Just the other day I was talking with some colleagues about the fact that I struggle to find new spots in the Dublin area, I thought I've visited every single decent spot to photograph here.
And if we talk about the south side it's probably true, I think I've covered every cool place, apart one that it's inaccessible as it's a private beach. Then last weekend I start to look again on the north side, especially around Howth, when I found some interesting features on a beach in Sutton that I never been before.
And by staring at a satellite map sometimes it's kinda hard to figure out if the place is actually good, how it looks with the high tide, or with the low tide, and you see features that they are kinda hard to understand what they actually are, you see some squares of concrete, but they could be 10cm high or 10 meters.
So I decided to go on Sunday, weather was "just fine", as it was partially clear but with heavy clouds coming from west, but worst case scenario I would have done some scouting, which is always good to do.
And at the end it was indeed a cool place to visit, there were some strange pipes going to the sea which I still don't know what purposes they served, and there were some odd blocks of concrete, again no idea what and why they were there.
I didn't take many photos, but I was quite happy with the result, and overall tones of the sea and sky kinda blended together in various shades of teal.
Anyway, I better shut up and post some photos here:
I discovered this place by accident, last summer when me, my girlfriend and a couple of friends decided to do the longest path of the Howth Cliff Walk, departing from Howth's train station, to Sutton, walking all around the peninsula, a good 18 km walk. I did shorter paths in the past, and while it's a fantastic hike to do, it's not that spectacular to photograph in my opinion. But this time was different, the longest path pass in some of the best spots in Howth, and one of them is Red Rock Beach. A tiny beach surrounded by rocks, and with one big rock in the middle. And even walking just after that you can see more beautiful views on the cliffs.
But at that time, the time of the day was wrong, in the summer afternoon, where the sun is far too high and shadows far too hard to make any decent shot, so I promise to myself to come back again there.
And so I did, the first time last December, on a very cold morning, where I had to walk half a hour in the complete dark on the cliffs (and that's why a good torch is the photographer's best friend) to get there just in time. The second time just a few weeks ago at sunset.
Down here you can see some of the best shots I took, and if you are in Dublin, and you fancy a long hike, I highly recommend this one, is not even a hard one apart from the distance.
This is a question I've been asking to myself from a while, and especially after I saw this video from Thomas Heaton a few weeks ago, where he says that you can get away without ND and graduated filters, but you can't replace a polarizer, as the latter cannot be replicated in Photoshop unlike the other two. And I agree with him for the polarizer, and for the Graduated filters, which is probably one of the few times where I totally regretted buying them. I was excited about those at first, but after a while I realized that they were mostly useless, as you can achieve better results just using bracketing in your camera and using the graduated filter in Lightroom.
But can we say the same for Neutral Density filters? Can just take some photos and then merging them together in Photoshop achieve the same results as a proper filter?
Since I've been started to do long exposures a long time ago, I always used ND filters, first I started with very cheap Cokin filters, which were terrible, very easy to scratch as they were made with some cheap resin, they made any photo on the magenta side, and just forget about sharpness, that one goes straight to the bin.
Years ago I went to this beach while scouting for new locations to photograph in the Dublin Bay area, and one of these places was Shankill Beach. A very easy spot to reach from the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), just 15 minutes walk from the train station.
From google maps I couldn't see anything peculiar to photograph, but sometimes it's really hard to judge from a photo taken from a satellite, so I thought I'll pay a visit there, to see how it looked in real life, and... It was rather disappointing.
But it was years ago, with much less experience than now, where I was much less prepared (always bring trekking shoes to a rocky beach and always check the tides), and I came back home with practically no decent shots.
But apart from scouting, another important thing to do in this type of photography is to visit the same locations you already have been. One because with different condition, time of the day, season, tide level (which are pretty extreme here in Ireland), the same place might look different, maybe something changed in the meanwhile (or maybe not), but until you go there you don't know. And two is also for the forementioned reason, that you have more experience, and probably now I know better what to search to create a good composition.
Hyped by the news that finally Adobe fixed the years old issue with Fujifilm X-Trans sensor demosaicing that was generating artefacts with complex textures, like grass, rocks etc…, an issue that I’ve seen since my first Fuji X-E1 bought 5 years ago, I’ve updated my copy of LightRoom as soon I got home, and gave it a try with a few shots I took a couple of months ago.
And it was… disappointing.
Not because the process didn’t fix the issue, actually it did, or at least in the areas that wasn’t affected by the new artefacts generated by the engine.
So recently I decided to give another try to my passion in photography, and decided to refresh some of my gear in get rid of some other I didn't use it anymore. So I got myself a brand new Fujifilm X-T3, just before my trip to Spain, and it's clear that what once was considered just "a camera to carry around" more or less like a compact camera, after the X-E1 and the X-T1, it's now my main system that I use for (almost) everything, to a point where my Canon 6D has been sitting on a shelf for so long that 4 of the 5 batteries I had for it died. And while the X-T1 served me well in the past 3 years, it was time to retire it and get something new.
After I returned to Spain I also get a brand new Fujinon 23mm f/2 R WR, which is a tiny fantastic lens that it's sharp enough even at full aperture, and I also got a Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 L RM OIS, as a travel tele lens to cover those few times I need a long lens, as it was clear to me that while the vintage lens I use, a Canon FD 50mm f/1.4, is decent enough, it's just not long enough some times.
