This is the seventh post in a series documenting our photography trip to Ireland in 2014
The drive across the country to Dublin was on a wide, multi-laned, straight, 120km/h highway. It felt like home. Not only that, but the sky cleared as we headed east, and for the first time we looked up and saw the color blue (Edit: it still rained in Dublin later that night.) I should disclose that we included Dublin on our trip grudgingly, only because everyone told us we “had to.” I am not one for cities. They are too full of people, too expensive, too noisy and stressful, and all of them are alike. [end grumpy rant] My lack of fondness for crowds also means I am not particularly interested in street photography, so I wasn’t planning on getting much use of my camera other than the obligatory tourist shots.
That said, we had a great time. The plan was to visit the Guinness Storehouse because, well, I am very fond of beer, and then to hit the Temple Bar district to get a taste of more beer (of the Irish craft variety). The Guinness Storehouse was fantastic fun (Guinness really is better in Ireland), but we never made it to Temple Bar. We ran into The Brazen Head, claimed as the oldest pub in Dublin, where they were having a storyteller tell folktales of faeries and such and sing old Irish songs. We jumped on board, they squeezed in a few more chairs for us, and we had a blast until late at night. The storyteller and I talked quite a bit (he even wove my wife and I into a few of his stories, including the Pooka one mentioned earlier). He was delighted to discover our next location was where he grew up, and told us of some interesting areas to photograph in southeast Ireland.
The photos I took in Dublin were almost all indoor, in very low light. I had the FL-LM2 flash with me (I left the FL-600 in the hotel). Even basic flash photography is something I have yet to learn how to do reliably or well. I am at the stage where I have read up on all of the concepts but applying them is hit or miss, and I can get vastly different results taking what I thought to be the exact same shot moments apart. I generally don’t bother with flash and just crank up the ISO as high as I dare, but there are times when flash is needed. Unfortunately, my wife is an impatient model. So, while I am learning flash by trial and error (much more error), she decided I wasn’t going to photograph her any more that day. But, I did get a few shots in.
In the Guinness Sky Bar, while taking our touristy pics with the city views, I was accosted by yet another family wanting me to take their picture. This time, it was with a smartphone, with the bright viewing windows as the background. Naturally, they came out as silhouettes, so we fiddled with the phone settings and saw that it even had an HDR mode. We tried it (before just using his flash), and it didn’t do anything at all. Score one for the EM-1.
The next day, I committed a cardinal sin. The weather was beautiful, sunny with white, puffy clouds. We were to go to Glendalough Park where we would photograph a waterfall and drive some roads that we had read were particularly beautiful. We drove through miles of gorgeous back-country hills and neatly cared-for farms to get to our location. We hit Powerscourt Waterfall first. I was looking forward to some long exposure shots. Unfortunately, the sun and it being a weekend meant that everywhere we went was packed, and the falls had people climbing all over the rocks at its base. I waited and shot higher up until they got out of the way, and got my full shots at several various angles. We then went to the park visitor center, where I got yet more shots of a pretty brook in the foreground with some ruins in the distance. There was also an interesting monastic village ruin to explore. A great day… with hardly any of my not-at-all-overused Dramatic Tone to speak of, given the excellent weather. Then, I realized what I had done.
I am constantly preaching to my wife to always check the camera settings, to be aware of what her camera is doing so she can adjust it to do what she wants — sometimes in raised voices because, like most spouses, she doesn’t listen to me. My ISO was on, like, 8,000. The entire day. It had been since the low-light shooting the night before in Dublin. I groaningly remembered half-wondering why the shutter speeds had been so fast even with my 10-stop Big Stopper filter at the falls. I was devastated with the thought of how noisy the shots were going to be, and on the only nice day of the trip so far. (EDIT: In post processing, the shots certainly were noisier than I would have liked, but still usable.)