PPA’s International Print Competition Results

I was delighted that I was one of 61 photographers internationally to have all four entries selected to hang at the International Print Competition, with three chosen for the Loan Collection, allowing me to achieve Platinum Photographer of the Year status for the second straight year. The print display was part of Imaging USA, PPA’s annual convention, which was held this year in San Antonio, Texas. For the last several years I’ve entered PPA Print Competition to challenge myself in the field of landscape photography. Years ago, Jim and I entered prints as a way to improve our skills as portrait photographers, which is how we have earned a living. These days, I do landscape photography for the pure joy of it, so it was quite special to have such a good outcome this year. As was the case last year, all four of my images were photographed in County Donegal, Ireland, using my Lumix FZ1000 25mm-400m fixed-lens mirrorless camera . . . my favorite travel camera ever!

Day’s End — Loan Collection

Highland Chapel — Loan Collection

High Tide on Sheephaven Bay — Loan Collection

Ancient Harbour — General Collection

 

Also, I was honored be one of 13 recipients of Professional Photographers of America’s Imaging Excellence Award, a medallion presented “in recognition of dedication to the practice of excellence in photographic competition.”

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Last year the UK publication “National Geographic Traveller,” ranked Ireland as fourth on its list of the “Coolest Places on Earth,” so I was delighted to learn that this year the magazine made the specific selection of County Donegal as first on its list of places that readers should visit in 2017.

For the past three years Jim and I have stayed in Donegal for at least one week during our annual three-week trip to Ireland. This year, we spent the entire time in this beguiling county, where the combination of seacoasts, farmland, lakes, mountains, towns, villages and pubs are wonderful to enjoy and to photograph, and where the people who live there are so warmly welcoming. We divided our time between delightful B&Bs in the villages of Kilcar, Dunfanaghy and Greencastle, and they served as great home bases for our travels. In spite of the fact that we covered a lot of ground and were rained out only one day, we left knowing that there is much, much more to see and enjoy in this mesmerizing land.

At breakfast one morning, we chatted with a charming lady and her young daughter who make regular visits to Donegal from their home in London. After discussing the many reasons why we find Donegal to be so compelling, the English lady made this great statement: “I tell my friends in London that you either get Donegal or you don’t.” Jim and I most certainly do “get Donegal,” and it looks like an increasing number of visitors feel the same way.

I’m still working on 2014 and 2015 Donegal images to add to the Ulster galleries on this website, but here are a few that I made on our most recent trip:

near-glencolmcille_p1020325

Sheep farm near Glencolmcille

bundoran_p1010429

Bundoran

strove_lthouse_p1060089

Strove Light House

errigal_pano_3

Mount Errigal

greencastle_p1050996

Off Greencastle Harbour

p1020575

Kilcar coast road

Kilcar to Ardara/ 2016 Malaidh Ghleann Gheis (Glengesh Pass) is a high pass with elevated views over Loughros Beg Bay, framed (North and South) between the steep sided Ghleann Gheis and Mulmosog mountains. The landscape is characterised by grassland for the most part broken up only by managed woodland.

Malaidh Ghleann Gheis (Glengesh Pass) near Ardara

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to post a musical tribute in the form of a video of one of my favorite contemporary Irish songs, “Bright Blue Rose.” In my music library I have versions of it by Tommy Fleming and Mary Black, but I also love this video by the songwriter himself, Jimmy MacCarthy, joined by the great Christy Moore and wonderful slide guitarist Declan Sinnott. What I like so about this video is that it is pretty close to the kind of intimacy you enjoy when musicians—famous or not-so-much—decide to gather in a pub to play and sing.

During our trip to Donegal last fall Jim and I dropped into The Rusty Mackerel, a cozy pub on the road to Teelin Harbour, where we took a pleasant boat trip to Slieve League.

P1160768

I loved the pub’s rustic atmosphere, so we were happy to return in the evening to hear some excellent local musicians.

P1160784

Much to my delight, one of the tunes they played was a lovely version of “Bright Blue Rose.” I was not in good position to video the performance, but I did get this still:

Rusty Mackerel Pub on the road to Teelin Harbour

Here’s the “Bright Blue Rose” video that I referenced earlier. I love to hear a composer sing and play his own song; in this case, Jimmy takes the lead and Christie follows.

If you like the song, you might enjoy listening to the versions by Tommy Fleming and Mary Black .

I’ve also posted the lyrics below, along with a link to a MudCat Cafe discussion of the lyrics’ meaning. The Café is an online discussion group and song and tune database, which also includes many other features relating to folk music. It’s interesting that this song provokes so many interpretations. To me it is simply a beautiful song about redemption.

