Co-Londonderry

Castlerock by admin

Castlerock Well, I'm still here... just very busy and not having a lot of time these days to update my blog.  Mostly I'm busy with my 9-5 and also working around home.  The problem with pouring yourself into studies for 3 years is that a lot of things get forgotten about.

Now that I'm out of the HND, I've been catching up.  I do have to admit thought, that while I found the HND rewarding.... nonetheless, I found it somewhat soul destroying as I am so camera'd out that its been difficult to motivate myself to get back on the horse.

However, I am slowly getting back into the groove again and recently spent some time in an area that I visited a couple of years ago, with little to show from the trip.  This time, I managed to have a bit more luck and I want to share a few shots with you from this trip.

The last time we were here in Castlerock it rained and rained.  Then it rained some more for good measure. However, this time, we had more luck.  A lot of people think that you need to get on the road early to get great shots.  However, unless I'm heading up to stay on the North Antrim Coast, I tend to just meander my way up there in the afternoon.  I'm always hoping it doesn't rain but also that it looks like it MIGHT rain.  Blue skies are generally not my thing so if you're into sunny skies, my work will probably not appeal to you!  But if you're into deepy moody, dark and overcast?  (I mean skies, btw, not the people!!)  Well, then you and I will get on famously, as this is the main stay of most of my work.

Looking to Donegal from Castlerock

Looking to Donegal from Castlerock

Each of these shots are looking over, as you can see from the captions, towards Donegal.  Don't forget to click on the images to see them much larger.  I'd also appreciate if you used the share button and share my work on social media.

As you can see someone was surfing and I was just in the right place and time to get it.  I waited until I got a good profile of the person and then snapped!

I love that so many of my shots are able to incorporate the heavy long wild grass that grows in this country.

Looking to Donegal from Castlerock

Looking to Donegal from Castlerock

Looking to Donegal from Castlerock

Looking to Donegal from Castlerock

3 Years by admin

Hi folks, While I've been involved in photography for most of my adult life, over the past 3 years I decided that I wanted to push myself down a more formal route.  My decision was based on the thought that studying an academic course would force me to slow down and take time to research.  Far too often, I've been guilty of just grabbing a camera and starting to shoot, without any preparation time really.

 

So, when I started the HND in Photography through Southern Regional College at Lurgan, I knew I was going to have to work hard to complete a varied range of modules designed to make the student really critique and evaluate the work of other photographers and then apply the same rigorous criteria to my own work.  There's noone harder on me that myself and so the whole 3 years experience was hard going at times.  Sometimes I was pushed into areas that I wasn't very comfortable with.   Product photography, architectural photography, photo-journalistic photography and many others.  I have always loved portrait photography and completed this module in Year One, long with fine art and landscape photography.

 

Girl with Pearls 3 by Geoff McGrath

 

Year One was probably the most formative of the 3 years for me. I say this because it was during this time that I found myself really pushed into an area I struggled with, due to my eyesight.  Working in the darkroom.  Now, darkroom technique is something that I've always loved, but I did find it hard as, at the time, I'd been having some problems with my eyesight (one of the joys of getting older!).

I finished with a level of work in my landscape module that did not please me and so this spurred me on to devote my summer to going out and compiling a portfolio of landscape work.  I made a lot of mistakes along the way but through this process, I ended up falling in love with photographying this beautiful country of Northern Ireland and for the past 3 years have been totally caught up with it.

 

Tree taken at Ballyrobert, County Down by Geoff McGrath, Fine Art & Landscape Photographer, Northern Ireland

 

Since that time, a passion has been growing with in me to promote the rugged beauty of this country.  It was at that time, back in 2012 that I launched this website with a view to sharing my vision with the world.  Exactly how I see this country.  I spent a number of years overseas and I think that is something that has probably made me appreciate the beautiful landscape of Northern Ireland. So, 3 years on, it is with a sense of pride and accomplishment that I think of what I've achieved. I've had commissions from private clients as well as having sold images to film companies for their sets and my work will be on the big screen some time in 2016!

 

The Commons as the wind picks up

 

 

This year the most rewarding aspects of the course have been Portfolio and Exhibition.  As I already mentioned, over the past 3 years, I have amassed a whole plethora of images and yet I never really had the time to actually choose which ones I thought were my best ones.  Portfolio allowed me that time and narrowing it down really made me examine them very closely.  I had received some critique about my early work which hadn't been what I had hoped to hear and for the first time I could see what they were talking about.  Some images looked good on screen but did not print well.  So another item has been added to my list of things to do.  Spend the summer reshooting a lot of my early work again.  I have since then gained a lot of experience and knowledge as well as upgrading my 15 yr old D200 camera to much newer D7100.

 

Tranquility over Oxford Island

 

I also had the opportunity to return to one particular part of Ireland which has haunted/inspired me since 2003, when I first visited it.  Connemara / Mayo.  I had photographed this valley at that time, but time and time again, I returned to look at it longing to return to photograph it when I had more time and the ability to really focus.  In 2014 Rosemary and I stopped our car and I realised that this was it.  It was only 15mins from where we were staying in Louisburg, Co.Mayo.

