photo blog

Illustrated Blogger Interview Challenge

Aquileana from La Audacia de Aquiles  nominated me for the Blogger Interview Challenge.  Thank you so much for considering me!

tbi

I am following Aquileana’s  blog for more than a year, and I always re-read her posts because we both share the love for Mythology, for the times when Gods mingled with people, and ” the World was younger than today”. Aquileana is doing a thorough research on her subject, and her posts are always adorned with beautiful art and poetry. I invite you  all to visit La Audacia de Aquiles blog – you will want to follow  🙂

Now the interview. To make it more fun, I illustrated it with my images. These are the questions:

How did you get into blogging?

Since the time the Internet was invented, I have always dreamed of having a space  where I could share my experiences, memories and, sometimes, opinions. When I visit a beautiful place or meet a beautiful person, I want to spread a word so that other people know of it.

fall

fog

I started with installing WordPress using WAMP so that I could play with it offline before I decided on the theme, pages, widgets and style.  A whole month I explored my options and web tools, and wrote, and deleted. My first idea was to combine my advertisements and my personal thoughts. I chose the simplest, mobile friendly and lightweight theme. Finally I mastered the courage and went live, shy and uncertain. It was after St Patrick’s day, March 2014.  The advertising part didn’t survive: I changed my mind about it. This post is one of the first five posts written offline. My first attempt on blogging 🙂

My blog is not a portfolio.

What advice would you give to a blogger just starting out?

Blog about anything you like, and post as often, as you wish –  once a month, every hour; but do your best.

do your Best

Make your blog posts accessible. Only your loving family members will be willing to struggle through the numerous links until they find your latest post ( I have done it too …).  Your SEO advisers might tell you that using internal links helps with traffic, but they usually mean the ‘deep’ links, not the ‘surface’ links, if it makes sense. Also, when they speak about the internal linking, they often use a phrase ‘killer content’. Something to think about.

simplicity

For all bloggers – please, make sure that clicking on your Profile Picture and Name opens your blog page, or at least your Gravatar page with a link to your blog! You are working hard – you should be heard! 

Enjoy what you do. Slow down when you feel that this becomes a burden. Everybody will understand.

slow down

Be nice with your fellow bloggers, even if you had a lousy childhood. It will pay off, and make you happier in return in your real life.

happy

 What would be your dream campaign?

Inspire, not impress. I love this statement.

inspire

Do you have a plan for your blog?

I have been blogging less than two years, a toddler’s age. I will grow. My plan is still the same – to show how good is the world, and how good are people.

kilsheelan

What do you think about rankings?

To be honest, nothing.  It sounds like a part of some competition to me, and I am not competing with anyone for a very simple reason – I have neither the time nor the energy  for that. I am afraid  I don’t really understand what it is about. Traffic? Likes? These two not necessarily reflect the greatness of the content. I know fantastic blogs with very little followers and likes. ‘All is vanity’…

Give yourself  rewards, regardless of your “ranking” 🙂

chocolate

I would love to nominate the following very different bloggers – please don’t feel that you have to accept the nomination. No pressure, no obligations, just your free will 🙂

Praying for Eyebrowz

Photobooth Journal

Traveling Rockhopper

PEDROL

Souldier Girl

Milford Street

There are the rules:

* Mention the person who nominated you
* Answer the questions in full
* Don’t forget to tag up to ten other bloggers at the end

Thank you again Aquileana for the opportunity to answer questions and promote other bloggers!

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend everyone!

September 2004-2014

foliage

A Calendar of Sonnets: September

By Helen Hunt Jackson

The golden-rod is yellow; 
The corn is turning brown; 
The trees in apple orchards 
With fruit are bending down. 
The gentian’s bluest fringes 
Are curling in the sun; 
In dusty pods the milkweed 
Its hidden silk has spun. 
The sedges flaunt their harvest, 
In every meadow nook; 
And asters by the brook-side 
Make asters in the brook. 
From dewy lanes at morning 
the grapes’ sweet odors rise; 
At noon the roads all flutter 
With yellow butterflies. 
By all these lovely tokens 
September days are here, 
With summer’s best of weather, 
And autumn’s best of cheer. 
But none of all this beauty 
Which floods the earth and air 
Is unto me the secret 
Which makes September fair. 
‘T is a thing which I remember; 
To name it thrills me yet: 
One day of one September 
I never can forget.

I think that this colourful poem and my picture go together quite nicely.

In May I posted a Photography: May 2003-2014 set of images. I am doing it again,  “one day of one September”. Isn’t photography all about memories? 🙂

2004

september2004

This is the house I grew up in. It is the back yard, these windows face the lake; the front yard used to merge with a large ancient forest.  The building is about 200 years old.  In 2004 we traveled around visiting all the places that are dear to us, and I took this photograph. In 2010 the new owner cut the forest down.

2005

september2005

I love trees. This Monkey Puzzle ( Araucaria) alley is almost gone due to the old age.  Last year I visited the place again, and it doesn’t look like in this picture anymore.

2006

september2006

St Canice’s Cathedral grounds, Kilkenny.  I call this image Dwellings: Past, Present, Future.

2007

september2007

Galtee Mountains.  That green patch down there is a forest. We are half way to a beautiful mountain lake, icy cold and transparent like a crystal. I came there again two years ago, solo. Walked through the forest, took some pictures. I didn’t plan to walk to the lake, of course, but it was nice to know that it is there, just a couple of hours away.

2008

september2008

This picture was taken in the park in Limerick.  I think it was my most uneventful, and overall miserable trip ever.  Never been to Limerick again.

