These are the final of my favourite photos from 2012. In the course of doing this series I’ve been very happy with the overall result and some of the rediscoveries. I’ve been reading a lot about photography lately, and one of the things that resonated most was actually a comment, to try to find the things that speak to me and about me and for me most. And there’s little doubt that for me, that is the sea, a difficult subject , and the Irish coast, and my swimming life. After putting this series together, My Swimming Life 2012, I’m already somewhat apprehensive about 2013’s images, maybe 2012 was a high-water mark for me.
Here’s another pictures of the English Channel. Dawn, leaving Dover and Shakespeare beach and evening returning to Dover Harbour, a slight hazy fog under the Varne cliffs. This photo became the banner image for the marathonswimmers.org forum.
I crewed for Owen O’Keefe for his final Blackwater swim and took a nice picture of the Youghal bridge.
And if you’re a regular here, you know how I love the Copper Coast and sea thrift.
That big storm in August gave me some great opportunities and one of the most viewed posts of the year. Knowing the area and the sea conditions probably allowed me to find the best vantage points of any of the droves of local and better photographers who were out that day.
Below is an image I’ve imagined capturing for a couple of years. Apart from the New York night image in the previous post, this is my favourite of all the photos I’ve taken this year.
The Skellig Islands, possibly my favourite place in the world, a World Heritage Site, often seem to me to be almost a dream of the sea. It also surprises me how few Irish people seem to have visited, but being 12 miles of the south-west and requiring advance booking of boats, in notoriously unpredictable weather,maybe that partially explains it.
Anyway, these are my favourites, a year of swimming and the sea, I hope you enjoy them. If you have a favourite I’d like to know? So here’s a poll where you can choose three
Wait. Just thirteen between both posts? Initially it was twelve, but these two (above and below) had to be included. I found the image below after I’d gone through all the other posts. I’d completely forgotten it. (Thanks to Catherine Drea for processing advice!) It was taken on that same day of torrential rain in August that I took the picture of Brown’s Island in the rain, while passing through Tramore looking back at the storm clouds gathered past Powerstown Head.
I’m proud of these photos. Let’s hope 2013 produces some great images. In the meantime Riana convinced me to sign up for blipfoto, where I am trying to pursue a photo-a-day project to improve my technical and composition skills, and I am already very glad she did, even the days I struggle. If you want to see my daily (often a real struggle) attempts, pop on over or follow the updates from my Twitter account.
Last year on New Year’s day I wrote about my thoughts of the coming year. I’m haven’t done a retrospective, if you follow the blog, you have a good idea of what happened. I originally just thought I might just round-up some of my favourite photos that I took during the year which then led to this series of My Swimming Life 2012. This is the end of that series, with the first of two parts, of my favourite photos from the year.
This site has meant I have gradually become more concerned with getting appropriate and useful images. This year I was fortunate to capture a few that I really like. There are black and white versions of a few of these in the Kindle Screensaver post, but here are medium resolution colour images, (good enough for screen-savers). Some of these I haven’t shared at all previously. I did discover over the course of this series that I’d taken more good shots than I’d realised and discovered a couple I hadn’t realised at the time, which was why I did my 2012 swimming locations, some faces of 2012, and the two posts on my Almost favourites of 2012.
I have high-resolution versions of all of these suitable for printing at larger sizes. This isn’t a commercial site, but should you like a high-resolution printed print of any of these, contact me directly and you can purchase any and we’ll out how to get prints to you.
I’ll start with dawn in the English Channel, leaving Dover and Shakespeare beach.
Next of course is Trent Grimsey, on the way to setting the new English Channel world record. I doubt I’ll ever take a better swimming photo. Everything was right, the position, the light, the sense of motion,and of course, Trent helped with that Mona Lisa smile! I’m proud of this photo.
Lisa came over for one weekend of horrible summer weather, and I took that one great shot with my Kodak PlaySport, swimming out to Brown’s Island, rain on calm water.
Alan Clack was here twice this year, in preparation for his English Channel solo. The weekend before we left for Dover, we climbed up to Coumshingaun for some cold water training beneath the 1000 foot tall cliffs. Since then I’ve noticed that Coumshingaun is being used as the backdrop for one of The Gathering advertising posters.
