Seascapes

Associate Distinction Society of International Nature & Wildlife Photographers (ASINWP) by Geoff McGrath

Carlingford Lough - One of the images from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

Carlingford Lough - One of the images from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

Some of you who have been reading my blog will know something of the journey I’ve been on as a photographer this past few years.  Just last year, I completed my HND in Photography gaining a distinction from Southern Regional College.

 

While I am pleased to have achieved the Diploma, there tend to be various opinions among photographers as to the validity of such academic qualifications when measured against the rigors of actually working within the industry. For this reason I decided to continue with what had been in my mind for some time…. to become a qualified member of a photographic society.

 

To this end, over the past year or so, I have been taking advantage of The Societies “Mentor Me” program which exists to help photographers work towards gaining distinctions and this past summer I met with Phil Jones and Podge Kelly to discuss my work.

 

I had been hoping my work might be good enough for the Licentiateship Distinction. To read about the various distinctions available to members, click here. Imagine my joy when I was told I was wasting my time! But in a good way, because the felt that my work would be at a much higher standard. All that needed to be done, was to assemble a cohesive panel of images and then submit them for judging with a view to an Associateship!

 

I am very pleased to be able to announce that as of the 11th February, I am now an Associate Member of the Society of International Nature & Wildlife Photographers!!

 

 

 

The beautiful Slemish mountain where Saint Patrick often roamed while tending sheep.  This is another iconic image from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

The beautiful Slemish mountain where Saint Patrick often roamed while tending sheep.  This is another iconic image from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

 

It was quite difficult to compile a panel of 20 images. First of all there needed to be a theme, something cohesive that would pull the images all together. I might have to go out and reshoot some images or shoot some new ones. During the Mentoring, Phil emphasised that my compositional elements where very strong, especially the way that I used implied or real leading lines…. things that directed your eye around the image. Things such as the use of a fence or a road, or at times, evey the way that cloud formations led your eye. These were elements that I took into the selection process. I submitted a panel via the mentoring program again to see if I was on the right track and very quickly received feedback from the guys. One of the images wasn’t strong enough. I think I knew this myself and wasn’t surprised to hear it echoed in the mentoring team’s own comments. So… suddenly, I was at an impasse. I needed to find 1 more image that would balance the panel and make it complete.

 

So, some weeks past. I started to go down through my catalogue of 1000’s of images. I decided to leave no stone unturned as I knew I would find what I was looking for. I needed something that would convey the mystery of this beautiful island… something that would draw your eye into the scene and cause you to immerse yourself in the place… something like this….

 

 

Upper Doolough Valley, Mayo – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.

Upper Doolough Valley, Mayo – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.

Over the past couple of years I’d become aware of the work of a fellow landscape photographer, Matt Klowskowski. I had tuned on one day to a tutorial he was doing on Creative Live on post-production in Lightroom. Now, I had never been able to get my head around working with Lightroom, being a Photoshop-freak but the way that Matt explained things… I honestly have to say, it totally changed my life. His simple workflows and explanations made sense to me and I could see a way that I could enhance my images without making them look “OVER-PROCESSED.” There are photographers whose work tends to look a bit OTT (Over the top) and I didn’t want to be one of those. I wanted to show the natural beauty of this island

 

And so it was that after literally weeks of digging and searching, processing and deleting I found an image that I felt fit beautifully into the panel.

 

 

Warren Road, Donaghadee – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.   

Warren Road, Donaghadee – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.

 

I was so pleased with this final image, as I had written it off years ago. At that time, my understanding of image processing was very basic, but for me, this vindicates completely never deleting images we think are no good. I just didn’t know what to do with it at the time. I hear photographers who are constantly deleting their old unworked images. Sure, if you have no room I suppose that’s understandable.

 

The weather has started to pick up again to the way it was when I photographed this scene and I think this week I’ll be back out there again, seeking a fresh view of this beautiful scenary right on my doorstep.

 

I’ve received some lovely comments from people but one of the nicest was from a lady who told me, “Geoff seeing your work and how you struggle at times to capture the image that pleases you really has inspired me to pick up my camera again and get back out there.” Its too easy to just give up and settle. Of late I’ve been taking a break from landscapes due to some health issues and doing some ‘interesting’ portrait work with the likes of Spiderman, Batman and a few judges from Mega-City One (I might do a blog post about some of that soon, but its been getting some great reviews too), but I’m hoping to get back out soon shooting this beautiful wild stormy Ireland, with its crashing waves, grey mists and moody skies.

Here’s my COMPLETE panel of 20 images on the SINWP Website!!.

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.

 

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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.

