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Environmental, Photography, Wildlife
Lockdown, thankfully, beginning to end, gave me the opportunity to focus my photography a little closer to home. One project I’ve wanted to do for a while is to document some of the new life in Castletown. As you might know, any photography that involves wild birds at or nears their nests is illegal under the Wildlife act 1976. So, I contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and filled out an application form and became licensed under the act.

For anyone thinking of going down the route. The process is simple enough. Fill in the application form and submit. It is almost certain that you will get a follow-up call for the national parks and Wildlife Service regarding the purpose and process you intend to use. 

The whole process was straightforward and the people involved were extremely helpful

The gallery below is the result 

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Nepal, Photography, Travel

My wife and I have been sponsoring children via the Action Aid charity for over 30 years.  Our current sponsored child lives in the village of Dharamanger on the Nepal-India border. This is an area of Nepal that has suffered the ravages of war over the centuries and is economically extremely deprived up to this day. We planned our holiday this year to include a visit to our sponsored child. Our plan was to stay with the family in the village and that’s exactly what we did! Over the course of 3 days, we were granted a unique opportunity to meet with our sponsor child, his family and wider friends and community. To say that we were made welcome is an understatement We have seen first-hand the impact that Action Aid is having on the ground to people’s lives – not just the children. We met a young man who was destined to work in the fields and is now qualifying as a teacher. The village has several challenges and we want to be able to help. The costs of all the projects will be €25,000  Most of the fund-raising will go to a school extension and child care facilities to allow young women earn a small income in the fields. What we are planning to do is organise a walk in Glendalough. (see Maps) The main walk will be the white route which is 9 km and should take around 3 hours to complete. We can also organise a subset of that for those who cannot manage the white walk. The date for the walk is Saturday April 8th. More details will follow as we get closer. What we are looking for is participation and/or  sponsorship. Anyone wishing to participate, please contact us via the email addresses below and anyone wishing to donate can do so via iDonate on this link: https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/11362026_nepal-schools-project.html or contact me via gerry.kerr@gmail.com or trish via kerrtrish1@gmail.com Details of what the funding is to be used for is outlined in this document from ActionAid https://www.gerrykerr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/School-Project-Nepal.pdf Thank you    Gerry & Trish

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Camera Club, Nepal, Photography, Travel
The Irish Photographic Federation (IPF) run a distinctions program with three levels – licentiate, associate and fellowship.  Over the years I’ve applied for and successfully completed the first two stages and this year applied for my fellowship.  The process involves submitting a panel of images and a statement of intent. The judging, by a distinguished panel of judges happened and I’m delighted to say that I was successful. For more information on the IPFs distinctions process, see this link http://irishphoto.ie/distinctions/ The panel, based on a village in Nepal is: Link to larger version https://goo.gl/Jy2bce

