Northern Ireland

Why Shoot Landscapes? by Geoff McGrath

Over the past few years, I have come to love Fine Art & Landscape Photography.   There is something immensley pleasing about being able to pause and create something unique and personal from something that it so timeless and immense.  Its like I am borrowing from the beauty of Ireland, to tell my own story.  For me, nothing could be more humbling and more special.  I hope that you share my thoughts!

 

I am really drawn in particular by Landscape Photography.  Northern Ireland is just teaming with natural beauty.  Our country has been known for so long for its violent past, but in recent years with the help of the film & television industry, with programs such as Game of Thrones and many others, the world is starting to see the beauty that we here in N.Ireland often take for granted.

 

I find it very pleasing to be able to get the opportunity of capturing these iconic scenes and locations in my own unique way.  For me, Landscapes are personal.  Every shoot I undertake is a personal pilgrimage into my passion for this beautiful land.  I hope to create a collection of unusual and somewhat different images that will cause viewers to take a moment and see something timeless, yet new and vibrant in our beautiful country.

 

This image above of this desolate little ruined cottage is just on the road to Cushendall from Ballymena.  Being from Ballymena, I have passed by this iconic scene many many times and always felt a draw to it.  Once I latch on to a scene, I will, like Ansel Adams return to the scene of the crime many times, each time looking to see if it will tell me a little bit more of its story.

 

I photographed this scene with my first SLR, an old Canon Ft-b and I am so pleased to return and shot this same scene with my Hasselblad and my digital SLR as well.  How amazing that 30 years on, this little ruin is still here to be savoured and enjoyed.

 

Take a moment and enjoy this beautiful land.  You never know what you will find...

Geoff McGrath

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.

iPhoneography & Smartphone Photography Workshops by admin

Well, the workshop at Holywood was a great success with lots of really helpful feedback and as I look towards the next one at Dungannon Library, I'm excited about what's in store for us there. Whether you call it iPhoneography, Smartphoneography, Smartphone Photography or even Mobiography, one things for sure, it's growing in influence every day...

Read More

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

 

Geoff.

 

Sunrise Over Oxford Island

 

 

Sailing to the Lighthouse

 

 

Ship to Shore...

 

Lighthouse with a View

 

 

 

Fine Art Photography for 2014 by admin

Well with the New Year upon us, I've been thinking about how I want to process my work in 2014.  I will be looking to further develop my Landscape work, but as I move into the Year I look to definately work towards developing more towards a Fine Art perspective.  

With this in mind, I am working on developing a new page on this site, and will be creating a gallery of images with painterly-like effects.  I hope eventually to be able to offer prints to those interested.  Here are a few images for my collection, just to whet your appetite.

 

 

Albert Bridge at Night, Belfast - Geoff McGrath Photography - Northern Ireland

 

 

Titanic Christmas - Titanic Building - Christmas 2013

 

 

Park Bench - Fine Art Photography by Geoff McGrath, Northern Ireland

 

 

Street Scene - Rome - Fine Art Photography by Geoff McGrath, Northern Ireland

 

 

 

La Scuderia - Ferrari 308 GTS - Fine Art Photography by Geoff McGrath, Northern Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

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

Portstewart-Strand-After-the-Dawn-HDR.jpg

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)

 

 

iPhoneography / Smartphoneography by admin

IMG_5928.jpg

Great Victoria Street Station, Belfast  

Most of us these days carry our phones every where don't we?  Smartphones are an everyday part of life.  Gone are the days that we missed the opportunity to capture an image because we didn't have our SLR's with us.  Now everyone can be a photographer.

iPhoneography - Downhill

 

Not only that....within the past 5 years we have seen amazing advances in technology.    Wireless and Bluetooth technology as well as 3G and 4G give us the ability to quickly transfer, upload and even print out photographs.  I'm sure many of you subscribe to daily deal websites such as Groupon, Wowcher, TreatTicket & LivingSocial to name a few.

 

Great Victoria Street Station

 

Recently I decided to try one of these offers and was able to upload a photograph from my Instagram account to a site and buy a 16x24 canvas and it only cost me £14.99.  The quality was not what you'd expect from a professional lab, like Loxley or One Vision, but it was good enough considering the price and the fact that the images were not high resolution.

 

Now we have something to print and share with others.  We can download the likes of Snapseed, VSCOCam, Exposer GL, Instagram & Camera Awesome.  I have to say the quality is pretty darned impressive.