2009

september2009

There is a tiny road in Clonmel going up the mountain. People walk or drive it to climb to the Holy Cross and get a bird’s eye view. This old man is walking down  that road with his cows. He and his brother live ( lived?) right around the corner, so his flock doesn’t interrupt traffic too much. I stood in the street watching them and tears came up to my eyes. God bless old people.

2010 

september2010

This isn’t a result of photo editing: all the colors are natural.  Antelope Island State Park, Great Salt Lake. Abundant wildlife, beautiful scenery, solitude and tranquillity.

2011

september2011

A friend invited me to take a trip to Connemara. We had two fun days in spite of the weather.

2012

september2012

These clouds are something to remember.

2013

september2013

A big sister.

2014

september2014

This picture is here because I am  saying good bye to the river.

Thank you for reading about my Septembers.  What about yours?  I would love to hear 🙂

Photography tip of the day: More DIY  🙂 Take pictures through plastic bag, stained glass, plastic bottles, magnifying glass,  etc. Cover your “filters” with colored vaseline.  You will get interesting effects depending on your lenses.

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a great week!

Irish summer

A newcomer to Ireland arrives on a rainy day. He gets up the next day and it is raining. It also rains the day after that, and the day after that.

He goes out to lunch and sees a young kid and asks out of despair, “Hey kid, does it ever stop raining around here?”
The kid says: How do I know? I’m only six!

This year we have got a proper summer, no jokes! 🙂 County Tipperary has been bathing in sun since June.

Irish summer

It was one of the hottest days when I went to Kilsheelan,  and I thought I would walk a little bit by the river.  The cows on the opposite bank enjoyed the shade of a giant Oak tree and drank from the river till they were full.

Irish summer

Then they laid down for a nap, black islands in the sea of grass.

Irish summer

What a pleasure to walk along a path lined with lush grasses and delicate wild flowers. My summer favorite is poppy flower.

Irish summer

Irish summer

Irish summer

Another favorite is crop field. I love to take pictures of them in any weather, morning or night, and at any stage of their growth and harvest.  What a fascinating sight they make, waving in the wind!

Irish summer

Abundance of sunlight this summer makes the greenery richer and  foliage ticker.

Irish summer

Sometimes it is nice to hide from the burning sun in the woods…

Irish summer

…or under the thick canopy of linden trees in the churchyard.

clonmel_marlfield_church

What the summer looks like where you live?

Photography tip of the day: When the sun is high  shoot your portraits in the open shade.

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a great weekend!

A trip up North : Dark Hedges

I guess that the Giant’s Causeway will always be there even if the wind and water change the surface of the rocks in the next million years. The rope bridge is also unlikely to disappear. But there is a place that won’t last long, and it fills my heart with sadness… The Dark Hedges, one of the most photographed locations in Northern Ireland.

dark hedges

Both beautiful and somewhat eerie stretch of the road was known only to the locals until the 1990s! The ancient Beech trees were planted by Stuart family in 1750. Since that time they reached up and across to each other and their entwined branches created a natural arched tunnel. There are about 150 trees left. The people who planted the trees never got to see them in their glory: Beech trees reach maturity at 150 to 200 years. The beautiful Dark Hedges  trees are past maturity. They are dying.

Unfortunately I haven’t got to see all the lane, only its southern part. Even if I come another time, the place won’t be the same. There are some diseased trees that have to be felled, and also some dead branches have to be cut off for safety reasons.

dark hedges

There is a qualified tree surgeon appointed to preserve the archway and to meet the safety requirements, and the maintenance works will start in early September. The Bregagh road, home to the famous trees, will be closed for ten days, or for how long it takes. Also brown tourist signs are to be erected which is a great thing because at the moment there are no signs at all.

Their  branches are entwined, their roots are entangled. They cannot be separated. It is one body, and if one tree dies, or it is cut down, the others will know.

dark hedges

dark hedges

dark hedges

The Dark Hedges came under threat a few years ago when Roads Service proposed to fell many of the trees for safety reasons. The avenue was taken over by the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust and they are probably doing a good job since the trees are still standing, but that infamous green fence they put up in 2011 has raised many critics. There are hundreds of critical comments and articles about the fence all  over the internet, and the words “monstrosity” and “nuts” tell you lots about the Trust and their creation.

I have read these comments, but when I walked the road no ugly fences existed for me, only the serene beauty and the timeless magic of the place, and muted sounds and colors.

dark hedges

It was one hour before the sunset, my favorite time,  and all the photographers were getting ready. Look at them in the picture below: they will be busy removing me from their pictures in Photoshop 🙂

dark hedges

Looking through Google images of Dark Hedges I noticed that it is in fashion to take a picture of one’s car or bike with the Dark Hedges in background, and we too witnessed such a photo session. It is all right, but something else really annoyed me. We took the trouble to park in the parking lot and walk down the lane with our gear and the baby. The other visitors parked right in the middle, in the most picturesque place. There was even a van!

Nevertheless  I got some beautiful evening light and took pictures I am happy with. The only thing I did in Photoshop was removing cars and excess of joggers 🙂

dark hedges

dark hedges

We had  been there about 40 minutes, and you can see the change in the light.

dark hedges

The iconic trees have been featured in a popular HBO’s Game Of Thrones series, Season 2, Episode 1, representing the King’s Road.

game of thrones

I so hope that new saplings will be planted and Dark Hedges will live. Otherwise where would the ghost of the Grey Lady go? I didn’t see the ghost. Too many photographers are hanging around at the dusk and dawn. It could be that the Grey Lady rescheduled her appearances to the worst time for photography – the midday.