Another I took that day in Coumshingaun I was also pleased with, that will make any swimmer want to take a dip there, t he blue sky reflected across the glacial corrie.
And of course I went to Manhattan for MIMS 2012 where I took possibly one of the best photos I’ve captured. And without having a tripod. So we’ll pause here and return with the last seven in the next post.
Continuing the series I started with the Swimming Locations of 2012, followed by Swimming 2012 Continuing the Pictorial Tour, this is the second post of “runners-up” for my favourite photos of the year. And a rename of the series, people seem to be enjoying, very gratifying for my moderate skills. There will be two more, of what I think are my best/favourite photos from 2012. You know what they say, just keep taking photos.
An unoriginal photo, but a nice contrast of colours and high tide of the Dover shingle I mentioned in the last post.
The Fermoy Fish is making quite a few appearances in this series. Looking over the Channel and Folkestone Harbour in the late evening. I think in 2012 Owen appreciated the magnitude of his Channel solo, when he became (and still is) Ireland’s youngest ever Channel swimmer. He’s also a very experienced crew person whom I can’t recommend highly enough. On the horizon is Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, rarely visible from Varne, where Lisa Cummins became the first (and only) person ever to land on her second lap of the Channel. Not even Kevin Murphy, who has done just about everything Channel-wise, has landed there.
I’ve taken quite a few photos of the local traditional design Knocknagow fishing boats, an easy local subject that just keeps giving. Clinker-built with a flat bottom, as the river is tidal up past Carrick-on-Suir with lots of mud flats. They often sit idle in the estuary in the winter, filling with rain, and often even sink, only to be refloated and repainted in the spring.
I have taken many iterations of this same photograph over the years, one of my other favourite places on Earth, the Skellig Island, last vestige of Europe, twelve miles off the Irish south-west coast, here framed by the twin chimneys of a ruined cottage in Finian’s Bay. I probably took 30 or 40 photos on the day I took this one. To add to all the others over the years.
Shooting directly into the setting sun above the ruins of the Cornish Engine House situated on the cliff top at Tankardstown, above the old deep copper mining shafts. To get the sun and ruins silhouette, I had to use a high ISO, so there’s a lot of noise (grain). It came out as I wanted, though this is another subject that I revisit.
Clouds are rarely worth taking. But some days seem dramatically perfect for aerial shots, with a calm sea beneath. Tramore bay in the autumn.
From that summer storm post again, I was pleased with the candid fun nature of this photo.
Dover has three lighthouses within the harbour, one at each side of the harbour mouth, (the northern one seen in the blog banner), and this one is on the end of the Prince of Wales pier. The curved nature of the small lighthouse helps reduce the photographic no-no of converging perpendiculars usually associated with taking high building from ground level.
One thing I am (very slowly) learning about photography, is to the chase the light, particularly early morning and late evening. Harder in the northern latitude when the days can be up to 18 hours long and I don’t really like getting up very early.
I wrote on the marathonswimmers.org forum that I’d long wanted to get a good shot of ZC2 as it was one of my original ideas for the name of this website. I didn’t choose it as a name because it was too esoteric, too easy to mixup in casual conversation. ZC2 is a key waypoint for Channel solos. Being too far north/outside of it, as you sweep south-easterly on the ebb tide, means you will likely miss the Cap after the tide turns. I took this during Alan Clack’s Solo, he was within metres of it, whipping past it metres every second with the tide, passing on the inside. The day wasn’t perfect for my ultimate ZC2 shot, but it will suffice. A lot of the time I imagine a shot I want while no-where or no-when near the subject, then have to chase it.
We know and talk about the English Channel marine traffic. Many swimmers will have big ship or two pass within a couple of hundred metres. But as you look out from Varne or the Cap, that traffic volume isn’t readily obvious, distance and haze and light obscuring it. This photo was taken with a 200mm telezoom just before a late dawn on a November Sunday morning on the Varne cliffs, of the traffic outside Calais. I rarely find a use for the zoom, as my eldest, a much better photographer than I warned me, but when you need it, it’s invaluable.
