09th April 2018
The contents of my camera bag have changed a good bit in the past few months. There's always a wish list of new gear in a photographer's mind but, for me at least, the items on the list rarely get crossed off. I don't make enough money from photography, or make enough money in general, to be buying the latest and greatest gear. And I've always been a believer that gear is only a small part of the picture when it comes to making good photographs. I think 2014 was the last time I bought a new lens or body. But I have managed to make some nice upgrades so far this year through a combination of luck and having well minded, sellable kit. I've long coveted the new Canon 100-400, and a timely cashback offer paired with a good trade-in deal for my two previous long lenses meant I could upgrade for relatively little money. I sold my first 'proper' camera, my beloved 7D, along with the equally cherished 15-85 lens. Most of my favourite images are still from that combination, 'unprofessional' as it might be. Gone too is my Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 - no doubt the best crop sensor lens I've used. I won't be doing any night sky photography for awhile. I got a bargain on a barely touched 24-105 f/4 L, which covers a good spread of focal lengths on my 7D mk2 with very respectable image quality. Things were going well for my bank account - I was nearly up money after all these sales and improvements, but then I saw Carsten Krieger was selling his drone - the very one I had planned on getting later in the year after I'd started earning some money again. I knew I'd be unlikely to see another second hand model from someone I could trust for the money asked so the savings were raided... sure what else are rainy day funds for? I've been toying with the idea of a full-frame body, a new 16-35 of some description, an extender for the long lens, a tripod that I actually enjoy using, a fresh camera backpack...

Are you still reading? Probably not. Because who gives a shit? Gear talk, like sex, can be fun for the person involved, but very few people really want to listen to your gory details. As this winter refuses to leave go I've found myself indoors for hours and hours, researching new equipment online instead of just getting out into the never ending cold and wind and actually enjoying the places I daydream about photographing, weather be damned. I've lost my mojo somewhere and I think I'm trying to replace it by buying, or maybe even worse, by imagining buying, new gear. I think I might have started living the modern western nightmare of getting new stuff to fill the holes created by my inadequacies and disappointments. The capitalists are laughing all the way to the bank...

Below are some images from the rare days I've felt excited enough to take the camera from the bag recently. For the most part I feel like I'm doing the same things over and over again, so what's the point of more? But even if that is the case, I like these ones.

First kiss of light in the Burren National Park. A simple, roadside scene, but a reminder of a peachy day in a gorgeous place I'd not been to for too long. Canon 7D mk2, 24-105 f/4 L

Burren lines - light on limestone and hazel. Canon 7D mk2, 24-105 f/4 L

Some wild things from a dreamy walk along part of the Burren Way. I've never noticed so many chaffinches, battling it out with song. It was worth carrying the 100-400 mk2 around to test it. I was worried I'd lose image quality compared to the 400 prime I traded in against it, but the new glass seems just as good, with another 299mm of focal length to play with. It's heavy, but it's amazing. Canon 7D mk2, 100-400 mk2

Nothing special here as far as fox images go, but a nice one to have for somebody who's never had much opportunity to photograph these beautiful beasts. The fox knew full well we were watching, but seemed totally not bothered. An amazing encounter. I often wish I could communicate with wild animals just to let them know "Look, I'm not going to try and eat you or kill you, I just want to see what you're up to, and not in a creepy way. Promise." That wish was granted here. Canon 7D mk2, 100-400 mk2

Evening at Rosadillisk. Hadn't been to Connemara for a long time, and had never been to this little peninsula. A nice first visit. Canon 7D mk2, EF-S 10-22

My third image from the drone, on the morning of my first real flight. A bit grainy, but it's a pre-dawn shot from a relatively affordable flying machine with a small camera attached and technology that blows my mind. So I'll stop the pixel peeping and just enjoy those sand patterns. Glassillaun, Connemara. DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Sunrise on the same morning. Love that strip of light on the peeling wave. I'm impressed with the dynamic range and overall image quality here. I still use grad filters for landscape photography and I wasn't sure how much of this kind of thing I'd be able to photograph with the drone. The Phantom 4 Pro is impressive, even when you're used to DSLR quality. DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Every time I go to Connemara I end up at Glassillaun, and then when I leave I think, alright, that's one of the best beaches ever but I've been here so often I should start roaming around all those parts of South Connemara I still haven't visited. But then I just go back to Glassillaun again. If you zoom in on this file you can see me in the middle right of the image, looking down at this aerial view that I can suddenly access, even if just on a screen, thinking "I'm living in the future!!" DJI Phantom 4 Pro

No, I didn't lift this from the wallpapers section of the latest iPhone. DJI Phantom 4 Pro

It was a beautiful weekend... DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Back on Corca Dhuibhne for a panorama. I like the shapes here and that little spotlight on the rocks, but this image is bitter for me due to a recent personal tragedy near here. I didn't want to even touch the camera again in the following days but I'm trying to force out the negative associations before they get rooted. It's a struggle. Canon 7D mk2, EF-S 10-22, 3 shot stitch

I flew the drone at work earlier this day, hoping to photograph a top down view of some basking sharks at the surface of a glassy sea (a big reason I wanted a drone in the first place). Within about twelve seconds I had a small army of fulmars circling the drone, taking ever more aggressive looks at it with each revolution. I hurriedly and worriedly brought the machine back to the boat. It was a scary sixty seconds. I flew again at Cuas this same evening but it was quite hazy and I didn't really get anything worthwhile. I've come to realise how poor my post-processing skills are now that I'm faced with files that aren't from a Canon camera. It takes me far longer to get the colours right and the clarity to where I want it. No doubt part of the problem is expecting too much from such a small camera. If some pissed off seabird doesn't take down the drone any time soon these files will teach me a thing or two, which is an added bonus. As the sunset came on I went back to the big camera. I like the composition here enough that I'm glad the sun didn't get out from behind the cloud. Sometimes strong light dominates a scene, when soft colours and flowing lines are more than enough. In a world of 16 point sunstars breaking through raven-black storm clouds above a blurred river/shoreline I find it refreshing to enjoy a bit of subtlety. Canon 7D mk2, 24-105 f/4 L


Photo comment By Nuala corkery: Love your photographs. Got gift of a camera on retirement. Haven't a clue how to use it, so pictures are very basic. Wish I had some of your knowledge

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