So, lots of money gone, even taking advantage of the Fujifilm cashback, and I needed some way to cover at least a part of these expenses, and I did what I wanted to do for a long time (but I didn't simply because for some reasons, I get attached to things, and I'm also the king of procrastination in some cases): I sold the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM and the Canon EF 135mm f/2 L USM, as they were lenses I didn't use that much anymore, as the Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 simply replaced the Canon one for landscapes. The Fuji ultrawide lens is just way sharper, corner to corner, much lighter, and it's also stabilized, which is not that vital as most of the times I use a tripod, but it's handy to have it in some cases. So I didn't really miss that lens.
Don't get me wrong, I took some great photos with it, but because of the points above, I don't miss it.
For the Canon EF 135mm it's another story...
Portugal was one of the nations that I always wanted to visit, one of those countries that I always heard really good things about it, great food, great weather, cheap prices and more nice food.
So last October (I know, it was a while ago), myself, my lovely girlfriend and a couple of good friends decided to go there for the bank holiday weekend to check if all the above things were real or maybe just a very complicate plan to trick tourist to visit their country and when you get there everything is expensive, the place is awful and the only restaurant is McDonalds or a Jamie Oliver’s restaurant (which is not good for me).
Fortunately most of the things I heard were true, so many great restaurants with very good food at reasonable price, I even went to a Michelin starred restaurant one evening and I had a great dinner for a price that it’s what you normally pay on a decent restaurant here in Dublin. We also tried the world famous Pastéis de Nata, an egg tart pastry, which is rather popular in Portugal, and I see why, as it’s super delicious and damn cheap and I have no photos of them simple because they couldn't last long enough.
So for the food we are good here, but what about the city?
Well, I can’t say it’s awful, you can see beautiful decorated buildings almost everywhere, and some places are simply stunning architecturally speaking, Belem or the city center are simply beautiful, the Vasco De Gama and the 25th of April bridges are impressive, and if you are a photographer like me, just get lost in the streets of the city and start pressing the button of your camera, or better, take the trams, an experience you cannot miss in Lisbon!
I’m breaking the silence with this post, almost a year later from the previous one, just to let you know that I’m alive guys.
What happened? Well, a few things.
Firstly, I decided to retire from music photography, not sure if it’s forever, as you never know that I might find to be interested on it again, but I don’t think I’m going to shoot any more gig any time soon, and to be fair, my last gig was more than one year ago, which was even awful, so awful I didn’t even consider to write about it.
And after many years of shooting at gigs, my love to music photography started to fade away, to a point where when I went to a gig, I was regretting to have asked for a pass the moment I entered the venue. I wasn’t even interested in the music or the artist anymore, I was going there to take good photos, but after 500+ gigs, they started to look all the same to me.
Then you add the fact that nobody pays you (yeah, if you think that you can make a living with music photography, think twice, it’s very hard, and I know only a few people who did it), photo releases to sign, piles of bullshits from artists, their management, promoters, pr, etc… I started to question myself why I was doing it.
And I decided that it wasn’t worth it anymore.
I was so disgusted, that I even stopped taking pictures in general, in fact I couldn’t even do the monthly post I did for months, the one where I post random photos, because I didn’t have any random photos. I didn’t touch my cameras for months, I just had enough.
Only events like travels, forced me to take photos again, landscapes and a bit of street, that’s it.
And this brings another problem, when you stop being a music photographer, but your domain name is musicphotographer.eu, you start to think “what do I do now?”. Do I keep talking about other things and not to talk about music photography anymore, even if the domain name says the opposite? Do I change the domain name to something else (which creates more problems). Do I close everything down and just forget about it?
All those questions placed me in a limbo of “I’m not sure what to do anymore”, and the only reaction I had was to stop writing about anything, put my blog on hiatus until I finally decided what to do, and almost after one year I’m still not sure what to do.
And I know myself well, if I don’t make any move, I’ll just let everything die, which is a shame, because I have things to say, I have travels to share with you, dear reader, so I decided to start to write again on this blog, write about the travels I made, and the places I’ve photographed. Force myself to write more reviews, and to create more content, even if I’m not sure what it’s gonna be about.
About the domain, I’m still not sure, but probably I’m going to move everything to my other domain, alessiomichelini.com, and perhaps talk about other things that have nothing to do with photography, but that’s not for the near future, for now I’ll just write, if you don’t mind, dear reader.
I found this contract on the internet, and the first question I had was: "Who the hell is Sam Smith?". The I read this contract well, and apart the usual bullshit, the point number 5 really catch my attention. So essentially after the Taylor Swift's case, PR & bands managements, rather than prefer the "do the right thing" way and start to talk to photographers how to find a solution that it's fair for everyone, they went to the opposite way, so now they are asking to the photographers not only to sign that shit contract, but they are not even allowed to talk about it.
These people clearly don't know what the "Streisand effect" is.
I don't have much to show for last month, or at least nothing of spectacular, simply because the weather on July was simply shite.
It was so bad that it killed my excitement I had when I bought my brand new Fujifilm X-T1. I've also bought a new lens, the Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 R OIS, but I had to wait a week before I could test it because of the weather. So don't expect any great shots in this post, I did my best, but I was really depressed.
Here some of the "bests", while here you can find the full set.