A Day in Connemara

Letter More, lletterfrack Galway

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Lensbaby Blog Circle. The idea is that we all write a blog post once every month that documents a day or project shooting with a Lensbaby lens. This is my third such post.

So, earlier this month a few of us headed out for the day. Camera bags were packed and we drove in the direction the car was pointed. There was no plan or itinerary, other than to take some photographs and enjoy ourselves. Peter drove and ferried Liz, Kevin and me around the west.
We would continue until we saw something of interest, get out off the car, shoot it and move on. We headed south-west towards the coast and the ruggedness of Connemara.

a road in the evening sunshine
The road home in some evening sunshine. This was shot from the front passenger seat of a moving car.

The weather was typically west of Ireland – changeable and unpredictable. The day started off overcast and this would be enough to deter many photographers. But this group were determined to make the best of whatever Mother Nature threw at us and as it turned out, the weather improved greatly as the day wore on.
As photographers, we should be able to use our techniques and eye to make something of whatever scene we are presented with, whether there is “perfect” light or not.

The dictionary tells us:

Perfect – adjective

having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

Perfect – verb

make (something) completely free from faults or defects; make as good as possible.

And while I like dictionaries – they’re full of lovely words and their meanings, well – they’re just a little too perfect for me. They never seem to take into account the “human” psyche. And, in fairness that’s not their purpose.

irish fields and the ocean
Striping was common throughout the west of Ireland many years ago. The land was divided into long strips and apportioned to different people.

And so it is with the Lensbaby. Many will argue that its characteristics are imperfect, that blur is imperfect, that the depth of field is imperfect – which all goes to make an “imperfect” image. Indeed, many people that see these photos just cannot get their head around the fact that they are not fully sharp.

They think, why have a camera that can take technically perfect photos and then produce these? In fact, that’s one of the reasons we always want to upgrade out gear -to get a better quality image. Then, why take a step backwards and make pictures that are blurred, out of focus, under-exposed, contain flare or light leaks or are just vague?

A barn in the sunshine
My preference is to use the Lensbaby Edge 80 at the extremes – f2.8 and with the composer tilted to the max. For me, the image then becomes more about the essence of the scene.

Photography is a funny old game

Many get into it because they fancy taking some pretty pictures – something that will funnel a creative urge that is inside. Others will want to record the world as they see it – in all its realistic beauty. I kinda fall into the former group – I liked the idea of taking and making pretty pictures.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Whenever I show these type of shots to people, or at my local camera club, there is usually a mixed reaction”[/perfectpullquote]

The purists will not get them – why would he shoot a photo of a lovely place that is blurred or not realistic?

There will be those that think I’m a bit odd and humour me. Thank you. 🙂

And there will be a small cohort that can see the aesthetic or thought process at work.

And then, there’s often a nagging doubt inside of you that thinks this is like The Emperors New Clothes. That the beauty of the images is only visible to those that can truly appreciate it … and that we are therefore deluding ourselves. :-\

Person walking on hillside
Liz is almost lost in the scene. An indication of how you can be – out here in the wilderness.

So, whether you come down on the side of purism or someone that beats to a different drum, let us all go out and enjoy taking our pictures and recognise that enjoyment in our fellow photographers.

Don’t be concerned with what others think of you but be authentic, be willing to take the road less travelled if necessary, and be willing to stay connected to your core.

Feel free to share or comment. Thanks for reading this far.





My preference is to capture the essence of a location or person. Technical perfection in my personal work does not interest me. I specialise in shooting public and private events, residential and commercial architecture, and corporate and personal portfolios, as well as holding landscape workshops and offering photography tuition. Get in touch and let’s create something great together.

  1. Ute says

    Hi John, I’m actually a little jealous now – a day of fun with friends but without a plan, I love this! Your pictures are beautiful. I love the atmosphere and how they transport me into another world.

    1. John says

      Thanks Ute.

  2. Birgit, with tongue in cheek says

    I enjoyed reading your words as much as I appreciated looking at the photos. I am proud to say that I have managed to convince several camera club members into getting Lensbaby optics – for some reason, all female. My very no-nonsense, to-the-point, colleague on the other hand, has never managed to look at any of my photos and not feel nauseated, lol..! Same goes for my father – my sister had a wallpaper made out of one of my Edge 50 forest photos, and the first thing my dad said when visiting was “but it’s not in focus!”. Hah, their loss, I reckon. Just look at the thriving Lensbaby community, surely we can’t all be fools? And so what if we are. At least we’re throroughly enjoying it, and besides the odd case of dizzyness no real harm is inflicted upon anyone. 😉

    1. John says

      Ha! There’s always a few that will never get this type of photography.

  3. melita says

    Loved seeing these wonderful tracks, roads and pathways, John. Such gorgeous tones and atmosphere. I really liked how you captured the wildness of this place.

  4. Janet says

    Wise words as well as beautiful images John!

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