 

Bunbeg, Ireland by admin

I wanted to share this image taken in Bunbeg, Donegal, Ireland at the start of the year.  I am currently working on finishing my HND and this has distracted me from my website, hence I am posting so little these days.... but its only a few weeks until completion now, so I'm looking towards spending a lot of time revamping and relaunching my site later this year. As I was working away, I suddenly remembered that I had this image that I hadn't finished working on, so since I'm easily distracted, I quickly found a good excuse to leave my wordy notes and jump into Lightroom and then Photoshop.

There's not much left of Bad Eddie's Boat on the beach at Bunbeg and I envy those who have gotten here before me to see it in all its glory, but I think there's a certain character and quality to this old wreck that only increases with time.

I hope you enjoy this piece.  Please share.

Thanks

Geoff.

Bunbeg, Ireland. Fine Art, seascape

Tranquility at Oxford Island by admin

fine-art-landscape-northern-ireland-oxford-island-geoff-mcgrath-photography.jpg

  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.

 

Geoff.

A Stroll on the Beach by admin

  Yesterday as part of our relaxing Bank Holiday weekend, we went for a drive to the other side of Strangford Lough down towards the Mournes and ended up staring out at the beach in Newcastle.

 

After a surreal experience at the Slieve Donard, where there was an Antiques Fair, we went back into the town, parked up and went for a walk down the Promenade.  I'd wanted to walk down the sea-front to get some shots on my iPhone of the beach and the sea.

 

Taken using Camera+ (a much better option that the built-in camera on the iPhone 5) I was able to set my exposure and focal points separately.  I found a mid-range area to expose the image with and focussed on the beach itself.

 

The result was a fairly pleasing little shot, but I knew that this was not the end as I planned to sit down when I went home and work on it some more on my iPad.

 

So, how did I get from this.....

 

newcastle beach

 

 

 

to this....?  

On the Beach - taken at Newcastle, Co.Down

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well for starters, why did I take it?  What was it that really stood out to me?  I love the tonal quality of the sky, the depth of contrast within the clouds and then also the sea had a very definite look to it and I wanted to exploit that.

 

At this point I would like to say another word of thanks to Skip (Paul Brown) of Skipology as I've found his tutorials extremely helpful in exploring various apps and of course, I've bought a few apps in the process, as I am always looking for new information and possibilities for my own iPhoneography / Smartphoneography Workshops. (See here for more details)

 

One thing I keep repeating is that it is YOUR vision that makes the image.  That and being able to translate that into a form that others can see and appreciate.  All the apps in the world are worthless if you don't know what you want to do or even what you like!  Skip's tutorial based on a seascape he did some time ago, basically opened my eyes to some different ways to look at things. I did some things as he did but since my image was different in some ways, I came up with some other ways to interpret the shot that suited me better.

 

I opened the image in Snapseed to straighten it but found that it was pretty darned near perfect as it was.  That was easy eh?  Since I was working with a colour image (Skip's image started off shot in black & white in Hipstamatic) I already had the colour I wanted and so went to Phototoaster and applied the Clarify filter, which just lifted the detail a little on the beach.  I normally would use "Detail" on Snapseed for this followed by "Drama" but I liked the subtle treatment that Toaster gave the image.  After each stage, I saved the shot.

 

Then it was into Distressed FX (a new app to me!) and it was a really cool app to work with.  I loved the textures and effects options that it gave me.  I added some birds and used the Charm filter in it.  I saved the image then went to Trey Ratcliff's 100CamerasIn1 and as per Skip's suggestion, I added the "It seemed like a good plan" filter, but instead of setting to minimum, I chose to crank it to about 30% as I didn't like the loss of colour.

 

That was pretty much it.  The big revelation for me was Distressed FX and the beautiful texturing.  You know, one thing that being given the opportunity to teach workshops does for you is it makes you very aware of how much you have to learn and it makes you hungry to learn more.  I can't pass on what I don't know and so this whole process for me has been a real pleasure.

 

If you haven't already taken a look at my iPhoneography page, click here and have a look.  Also feel free to share the beach image in today's blog post.  Don't forget, if you'd free on the afternoon of 19th March at 3.30pm,   I'll be running the 2nd workshop at Dungannon Library on Smartphone Photography in conjunction withLibrariesNI,.  To book your place, contact the Library directly on 028 8772 2952.  Look forward to seeing you there!

 

Geoff.

Dublin Trip - Monasterboice & Howth Lighthouse by admin

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Anyone who follows me on Facebook will know that I recently spent a few days in the Dublin area.  Not the best time to be trying to take colourful images, we got to see some pretty stormy weather.  Sadly, while the weather made for some pretty dramatic possibilities, it also hampered my ability to get to a few places I'd really wanted to photograph.  