This was the first picture I took when I turned around the bend…

dark hedges

…and these were taken when we were leaving.

dark hedges

dark hedges

To get to the Dark Hedges: From Belfast take the M2 north, toward the town of Antrim. Driving around Antrim, take A26 toward Ballymena. About 7 miles past Ballymena look for the A44 toward The Drones/ Armoy/ Ballycastle. After about another 7 miles you pass The Drones village  ( just a couple of miles before Armoy) and turn left onto the Bregagh Road. Keep going until you see a lay-by parking lot where you can park. Walk around the bend and there it is! 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this virtual trip to Northern Ireland with me: crossed the bridge, climbed the basalt rocks and walked the avenue of beautiful ancient trees. Thank you for your company! 🙂

Click on the images to enlarge them : it will take a second, they are all resized.

yglenariff 31

Photography tip of the day: Manual settings for beginners  – something to start with.

Aperture: Midday, sun – f16; Any other time, sun – f11; Overcast -f8;  Shade – 5.6; Dark shade – 4.5;

The lowest ISO for your camera;

Shutter speed: set it 125 and then regulate up or down.

Move on with your settings after you are comfortable with this simple advice.

inese_mj_photographyHave a great day!

A trip up North : Giant’s causeway

giant's causeway

My friends have never been to the Northern Ireland before, so our trip was very touristy and brief. After leaving Carrick A Rede Rope bridge we took a 20 minutes drive to our second destination – the Giant’s Causeway Visitor center.

The Giant’s causeway is a magnificent natural rock formation declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. It was formed 50-60 million years ago as a result of seven consequent flows of lava. Tectonic plates were moving and magma from deep inside Earth spewed through cracks in the surface. Lava flowed and cooled in contact with air and water, hardening into basalt. Then it was covered with another layer of lava an so on. This process created deep horizontal cracks all along the surface that extended vertically forming honey-comb shaped columns.

giant's causeway

The formation consists of about 40,000 interlocking, mostly hexagonal basalt columns, but some columns have four, five, seven or eight sides. They say there is only one column with three sides.

giant's causeway

giant's causeway

This is what the geologists think. Yet, there is another story. A giant named Finn Mac Cumhaill lived with his wife Oonagh on the Antrim coast. He had a very annoying Scottish neighbor giant Benandonner. On one occasion Finn scooped a chunk of earth and hurled it across the sea at his enemy, missed, and thus created the Isle of Man.

One day Finn tore pieces of rocks from the cliff and made a causeway to walk across the sea and fight  Benandonne. When coming closer he realized that his giant neighbor was bigger that he expected! Frightened Finn turned back and ran home with Benandonne hot on his heals. To hide him loyal Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby. When Benandonne saw the size of the “sleeping baby” he fled in terror breaking up the causeway in case he might be followed. Funny giants.

I climbed the columns to get a better view. This is a bus stop down there, and the road to the Visitor center ( 1 km?)

giant's causeway

This is a part of the giant-made causeway.  The tide is coming in, so the end of the rocky road disappears in the water but you can see that it is quite long.

giant's causeway

This is the view on the other side from where I was perched. Another half an hour walk to the Organ pipes (across the little bay) , but I have never been there, always because of the lack of time.

giant's causeway

In the image  below, on the right side you can see a high and almost vertical column formation. It is where I was taking my causeway picture from. The other side is easy to climb – 5 year old can do it. This side is only for experienced climbers. In summer 2012 more than one  thousand people gathered here to cheer The Olympic Torch bearer, 10 times Iron Man Peter Jack from Coleraine.

giant's causeway

This  image was taken in December 2005. We had the place all for ourselves.

giant's causeway

These two images are taken in  August 2005. A little bit more people but still very quiet.

giant's causeway

giant's causeway

This time the place was very  busy.

giant's causeway

This is a curious rock formation you pass on the way to the Visitor center.  August 2005, bright sunny afternoon. Harsh shadows make the rocks look like petrified giants.

giant's causeway

The road to the Visitor center. We took a bus.

giant's causeway

Off we go to our last destination – Dark Hedges.

To be continued.

Photography tip of the day: If you often take pictures of the sky and around water get yourself a polarising filter. To know what size of the filter you need check your lens: it is the diameter.

inese_mj_photography Have a great weekend!

 

A trip up North : Carrick-A-Rede

rope bridge

I can tell with certainty that every Carrick-A-Rede Rope bridge visitor has this picture.  A one kilometre long  coastal walk from the car park over the high cliffs is a treat itself, but still everybody hopes to catch a distant view of the famous bridge, so they stop after each turn of the path and take a snap.

The truth is, you cannot see the bridge until you get there.

rope bridge

The Carrick-A-Rede Rope bridge is a famous tourist landmark of Northern Ireland.  It connects the mainland with a small rocky island  ( “carrick “goes for a “rock” in Gaelic ).

If you expect an Indiana Jones-ish experience, you will be disappointed. The bridge is not too long; it won’t break up; it won’t swing and toss you in the waves. No one ever fell over the rope handrails, but there were plenty of tourists who just couldn’t make it back… No, they don’t get picked up by a helicopter as I hoped when I first crossed the bridge in 2005. The miserable are seated in a boat and ferried off to the mainland. No, I wasn’t in the boat. It was a windy day, but I made it back: a man with a little baby walking  behind me gave me the courage.

rope bridge 31.07.05

The rope bridge didn’t always look the way it looks now. Built  by salmon fishers in 1600s it was used from June to September as an access to the rocky islands. The fishers ran their nets between the islands to catch the salmons coming through the area to spawn in the nearby rivers. Below is an image taken in the 19th century. Up to the 1970s the bridge had only a single handrail.

19th century

When the salmon fishing came to the end The National Trust installed a new, tourist friendly cage bridge to span the 18m wide and 24m deep chasm. It was a unique and costly project. The bridge was taken down and re-installed annually. Another one was built in 2004, and the current one is built in 2008. Now the bridge is opened all the year round if the weather conditions are not dangerous.

