This is the eighth post in a series documenting our photography trip to Ireland in 2014

 

 

Kilkenny

 

Kilkenny Castle from River Nore (click to view full-size)

Kilkenny Castle from River Nore
(click to view full-size)

We took an excursion to see the castle town of Kilkenny, a favorite tourist attraction in the area. We spent the day touring the castle and walking the shops and the streets. The castle tour is well worth the expense, very large and mostly restored to its original grandeur. No photos allowed, unfortunately.

Perhaps the highlight for me at the town of Kilkenny was drinking another fantastic sampler of local Irish craft beers at O’Hara’s Brewery Corner. I found the EM-1’s Story Mode to be a fun way to record the experience. To the craft beer drinkers out there — Ireland’s scene is growing. Everywhere we went throughout the trip, we tried the local brews and found some very nice ones. Most of the breweries are quite young and small, only sell locally, and the majority aren’t set up to offer tours or tastings. But ask around, and there is generally a local pub, restaurant or store that has their brews available. Other standouts were Metalman Brewing in Waterford, and Stag Ban, the only current offering from 9 White Deer Brewery near Cork (and my new favorite label design).

 

 

Rock of Cashel

The only view of the Rock without scaffolding, shot in Dramatic Tone.
(click to view full-size)

The Rock is a formidable-looking fortress atop a stoney hill. We walked all the way around and photographed the heck out of it, despite the scaffolding covering one side for a major restoration project. (This is a problem/dilemma I have run into before in visiting ancient castles where online information is scarce. I applaud the restoration effort, and curse my bad luck.) I did find one angle where the scaffolding wasn’t visible.  Although the day was bright, there was a lot of nice cloud formation, which combined with the Rock’s heavy metal appearance made for some great Dramatic Tone (such as the one on the right as well as the shot used in Part One of the Ireland series) and HDR shots (such as the title picture above, which is also tone mapped).

 

Hore Abbey

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This was a hand-held HDR to even out the extreme dynamic range of the shot. Taken from Hore Abbey, in the distance is the Rock of Cashel.
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Within walking distance from the Rock was also a large, ruined abbey that we explored closely, since it had no scaffolding to break the mood.  The ruins had an interesting view of the castle, which I used 3-shot HDR to capture (left side picture) to even out the exposures for the high range of lighting, from the dark interior to the brightness outside.  While it is not recommended, the Olympus cameras like the OM-D E-M1 can shoot HDR hand-held, due to the highly effective image stabilization.  It was interesting to see how HDR, Dramatic Tone, and black and white all served to completely transform the place from how it really looked, despite all of the photos being shot at the same hour.  Some of the Dramatic Tone and darker styles of tone mapping looked positively evil, as if out of a Lord of the Rings scene, while use of more colorful tone mapping made it look like a set out of a video adventure game.  I’ve included examples of both, as well as a normal photo for comparison.  A wider angle lens would certainly have been useful here.  I did try a panorama of the abbey from up close, but I was not careful about parallax errors, and it didn’t turn out.

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An example of Dramatic Tone, taken to look dark and threatening.
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The vaulted, moss-tinged halls were deceptively massive.
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A tonemapped HDR of Hore Abbey, made to look bright and adventurous.
(click to view full size)

 

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