Bright Blue Rose

I skimmed across black water
Without once submerging
Onto the banks of an urban morning
That hungers the first light
Much, much more than mountains ever do

And she, like a ghost beside me
Goes down with the ease of a dolphin
And awakens unlearned, unshamed, unharmed
For she is the perfect creature, natural in every feature
And I am the geek with the alchemists’ stone

For all of you who must discover
For all who seek to understand
For having left the path of others
You’ll find a very special hand

And it is a holy thing
And it is a precious time
And it is the only way
Forget-me-nots among the snow
It’s always been, and so it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally

For all of you who must discover
For all who seek to understand
For having left the path of others
You’ll find a very special hand

And it is a holy thing
And it is a precious time
And it is the only way
Forget-me-nots among the snow
It’s always been, and so it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally

One bright blue rose outlives all those
Two thousand years, and still it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A real highlight of last fall’s trip to Ireland was a visit to the dramatic cliffs of Slieve League, a magnificent mountain on the Atlantic coast of Donegal. Although less famous than the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Slieve League’s cliffs reach almost three times higher. We were told that the best view of of the cliffs is from the water, so we set off for nearby Teelin Harbour, home of Slieve League Boat Trips.  The drive to get there was delightfully scenic.

We left from our home base at the wonderful Inishduff House in Kilcar, and made a leisurely drive north along the coast road that wound past charming homes, old and new . . . nestled together or standing apart, above beaches and inlets, skirting villages, and alerting several sheep that were curious enough to stand by on a precarious perch or look on from a leafy glade to watch me make photographs.

p1160522

p1160594

P1160568

Road_to_Sleive_League_Sheep_Pano

P1160691

P1160697

P1160719

P1160723

P1160738

P1160746

By the time the tiny fishing village of Teelin was in sight, the clouds had rolled in, and the weather looked threatening, but we carried on, deciding that rain or shine we would make the cruise.

P1160759

As so often is the case in Ireland, within minutes of arriving across from the pier where the 24-person Nuala Star cruise boat was moored,  the sun had broken through to reveal Teelin Harbour in all its glory. It was interesting to learn that Teelin is one of the first settlements to appear on maps of Ireland.

P1160999

After leaving the shelter of Teelin Harbour, it was only a short cruise along the Atlantic Ocean coast before the lush green hills transitioned into grey-rocked cliffs.

P1160835

Once Sleeve League came into full view, the mountain appeared just as Belfast naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger described it in 1939: “A tall mountain of nearly 2000 feet, precipitous on its northern side, has been devoured by the sea till the southern face forms a precipice likewise, descending on this side right into the Atlantic from the long knife-edge which forms the summit.”

I used the auto pano feature of my Lumix FZ1000 to capture the seaside view of the cliffs below.

Auto Pano

It’s hard to get a sense of scale of the cliffs either from the sea or in photographs, so it was helpful to hear Nuala Star Captain Paddy Byrne, shown below, explain to Jim that at its highest point, Slieve League is taller than the Empire State Building by some 75 stories.

P1160958

Paddy also pointed out that signal Towers on Slieve League cliffs were built by the British to warn villagers of any possible encroachments by the French army under Napoleon during the early 19th century.

P1160912

I got a better look at one of the towers through the “digital zoom” function of the FZ1000 that effectively extends the fixed super-zoom (25mm to 400mm) lens magnification well beyond the 400mm end, which really comes in handy in situations such as this.

P1160890

P1160827

On the trip back, the Nuala Star hugged the coastline so that we could get a good look at the mountain’s beaches and sea caves.

P1160939

Once back in the harbour we noticed the remains of an old church that stands beside the pier marking the spot where a community of 5th century Teelin monks lived before they undertook the precarious seajourney to Iceland, an extraordinary undertaking by the standards of that time. Along side of the ruins is this lovely stone carving that honors the monks with a plaque that reads: “In memory of the Teelin monks who sailed to Iceland in the 5th Century.”

P1160995

In the future, I hope to return to Slieve League on a dull, overcast day to capture the true wildness of the countryside both on top of the mountain and below it on the shore. I suspect that on such days you will sense the ancient rhythm of the waves crashing into this magnificent mountain, as they have done for so many centuries. It is fascinating to recognize that what we see today when we gaze upon Sleeve League is exactly what the very first men and women saw when they found their way to this mesmerizing land.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I just returned from Imaging USA, Professional Photographers of America’s national convention, which was held this year in Atlanta. I was delighted to be among 60 photographers to have all four entries selected to hang at the International Print Competition, with three chosen for the Loan Collection, allowing me to achieve Platinum Photographer of the Year status. This was a first for me, so it was especially satisfying. For the last several years I’ve been entering PPA Print Competition to challenge myself in the field of landscape photography. Years ago, Jim and I entered prints as a way to improve our skills as portrait photographers, which is how we have earned a living. These days, I do landscape photography for the pure joy of it, so it was quite special to have such a good outcome this year. All four images were photographed in 2014 in County Donegal, Ireland, using my Lumix FZ1000 25mm-400m fixed-lens mirrorless camera . . . my favorite travel camera ever!

3246-1_C

North Atlantic Beacon — Loan Collection

3246-2_C

Low Tide on the Marsh — Loan Collection

3246-4_C

Hardscrabble Farm — Loan Collection

3246-3_C

Tranquil Hillside — General Collection

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .