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




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!


Donaghadee Lighthouse weathering the Storm by admin

Storm over Donaghadee by Geoff McGrath  


In January 2013, Northern Ireland saw some of the worst storm weather we have seen for some years.  Like most people, I have been happy to just sit at home and catch it on TV but this year I was reminded that the weather would be dramatic.  I needed to get out in it and capture the drama and raw power of the wind and the sea.


I got all my equipment ready and off I headed down to Donaghadee Lighthouse.  This image was shot approx 5pm.  In the end, the only equipment I needed was my camera, 18-200mm lens and my tripod.  It was all to do to just get the tripod set up and the camera on it!  The wind was so strong that I was finding difficulty just standing!  Thankfully I found this spot directly in front of the sea wall and firmly grounded my tripod there.  This position gave me a great view not only of Donaghadee Lighthouse but also of the rough seas outside of the safety of harbour walls.


Low light at the best of times creates the issue of camera shake.  But surely, thats what the tripod is there for... so I don't have worry about things like that? Right?   That's only true when letting go of your tripod won't take it hurtling down the street into the local chip shop!  So, I had to grab it as firmly as I could, holding as still as I could....pushing all the weight down towards the ground.  Focusing was not too easy either.


For me though, the shot captures all the raw emotion and excitement of the moment perfectly.  I always look for new and different ways to photograph Donaghadee Lighthouse and capturing it while being battered by the elements is a first for me.


Every image we create should evoke an emotion and for the taker, a vivid memory.  If it does for you, please leave a comment below.   :)


Geoff McGrath



500px Page by admin


Today I thought I would share my 500px page with you. 500px is a fantastic site for photographers and those who love photography. I am constantly inspired by what I see there and always come away with a new idea or a better understanding of what it is that we as photographers do. Please take a look at my page and link to it if you have 500px already.



Geoff McGrath - Landscape - Fine Art - Photography - Northern Ireland - County Down - County Antrim - Scapes

Carrickfergus Harbour - Audacious & an Old Friend by admin

Recently I visited Carrickfergus Castle and Harbour.  When I arrived I was totally suprised to see Audacious and her Old Friend in dry dock in the Harbour  

Old Ships in Carrickfergus Harbour

This looked very precarious to say the least! Two days later when I returned to the Harbour, the larger ship had fallen over!  That is what makes the presence of the people in this shot so important, they are totally oblivious to the danger they are in.


Audacious, Carrickfergus Harbour August 2013


I just loved the textures and colours in this shot.  My favourite colours are (strangely..) black and everything in the "teal" range, those greeny blues.  So when I saw this I knew I needed to photograph this on in colour!  They were truly amazing.  Because I know nothing of them really, I've no idea how long they will be there!


Old Boat at Carrickfergus


This is a shot of the second ship and it captures the feeling of decrepide decay and the sense that this ship has not seen good times for many years!  I just love the textures fighting their way to the  surface!


Carrickfergus Harbour on a stormy evening


Finally I managed to get another lovely shop inside the curve of the harbour itself.  The sky was wonderfully dramatic!


Thanks for taking time to look at my work.  If you like it, please send others to my site and blog... much appreciated ;)