On the way to Dublin, Rosemary, Bonnie (our wee cairn terrier) and myself stopped to stretch our legs and grab a sandwich at Monasterboice.  What a fascinating place.  In between the increasingly heavy rain, we managed a walk around the old graveyard and got to see the crosses and the high tower.  The tower was built around the 10th Century to watch out for the naughty Vikings who were pillaging, as one does when on holiday.  But no pillaging for us today I'm afraid, it was a little wet for that.  I had to settle for a few images on my iPhone.

 

Monasterboice - Cross of Muineadach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is one which I took of the cross of Muineadach, almost 5 metres high.  On it you can just see stories of the Bible depicted.

 

 

Boyne Suspension Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we travelled on down the M1 towards Dublin, we crossed the Boyce River by way of the Boyne Suspension Bridge.  It was fascinating.  As you drive over it, its almost as if the cables are like tentacles reaching for you.  I managed to snap this shot with my iPhone.  Processing was by virtue of the Glaze App for iPhone.

 

One area which I had really hoped to visit was Baltry Bay.  We'd planned our day around being able to get there mid afternoon, but by the time that we arrived (so easily distracted we photographers are!) the weather was so bad that I couldnt get any close by car and the howling winds, dropping light and lashing rain meant walking out further was just out of the question.  :(

 

 

LightTrac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was using a couple of apps for my iPhone which were a fantastic help, although the sun was not particularly directional as the light was quite flat throughout our trip.  I'd really recommend LightTrac as a great tool for showing you the position of the sun as well as times of sunrise/sunset, if you are wanting to plann a shoot.

 

 

Tides Near

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other app which was really helpful, (especially as we managed to not get stranded by rising tides at Baltry,) was an app called Tides Near.

 

I will share a few more images from the trip as soon as I can get some time, but here's a little teaser from our first day out, which took us to Howth Lighthouse at Howth Head.   What a beautiful little harbour.  There was a lovely little chip shop on the corner of the harbour where we bought a chip and Bonnie got some sausages. (one spoilt little dog!)  I just loved watching the fishing boats in the open sea and then to see them swarmed by seagulls as they returned with their catch.  Even though it was very windy, it was a truly fabulous sight.

 

 

 

Howth Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is one last little shot from Howth Head.  Again with my iPhone and processed using Glaze, I spied this interesting shed and door walking towards the lighthouse.  I thought there were some great textures here so couldn't resist a shot!

Door at Howth

A 2013 Round-up & Happy New Year! by admin

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Well I hope that you've all had your Christmas turkey and are looking forward to an amazing 2014!  This past year certainly has been interesting!  

So, I thought it might be a good idea to do a little round-up of my year photographically.

 

Well, it began where 2012 had left off....working on producing a panel of 9 images for a study in "Finding Form."  I did get someowhat side-tracked by the question of just how important shadow was in bringing out the actual form of a subject.  I love the use of shadow and take every opportunity I have to make use of it.

 

Fine Art & Landscape Photography by Geoff McGrath, Donaghadee, Northern Ireland

Fine Art Panel Image by Geoff McGrath, Donaghadee Harbour

 

This image didn't actually make it into my final selection of 9 images because it did not work well within the remit of my brief, but its definately one of my favourites.  I love the sense of dimension which the strong shadows bring to the image and of course, the leading lines which draw our eyes across the photograph.  Not only that, there is lovely tonal contrast on the texture of the stonework.  The reason that it didn't work well with the rest of the panel was because the subject was more the actual shadow detail and in that respect, it was not augmenting or complementing the form of a subject, it was becoming the subject.  So, in another panel it would work great, just not for one documenting "form."

 

Fine Art & Landscape Photography by Geoff McGrath, Donaghadee, Northern Ireland

 

This one works much better for the panel I was studying and infact made it into that final set of 9 images. I love the detailing of the corrosion and the really pleasing textures and tonal range throughout the image.  It really helps to see the dimensions of the chain itself.  The direction in which the chain crosses the image, forms a natural leading line drawing the viewers eye up through the shot.   If you would like to see the full panel of images including those which didn't make it through the selection process, please click here.  I think you'll agree that it portrays Donaghadee Harbour as its never been seen before.

 

Life in a Hopeless Place - Gold Award Winner March 2013 SWPP

 

In March of 2013, I had my first success of the year in the SWPP / SINWP competitions, winning "Gold" for this image in the Landscape section of the competition. I love this image and this tree in particular.  I've already said elsewhere that I really identify with this tree as I'm sure many of us can...  because regardless of what comes against it, its still standing!  I gave the image this name in part because of its recent association with Rhianna's controversial video of the song "We Found Love in a Hopeless Place..."    Many of you will also notice though, that when I launched my website, I have incorporated the tree into my new logo.  So, the tree continues to inspire me.