 

IMG_1391

 

 

I love the depth of colour that I find in this beautiful country. it isn't just in the greens though. Everyone talks about Ireland being about the 40 shades of green. It is, but it is so much more than that. There is a timeless ancient quality to this land. These rocks and mountains have been here for 1000's of years. What stories they could tell.

Fine Art Irish Landscapes, Upper Doolough Valley, Co. Mayo, Geoff McGrath Photography

 

This area was the scene of one of the worst tragedies of the Irish Potato Famine when 1000's lost their lives trekking these hills in the worst of winter just to beg for help from overlords more interest in themselves that the people whose responsibility they were.

 

Fine Art Irish Landscapes, Connemara, Co. Mayo, Geoff McGrath Photography

 

Again the rugged landscape of Co. Mayo moving towards what is known as the Connemara Loop. This beautiful expansive land is so often forgotten and neglected by us.

 

Fine Art Ireland - Geoff McGrath - Country Road, Co.Mayo

 

I know John Denver was singing about West Virginia, but this image just reminds of of his song Country Road! I had stopped because Rosemary wanted to photograph some sheep and I happened to turn around and this scene greeted me. I've learned this past few years to "turn around" a lot. Sometimes the best views are from the opposite direction! Its good to look back and see where you have come from!

 

Deserted Cottage, Co.Mayo - Geoff McGrath Photography

 

This deserted cottage was the first thing that really grabbed my attention in Co.Mayo. The depth of colour and beautiful shades of green just captivated me.

 

Mussenden Temple Fine Art Northern Ireland, Geoff McGrath

 

Mussenden Temple was one of the first things that I photographed 3 years ago and traditionally I have preferred this work as a black and white, but after listening to some things that Matt Klowskowski had to say about Lightroom, I decided to rework many of my images and as a result was able to bring so much more out of these shots in colour.

 

Orlock Point, Co.Down - Geoff McGrath Photography

 

This was an image which I had largely ignored 3 years ago when I took it. But in Lightroom I have been able to do so much with this shot to show off the natural beauty of Orlock Point, which is only a 10 minute drive from my home in Donaghadee.

 

I have reached the end of this lengthy post. But I wanted to share with you finally, what I suspect is probably the first landscape that ever really etched itself in my mind as a child. This is, of course, Slemish Mountain, just outside Broughshane, Ballymena. For many years a local photographer, known mostly for his weddings and portraits had been selling a landscape of this scene and it could be seen around many shops in the Ballymena area.

 

(Jack Adams was one of the most prominent photographers in the area for over 40 years and is a good friend of my family. After he retired Jack was so much help to both myself and my father as we photographed weddings, often coming along on the day and his advice and knowledge were unsurpassed.)

Others have gone on to photograph Slemish in the years following, but none of them captured the gradeur and sheer majesty of the hill where Saint Patrick tended sheep, as well as Jack Adams did.

 

So I just want to say that what you see on this website, all started with my father putting a camera in my hand and showing me how to take photographs, but the inspiration came from the work of Jack Adams and I owe him a debt of gratitude for all of his help and encouragement to me over the years.

 

Fine Art Landscape Northern Ireland Slemish, Co.Antrim - Geoff McGrath Photography

 

And so, This June sees the end of 3 years of hard work. To mark the event, the gradtuating students are holding the Beyond Exhibition in the Millenium Court Arts Centre, in Portadown on 4th June at 7.30pm and we would love to see you there. I will have some of my pieces on display which will be available to buy or order. Hope to see you there! Please come and introduce yourself and say hello!

 

Geoff.

 

SWPP Highly Commended Award Pet Portrait by admin

This has been a quiet year for me photographically.  By that I mean that I've probably indulged my iPhoneography curiosity and this has been to the detriment of my DSLR work.  I was so glad to get out recently with my camera again since the academic year was rewarding but at the same time very constrictive.... by that I mean that I felt a lot of the creativity sucked out of me!  

What I was also painfully aware of was the fact that I had not competed at all this year in any competitions.  This frustrated me.  As I looked over some of my earlier images, I came across a few that I felt had potential and so entered them into the SWPP Monthly Competition.

 

Needless to say I was extremely pleased to receive a Highly Commended Award (which is the equivilant of the old Silver Award) for this beautiful image of a lovely wee dog called Alfie.  Sadly Alfie passed away almost 2 years ago in October 2012.  I know he was greatly loved by his owner Judy.  He was a lot of fun to photograph!  I've never seen a dog wag his tail and bear his teeth at the same time!!

 

Here's the image of Alfie....

 

 

Wee Alfie

 

This shot of Alfie is probably one of my all time favourite images that I've done.  Most of all Rosemary, Bonnie & I really enjoyed our day at Benone Strand in 2011 with Judy & Alfie and because it was something that was so close to our hearts.  Our little Bonnie is such a precious little dog to us, that we totally understood just how loved Alfie was!  Nothing warms my heart more than taking photographs that really touch people and we know that Judy just loved so many of them.  I felt it was a real honour to photography Alfie and capture his different looks!