Cap Gris Nez is directly across from Varne, often visible. Once again the telezoom before dawn shows the middle of the Strait and the far side traffic, directly in front of the Cap and the radar station on the Cap itself. Foreshortening diminishes the width of the Separation Zone, at its narrowest point in front of the Cap of about a mile width, and seen here graphically between the northeastward-bound and southwestward-bound ships.
I have a great fondness/weakness for photos of shadows and light on the sea, caused by clouds and/or under-exposure. Just an occasional time, some of them work. In truth, I love almost any kind of photo of the sea.
You know, people buy cheap prints in TK Maxx and Home Furnishing stores to put on their walls and everyone has the same ones, the Brooklyn Bridge, a random beach, whatever. Contact me and you can get an original canvas print for yourself!
Swimming Manhattan. Dee took a photo of my and kayaker Brian swimming down the Hudson that I have a liking for, I’ll always think of it, (whimsically), as swimming toward the Emerald City.
This is a bench erected at Varne Ridge, following an idea from Rob Bohane, by friends and members of Sandycove Island swimming club, in memory of Páraic Casey.
The chief inadequacy amongst my many photographic skills is the portrait. In fact I don’t think of them as portraits, but the more prosaic “pictures of people”. I really struggle with them, with imposing on people, especially when I know that it’ll usually be a waste of their time. So I try to grab snapshots unobtrusively where possible, and that’s when I remember. I have had to learn that people are mostly interested in pictures of people. And then I cheat in making them look better by using black and white. I’ve read a comment by a photographer I can’t find, that colour photography shows you the picture of their clothes, black and white shows you the colour of their soul. Take that for whatever it’s worth being repeated by an atheist.
Here are some of my favourite photos of swimming people from 2012. Apologies to all the important people, friends and family, in my life who aren’t here. And bigger apologies to those who are.
Alan Clack, aka the George Clooney of open water swimming. I actually took this on my phone, hence the slightly grainy look (which is not deliberate).
Billy Kehoe, President of the Newtown and Guillamenes swimming club. Seventy five years swimming there and a gentleman.
English Channel soloists Craig Morrison (left) and Rob The Bull Bohane (right). Craig set a new club record for the English Channel. And then Rob set a newer club record. It’s worthwhile visualising the pair drinking champagne from a bucket on Sandycove Island one autumn Friday night at twilight… in a storm. The bottle was in the bucket.
At nine feet tall, English Channel soloist Liam Maher is twice the height of the average four and a half foot tall French person, Sylvain Estadieu, the Flying Frenchman excepted. Sylvain is a strangely small four feet high but with a wingspan of nine feet.
Yours truly at Coumshingaun. How arrogant is that? I’m trying to overcome self-consciousness only exacerbated by this photo. This may not be the image to do it with. Photo taken by Dee.
She’ll kill me for this. Irish Queen of the Sea, Lisa Cummins, visiting the spot where she tumble-turned off France after her first lap of the Channel.
English Channel Soloist and King of Cold Water Finbarr Hedderman hides his happy face. He had just recently lost his flowing locks. Micro-seconds after this was taken, I sure was subject to the usual Corkonian abuse.
Channel swimmers Rob Bohane (right), Ciaran Byrne (left), and myself (centre), after a training swim in Dover. Owen O’Keefe Maybe Lisa actually took this photo with my camera? I finally remember, it was Super Crewman Kieran O’Connor! The Fermoy Fish did well. Only after you’ve struggled out of the water up Dover’s almost-lethal shingle can you appreciate its difficulty.
Sandycove island Club Chairwoman Liz Buckley (no relation, fake half-sister) is mammy to us all, while Club Secretary Ned Denison downs a quick swig of gripe-water. Not at all like the Soviet Politburo. At all.
I said on the day it was the best picnic ever. Cap Gris Nez. This was definitely better in colour, as was the day. Left to right: Liam Maher, Rob Bohane, Lisa Cummins, Paraic Casey, Riana Parsons, Catherine Walsh, Craig Morrison.