In June 2012 the Olympic Flame was carried onto the Carrick A Rede  bridge by a P.E. teacher Clare Leahy from Coleraine.  After that the Flame was carried to the Giant’s Causeway ( my next blog).

When you get over the bridge Scotland is as close as never before 🙂

2014-08-01 Northern Ireland I 390

Walking around the island you can enjoy the glorious scenery and take pictures.

rope bridge

carrick a  rede

carrick a rede

rope bridge

Sooner or later you have to cross the bridge again…

rope bridge

The more you do it the less you fear. If I come again next year I might even look down…

rope bridge

So this is my story for to day. There is a link to the webpage where you can read more about the timetable and tickets. If you don’t want to cross the bridge don’t buy any tickets and just walk over and watch the others cross. The walk is beautiful and free.

To be continued.

Photography tip of the day: secure your shooting gear and memory cards. A gust of wind can ruin your trip.

inese_mj_photographyHave a great week!

Durrow Scarecrow Festival: part II

scarecrow festival

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil“. Do they want to show us that they are not responsible for the evil deeds of the  Hollywood villains scarecrows, or is it a “code of silence”?  Anyway, it seems like the scarecrows do want to live a human-like life. Miley Silage in the image below shows all the passions of her human prototype, and has a very similar success here at the Festival.

scarecrow festival

Some scarecrows are confident and have a career…

scarecrow festival

Some are lost and confused…

scarecrow festival

Some walk past a stranger and never look back…

scarecrow festival

Some are happily married, and enjoy their cinema dates…

scarecrow festival

Some are just having fun…

scarecrow festival

Some are grumpy…

scarecrow festival

It is not easy to live a human life if you are a scarecrow,  but as we all know,  “One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.”

scarecrow festival

I saw a few little dogs there, one of them might be Toto. What do you think?

scarecrow festival

scarecrow festival

Mrs Brown was a favorite of children …

scarecrow festival

…and I loved Mrs Brown’s boys … or was it  “buoys”?…

scarecrow festival

scarecrow festival

They even had a pyramid there…

scarecrow festival

…and a mummy!

scarecrow festival

There was a nun on a mission: them bugs are no good for the straw.

scarecrow festival

Almost everything was covered; the humans only provided music…

scarecrow festival

…and transportation ( Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?)

scarecrow festival

Durrow Scarecrow Festival Community Organisation have a Facebook page you can visit. The program is huge! So many events, it is impossible to see everything. Well done, guys, you rock!

scarecrow festival

Hope you enjoyed these two posts from the festival. Click on the images to enlarge them and see the details. All the images are always resized so that you can easy open them.

Photography tip of the day: Here is a video about resizing your

images. 

inese_mj_photographyHave a great weekend!

Durrow Scarecrow Festival: part I

scarecrow festival

Beautiful village of Durrow, Co Laois are hosting their annual Scarecrow Festival this week. It officially opened last Sunday afternoon, but a fantastic job of preparation and scarecrow making started long before the day. Colorful and happy looking scarecrows sitting on the perches, trees or simply on the ground follow you on your way through the village and promise a good time and lots of fun.

scarecrow festival

Oh, even the President and the First Lady are… wait… never mind…

The Scarecrow glorified by L. Frank Baum is one of the most loved characters in children’s literature. He is gentle and kind, honest and wise. Seeking to get a set of brains he still appreciates the straw he is stuffed with, and his logic is unbeatable:

Scarecrow: I haven’t got a brain… only straw. 
Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain? 
Scarecrow: I don’t know… But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking… don’t they? 
Dorothy: Yes, I guess you’re right.

I will try to not do an awful lot of talking. The pictures will talk by themselves.

scarecrow festival

scarecrow festival

scarecrow festival

Scarecrow: Witch? Hmph, I’m not afraid of a witch. I’m not afraid of anything – except a lighted match.
Dorothy: I don’t blame you for that.

scarecrow festival

scarecrow festival

scarecrow festival

Who is the famous Scarecrow’s of Oz predecessor? It must be a Feathertop, the main character of the short story of the same name by Nathaniel Hawthorne,  first published in 1852. It is an almost Kafka-esque, thought-provoking story.

“Poor Feathertop,” Mother Rigby said, looking at the heap on the floor. “He was too good to be a scarecrow. And he was too good to be a man. But he will be happier, standing near the corn all summer and protecting it from the birds. So I will make him a scarecrow again.”

scarecrow festival

There is a long forgotten, but nevertheless brilliant movie Scarecrow (1983) directed by Jerry Schatzberg. It is a drama starring Gene Hackman and Al Pacino.  I was sure there is a comedy related to scarecrows, and  I did find a 1920 short comedy The Scarecrow. You can watch it here on Youtube it is just a few minutes of laugh 🙂

When did scarecrows become the horror icons? Some say that it all started with the 1981 horror mystery thriller Dark Night of the Scarecrow, directed by Frank De Felitta. I haven’t seen the movie, and to be honest, I haven’t seen ANY scarecrow horror movie. I would be terrified, I hate creepy things like murderous clowns and scarecrows. I’d better stay with this cute Snow White 🙂

scarecrow festival

There is so much to see in Durrow this week. Humans are watching the scarecrows ( you never know…) and…

scarecrow festival

..Scarecrows are watching humans…

scarecrow festival

There is even a local war going on!

Cowardly Lion: Come on, get up and fight, ya shivering junkyard! Put your hands up, ya lopsided bag o’ hay!
Scarecrow: Now that’s getting personal, Lion!

scarecrow festival

Children are actually very quiet here. I cannot blame them: the real and the surreal are tangled and unclear 🙂

scarecrow festival

Watching the performance I thought  I would take a picture of these fire red hair owners.

scarecrow festival

Suddenly all three of them turned back 🙂

scarecrow festival

That’s all for today. More pictures coming Friday.

