I couldn’t help but edit some more photos taken from my adventures during my trip back home to Ireland this past Winter. These photos were taken from jumping neighbours fences and weaving in and out of crammed trees deep within the forestry as well as a couple taken from the mysterious Castle Hackett where the fairy folk are in abundance. Again inspired by the exquisite painterly photographs of Belgian photographer Léonard Misonne (1870-1943) I edited these photos in attempt to capture some semblance of the same glowy atmospheric vistas where you would imaging finding something ephemeral and dream like waiting for you.
Some more frosty vistas from rural Ireland this past Winter. Taken during the dreamy golden hour the wildflowers full of reindeer moss and bog grasses like little licks of flames ablaze against the bluish blankets of cushy snow.
Some further throwback photos from my trip back home to the emerald Isle last Winter. I remember when I took these photos, it was during a couple of crisp evenings when the golden hour sunset lit up the glistening frost and reflected the warm slitted cloud formations.
Recently coming across the exquisite painterly photographs of Belgian photographer Léonard Misonne (1870-1943) who famously said “The subject is nothing, light is everything” to say that I am inspired by his work is an understatement. It is hard to approach Misoone’s work knowing that they are photographs when they look like soft, luminous oil paintings that a master of the craft spent hours mulling over to get the right amount of tenderness. Back in the day it is intriguing to know that Misonne relied on manipulating his photographs during the printing process to get the mood he sought and to that I never understand why people turn their nose up to manipulating photos as even way back then it is still a tool used to help the intent wanted.
I decided to search through the many hard drives I have stored full of photos with the majority taken from my excursions around rural Ireland this past Winter. I picked a bunch that I thought would be ideal to experiment with to see if I can mimic a fraction of Misoone’s glowing photographs. Although these photos were taken in the dead of Winter, the dew brimmed evergreen spruces and ground foaming with moss makes it hard to distinguish.
While editing these photos I feel like I have learned something fundable about photography – when you take detail out of things in favour of something softer the colour can be left to sing which makes the photograph feel more painterly and makes the viewers eye not focus on one thing in particular but take everything in as a whole, which I think can give more mood, tone and emotional intent. Not to say that photography that is sharply focused doesn’t have its own impact, just that it hits differently. Photography is a relatively new medium for me and experimenting to find artists, elements and approaches that I admire and that give me an initial feeling of loving the way a piece looks is exhilarating, figuring out the why is the important part and it is always exciting when you find it.
I still have a plethora of images gathered from my excursions around rural Ireland from this past Winter. I never got tired of capturing the frosty landscapes and meanders of ice circulating around the rich peat. This adventure in particular was after a large dumping of snow that froze over, I remember it distinctively because I almost completely lost a boot in the mud… I somehow managed to press record as I was free falling gracefully into one of the earthy trenches and have the resulting gasps and swears words of my clumsy ass in mid motion. I won’t share that here and shall leave it your imagination.
The majority of my roommates moved out recently and I miss them dearly, the house is so quite and feels empty knowing that I can’t go outside our garden and have a cigarette and a laugh with them or be a victim of one of their many pranks or have them be a victim of one of mine. I live in a converted mansion of a house where the outside walls are brick red with gothic, victorian esque rounded towers, the house now converted into 3 separate buildings where our floor on the bottom being the largest house, while the floors above us converted into apartments with sprawling staircases.
My roommates have taken the wifi with them and I have been subjected to a digital detox which has been a blessing in disguise (currently using my dwindling data to post this) as its proving to get on with things that otherwise might have been put off. I have always wanted to give a bash at painting with light using long exposure trickery in particular when living in this house, the high ceilings with its ornate painted plaster and extruded window nooks with long thick curtains – one can imagine how the light would look in all its divots and grooves making it an ideal spot to give it a shoulder popping whirl.
I found myself finding things strewn about the place that I thought would work well – One morning after waking up to our roommates mammoth mounds of no longer of use rubbish strewn across the front patio thanks to pesky foxes I found a red bicycle light, and deep within the experiments of painting with light I noticed a rod hooked up to the large curtains used to draw back them back so you don’t end up pulling them off the rail, it became the perfect apparatus to attach the bicycle light too, meaning I wouldn’t be seen as some sort of shadowy figure in the results of the long exposure shots, even though wearing all black didn’t completely get me in the clear of some of the earlier shots.
