Friday, 30 July 2010

Lombadas protected area

A huge over 55 meters high waterfall on the Northern slopes of the São Miguel island´s post-volcanic mountains and a narrow road from Ribeira to Lombadas valley.

Location: Photographed from the road from village of Ribeira to the volcano peak called Monte Escuro, Azores Islands, Portugal.

Gear: Nikon D80, Tamron 28-75 mm

Aperture: f/5.6

Shutter speed: 1/100 sec

Focal Length: 60 mm

ISO: 100

Date Taken: July 23th, 2010, 10:15


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

São Miguel Island - July 2010 ( day 1)

A story behind: Last week while visiting again the island I learned how highly unpredictable the weather can be on the Azores Islands in late June. It was cold and gloomy and wet and windy. So I stood there with a camera hidden under the anti-moisture cap waiting for the right moment. But it wasn´t a waste of time. The scenery over the Fire Lake was constantly changing. To have more fun I observed the poor tourists who were getting out of their cars in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts to take a picture of the lake and after a second they were back in their cars shaking and trembling with cold.
So I stood there almost an hour waiting and waiting....but not in vein. Finally the light concert has begun.

Location: The Fire Lake, Azores Islands, Portugal.

Gear: Nikon D80, Sigma 17/70 mm, ND 0.6 hard, tripod.

Aperture: f/13

Shutter speed: 1/30 sec

Focal Length: 18 mm

ISO: 300

Date Taken: July 22th, 2010, 12:27


Day 7 - Dublin

The spire of Dublin

The Dubin spire, a fantastic over 120 m high monument, was concluded in 2003. It replaces the Nelson´s pillar, a column that was the most famous Dublin monument for 150 years until blown by the IRA bomb in 1966.
So we spent 1 day in Dublin, just meandering through its busy streets, looking for Polish food shops, moving about its famous Temple bar pub district, visiting Trinity College, ( we loved that Sphere in Sphere sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro ), looking at the Dublin Castle, rambling the narrow passages around O´Connell street ... just being the ordinary tourists.


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Day 6: Hill of Slane

Saint Patrick Cross, Hill of Slane, Ireland.

A story behind: In the morning we crossed the flat Irish central plane driving west-east. The rain and dense fog was back again. Later we pulled off the M4 highway and headed north to see a castle of Trim. Afterwards we drove to a small village of Slane surrounded by rolling hills, meadows and rivers.

There we found a narrow street that finally led us to the Hill of Slane - one of the mythical Celtic and Christian places in Ireland, rich in history.
The weather didn´t improve. We were standing there alone. Somehow the bad weather synchronized ideally with the the Irish landscape and history.

Hill of Slane, Ireland.

Date Taken: July 15th, 2009, 16:12


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Day 5 ( evening )

Connemara sunset. Ireland.

A story behind: We had lunch at our hotel´s pub. After lunch we hit the roads of Connemara again. For a couple of hours we were wandering through the every-minute changing immensely beautiful scenery of valleys of Connemara. Later we arrived at a small town of Clifden. Bought fish 'n' chips and went to one of the lonely beaches close to a village of Derrygimla to watch the sunset. Every second a light got softer and softer. Not a sound was heard. Serene landscape and the dying sun...Carpe diem.

Location: Derrygimla, Ireland.

Nikon D80, Sigma 10-20 mm
, ND 0.6 hard, ND 0.3 soft

Aperture: f/14

Shutter speed: 1/2 sec

Focal Length: 14 mm

ISO: 300

Date Taken: July 14th, 2009, 21:15


Friday, 23 July 2010

Day 5 ( mid-day )

A midday image of the Killary Harbor and the Leenane village old cemetery.
Connemara. Ireland.

A story behind: Welcome to the unspoiled splendor of the Killary Harbour ( Coláire Rua in Irish ) , Ireland's only fjord. It is 16 kilometers long and and 45 meters deep.

Location: Leenane, Ireland.

Nikon D80, Sigma 10/20 mm

Aperture: f/22

Shutter speed: 1/250 sec

Focal Length: 15 mm

ISO: 100

Date Taken: July 14th, 2009, 12:15


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Day 5 ( the morning )

A small forgotten boat at the beach close to Ballyconnelly village, western Connemara.

A story behind: After breakfast we hit the road. Drove south, crossed the Roundstone bog plane ( Roundstone bog is a unique low-lying flat blanket grass, streams, marshlands and lake complex, rich in plants, but with no trees ).
Soon we arrived at a small picturesque village of Roundstone. The main street was lined with bars, pubs, cafes. Very few tourists. A small port with fishermen´s boats and famous hookers.

From Rounstone we turned west along the narrow sea-side road. From time to time we were able to catch a glimpse of strips of small sandy beaches with a Greece-like turquoise color water.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Day 5 ( the beginning )

An early morning view at the Twelve Pins mountain range with a Pine Island in the center of the image. Connemara. Ireland.

A story behind: Day 5 was definitely the best day of our Irish adventure. I woke up as an early-birdy, packed my gear, said hello to a half asleep lady at the hotel´s reception desk and drove to a Pine Island. Pine Island is one of the most magnificent spots overlooking the steep-sided Twelve Pins mountain range.