I want to share a short fun video courtesy of Hattie Wilcox (the video is on this page of her website). It is filmed in Ireland, it is about the scarecrows, so it is quite relevant.

Hattie Wilcox is a terrifically talented composer, singer, poet, songwriter, photographer, and most humble and hard working  person. Please check out her website and blog.

Photography tip of the day: Use the White balance feature of your camera. Take pictures with different settings and chose the result you are happy with.

inese_mj_photographyHave a great week!

FOX NEWS

Pat Gibbons foxes

It is my second blog post about Patsy Gibbons and his foxes. In early April, almost 4 months ago, I went live with a blog post KINDNESS, amazed with my own boldness, and having a very little knowledge about blogging rules and ethics. Still learning.

That time Pat invited us to come again in summer when the foxes look gorgeous on the green meadow. Two weeks ago a friend of mine arranged a visit, but when he rang to confirm it Pat told him that he is in the hospital waiting for admission. They kept him in from Monday to Thursday; Pat’s brother fed the foxes, but they had to stay in their den all this time, and they also missed their bath – a day when they all walk to the pond to get bathed. Needless to say, the foxes were upset, Pat wasn’t feeling well either, so this visit was short, and I left sad and worried .

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

This is Gráinne. She is an easy going, clever and curious lady, devoted to her master. Back in 2007 Pat’s brother-in-law Eugene was working in a storeroom and getting the cardboard boxes ready for shredding.  To his surprise he found a fox cub inside a box, malnourished, almost dead: it could be there some 10 days without food or water. Eugene brought the cub to Pat who had helped the troubled creatures before. It is how the story started. Pat consulted with a local vet, and the cub was estimated as a 5-7 weeks old, and weighed 1 pound. It was not easy to nurse the little miracle back to life and health, but they did it! The cub got a lovely name: Gráinne.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Average life span of a wild fox is 2-3 years although a fox can live 10 years. Gráinne is in her senior age, but you would never guess it. She looks very healthy and happy on her rescuer’s shoulders; she has had a long life of mutual love, adventures and little pleasures.  Gráinne run away twice, but was back for dinner the same day. How did she run away? She just snapped the leather leash when at walk. That easy, so if she wanted she could run away any time.

Pat Gibbons foxes

This is Minnie. Minnie is a bit of a drama queen. When we came into the den, she was whimpering and howling, and putting on these funny faces, so that she had to be petted and rubbed and hugged all the way. Minnie is 5 years old. A woman from next village brought her to Pat when she was a month-old cub.

Pat Gibbons foxes

This is Henry, he is named after Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin. A man  brought him to Pat a year ago after his dogs attacked and mauled him. Pat thought he would have to put him down, so bad he was. His ligaments were cut, his head was severe injured, especially his bottom jaw and left eye. Pat nursed him back to health, but it took a while. Henry is a gentle and affectionate creature. Pat calls his female foxes “girls”, but Henry he calls “son”.

Pat Gibbons foxes

The foxes have a clean den with three separate compartments for privacy. Every fox has their favorite place on the shelves. In the evening they are brought into the cottage ( they are house-trained) along with Pat’s two dogs, and enjoy the time together watching TV or listening to Pat playing his harmonica. The foxes and the dogs are cuddling together, and actually the foxes feel more at ease when they go for a walk together with the dogs. Sometimes they get a snack – a biscuit or a wine gum. They adore the wine gums.

Pat Gibbons foxes

“You all right, son?” Patsy would ask and hug his little boy.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Henry’s left eye is still sore and probably will never get better. He is enjoying a few minutes in the sun and then Pat takes him back to the den. Now it is the girls’ turn to go outside but Minnie has her drama moment 🙂

Pat Gibbons foxes

Minnie actually needs some extra exercises for her good, but she stalls and refuses to walk.

Pat Gibbons foxes

In the middle of this drama a car stops and people start taking pictures of Pat. It happens on a regular basic but Pat doesn’t like it. He would rather they stop, get out of their car, have a small talk and then take the pictures.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Minnie gets her way.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Patsy is getting his girls ready for the portrait:)

Pat Gibbons foxes

Look at Minnie’s face:) Drama in progress.

Pat Gibbons foxes

Patsy has a kind heart and angelic patience. Minnie is getting all his attention:)

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

We had a good chat, but look at Minnie’s eyes 🙂 Her face expression speaks for itself. Pat says that he should better take the foxes back to their den.

I wish them many happy years together.

PS  I have found an article which says that a spokeswoman with Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland has criticised the media for writing about Pat Gibbons and his foxes thus promoting a dangerous and irresponsible attitude towards the wild animals.  What do you think about it?

***

A blogger friend Aquileana, inspiring mythology expert and a lovely person has nominated me for a Versatile blogger award. I am very honored and grateful for the nomination, especially from Aquileana who is such a great example of knowledge and personal charisma.

versatile-blogger1

Here are the Award Rules:

1) The nominee shall display the Versatile blogger Award logo on her/his blog.

2) The nominee shall nominate ten (10)  bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

Here are the bloggers I nominate for this award. Please visit their blogs!

http://indahs.com/

http://halfeatenmind.wordpress.com/

http://thebluepolarbear.wordpress.com/

http://kmihran.wordpress.com/

http://allizzwell.net/

http://anotherdaysomeday2013.wordpress.com/

http://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/

http://dorisbolliger.wordpress.com/

http://sarbjitsinghkhaira.wordpress.com/

http://happendonthisday.wordpress.com/

http://yadadarcyyada.com/

Keep great work going!

Photography tip of the day: Karl Taylor’s  10 minutes video.

inese_mj_photographyHave a great weekend!