Statement of intent

After many years travelling across Asia, I was privileged to be given the opportunity to stay in a small village in Nepal earlier this year. The village of Dharamnager is 170km from Kathmandu but decades behind. Dark nights with no electricity or running water, harsh sunlight, mud & brick huts in dark shadow, extreme heat and extreme humidity made the conditions challenging. To immerse myself in the life of the village, I stayed with a family in very simple accommodation. The warmth and generosity was extraordinary and for a lot of the people, I was the first westerner they had ever seen. My goal was to capture the people and their lives as reflected in their environment, faces, character and emotions – young and old – at work and at play. My approach was to get up close with a wide angle lens and make a strong connection with the subject. I have chosen a monochrome medium to remove distractions and focus on texture and contrast. Young men were in scarce supply with most of them working in the middle east or Kathmandu. However, a certain happiness shines through, especially in the children. People had time to talk with me – no rush and no phones!
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Nepal, Photography, Travel
Kathmandu was our first destination this year and  given that we intended to travel last year, we were concerned about how much damage had been done to the city From what we’ve seen, typically, the newer part of the city is relatively intact, however, the older parts of the city have significant damage – in particular, the main Darbar Square has been devastated.
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Photography, Photoshop
My last big photo trip was Sri Lanka and I’m getting ready to go to Nepal at the end of April. For the first time for me, I  wanted to try and publish at least one image a day on Flickr as we traveled.  I have been known to hide images (read – not touch them!) for ages. The difficulty I’ve always had is that I just could not put up with the hassle of bringing a laptop. On the Sri Lanka trip, I was armed with a couple of eyefi cards, an iPad mini and SnapSeed and that  was enough to be able to download and edit image for the web. SnapSeed is an incredibly capable image editor, particularly for global edit. One issue I had from the start was the eyefi cards – they are not the fastest cards on the market and particularly hitting play to show someone their photograph was an extremely frustrating exercise. This year, I’m going to rely on the built-in wi-fi in the Fuji X-T1 and bring some faster memory cards. The SnapSeed start screen: start screenThis is the screen that displays the editing tools available to the user. The ones I used most were – Tune (brightness, contrast, shadows, highlights, warmth) – Details (Sharpness and structure) –  Crop – Vignette   Controls are really simple and most are operated using finger sliders.  For the curious, here are some sample screenshots from the SnapSeed app on iOS Some images that were only only edited in SnapSeed
Overall, this workflow is great for simple edits & tweaks, particularly for publishing on social media like flickr. For any serious editing, I’ll be staying with my current workflow of Lightroom and Photoshop.       For those who are interested, click on the flickr logo above to browse my flickr stream  
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Gear, Photography, Technology
I bought a Fuji XT-1 mirror-less camera about a year ago after seeing it at the Photography Show 2014 in Birmingham. A number of things appealed to me about the camera – size, weight, the accessibility of the controls – to be honest, I did fall for the “feel” of the camera. Its also possible that I could not resist the idea of yet another gadget… fuji xt-1 To pair with the body, I had a 18mm f/2.0 lens  and bought a 14mm f/2.8, a 23mm f/1.4 and a 56mm f/1.4 over the course of the year and have being playing around with them ever since. So the big question is whether or not the Fuji could ever replace my beloved canons….. Obviously, the X-Mount lenses are still being released and  I do not have cover for all of the focal lengths I have available the Canon EF mount, but my photography has changed over the years so I do not necessarily use all of the lenses I own. My annual trip this year was to Sri Lanka. Originally, we had planned to go to Nepal but the big earthquake hit Nepal 4 days before we were due to leave – a particular thanks to Etihad for their flexibility and the painless ease with which we were able to change flights 3 days before the departure date. Anyway, we ended up in Sri Lanka with a camera back full of 2 camera systems. My intention was to  use the trip to see if I could live without the Canon gear so I headed out with the Fuji in my hand and the 5D in the bag.  I like shooting fairly wide so my choice of lens was the 23mm 1.4  – field of view on this lens roughly equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full frame camera. Basic operation of the camera is very straightforward, I do like having knobs and buttons to  change settings rather than  have them buried in menus somewhere. All the common settings – aperture, shutter speed, ISO,  exposure compensation, and  metering are available at the top of the camera. My favorite bits…
  • The view finder: Having a viewfinder that shows exposure and depth of field real-time is a joy to use.
  • Rear tilting screen: I don’t take many “discreet” shots – people usually know that I am taking a photo, but for those occasions, its fantastic
  • ISO performance  – its twice as good as the Canon 5D MK III.
  • Colours and tone – this is very subjective, but to my eye, they are more pleasing than the results I previously had gotten with Canon
  • Lens quality – On this, I would mark this as a draw with Canon.
  • Size and weight – This is a biggie. The camera is incredibly light and Fuji’s X-Mount lenses are typically 50% of the size weight of their canon equivalents.
No camera is perfect and the XT-1 is no exception.  There were a few things that drove me nuts.
  • young monkBattery life – oh boy…. Typically I get around 350 to 400 shots from a battery. And worse! The battery indicator sits at 100% till near the end when it falls of a cliff. I guess it depends on what you are used to, I was getting circa 2500 shots out of a battery on the 5D MK III
  • Metering, Shooting mode and Exposure compensation dials – I keep changing these by accident and it can become annoying at times. I must admit that I am getting used to checking in the viewfinder, but still – something I would suggest Fuji change for MKII
  • Card read/write speed – I need to play a little more with this, but it “feels” slower than I am used to on the Canon.
Thats my  opinion on the camera and its performance.  Its a joy to use and paired with some of Fuji’s prime lenses it is a formidable  performer.
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Photography, Street
I took my little Fuji out on the streets of Dublin  and played with taking some street photography. The little Fuji with a 14mm lens is a small discreet camera and the addition of a tilt/swivel screen make it  the perfect street camera. I was trying to be discreet, but got “caught” twice
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