Tranquility at Oxford Island by admin


  Tranquility over Oxford Island




One of the things that I love most about the sea and bodies of water is the sense of tranquility it gives me.  I don't know if it affects you the same way.  Its a deeply personal place to enter.  That place where one is completely at rest.


Some time has passed since I updated my blog.  If I'm honest, after completing my final assignment in my Year Two HND course, I felt totally deflated.  The subject matter I was covering was extremely disturbing and spending 3 months pouring over such images just left me feeling a bit numbed.  Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, it may never appear on the internet, but despite that, it was a deeply moving subject and one that I sadly see, much too often.


Over all, the year creatively had been difficult as I covered subjects that didn't really hold a lot of personal interest for me, but as it was part of the course, it had to be tackled.  I don't class myself as a commercial photographer or a photo-journalist.  But entering the final phase, that of Fine Art I was really looking forward to the module.  There was a last minute change and the subject was changed from Fine Art Open to Fine Art Documentary.  All my plans went out the window!


So, at the end of it all, as I already said, I wasn't feeling exactly motivated.  I have some personal projects that I had hoped to accomplish this summer, which so far, have remained untouched.  I'm hoping that getting back into my blog might help with that.


Most of all, more recently, our family has experienced a personal bereavement and the past few months especially have been difficult.


It was in the midst of this, that we went out for a quite walk to clear our minds and I saw the scene that I have shared with you today.  I just loved the real sense of peace that Oxford Island gave us that day and more than anything, this image captures that.  Sometimes you need to calm your soul.


And so I leave you with this image in the hope that it moves you, much in the same way as it has me.



Revisiting Colour ... by admin

I am amazed at how dissatisfied our minds can be.  There is always that sense of "not quite yet..." when it comes to my photography.  I'm reminded of the song I heard on the radio this morning by U2, "I Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For..."  Sometimes I wonder if we would KNOW "it" if it stood right in front of us!  

Well being dissatisfied is a 2 way street, isn't it?  A blessing... AND a curse, that's for sure!  As I continue to research and work more and more on my processes and for new ways to do things, this is what has happened.  I've ended up looking at things slightly differently.


While I love black & white, for me, still the best medium by far...  I still realise too that there is tremendous potential for the use of colour in my work, I just need to find a balance that I am happy with.  These next few images that I want to show you today, briefly, are just some of those outworkings.  I hope some day to be able to print some of these in larger formats for I would be intrigued just to see them big and bold!


I hope you enjoy these!  Please share them or like them, as "every little helps" (at least Tesco says it does!)


Take care




Sunrise Over Oxford Island



Sailing to the Lighthouse



Ship to Shore...


Lighthouse with a View




Frescos from Oxford Island by admin


I've decided to share some of my fresco images from Oxford Island . This first shot was taken with my 11-16mm wide angle lens.  As you can see from previous shots, this one is different in that it is much wider and there was no escaping the harsh brightness of the sunrise.  I just love how this image drew me into it.  There is a certain focus with it as we're not distracted by the details of the pier's texture, but instead our eyes are drawn out along the old pier to the landfall in the horizon and the lovely detail.  The eye then naturally follows upwards to the burning sun.  I also particularly like the radial effect eminating from the sun itself, which then takes our eyes back out of the image.    At least, thats how I saw it as I was creating it... the natural movement of the eye... drawn in, then upwards and finally outwards again.



Fine Art by Geoff McGrath



The second I wanted to share was another fresco, this time a colour version of the black and white image I shared last time.

This image has many of the same characteristics of the previous shot.  There is much more warmth recorded here since I shot the image from the side and in this way more of the colour is captured instead of being bleached out by the power of the sun.  I managed to tone down the strength of the sun by diffusing its rays in the branches of the trees in the foreground.


Fine Art - Geoff McGrath



The final image for this blog is one that I have entitled, "The Talking Tree."  As I was walking down the winding trail towards the lough my attention was grabbed by this tree.  It wasn't exactly a "Burning Bush" moment, but, my attention was really arrested by the form of this tree and the beautiful space between the branches.  I loved the tonal quality that the warm morning sunlight brought out in the leaves and branches.