It is my cup of tea: part II

296hers

The origins of herbal medicine are the origins of civilization itself. Only imagine that all these herbs were known and used thousands year ago: for healing, food, drinks; to eliminate bad odors; for making soap and body scrub; to dye clothing and even hair. There is no plant, no part of a plant that could not be used one way or another. If you are interested in growing some herbs in your back yard, you can check out this link for the UK and this link for the USA. These two companies are selling seeds and gums of the wild herbs online. I just found them in Google. I used to buy seeds of wild plants back in the 80-s, and from that experience I know that you will get literally a few seeds in that paper bag, but don’t panic, it will be enough to start your herb garden. You can also buy a mix and turn your lawn into a meadow 🙂

rose hips

Wild rose (Rosa canina )

These are the fruit of the Wild rose plant – rose hips. You can dry rose hips or soak them in honey for a couple of weeks. Remove all the seeds and itchy hairs from inside the rose hip before you use them. You can also soak a whole flower in honey, or only the petals. Fill up a jar and then gradually add honey until the jar is full. This honey tastes great on your toast, and gives you a whole load of  vitamin C, healthy flavonoids and cancer-fighting compounds. You can also use rose petals on you toast, salad or in your desert – all up to your imagination.

Wild roses have five petals. The five-pointed star is a pentagram, a pentacle, which is a symbol of magic. Roses also have a secret hidden behind the flower. Literally. I will share this secret with you.

rose sepals

This is my drawing, sorry it is not perfect, but it is good enough to show you something. If you look at the back of a rose flower you see the set of five leaf-like sepals (they enclose the flower in the bud stage). Look at them carefully – two sepals have outgrowth on both sides; two show no sepal outgrowth, and one has it only on one side! Some of the roses have more prominent outgrowth, some less prominent, but all roses do it 🙂

When I was young I read a riddle about the rose sepals in a very old book. I googled it and found this page! For those who have no time to check out the link here is the riddle I remember:

Of the five brothers at the same time born
Two from our birthday ever beards have worn
On other two none ever has appeared
While the fifth brother wears but half a beard.

You can show the sepals and read the riddle to your kids:)

wild strawberry

Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Wild strawberry is a close relative of the wild rose and it has also been used over the centuries. It would take me a page to list all the phyto-chemicals and microelements found in the fruit, leaves and root of Wild strawberry. It has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties and can be used to treat diarrhea, kidney and bladder problems; it also reduces risk of cardio-vascular diseases. In-vitro studies have shown that certain chemicals found in strawberries reduce cell proliferation of breast cancer and colon cancer cells. You can consume as much berries as you like, and add the leaves to your regular herbal tea mix. All the above also applies to the cultivated strawberry fruit.

202hers

206hers

192hers

Lime (Linden) blossom (Tilia europea)

Linden is a tree. Its flowers, leaves and wood are used for medical purposes. Linden leaf and blossom are used to treat cold, sore throat, nasal congestion, bronchitis, fever, high blood pressure, insomnia. It is the best herbal tea you can use when you get a virus infection: it induces sweating and all the toxins get washed out of your body. You can put 1-2 Lime blossoms in your regular herbal tea mix every evening just because it smells and tastes so nice 🙂

st johns wort

St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum )

Actually all species of Hypericum can be used in herbal medicine. To pick up some plants for your tea you don’t have to pedantically look for those perforated leaves.

St John’s wort is one of the most favored herbs. Ancient herbalists used it internally and externally to treat sciatica, deep wounds and bruises. Internally it is used for any inflammation and ulceration: in kidneys, liver, bowels, uterus. There is good evidence that St John’s wort may reduce symptoms in people with mild to moderate depression acting like Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. Of course it can not be used if a patient is already on antidepressants.

St John’s wort helps people with Seasonal affective disorder ( SAD) and reduces anxiety during menopause. For a generally healthy person a small bit of St John’s wort flowers added to your afternoon herbal tea cup will improve your mood and clean your system, and give your tea that beautiful ruby color.

Here is a poem describing another use of the plant 🙂

St. John’s wort doth charm all the witches away.
If gathered at midnight on the saint’s holy day.
And devils and witches have no power to harm
Those that do gather the plant for a charm:
Rub the lintels and post with that red juicy flower
No thunder nor tempest will then have the power
To hurt or to hinder your houses: and bind
Round your neck a charm of a similar kind.

firewood

Fireweed/ Rosebay Willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium)

Fireweed tea has antispasmodic and demulcent properties. It is used to treat kidney, urinary tract and prostate disorders, and also whooping cough and asthma. Young shoots are good in salads and also steamed as a substitute for asparagus. Fermented leaves of Firewood are known as Kapor tea, but even simply dried leaves make a great tea, soothing and healing.

ladys bedstraw

Lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum)

This plant is for centuries used in herbal medicine to treat skin problems, and also to detoxify liver, kidneys, pancreas, lymph and blood. It can be used for foot care. Place this herb in hot water and when the temperature is comfortable soak your feet. The name of the plant indicates that it can be used as an aromatic stuffing for pillows and mattresses. It also has insect repellent properties. Roasted seeds of Lady’s bedstraw can be used as a coffee substitute, and its green parts as an addition to salads. The plant is used as a curdling and coloring agent in cheese making. A red dye is extracted from the roots and a yellow dye from the flowers of Lady bedstraw plants. You can try to color your hair blond as did the ladies in the 15th century England and Ireland.

307hers

Common figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)

Figwort is a powerful medicine plant, and I don’t use it in my tea. It just looked nice in my viewfinder so I took a picture 🙂 It has anti-inflammatory, diuretic and cardiac stimulant properties. Figwort’s Latin name speaks for itself: it is used whenever enlarged glands and tumors are present.