 

Highly Commended (Silver) Award - Media Photography - May 2013 - Geoff McGrath

 

This next image of Marc Martel won me a Highly Commended Award in May of this year.  Marc is the lead singer with a Christian band, Downhere.  More recently, Marc has found acclaim as the new frontman of the Queen Extravaganza, a Queen tribute band which was actually formed by Brian May & Roger Taylor.  Marc was hand-picked by Brian & Roger after a web audition!  Click here to see them in action on American Idol.

 

Ballycopeland Windmill, Co. Down by Geoff McGrath

 

Sometimes you wonder why an image doesn't do better and this was the case with both this image of Ballycopeland Windmill (just outside Millisle) and the one below taken from my "Belfast at Night" set.  Regardless, it was great to continue through the year with futher awards and both of these took "Highly Commended" awards in August in the Landscape and Monochrome sections respectively.

 

I've really had to start to think more about my composition and it has really paid off this year.  Previously, I depended on my ability to "see" a good image, but there is so much more to it that just seeing it, you have to work hard to convey what you see into a finished image.  I love the lonely feel of this Belfast image, despite the fact that not 500 yrds away the Belsonic Festival was playing out to massive crowds.

 

Looking Out to Sea - Under the M3 by Geoff McGrath

 

Once again my inspiration was taken from the Tree for my October 2013 entry for SWPP / SINWP competition.  I decided to enter into the Fine Art section this time around.  This was because I had processed this image in a totally different way looking for a more graduated look and feel to the sky.  Also I felt the image was not so much a landscape, as it was a portrait shot, of the Tree.  I wanted people to see the Tree in detail and get to know it personally.... at least that was the feel that I got as I worked through the process.  There was beautiful light and shade in the tree and I mirrored this in the graduated sky.

 

This effort won me a "Gold Award" in Fine Art and again it was really pleasing to see my work recognised.

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

 

 

After the Dawn - Portstewart Strand - Geoff McGrath Photography

 

As well as the Gold in Fine Art, I also received a "Highly Commended" for my image of Portstewart Strand.  This shot was taken just after the sun had risen and some beautiful detail came to the fore in the rocks and sand surfaces.  I've enhanced the tonal contrast which has helped immensely to lift the shot and give it real drama.  This was one of my favourite shots of the year.

 

As I look forward into 2014, I'm excited!  I hope you are too.... another opporunity to take a fresh look around us and refocus our efforts, to find meaning to our lives and existance, bigger than ourselves.

 

I trust as we go through this next year, you'll be with me on my journey, not only here on my blog, but also on my Facebook Page, my Pinterest Page and my 500px page.  Connect with me too on Twitter if you like!  I hope to have some exciting news to share with you very soon about some upcoming workshops that I will be taking... But enough of that!  I can't spill the beans ... NOT JUST YET, anyway!

 

Have a great New year everyone, and thank you so much for your interest in my work, it means more to me that I can possibly say!

 

Geoff (McGrath)

 

 

Baywatch - Portstewart by admin

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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

Geoff wins "SWPP Highly Commended Award" in 2 catagories by admin

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Ballycopeland Windmill, Co. Down by Geoff McGrath  

I'm pleased to announce that I have won the SWPP Highly Commended Award twice this month, in 2 different catagories.  A Highly Commended Award sits just below a Gold Award in the judging and so it is still a great achievement.

 

For the Landscape catagory, the Highly Commended Award was for the image above, taken at Ballycopeland Windmill about a month ago.  It really is an honour to be judged at this level by professional imagemakers who know the craft so well and while they are not Gold Awards, they represent a continued development in my work.

 

Donegal Quay, Overlooking the River Lagan by Geoff McGrath

 

This image won a Highly Commended Award in the Monochrome catagory, one of the busiest and most difficult catagories where there were some 89 entries.

It is very pleasing to see my work continue to improve and gain recognition.  Highly Commended Awards can sometimes be reassessed and moved up to a Gold Award so please cross your fingers for me!!  :)

Geoff McGrath

 

 

 

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

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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.

Thanks

Geoff.

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 ;)

Geoff.

Carrickfergus - Seascapes by admin

This past weekend I had the chance to return to Carrickfergus to shoot some new Seascapes. As I've already confessed, I love the sea.  The contrasts and blended tones that you can get really stand out when you have an equally impressive sky.  

Coastal Image from Carrickfergus overlooking Ballylumford Power Station

 

The first of my seascapes was taken from Carrickfergus Harbour looking over the wall towards Ballylumford Power Station.

The wall was so high, I had to raise my camera up on the tripod and hope it all worked out ok!  :)

 

carrickfergus seascape

 

This shot was taken at the end of a small jetty which was located near the Courtyward in Carrickfergus.  Both of these seascapes were taken there.

 

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I love the leading lines in this image drawing your eye around the shot.  In the distance you can see the old Radio Control Tower in the Harbour.   Something that I try to ensure in my seascapes is that I get really pleasing levels of contrast.  To me an image lacks character and depth without it.