 

Since 2011, I've entered this image a few times into competition. I persevered with it because I knew it had something special. Its nice to see that in the end, the judges agreed with me! Its not a Gold, but I am happy that its received some recognition finally.

 

I thought that it might be nice to maybe include a few more from our day out, so here we go.  I hope you enjoy them.  As always please click on the photos and select the share button and let others see my work.  I'd really appreciate it.

 

Alfie by Geoff McGrath - Pet Portrait - 04

 

 

Alfie by Geoff McGrath - Pet Portrait - 02

Alfie by Geoff McGrath - Pet Portrait - 03

 

Alfie by Geoff McGrath - Pet Portrait - 01

 

 

 

 

 

 

October SWPP Awards by admin

GeoffMcGrath_Pictorial-Fine-Art_Sept_UK_13.jpg

I was very pleased to find out last night that I've just received a Gold Award and a Highly Commended Award for my work at the SWPP Awards yet again. Its extremely humbling to receive this recognition. Its things like this that keep motivating me to continually work to improve my images every chance I get.

 

Tree taken at Ballyrobert, County Down by Geoff McGrath, Fine Art & Landscape Photographer, Northern Ireland

 

If you've been following my blogs, you'll maybe recognise this tree.  It was a feature of my very first post back in July 2013.   Certainly if you're local to Bangor, County Down and the surrounding area you will know it because you most probably drive past it a few times a week.  On a larger scale, the tree became quite famous or should I say infamous due to the carryings-on of a certain pop star in 2012. Check 0:25 for the first glimpse.

 

The image above was taken at the same time as my initial shot in April 2013.  However, this time, I decided that in moving closer to the tree, I wanted my focus (pardon the pun) to be on the tonal quality of the tree and sky, their textures and the contrasts between the roughness of the ground and tree bark and the smooth texture of the sky.  In essence, I wanted to "get to know" the tree better.  I really love this shot because unlike the earlier image, this is a personal shot.  Its a tree-portrait.  For me, the personality of the tree shows when you get a really good look at the textures of the bark, and I especially like the intricate twisted shapes of the branches as, when the light hits them you get a lovely range of varying light features and tones.

 

I really love this one because its intimate, and personal. The way it treats light, with its various twists and turns, tell me something about the character of this tree.  The years have not been kind to it, but still, inspite of everything, it still stands. It makes me reflect on myself, my life and how we need to just lean into the wind, for that is how character is born...

 

 

After the Dawn - Portstewart Strand - Geoff McGrath Photography

 

I was also really pleased to receive a Highly Commended award in the SWPP Awards for this image from Portstewart Strand on the North Antrim coast.  This is a shot from my last outing to Portstewart just a couple of weekends ago.  As you can see, again, there was a fantastic range of tones throughout this shot.  I'm hoping to return soon and take some more shots at the Strand using my new Hitech 10 Stop ND.

 

 

Baywatch - Portstewart by admin

Stairway-to-Heaven-Portstewart.jpg

This past weekend saw me up at the North Antrim Coast again on the Baywatch set!  ;) Baywatch, Portstewart

 

This is just a little teaser of what I was up to.  At the moment I've a pretty heavy workload on so it might take a little time to get more images up from this latest trip...we'll see how it goes.    I had hoped to have my new Hitech 10 stop ND filter with me to capture some stormy weather, but Royal Mail saw fit to take the proverbial, so I decided to do what I do best...  just go out in the worst weather and see how wet I could get without soaking my gear.  Mission accomplished, then! lol.

I love the simplicity of this first photo. It just jumped out at me the minute I started to look around me.  I'd taken some photos on a portrait shoot around this old lifeguard station a couple of years ago and I think its really got character.

 

After the Dawn - Portstewart Strand - Geoff McGrath Photography

After the Dawn - Portstewart Strand

 

This image was taken about 9am on a surprisingly calm Sunday morning.  While we were hearing tales of the extreme conditions elsewhere in the UK, we were experiencing beautiful calm and mild weather for October.  I've processed this image concentrating on nice tonal contrast and then used Nik's HDRExPro software to lift the colour out.

 

Stairway to Heaven - Portstewart - Geoff McGrath Photography

 

I was reminded of Stairway to Heaven when I saw this and was tempted to make some of those railings at the top 'disappear' but I didn't think it right to remove them just for the sake of a title!  :)  This shot was taken with the 11-16mm Tokina.

 

Portstewart - The Old Convent - B&W - Geoff McGrath Photography

 

I've always found that there's more than one way to skin a cow and this is cetainly true when it comes to photography.  The most common view of the old convent (now a school) is from the Promenade and you'll find that shot earlier in my portfolio.  I decided I wanted to see it from the other side just as the sun was rising.  I was rewarded with this beautifully peaceful image of the Old Convent looking out over the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Geoff McGrath