Thank you for reading! Hope these two blog posts and links were useful, and at least one herb will find its way to your cup of tea!

Photography tip of the day: Check your images after every 2-3 shots. The light is changing and you don’t want your images over- or underexposed, especially your portraits.

inese_mj_photographyHave a great week!

Birds of River Suir

stonechat

Looking into the viewfinder I spotted a tiny bird flitting about in the waist-high vegetation before it landed on top of the cement pole.

stonechat

The bird looked like a young female, and later I learned it was a European stonechat. It was flipping from one pole to another, and finally settled so I could take these pictures. After about a minute of chirping there came a male stonechat.

stonechat

I don’t know if they were a couple; they rather looked like a dad and a teenage daughter.

stonechat stonechat

stonechat

Dad? Dad?????!!!!!

stonechat

Your pole looks nicer. Can I come over?

stonechat

No way. Stay where you are!

stonechat

Didn’t you hear me? Don’t even try!

But she already took off and landed almost on top of his head.

stonechat

Daddy! Wait!

I walked about a mile and sat on a bench to rest and enjoy the evening light. A Grey heron was standing in the middle of the river, quiet and patient skinny bird looking grave and funny at the same time. I thought I might stay and wait for him to catch a fish.

heron

No such luck. He changes position, striking at imaginary prey.

heron

heron

heron

heron

heron

heron

Maintaining his dignity he takes off and departs. So do I.

heron

heron

Another half an hour back to the parking lot. Stress management: accomplished 🙂

river suir

Photography tip of the day: There is a link to the page where professional photographers share their advice. I have noticed ( and not only in this article) that the younger photographers often use the word “confidence” . Their older colleagues don’t seem to care:)

inese_mj_photographyHave a great week!

Street Pride

pride 2013

If you want to live a happy and fulfilling life focus on the best in people and in yourself. Sometimes the same rule goes for street photography:)

There are a few images from Dublin Pride 2013 (unfortunately I didn’t make it to Dublin this year). The images were taken after the parade was over.

Gardai look tired. It was a busy day.

pride 2013

I liked that hat, it is why I asked them for a picture:)

pride 2013

pride 2013

This lovely dog came to Dublin from Brazil.

pride 2013

Coachman and his son are amused by the fluffy Brazilian:)

pride 2013

pride 2013

pride 2013

pride 2013

pride 2013

pride 2013 pride 2013

I have got many images of this lovely old lady. I like this one for a reason: follow her eyes, they are staring right at the bare chest of that hot Brazilian fella in the right corner:)

pride 2013

This sweet couple enjoyed themselves, especially the gentleman: He was chatting with everyone in his reach ( I put a picture of them in my previous  blog post)

pride 2013

pride 2013

Some people were rushing through the crowd as fast as they could. Locals want to get home, they are tired of the crowded streets.

pride 2013 pride 2013

Late evening. This texting street performer is too tired of real people. With no one around it is nice to share a quiet company, at last.

pride 2013

Hope you like this evening in Dublin. Click on the images to enlarge them a little: they are all reasonable size images. I didn’t  post pictures from the parade:  people’s faces tell more stories than their fancy dresses ( except that cute yellow hat :)…).  But my next post… It is about something very special, and plenty of elaborated garments too 😉 Talk to you Friday!

Photography tip of the day: Black&white images focus on the story with no distractions. Great for portraiture, architectural details, lines, shapes, textures, light/shadows, mismatched colors in your composition, and for improving bland uninteresting images you still want to keep.

inesemjphotographyHave a great week!

Very Inspiring Blogger award

A Mythology expert blogger Aquileana nominated my blog for a  Very Inspiring  Blogger award.  I am very honored, and so hope my humble blog deserves the award. I love Aquileana’s  interpretations of the Myths, thoughtfully illustrated blog and sparkling sense of humor. Being a big believer in education I invite you to check it  out and refresh your school memories:) Thank you Aquileana!

veryinspiring_bloggeraward

Now my favorite part. I am to nominate 15 bloggers for this reward. I like your blogs, I think they are amazing, and I want all the blogger community to know about you:) If you don’t accept it, well, it is up to you, but I think that promoting those who follow your blog is a nice thing to do:)

There are the fifteen, and I hope you click the links and have a look. You will like what you see and read.

1. http://availablelightonly.com/

2. http://thepoorphotog.wordpress.com/

3. http://todoelorodelmundo.wordpress.com/

4. http://chaosgirlandtherealworld.wordpress.com/

5. http://doctorly.wordpress.com/

6. http://sweetafternoons.wordpress.com/

7. http://moodphototeija.wordpress.com/

8. http://andrea-oconnellphotography.com/

9. http://strassenfotografien.wordpress.com/

10. http://harvestinghecate.wordpress.com/

11. http://jeteliot.wordpress.com/

12. http://sweetwillowman.wordpress.com/

13. http://mywordwall.wordpress.com/

14. http://aalifemoment.com/page/2/

15. http://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com/

Guys, accepting the nomination there are two simple rules:

1) The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.

2) The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

Best of luck with your blogging!

Photography tip of the day: Smile to people and they won’t mind you taking pictures of them:)

inesemjphotographyHave a great weekend!

Golden faces, silver eyes and blue eyelids.

saltees

It started raining. Creeping from one rock to another I was finally done with photographing the puffins willing to pose.

I looked around and saw that my peeps took off and started to disappear one by one in the sea of ferns. So I hurried after them.