As as approached the spot dark clouds were beginning to pour out from the plane skimming the mountain tops and flooding them with a wave of mist and darkness. It was an impressive start of a new day.

Location: Ballinafad, Ireland.

Nikon D80, Sigma 10/20 mm

Aperture: f/18

Shutter speed: 0.5 sec

Focal Length: 11 mm

ISO: 400

Date Taken: July 14th, 2009, 06:15


Monday, 19 July 2010

Day 4

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is one of the finest castle hotels in Ireland. Set in a private 450 acre estate of woodland, by the river and in the heart of Connemara region. Behind it one the the peaks of Twelve Pins mountain range.

A story behind: And yet again very early morning wake-up. And yet again sunrise-time meeting with a Killarney National Park. But I love it: me alone, nature and a camera.

After breakfast and we hit the road again. This time driving north N69 from Tralee to a small port of Tarbert, embarked on the ferry to cross the Shannon river and soon landed in a lower Shannon region. The surrounding changed quite dramatically. This was a flat, wind-beaten, half deserted area and definitely a poor one. Our aim was to reach famous
Cliffs of Moher: a primary tourist Irish attraction by mid-day.
When we finally got there the sky was dull-gray and it rained. The cliffs were big and majestic, but not THAT BIG not THAT MAJESTIC as I had imagined. They were just OK.
So we walked along the cliffs edge up and back but my experience was probably somehow biased by the awful rainy weather conditions.
So after a while we got back to the car and pressed on. Soon we were crossing the
Burren plateau. This is a vast limestone plateau area in northwest Clare County and really a no-men, no-tree, savage land. The limestone has a white-gray colour so from some distance it looks quite interesting. We crossed the deserted area and later on the Kinvarra Dunguaire Castle ( all the time in pouring rain ) and arrived in Galway - a busy city and a capital of Western Ireland.
After Galway we turned west on N59 and entered the Lar Connaght and later on the Connemara region. And this is where all the fun begins. Connemara is wonderful: a spacious plane with rolling meadows and glittering streams and on the horizon the majestic Twelve Pins mountain range. This is a land of incredible natural beauty. We crossed the plane westward until we reached our destination:
the Ballynahinch castle and hotel where we stayed 2 nights.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Day 3

Ross Castle, built in XVth century was the last stronghold under Irish control to be taken by the Cromwellian forces in 1653, and the Lough Leane lake.

A story behind: I woke up very early in the morning. It was so early that I had to wake a man at the reception desk to let me out of the hotel. The sky was still 100% covered with a gray clouds skimming the peaks of the Ring of Kerry mountains. I packed my gear and rushed looking for a photographic adventure.
I drove to Killarney National Park again. Empty roads, occasionally some animals spotted, brisk weather. It was cold and the air was thin. But pictures were great.
I got back to hotel, had a breakfast and then we had a nice stroll at the hotel´s small but pretty gardens.
Later that morning we headed south to a small town of Bantry. The road let up through the wonderful Caba mountains and the Moll´s gap and then down to a wide valley and bay of Bantry. We stopped at the famous Druid´s view to admire the muscular mountains and green valleys and visited the hand-made chocolate family-run factory. It was a glorious day.
The town of Bantry was a little disappointing so we pressed on back home through the Shehy hills.
On our way back home we stopped the the
Ross Castle in Killarney. The place was packed with people, school trips and pony and trap rides. Thanks God I have been here early morning and managed to take some photos undisturbed.
We had a short rest at the spa and then a dinner at the hotel´s restaurant ( very nice sea food chowder, African spice meat bolls, cod and salmon ) with an Australian wine.

Location: Ross Castle, Killarney, Ireland.

Gear: Nikon D80, Sigma 10/20 mm, ND 0.3 hard, tripod.

Aperture: f/13

Shutter speed: 1/2 sec

Focal Length: 15 mm

ISO: 300

Date Taken: July 13th, 2009, 06:29


Day 2 ( part II ).

Mid-afternoon, a view from the Connor´s pass to the valley floor and Brandon bay. Rain and cold, heavy clouds skimming the peaks but suddenly a burst of light in the valley.

A story behind: Dingle peninsula is absolutely one of the hidden treasures of west Ireland. It is quite remote and difficult to reach but it offers some of the Ireland´s most breath-taking scenery.
From Dingle ( the region´s main town ) the road climbs and approaches the ocean. When you finally get to the sea there are hair-raising views: from its westernmost point Blasket Islands can be clearly observed and to the south a nice view of the Skelligs islands can also be appreciated. The road is narrow: one side of the road hugs a wall of rock and the other side fells sharply to the creek of excited water.
Soon we arrived at our destination: the Dún Chaoin or Dunquin pier - a small port glued to the sharp wall of the rocky cliff 100 meters high.
From Dunquin pier the R560 road crosses the Dingle peninsula and Slieve Mish and Brandon Mountains to reach flat sandy beaches in the Brandon and Tralee bays.
When we passed the Connor´s pass it was raining again. But thankfully these bad weather moments can change into a photographer´s paradise.