I can really see the appeal of this endeavorer – It is invigorating to press the shutter button, swing violently away and away and then run back to your camera to await patiently for the shutter to finally release so that you can see the fruits of your labour. while the house is still empty I am going to keep experimenting with this. I bought some new LED strip lights but the results were less than desirable as the lights are too bright with too many – meaning the room was far too lit up, but with some tinkering I might be able to salvage something out of them. In the dedicated store room of our home where the walls are filled with discarded amazon boxes I found a head lamp with a strap, another golden opportunity to see what this light source can do, there’s also the possibility of not showing parts of the light – what about putting a bright light in say, a food strainer and spin that violently around? or some some of tube that funnels the light? the experiments feel endless and the creative juices are bubbling.
A final set of photography from my excursion back to the forest during a crispy winter afternoon.
Some further photos from my return to the Forest, this time deeper within the shrubbery and depths of the forest where much of the melting snow only reaching the very tops of the tree arches high above and open areas not secluded by the pines and firs. I particularly notice those grooves notched into the earth where stumps of previous trees once laid and where the dirt was laid higher along trenches for the planting of the tree life. The snow from the other side of the neighbouring land not having trees dotted on every inch but instead wide open meant that the brilliant white light of the snow penetrated through to our forestry – adding a white rim light like ghostly frozen fog to the already ominous scene and highlighting those curvy, warped grooves of the tree linings, trunks and tendrils. Pointing and staring towards the direction of the neighbouring snow makes the scene feel like an angelic view of a world not far from reach and one that you cannot help but float blindly towards, the many seemingly empty holes in the ground from badgers and foxes makes you wonder if they have come-hither towards the light too.
I promised I would return to this enchanted forest this Winter after reliving the memories that this forest holds with a recent kick about reflecting on the words of Robert Frost. I did return to the forest when we got a dumping of snow and I relished in all its sensory overload.
As I was editing these pictures I could hear the birds, I can feel the clean air through the bristles of my beard, I can hear the sound of melting snow dropping from the Spruce’s above into a water filled trench below, I can feel myself watching the water ripple as the drippings lapped the forest colours in a mesmerising kaleidoscope, I could feel the snow squelch beneath my boots as I walked further and further. I could feel it all as if the images from my laptop imploded into a projection around my room in an augmented reality of memories and senses.
This is where you do lockdown right, how you spend your time correctly in a worldwide pandemic. In a place and surroundings that don’t feel like it has been gripped by the turmoil of Miss Rona. It doesn’t feel like anything is starkly different here because in all reality, it isn’t. It is untouched and it always will be. I miss the sheer joy on my dogs faces as they jumped with glee to see that I was taking out the leash from the shed to go on another daily adventure. I miss my neighbours allowing me to hop over the fence in their yard and trudge through the shite in my wellies to find mini universes iced over in the ponds and lakes that weave amongst the surplus of trees. I miss the smells, I miss the air, I miss the peace. I miss it.
A previous Kick About saw me reflect upon the uncanny nature distilled around my Dads basement with all its cellar dweller spiders and porcelain dolls. This same peculiar feeling residing in an old creaky house that has always felt under construction and will never be finished transpires throughout its mammoth 4 floors.
I stayed at my dads house in Ireland one night when the show was falling like thick ashes and as me and my brother drove to my Dads looking towards the blinding kaleidoscope of falling snow, I knew the thick snow was going to up the ante and stillness of my Dads with it feeling like a cotton blanket of insulation that quietens all. The fountain having an a new ashy extrusion and the cement lions on the pillars having a new white beard.
The only working shower is for some reason in the upstairs hallway with the blue room in particular feeling very ominous. There is a bright orange sink in the corner of the blue room with the buzz of a magnificent yellow shaver light that bounces off the walls and the vanity with the room being crammed with bric a brac and photos of our past; My Dad is a collector of sorts and takes pride in all the stuff he has collated throughout his travels, a story attached to each.
Above the door in every bedroom is a window and as my room felt crammed with things the only suitable place for the bed was near the door with the eerie window above it, as a young lad I always perceived some thing peering over those windows and watching as I slept, or tried too; the thing would move with the sound of the bubbling fish tank heard down the landing of the stairs with the light no longer as the black catfish cemented to the side of the tank watched on.
I ventured down the road to our neighbour Jonjo’s yard, hot spiced rum in hand where me and my cousins used to get up to all sorts of mischief and where the remnants of hideouts in the trees still remain – a nail here and a piece of weathered wood there. The yard lit in a brilliant orange light to illuminate the little huts like a beacon where calfing sheep or cattle used to give birth in the bitter Irish cold. The falling snow over my camera lens making it look like a bursting sun.
I’ve always appreciated the creepiness of my Dads house, it always sparks my imagination and even through it might seem unfriendly It’s just a facade, its warm, old and careworn. Although the basement is another kettle of fish, with it’s low ceilings you are likely to feel a sticky spider web stuck to your face. Just don’t turn the lights off, things come alive when you do that down there.