Saltee islands

Our next destination was Gannet Headland, a nesting ground for the Northern gannets. You cannot see the place before you climb up to the highest point of the island through the high ferns and then walk down to the rugged cliffs. Then you just stop there, speechless.

gannet colony

gannet colony

The gannet is Europe’s largest sea bird with a wingspan up to 2 metres. The adults are white and the young birds are very dark  brown. It takes 5 years for them to reach maturity and start breeding. They say there are two thousand couples nesting there on the island. The gannets make their nests from seaweeds, feathers and human made materials found in the water.

gannet

gannet

gannet

Gannet with a bunch of seaweed to furnish the nest.

gannet

Gannets hunt fish by plunge-diving from a remarkable height into the sea and then using their wings and feet to swim deeper. After returning from the sea they have this gentle ritual of affection with the other partner, preening and touching the bills.

gannet

The young chick reaches deep into its parent’s throat for its meal of partially digested fish.

gannet

The parent birds take turns warming the eggs and protecting the chicks.

gannet

The gannets are very vocal:)

gannet

As you can see, there are some couples with very young chicks, naked and helpless, and some with the older ones, covered with soft white down.

gannet

gannet

Gannets have very interesting features. For example, they have no external nostrils: they are located inside the mouth. Their eyes are positioned slightly up to the front which gives them a better view.

There is my reflection in the gannet’s eye:)

gannet

Clumsy on take-offs and landings the gannets are powerful fliers with an impressive wing span.

gannet

gannet

Now I want to share something sad. Please read this article…

Gold-faced, silver-eyed, gracious birds… Isn’t there anything else to eat in this century?

There are also other species of birds on the island. This is a Herring gull in its flight.

herring gull

This is a Fulmar.

Fulmar

These are the  Blackback gull chicks.

great blackback gull chick

great blackback gull chicks

This angry bird is a Shag. Shags breed colonially between the rocks and in sea caves.

shag

shag

This is the island owners’ house. We were heading to the shelter to hide from the rain and wait for our boat.

saltees

The ferrying boat could not come closer, so we had to  be carried over there by an inflatable boat.

saltees

Little and Great Saltee islands on the horizon.  It was one of the most memorable trips in my life.

saltees

saltees

I hope you enjoyed this trip with me. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger. They are all resized for the web with resolution 72, so you won’t have problems opening them. Same for the previous post about the Puffins.

Photography tip of the day: When you are going to take pictures of sea birds, not having a telephoto shouldn’t stop you – the birds let you come close enough.  These pictures were taken with a 70-200, but you can bring any lens you have.  The settings matter, as I wrote in the previous post, and your vision matters. I wanted to get dreamy, a little bit grainy pictures with blurred background. Also watch your white colors. It is important  to see the details on the white feathers,  otherwise they look like burnt-out spots.

inesemjphotographyHave a great week!

 

Saltee Islands, a place where birds rule

Saltees

Our Camera Club had an outing to Great Saltee island for bird photography. Before the trip I did a research as I always do, which helps me not miss anything important and regret it afterwards. There is a website with beautiful photographs where you can learn more about the owners of the Islands. I don’t know if anybody ever met them when visiting Great Saltee, but I am sure they are wonderful and hospitable people. They have a shelter behind their home: a kitchen packed with bottled water and basic utensils for those who might get stuck on the island because of the weather, and two beds upstairs. We used the shelter while waiting for the boat to pick us up: the rain shortened our visit by two hours…

If you plan this trip you might find useful the Trip Advisor comments and Captain Declan Bates’ telephone number to arrange the boat and ask your questions:  353-53 9129684, mobile: 353-87 529 736. The boat leaves from Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford. Late May – mid June would be the best time for the trip.

I found this 1837 report about the Saltees; was surprised to learn that the islands were populated in the past. There  even used to be a church on Great Saltee, but now the island is a home to thousands of sea birds. I have never been so close to any bird except may be some ducks, and this closeness to the beautiful, gracious creatures filled me with sense of awe and reverence.

Some of the  birds are nesting on the side of the path. Great Saltee is a busy place, sometimes about a hundred people are wandering around the island all the day, and having a nest on the side of the path sounds like a strange choice. But it is their island, their nesting ground, and they can do as they like. We are their guests and we are the ones who have to respect their rules.  Earlier this week I had two conversations and one argument about the same subject: tourists/ immigrants/ temporary residents and their behavior in a foreign country. Here is my opinion: 1. If people are rude, stupid, arrogant, selfish, irresponsible, annoying while abroad, you bet they are the same at home. 2. Before judging the locals and their ways remember that you can leave when you please but they will have to stay and keep that country going as did their ancestors. You are not the one to teach them how to, and you would only benefit if you learn something from them 3. They might don’t like you. You can sometimes complain if you are not happy, it is OK, but don’t be a fool, don’t do it on Facebook or any social media! And never over-generalize and call a whole nation names.

So, this is what I was thinking about as I watched a colony of Gannets as they go about their routine. 200 species of birds have been recorded on Saltees, most of them migratory. Many species are nesting there, and I took pictures of some.

I have got many nice shots, so I though I could make two posts instead of one. I leave the Gannets for my Tuesday post.

I will start with the Razorbills, the first birds I saw as we walked towards the cliffs. The smaller, brownish birds in the pictures are Common guillemots.

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Puffins. My dreams fulfilled! I was dreaming to see a puffin since I was a child. When I saw my first puffin from the boat my heart skipped a beat. Neat little fellas with comical faces and clumsy manner of flying mate for life and dig a burrow where they return every year to raise a chick. They feel more comfortable in the water; flying isn’t their forte. Probably it is why they take as much fish as they can hold.

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

A Fulmar photobombing:)

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Puffin’s  home.

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

Saltees

To be continued.

Photography tip of the day: Taking pictures of birds be patient, focus on the eye, use the fastest shutter speed you can ( you might want to increase ISO) or use “Sport” setting.

inesemjphotographyHave a great weekend!