 

Over the next while, I'm going to be looking at more detail into exactly whats involved in creating great images with your iPhone or Smartphone, so make sure you subscribe to my blog.

 

We'll be looking at various apps and well as covering the basics of creating great images.   If you have a bad photograph, all the apps in the world won't make it great.  But, they can make all the difference in turning a good into a fabulous one.

 

iPhoneography - On the Edge of Town

 

If you'd like to take a look at more of my iPhone images, click here.

 

Until next time...

 

Geoff.

Titanic Christmas by admin

TitanicChristmas.jpg

It's hard to believe that it's been a month or so since I last updated my blog.   This past month has been hectic with work and also studies.  I'm studying on 3 fronts at the moment (mad, yes, I know!)  So its been hard to get the time to get out and take photographs, as I'd like to.  

But last night, on my way back through Belfast, as I was crossing the flyover on the M3, I spotted the Titanic building in all its glory, like a glistening like a crown on the banks of the Lagan and so I decided to go and investigate as I had my camera gear with me.

 

Titanic Christmas

 

There was an lamp post smack in the middle of my view, so this meant I would have to get in closer and use my wide angle lens.  So I've used the Tokina 11-16mm lens.  This really is a smashing lens.. and fantastic value at about half the price of the Nikon  version.

 

I actually love the distortion around the edge of the image.  I think it draws the focus very definately towards the subject.

 

The way that the "Titanic" was filled with Christmas lights really helped set the image off.

 

At one point a PSNI landrover cruised past me and sat at the nearby traffic lights watching me to make sure I was up to no good... or is that the other way around?!   I always find its best to be straight-forward about how and what you do.

 

Anyway, have a Titanic Christmas in case I don't to say it nearer the time!!

Pulse rates soaring at 500px! by admin

IMG_6341.jpg

Well, today's been an interesting day.  In a good way.  Well, if you don't count the bad back that is!  

As many of you may know, I have an account on 500px, a fantastic photosharing social media site.  It's one of my favourite things to do when I have some downtime.  Browsing 500px and Pinterest.

 

I recently realised that I hadn't uploaded my latest images to 500px and so I proceeded to upload them to my profile and that's when things got exciting.  I've only enjoyed average success on there and yes its only people "liking" your images but it all helps towards SEO ranking.

 

I wanted to share the images with you.  If you're already on 500px, you be able to find me there as simply "GeoffMcGrath."  You'll also see to the left of this blog post that there is a link under the menu for 500px (it looks like an '8' on its side) just as there is for other social media sites that I use, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.  Please click there and connect with me if you haven't already.

 

Images are ranked on there in terms of their "Pulse" that is how active they are.   I've had moderate success at times, getting 40's and 60's.  But tonight as we speak these 2 images are currently sitting in the 92-94 range!

 

Here they are....

 

Tree at Six Road Ends  and a  Fresco of Sunrise over Oxford Island

 

Check the links out, or if you're too lazy :P  ... here's the 2 images.

 

Fine Art - Geoff McGrath

 

Tree at Six Road Ends Bangor

 

I've been working on creating some more Fine Art images and having discovered a few new tricks in processing, hope to have some to share with you soon.

See you then!

Geoff (McGrath)

 

 

Unseen Donaghadee by admin

Unseen Donaghadee - You know how you live in a place for years and then one day, you just turn a corner and find yourself looking at something you've never seen before?  Well that's what happened to me a short time ago.   I was photographing a church in Donaghadee and I turned around to leave and there before my eyes was this little lane.  Right in the middle of town.  So I couldn't resist taking time to photography a little part of unseen Donaghadee. Who knows, I might have to explore that lane further and see where it takes me...  

 

Forgotten Donaghadee

 

 

Another part of forgotten Donaghadee is an area I find myself driving past often. The gorgeous coastline of the Warren Road. We take things of this beauty for granted. Long before anyone decided to build grand houses along this road, there was the sea and people have been walking down little paths along this coastline for hundreds of years. I actually took this photography back in 2011 as part of my initial studies into HDR photography, but as many photographers, the more I learn the more I want to experiment and I decided to revisit some old images and see if I could do them justice.

 

 

Donaghadee Coast

This tree was along the path around Orlock Point and this path winds all the way in to Groomsport and then into Bangor. I need to walk that one of these days. The tree just caught my eye against the skyline.  

