Photography was a distant third in the reasons for me being in Ireland for nine nights. Or, to be clearer, it wasn’t a reason at all for being in Ireland, but I managed to retrofit it as one. Which I suppose makes it more of an excuse than a reason, or maybe just an incidental side note, or the most welcome of distractions.
I packed pretty heavily, by my standards. The Mamiya 6 with 50mm and 75mm lenses for the serious stuff, the Fujifilm X100 for the wedding I was attending, and the E-P2 to host the wonderful Olympus 45mm f1.8 that is growing on me (and in reputation, as a minor modern classic). The Panasonic 14mm f2.5 came too, as it only weighs about as much as a lenscap. At the last minute, I packed my tiny Vanguard Nivelo tripod, which is a rare occurrence indeed, and padded the Domke out with a good deal of TMAX 400 film and spare batteries.
I ended up only shooting a few rolls on the Mamiya. Those long and dramatic walks along the west coast didn’t materialise, and I was left only with a few brief roadside stops in gale-whipped tourist trap laybies, therefore restricting my viewpoints to the oft- and over-photographed. Not that I could complain about the landscape West Ireland offers. It may be a mental thing, knowing that there is nothing but Atlantic until North America, but it feels very convincingly like the end of the world. I’m looking forward to seeing the negs. I think there are a few frames that will work nicely, although the exposure challenges were not slight – sunlight breaking through clouds in the sky, shadowy walls and folliage in the foreground.
The X100 proved, unsurprisingly, the most used and most useful tool. For the wedding it was fine, capturing some nice moments (although the poor continuous shooting mode caught me out more than once in the church). For the small pub in Kinsale with the eight-piece traditional band playing, it was perfect. I had taken a handful of timid shots from distance of the players before taking my table to enjoy the music and a few pints of the black stuff. Half an hour later in the gents, mid business at the urinal, I heard someone behind me say: “Ah, just the man I’m looking for.” Skipping the uncomfortable seconds that followed, it turned out to be the Banjo player, who’d spotted me taking photos and wondered if he could use them on his website! After that, I felt a bit more freedom to get closer, and took some more shots throughout their performance. Sadly, the gentlemen was unable to remember the details of his online presence, and just scribbled his name on a Post-it note, from which I have as yet been unable to find him online. I will continue the search, however, as he seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of seeing the shots, and as he observed: “You see, it’s pretty difficult to take photos of myself playing.”