Friday, 21 September 2018


Mandarin Duck, Phoenix Park, Dublin

You may be wondering what on earth these three photos have in common?
For a while now I have been reading about the positive affirmation of life which keeping a Gratitude Journal encourages. Middlest daughter keeps one and says it helps her a lot.
I have tried doing one. Really, really tried. Several times.
3 things a day to be thankful for, not a lot.
For perhaps a week it goes alright-ish (although I don't enjoy examining myself or my day) and then I hit a bad patch or something happens and suddenly it seems such a false thing to do, so condescending to myself, such a waste of time.
There are black days when I am flipping well NOT glad to be alive and it would be easier to keep a journal of all the people/ things/ events/ stupidities/ ass-hats etc. which have annoyed me past bearing in the last 24 hours.
There are frantically busy days when I jolly well hope I am in someone else's Gratitude Journal because I ruddy well deserve to be.
And all the days between.

 High tide at Streedagh, Co. Sligo
So I got to thinking perhaps I am looking at it the wrong way around. Perhaps I should not be looking at the subject in terms of 'myself' but focus outwards.
What about an 'Appreciation Journal'?
The day I saw the Mandarin duck, I had stopped to feed the ducks (yes, some people don't grow up!). Normally in that pond there are a lot of mallard ducks, a few crows, some seagulls, and maybe some coots. This day there were three Mandarin ducks!
What a gift! 
So vibrant!
Such a splash of colour and so very out of the ordinary.
They were absolutely beautiful and the sight, enjoyment and marvelling at creation of such a creature still stuns me.
All the various people there soon gathered together admiring, looking over strangers' shoulders at their phones as they tried to figure what sort of ducks they were, and talking about them. That half hour of connection was also an unexpected gift.
Sunday Flowers, St. John's, Sligo
Appreciation is a wider outlook I think.

Appreciation is watching a marvellously coloured duck and saying Wow! aloud.

Appreciation is being awed by the surge and pull of a high tide, listening to the stones roll under the water, feeling the wind in my face, and persuading the dog that now is not a good time to go swimming.

Appreciation is the sun through stained glass windows on Sunday morning, beautiful flower arrangements from people's gardens, an organ which works and the sound of a congregation singing old, favourite hymns.

Gratitude is looking at my day and trying to figure what went right, sometimes many things, sometimes nothing much.
Appreciation is looking for the beauty outside of myself, which I have done nothing to deserve.

You may consider that I am spitting hairs and perhaps I am. But in my mind there is a powerful difference.
The Gratitude journal is, forthwith, an Appreciation Journal.
We'll see how it goes!

Friday, 7 September 2018

Bath Plants

About a year ago I wrote a post about getting back into the habit of blogging.

It didn't work too well did it?

And now, here I am again.

It was the plants in the bath this morning which got me thinking...
bath plants
...about living as best one can, priorities, changes and coping with them, pain, unemployment, and the general Unexpectedness of Life.

One of those plants I have had since 1999. It has moved house, suffered re-potting several times, been munched on by snails, flowered, got sunburned to a crisp when I accidentally left it in a south-facing window, collapsed when I went away for too long, but look at it now- a little minding each time and back it grows! Spathyphillum are not supposed to flourish in Ireland but look at it- happy as anything.

And so I reckon I need to be more like my impossible plant; mind myself, refuse to be quashed, keep growing...and not lounge in a south-facing window!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey, Co. Kerry
These 14th Century (I think) cloisters in Muckross Abbey have been roughly restored to give an idea of the original ambience of the place. Set off the beaten track with foot or horse cart access it is a beautifully atmospheric place.

Because of the atmosphere I decided to change the image to Black and White as I thought it better represented the age and solemnity of the old cloisters. It was difficult to get a good vista as they were built for contemplative prayer and exercise, not beautiful camera angles!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pack Up Yer Ould....



The fair in Kinsale was shutting up shop one evening as I was passing and there was something irresistibly humorous about the closed tea-cup ride. I thought the rides were just switched off, unplugged and left until the next day. Guess not!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tap and Onions

Tap and Onion heads
There's something about layers of white flaky paint on metal that makes it eminently photogenic. Especially when it is accidental! I was going to move the pot of onion heads but then the combination of whites and textures grabbed my attention.

What I'm not sure about is whether I used too narrow a depth of field, and if more of the tap were in focus whether it would have made a better image. I am working with narrow depth of fields
 to see what sort of effects I get. The more I experiment the more mistakes I make but also the more infinite are the variations out there.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Wrong Shop?

Last weekend I went clothes shopping with a friend in Dublin. He found a shirt he liked but all the trousers were wrong in some way so we went and had coffee instead.

On the way home I commented:

I don't understand why none of those trousers fit you right because you wear M&S trousers all the time.

He studied me a moment perplexed.

We were in Dunnes not M&S.


Puzzle solved so!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Light and Grass

Hill of Tara, Meath.
I have recently been looking at landscapes and how individual photographers get specific effects. I wanted to try an image with just grass and sky, or at least without any obvious focus.

Lying flat on my face in knee deep grass, trying to decide where to focus the little red dot, I realised that I had to add something else; grass and sky just wouldn't work. The graduations of colour in the grass were lovely but too subtle to capture in landscape width. The sky was beautiful too but I had left it too late as regards the light and it was starting to glare somewhat.

As far as experiments went, well, it was an experiment. As far as success went it was not very good at all, which goes back to what I have read about early morning and early evening being the best lighting conditions for photography.

Apart from the deficiencies of interesting light it was a great day out. The weather was hot and breezy, the sunshine glorious, the company fun. The Hill of Tara, historical centre of Ireland, was vast and impressive even covered with tourists, picnickers, happy dogs and horseflies.



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