Coastal Trees

This final image is another taken in 2011 and I much prefer the black and white version to the colourful HDR shot which in my opinion was overcooked.  

Warren Road, Donaghadee

Please click on the "Share" button on these images and share them on your Pinterest, Facebook or your favourite social media site.

 

 

Finally, I just took delivery of my new 11-16mm lens and will soon be posting some of my first images taken with it. I've really enjoyed shooting around Belfast again, but I am really looking foward to getting some time to go out and shoot some landscape. I can't wait to see the result.

  Til next time, thanks for taking time to read..

Geoff (McGrath)

The Newtownabbey Way by admin

These two images tonight of the Newtownabbey Way were taken last week while down at the Whiteabbey Beach.  It was a beautiful night and we had just come from an hours long walk along the beach.  I have wanted to explore this beach for some time, driving past it quite a few times over the past months as the old pier often caught my eye.  

The Newtownabbey Way taken at Whiteabbey Beach

 

The symmetry of this framework just grabbed my attention.  I have been really focussing on lines, context, and contrasting textures recently so when I saw this I couldn't resist it.  I stood at the bottom of a set of steps and adjusted my tripod to get a nice low perspective as I really wanted to explore the wood textures of the beams which would have been hidden otherwise.

 

The Newtownabbey Way taken at Whiteabbey Beach

 

Walking back the other way I noticed how the different perspective affected my thoughts about the frame.  I liked the railing and path leading the eye into the image.  But, I was also really taken with the growth of the vines around the frame at this end and loved how they seemed to smother the frame.

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

 

 

Belfast at Night by admin

Lagan Weir, Belfast by Geoff McGrath  

I decided to go into Belfast during the Belsonic Festival and found the city surprisingly peaceful.    Walking down the Quay, Lagan Weir, caught my eye.  I wanted to try and capture the peaceful vibe, despite the festival that was taking place just over the river behind Custom House in the Square.

 

As you can see the cloud cover was excellent and made for some very dramatic images

 

Across the Weir, Belfast - Cityscapes

 

 

Looking Out to Sea - Under the M3 by Geoff McGrath

 

 

Donegal Quay provided a beautiful view down the River Lagan out towards the Irish Sea.

 

 

 

Formerly St Malachy's Christians School located on Oxford Street, Belfast

 

A walk down Oxford Street reminded me that in among the modern buildings, like the Waterfront Hall and Laganside Magistrates Courtof there was a beautiful little reminder of the past in the form of the now unused St Malachy's Christian Brothers School.  The school opened in 1874 and served as a school until it closed in 1972, although intake to the school stopped in 1966. I'm sure that some former pupils will have interesting memories of their time there.   Until recently the old school was in use as offices for a solicitor's practice.

 

Waterfront Hall, Belfast, by Geoff McGrath Photography

 

My walk took me down past the Waterfront Hall.    Normally the Hall is bustling with activity, but tonight it was quite and uneventful.  I decided to leave the reflections from the streetlights in the image as, to me, it adds to the character of the shot.

 

Reflecting on Queens Bridge by Geoff McGrath

 

The final image taken from my last night tour of the Queen's Bridge area is of the Bridge itself.   Walking up the side of the Waterfront Hall, it brought me to the banks of the Lagan again, and as I walked up the Quay the beautiful reflection of the bridge in the water was something I could not ignore.

 

Check out the gallery to see more images at http://www.geoffmcgrathphotography.com/belfast-at-night/

 

 

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.

Ballycopeland Windmill, Co.Down by admin

Ballycopeland Windmill by Geoff McGrath Photography Tonight I was coming home from Bangor and since I always carry my camera with me, decided to go back to Ballycopeland Windmill to take another look at it.  I'd photographed this beautiful windmill just the night before but was not happy with the results.  I'm so glad that I returned to photograph Ballycopeland Windmill because I think the results proved it was well worth the effort.

 

The beauty of strong lighting is the beautiful contrast between light and shade.  To me, painting with light only works when you have depth of shadow to compliment it.

 

County Down is such a fantastic and rich resource and the more I live here, the more I realise how incredible blessed I am.  Not everyone has such amazing and iconic subject matter right on their doorstep.  Its not just Ballycopeland Windmill, but Donaghadee Harbour, Copeland Island, Helen's Bay, Scrabo Tower and the rest of the Ards Peninsula.  In time I hope to share these with you too.

 

I would really appreciate it if you would share my blog with others.

 

Geoff McGrath