This follows the 2012 Swim Locations post. I was considering calling it the My Swimming Life series. These photos were almost but not quite amongst my favourites for 2012, which will be coming soon. Like anyone with a camera, you notice that you sometimes take more photos on those really good days than you get to share. So here’s a chance to see some new ones, and revisit some others. Not all are chosen because they are good photographs, as some aren’t great, but they capture something relevant or interesting to me.
Also, I’ve been trying to improve my post-processing skills as well as my camera skills, the two in inextricable in the digital age, and I found a few that I didn’t take much notice of the first time around that have benefited from a run through the bit-machine.
Also, for a variety of reasons I’m struggling to write at the moment, so we’ll continue on this pictorial tour of 2012.
The day before Trent’s swim, I crewed for Alan. Despite all I’ve written about Trent, Alan’s solo was personally more important. Alan first made in contact in 2010 after my solo and I guess we were on the Channel journey together ever since, (me in a supporting role of course). Alan travelled to Ireland three times, swum two full Distance weeks, (more than I’ve done). The risk of bad weather during his window was bigger for him considering the lack of travel availability from Canada. On the day, conditions were very choppy and not conducive to great photography, but I managed what has become a traditional Channel image for many swimmers. Alan swam a fantastic Solo, in a great time of eleven and a half hours.
One of the undoubted highlights of my 2012 swimming year was being on Sandycove Island for the final day of qualification swims. I was on crew on Saturday for the Total Brain and Body Confusion “torture” swim, as I was previously in 2011. However the last couple of years I’d swum on the final qualification day. This was my first time on the island, with Finbarr, Ned, Riana, and Andrew Hunt. It was an extraordinary day, to see from land-side what we put ourselves through. I know what it’s like to suffer unending hypothermia around Sandycove, to not be able to stand straight or talk clearly or use my muscles fully. To see it first-hand and up close was another thing again and to be able to help the swimmers was nothing less than a privilege with the level of marathon and Channel swimming knowledge and competence rising each year.
Just another day in Tramore. The photo looks black and white, but isn’t. These are the colours of late winter in Ireland.
Another wintery almost colourless shot, this was taken looking around the corner of Tramore pier out toward the Guillamenes, fractions of a second before the wave reflected back off the wall.
My other favourite of Trent, taken by hanging off the bow. I was sorry I didn’t take more from this angle.
Scout regularly accompanies us to the coast along with my older dogs. He refuses to demonstrate his flying ability for others publicly though. The Pomeranian breed’s tendency to go ballistic with excitement has earned them the term berserking. And there’s nowhere more exciting than the coast.
This post is now part the My Swimming Life, 2012 series.
I must start with the Guillamenes and Tramore Bay and Kilfarassey of course, my main swimming locations. My usual range in Tramore Bay is between Newtown Head (under the pillars) to the beach, along the west side of the bay, most of the range seen in this first photo, with much less regular venturing across or out deep. (I also regularly leave the bay by passing around Great Newtown Head into Ronan’s Bay).
Swimming range in Kilfarassey is mostly based around swimming out and around Brown’s island, Yellow Rock and the big arch. Once the water warms up I will up past Sheep Island.
Other locations on the Copper Coast: Bunmahon, Gararrus and Ballydowane. I didn’t, that I recall, swim at Kilmurrin, Ballyvooney or Stradbally this year. Funny how you just don’t make it to some places each year.
Clonea beach, but only a couple of times. I didn’t swim at Baile na Gall.
Sandycove, Garrylucas, Ballycotton, Myrtleville and across Cork Harbour.
Garrylucas, April 2012. Most boring photo of the year?
Round Beginish Island, but I missed swimming at Derrynane, Finian’s Bay or Kells this year, which are usual Kerry locations for me most years.
Kingsdale to Deal, Dover Harbour, and Cap Griz Nez.
Dover Harbour from Dover Castle, July 2012
Inishcarra, Coumshingaun and Bay Lough are the lakes I can recall swimming. First year not swimming in any of the Kerry lakes for a while.
Bay Lough, Knockmealdown Mountians
And of course Coney Island’s Brighton Beach and Around Manhattan.