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Elakala Falls at Blackwater Falls State Park

I've been in a black & white, fine-art type of mood lately, so I thought I'd revisit some photos and process them in black & white. Here's one from Elakala Falls near the Blackwater Falls Lodge in West Virginia. These falls are so close to the lodge, you can walk there in about two minutes, just down an easy woodland trail. The falls are broken up into sections - upper and lower - and it's a bit of a climb to get to the lower one, but so worth it.

The Rocks at Blackwater Falls

I was discussing fine art images with one of my photographer friends recently, and it got me thinking about photos I've taken in the past that were just kind of spur-of-the-moment, not-even-thinking-about-it abstracts. These were images I shot because something in the viewfinder looked interesting in an abstract way. I finally took a little time this weekend to find some of these shots and process them. This one is from a rock formation near Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. I was immediately attracted to the waves and lines of the different rock layers.

The Columns at the National Arboretum

One thing I love about photowalks with groups of other photographers is that they get me out to explore places I haven't been to, or even thought about visiting. This image is from a recent outing to the National Arboretum in Washington DC with the Instagram group, WalkwithLocals. It was bright. It was hot. But it was fun. Especially shooting in infrared.

The Bird in the Corner

Sometimes you travel to a far-away land hoping to spend every waking minute taking amazing photographs of majestic landscapes under beautiful light. But sometimes on those travels you end up in an urban downtown setting on a cloudy, rainy day. In this case, in downtown Galway, Ireland, I made the best of the situation by looking for interesting perspectives and angles. I also tried to play around with negative space by putting this gull, sitting on a bus stop shelter, in the lower right corner, and letting the sky fill up most of the image.

The Edge of Waterville

This area is along the waters' edge of the village of Waterville in County Kerry, Ireland on the Iveragh Peninsula. It's a cute little village, and known for being a favorite vacation spot for the silent film actor Charlie Chaplin. There's even a statue of him right off the beach a few yards from this spot. As you can see in this image, the algae is a prominent feature on the rocky shoreline. It was a nice break from driving along the Ring of Kerry to stop here and enjoy a peaceful walk along the beach.

The Watchers in the Windows & Waiting for the Moment

Stepping away from landscape photography for a moment, I thought it might be interesting to discuss this image I took outside Smithwick's Experience in Kilkenny, Ireland. As I was walking around this small town with my infrared camera, I happened to notice the two life-size posters in the upstairs windows of this building. How cool! Then I thought about how having a person walking across the frame, completing an imaginary triangle of people, would make it even more interesting. After a few tries of different people walking by, I caught the perfect moment of a young woman walking right in the center of the frame, herself framed by the open door and the darkness of the building's interior. I also caught her in mid-stride, so it adds a sense of movement. It was all about waiting for the perfect moment.

The Tree at Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland

Here's one of my favorite infrared images from Ireland. It's a weeping willow-type tree in Merrion Square Park in Dublin. I like how the branches shoot off in all kinds of directions.

Trees are fun to photograph in infrared since the green leaves become white in the image and the bark of the trunk and branches remains dark. I like to boost the contrast in Lightroom to really make the image pop.

The Bridge Tower at Portmagee

On my recent trip to Ireland, I was really hoping to get some images of lighthouses along the coast. Unfortunately, due to timing and logistics, that wasn't meant to be. But I didn't give up so easily. Traveling along the Ring of Kerry, we happened upon the town of Portmagee and the Maurice O'Neill Memorial Bridge, which just happens to have a control tower that looks kind of like a lighthouse. Ok, it's a stretch, but I had a good time taking photos of the bridge.

Playing with Prisma

Lately, the iPhone has been getting a lot more use in my landscape photography.. I don't use many photo filter apps, but there's one I recently tried that's really fun to use. It's the Prisma app, which makes photos look like painted works of art by the likes of Van Gogh or Picasso. There's a lot of different options and it's fun to see how the photos look in the different styles.

This image is from an iPhone photo of a stop along the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. The original wasn't really a keeper, because of the light and uninteresting background, but I thought it might deserve a try in Prisma, and I think it turned out pretty cool.

The Couple on the Bench

Twenty minutes outside of Dublin, Ireland is the beautiful Powerscourt Estate, home of Powerscourt Gardens, 47 acres of lush gardens and Ireland's tallest waterfall. It's also listed by National Geographic as one of the world's greatest gardens.

While walking around with my infrared digital camera, I happened upon this nice silhouette of a couple sitting on a bench enjoying a nice break. In a normal photograph the leaves on the trees would be green, but the infrared made them white. I knew this would be a nice contrast to the couple and bench. The way the dark tree trunks framed the couple was an added bonus. Normally, I would crop the top of the image down closer to the subject, but I think the height and the way the middle trees taper at the top makes it more interesting.

The View from Valentia Island

Since the clouds were so dramatic on our visit to Valentia Island in southwestern Ireland, I decided this view called for an infrared image. The infrared is great for making cloud formations look even more intense.

Little FYI - Valentia was the European point for the first successfully run transatlantic telegraph cable. The other end being in Newfoundland.

A Different View of the Ring of Kerry

Ireland has some of the most amazing views I've ever seen. At various points along the Ring of Kerry in the south-western part of the country, the views are vast, and depending on the weather, the colors are bright and vibrant. For an otherwise flat image of the blue water and bright, partly-cloudy sky, I decided to go with an abstract look with motion blur. The sense of motion gives me the feeling I had when we were driving along the 180km loop, enjoying the incredible views.

The Cliffs of Moher

Though an amazingly beautiful place to visit, The Cliffs of Moher in southwestern Ireland is also a tough place to photograph well - weather, wind, a ton of tourists, but I definitely recommend a visit.

At the time I was there, it was extremely windy, so I couldn't do any long exposures, even with a sturdy tripod. There was also a lot of low cloud cover and haze over the entire area.

When I started processing my photos, I knew right away that I was going to have to push the limits of Lightroom's dehaze slider, something I hadn't tried before. I was impressed. It worked out pretty well. Maybe not well enough to make a large print, but well enough to have a nice photo from the moment. Up top is the 'after' image and here's the original photo:

What do you think?

The River Nore in Kilkenny

This is an image from the town of Kilkenny in the south-east part of Ireland. It's one of the many beautiful towns with old castles, ruins, and colorful buildings. This particular scene, with the River Nore in the foreground, the colorful buildings in the middle ground, and Kilkenny Castle in the background, created a nice sense of dimension. The leading lines to the castle also helped make the image more interesting.

Travel Photography: Ireland Trip - Include People In Your Epic Images

This image was taken at Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. It's an amazing view from the beach, with the rolling surf and the mountains off in the distance. The dramatic clouds made the scene even more intense. As beautiful as the scene was, though, the image would have looked flat without the person there on the left third. The person adds a point of interest to draw your eye to, as well as a sense of scale to a very large view. When you get the chance, try to include a person or object in your epic, wide-angle images. They might even appreciate being part of it.

Honolulu Morning

Early morning is one of my favorite times in Honolulu, especially at Waikiki Beach. You get to enjoy the peace and quiet before thousands of tourists show up to enjoy it, themselves. Though it looks like a storm is coming, these clouds moved on quickly and the rest of the day was bright and sunny.

Fisherman and Lines

One of my favorite images from Ko Olina on Oahu, Hawaii. This one has the subject framed by the two fishing poles in an interesting way. I could have cropped in, but I liked the lone fishing rod on the left, and it doesn't hurt to have photographic objects in sets of threes (really, it's a thing).  I also love the colors and contrast between the rocks, the water and the sky. Wish I was back there right now!