Posted by Monasette at 08:03 AM | Comments (2)

March 02, 2008


Claregalway Abbey (7 miles east of Galway City on the Tuam road [N17] coated in snow in the first week of January, 2008

We've had snow for the first week of every month this year so far.Snow, hail and sleet fell in the west today, and even more is predicted for tomorrow, along with freezing temperatures. Not fun.

Posted by Monasette at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

And a few words too

I'm going to give a small presentation to the Galway Camera Club on Wednesday night - the original presenter is ill, so I'm filling in - Sean will also give a presentation. Since I only found out last Wednesday, I don't have much time to prepare. I usually like to have a theme to my presentations, so this time, the theme will be about two invaluable pieces of equipment that I nearly always use.
One is my tripod (used mainly to beat off cattle) and wellies, by far the most useful pieces of winter equipment that I use.

If you're in the neighbourhood, call in (see the Galway Camera Club website for location) at around 8.20. And feel free to ask as many questions as you want.

Posted by Monasette at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)