After the small stop at the pass and a considerable time of "ahhs" and "ohhs" we pressed on and soon arrived at the hotel.

Location: Connor´s pass, Ireland.

Gear: Nikon D80, Sigma 10/20 mm, ND 0.6 soft, tripod, umbrella.

Aperture: f/5.6

Shutter speed: 1/30 sec

Focal Length: 12 mm

ISO: 400

Date Taken: July 13th, 2009, 16:56


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Day 2

Early morning sunrise over the Upper lake in Killarney National Park. From the left MacGillicuddy Reeks, Purple and Shehy Mountains.

A story behind: Day 2 started with a nice sun and almost a clear sky. After a breakfast the Rochestown Park hotel in Cork we hit the road. We drove N22 west and passed the city of Macroom. The road was narrow and full of holes. The land was flat. Practically adjacent to the edge of the road there were thick bushes, giant magnolias, rhododendrons creating some kind of a curtain so, to tell you the truth, we could see nothing.
Soon the road began to climb and quite suddenly we entered the Kerry district with its first magnificent views over its gentle hills and distant mountains.

Killarney National Park
is a must-see place in Ireland: mountains, lakes, castles and rolling hills covered by thick forest. We passed the Killnarey town and entered the Park from the east. We headed for Gap of Dunloe - a high mountain pass with a magnificent panoramic views.

From the Gap we took R561 road and explored the Dingle Peninsula: the fishermen´s tiny but full of live town of Dingle, Slea Head promontory with high cliffs and a white sculpture of the Crucification, Dunmore Head tiny beach and soon arrived at the Dunquin pier ( see next chapter ).

From Dún Chaoin ( Dunquin pier ) we went back east, passed the unbelievably beautiful Connor´s pass to reach late in the afternoon our hotel ( the Ballgarry House hotel and spa ).

Location: Killarney National Park, Ireland.

Gear: Nikon D80, Sigma 10/20 mm, ND 0.3 hard, ND 0.6 soft. HDR.

Aperture: f/22

Shutter speed: 1+-0.7 sec

Focal Length: 12 mm

ISO: 300

Date Taken: July 13th, 2009, 05:38


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Jola´s restaurant - day 1 continued.

It was raining cats and dogs all day. Almost no were pictures taken, no sight-seeing was done.

It would have been an awful day but in the evening we went to meet Jola Wojtowicz. Jola is a successful restaurateur in Southern Ireland. Her restaurant ( Jola´s Restaurant ) is considered the best restaurant in Kinsale and the surroundings. She started her very popular and busy restaurant 3 years ago and almost immediately it turned out to be a success.
In her menu she blends modern European kitchen with Irish and Polish accents.

We spend there very nice 3 hours while eating, drinking wine and talking to Jola.

A short review:

Parking a car:
the place is located by the narrow, one-way street in old part of Kinsale, so parking a car in front of the restaurant can be difficult, although not impossible. Better leave your car in a parking lot by the yacht port ( Pier road ), wand walk 200 meters.
The place:
located in the nice building, when you enter you have a small bar, need to go down to a main restaurant room. Very nice decor, walls made of black stones, ambient music, fireplace, dimmed lights, occasional art exhibitions on the walls. Very intimate and relaxing. The restaurant is run by a Polish couple: Jola and her husband ( chef ).
The food:
International cuisine with a very interesting mix of Irish and Polish food.
At the end a home-made cherry liquor is a must.
The service:
Personalized, always a short talk with a restaurant´s owner who comes to ask about the food. The waitresses are nice and helpful.
The prices:
The starters up to 12 euros.
Main course: from 16 to 22 euros.
Desserts: up to 12 euros.
Wine list: from 16 to 60 euros.


Saturday, 10 July 2010

Cashel - Ireland

A story behind: A small family-run bar/restaurant where we had today a nice lunch, located close to one of the most impressive Irish heritage sites: the Rock of Cashel castle.

Unfortunately Ireland welcomed us with all-day-long rain.

Location: Cashel, Ireland

Gear: Nikon D80

Date Taken: July 10th, 2010, 13:11


Sunday, 4 July 2010

A Saturday night at Matosinhos beach

A story behind: This is a Matosinhos beach, the most preferred beach in Porto. On the horizon one can see a Leça de Palmeira port.
The sunset was absolutely fabulous.
Enjoy as I did.

Location: Matosinhos, Portugal

Gear: Nikon D80, Sigma 10/20 mm, ND 0.3 hard, ND 0.6 soft.

Aperture: f/14

Shutter speed: 2.5 sec

Focal Length: 12 mm

ISO: 300

Date Taken: July 03rd, 2009, 21:11


Saturday, 3 July 2010

A trip to Alentejo, Portugal.

We are back home from a few days long stay in Alentejo, southern region of Portugal, where we perfected the art of doing nothing.

Temperatures in the upper 30s, clear skies, pool, reading, some old movie watching... very relaxing.

Date: 29th of June 2010

Place: Casas do Sal hotel


Friday, 2 July 2010

Saint John Festival 2010

Saint John Festival 2010.

One of the mobile food stands where you can buy farturas and churros.