Essential Camera Gear

After a couple of years of missing out, we finally got to go back to Courtmacsherry this year for the horse riding on the Strand.

The View from the Stands

It’s a great event and there are loads of great photos waiting there for anyone who is bold enough to take on covering it: horses galloping at full speed through sand & water; riders covered in muck; the odd horse loosing the steering on the corners; even a serious looking spill and of course the spectators make it too!

But you either have to commit to covering it or not.  The view from the stands just doesn’t cut it (as you can see from my pic).  And I was there for a family day out, not to disappear off on to the beach on my own for the afternoon.

There were a few photographers who did commit to the sands: definately a few press-pros amongst them. I reckon they got some great pics.

But all of them lacked one essential bit of kit for an event like this: wellies.

In fairness one guy had a high-vis vest and good walking boots but all the horse-people (who had been here before) had wellies.  Another guy got inventive with plastic bags but that just didn’t work out and he got mucky in the end.

So what’s my point?  Good preparation, research and planning are an important part of a successful photography assignment.  You might get lucky and get something wonderfully spontaneous but your chances of good photographs improve on an regular basis if you do your homework and get in the right spot and have a good idea what might happen next (preferably with good light).

Of course you need the skills to capture it once you’re there too.

And some camera gear – but too often the attention is on the camera gear and not the things that let you get in the right spot – in this case it was simply a pair of wellies!

And how do I know?  I did a session by a stream in Glengarriff with a small fella who loved to throw stones.  The place to be was in the water just beyond where he was throwing so that he faced me.  But I brought my walking boots – great for mud (which is what I predicted) but not great for wading out into the stream.  That day I needed my wellies and I missed a couple of shots I would have liked to get because I didn’t have them.

Shandon Bells

Fisheye from the top of St Anne's, Shandon

OK, foriegn hols are over but we’re busy enjoying our hometown – especially with visitors in town.  So this week we went to Shandon to ring the bells.  I did it when I first came to Cork (20 years ago) and apart from certain health and safety requirements (we’ve loads of pics of the kids wearing red ear muffs) the experience is as good as ever.

As is the view!

Enjoy your Holidays

We’re just back from our annual holidays – so apologies to anyone who was looking for me in the last couple of weeks – I’m back now and rapidly catching up!

Holidays are a great time take pictures: more time, new locations, everyone relaxed and happy.

I’ve always been an avid watcher of people – I think that’s a big part of my photography – and holidays are always a great time for that too.  Combine that with the camera geek in me and you get someone who enjoys watching people using cameras and observing their behaviour.

This is normally passive enough – I’m not judging, I’m observing and sometimes learning. But more than once this holiday I got a little dumbfounded by people chimping.  Now I’ve nothing against chimping per se. The great thing about digitial is the ability to check your settings instantly.

My problem with it is that while you’re doing it you’re not doing anything else – and personally I didn’t come on holiday to chimp.  I came on holiday to take pictures, to spend time with the family and to experience somewhere new (although not necessarily in that order).

So if you’re going away this summer, think about what you might be missing going on around you before you spend too much time looking at the back of your camera.

Take a look when you’re back in the Hotel: not while standing in the middle of road; not while standing in the middle of something really interesting (if you think you missed the shot, take another rather than missing it again while you check).

OK, I’m glad that’s off my chest.  I should really post some more pictures.