The Talking Tree - Fine Art Photography by Geoff McGrath


Oxford Island by admin


When I was a young boy, in the Boy Scouts they taught us to "Be Prepared."  Its just as well then, that I was prepared last Saturday morning as I woke up about 5am and had the implusive to just get in my car and drive to Oxford Island.  I'd been thinking about photographing it for some time having seen others images and I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about.  

So, at just after 6am, armed with my camera gear, a flask of coffee and a bag of cashew nuts (don't ask!) I found myself on the road out of Donaghadee. The early morning mist blanketed the fields on either side of my car as I drove up the road out of the village.  It was a beautiful morning...I was so glad I had banished the demon of the quilt to pursue my passion.  There's nothing worse that missed opportunities and I was determined not to miss this one.


About an hour later, I found myself exiting the M1 at Junction 10.  Oxford Island was just 5 minutes from the junction and in no time I found myself at the entrance to this picturesque nature reserve.  Arriving so early, I was greeted by closed gates, but others were already there enjoying the cool brisk morning air. Some on bikes, others walking their dogs.   I parked my car off the road and got my Lowepro Vertex 300 on my shoulders and headed off.  What a bag!  After removing the kitchen sink, a full darkroom and 2 small kittens that had somehow gotten in there, I set out to find water!  I'd no map or idea where anything was, but this was adventure, right!?  Who cared!?  Instead of taking the direct route to the Discovery Centre, I decided to follow the meandering paths for about an hour, thinking they would bring me to water quicker.  After traversing said direct route several times I had the revelation that this was not the case!  I didn't mind though as I was walking through beautiful woodlands, along the old shoreline which became accessible as the Lough was drained in the 1800's and early 1900's.


With the morning dew spraying off my boots as I walked, I looked ahead down the path and could see the white tails of rabbits bobbing as they beat a hasty retreat to the sounds of my footsteps.


I left the woods and within a few minutes saw the shoreline of the Lough for the first time.  I was captivated by the sheer peaceful tranqulility and just stood drinking in the beauty for a moment.  I then walked around towards the Discovery Centre and immediately spotted the old ruined dock.  Since it was so early, the morning sun was right in my eyes.  I had wanted this shot with my wide angle lens and a nice symmetry however the sun was just too low so I walked off to the side and it was then that I saw the perfect shot.  The leading lines of the dock and the clouds in the sky all pointed towards the sunrise.


A long time ago I heard the saying "If its not broke, don't fix it..." and so rather than convince myself that I needed a new camera body, I've continued to use my Fujifilm S5-Pro and Nikon D200.  The S5 still has some of the best tones out there, for an old DX camera and I've become so familiar with it that I am always reluctant to use anything else.  Even the D200, which is the foundation for the S5, pales by comparison.


So, my setup was Fuji S5 and Tokina Dx II 11-16mm and then the D200 with my Nikon 18-200mm.

This first shot was taken with the 18-200mm setup.  Everything is subjective in photography.  Every thing changes every single thing.  For example in this image, with the 11-16, I was seeing just too much, I was losing my subject in the vastness of the water.  That's when I knew the 18-200 was a much better option.


Sunrise over Oxford Island


This next shot was taken with the Tokina 11-16mm lens with myself virtually laying on the dock and I had to keep changing position to get just the perfect shot with each of the posts in the right place.  In the distance you can see the Discovery Centre.  The smell of bacon and sausages was wafting over the water towards me.  But my will power was stronger!


Oxford Island, The Dock


I think being a photographer is the best and the worst of things.  We get to photograph things that we love, that speak to us, that move us.  The downside is that so much of the work I do, like everyone else, is subjective and so I have to learn to accept critique and criticism.  Not everyone will like what we like.  I have come to love my landscape and Fine Art images and its as if I have never shot anything else.  I love the symmetry of this shot, and I honeslty feel that black and white is the best medium for me to get the impact that I see in the shot.


Alone at Oxford Island


As I walked around from the slip towards the Centre again, I decided to walk down a long path towards a bird-watching hut owned by the Sailing Club. I had seen this lonely boater paddling his canoe for some time and as I arrived at the point, he was almost up along side me.  There is a perfect little viewing area directly below the hut and as I watched the boater I realised that his path would soon intersect the reflection of the now, well risen sun.  I waited for my moment and click.... I had it.


I had a fantastic time at Oxford Island and I am sure that I'll be back again soon.  If you like my images please share them using the share button which you can find by hovering your mouse over any of the photographs.


Until next time!