Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reflections of Dublin

Due to a last minute invitation to an 4 day training session at IBM in Dublin I had the unexpected pleasure of finding myself in the middle of Dublin when the weather and temperature was perfect. Most of my fellow IBM'ers followed the advice to use the hotel near the office to keep costs down, but after a little research I found a hotel in town and public transportation that would keep me in budget and give me a chance for some evening photography in Dublin. We stayed near the Samuel Beckett Bridge which was a 20 minute walk from town along the quay and provided many photo-opps.

To simplify my travel I only had a carry-on bag on the flight, but fortunately I have a Gitzo tripod that will fit inside the bag if I remove the head and center column. My camera bag with five lenses qualifies as my "personal item". So after catching the bus into town from the airport I dropped my bags at the hotel and armed with tripod and camera I explored the nearby bridges and buildings along the quay.

The Beckett Bridge is a marvel of engineering, looking somewhat like a giant harp. But the style is so modern that it doesn't exactly blend in historical Dublin. Fortunately it is far enough from town in an area being built up with new buildings and offices, so it fits just fine in that neighborhood.

This shot was taken with the Canon 5DmkII + 24-105L at 24mm f/10 30secs at iso200.

Closer to town is the Lifey Bridge or the Ha'penny Bridge as it is popularly called. It got its name from the half-penny charge to cross it. No charge these days and at last count in 2001 it was crossed by about 27,000 people per day. This shot was also taken with the 24-105 f/8 4 secs at iso400

A bit further west along the Liffey river is the Four Courts dome behind the Ross Road Bridge. Again taken with the 24-105L at 35mm f/8 6 secs at iso400

A shot straight over the Liffey at the houses and buildings, using the 24-105L, 24mm f/8 8secs, iso400

and a similar shot giving a bit more overview of the Quay. Also with the 24-105L at 24mm, f/8 6secs iso400.

One block off the Quay right at the Ha'Penny Bridge you'll find the Temple Bar and dozens of other small pubs and restaurants. A bit pricey, but the atmosphere, music and energy is worth a visit and a few photographs.

And finally Friday afternoon after 4 days of intensive education at IBM in Damastown I get a parting shot as my flight heads for Copenhagen...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sunrise in the Desert

San Diego is fantastic destination for a summer vacation with the family, especially if grandma and grandpa live there. But for the a nature photographer summer is actually the slow time of the year in San Diego. You see San Diego is the winter home to millions of birds that spend their summers in the Arctic, birds like waders and terns, but they are joined (well maybe pursued is more correct) by thousands of birds of prey like eagles, falcons, hawks etc.

So for our second summer in San Diego we were fast running out of unusual subjects for our photography. So Johan and I got up at 4:00AM, loaded the VW camper with all our camera gear and headed for the desert in hopes of finding some burrowing owl families. It was actually late in the season for this, so the odds were against us, but what the heck; we're on vacation. We drove towards El Centro and went looking along the irrigation canals in the area and sure enough we found a few owls and even one small family...

Two juvenile (C & R) and one adult (L) burrowing owls
As we drove slowly along the deserted roads we were surprised to find a rather noisy wader; a black-necked stilt. Normally these birds can be found in shallow waters along the coast, but there must also be a population living at the Salton Sea which is not so far away. Still I had a hard time figuring out what this individual was doing here, there can't be that much food in the irrigation canals. The continued warning cries made it pretty clear that there must be a chick nearby and sure enough looking down into the canal the stilt was standing on we caught a glimpse of a tiny stilt chick running for cover. We decided to leave mom and her chick in peace and continue on our search for owls...

Black-Necked Stilt
As luck would have it we did find a few more; even as the temperatures approached 90 degrees (32 degrees). Unfortunately by 9:00AM the heat distortion made it useless to photograph the owls from as close as ten meters and instead we went looking for a cool place to enjoy our breakfast before heading back to San Diego. 

One of the last individuals we ran into was quite bold and scolded us continuously, more or less telling us to get lost,  I couldn't resist filming him/her. Slowly opening the side door to the VW camper, I was able to lie on the floor and film from about 15 meters.