Category Archives: photography

I bought a camera


Most people who know me going way back online know me because I used to take photographs. In particular I used to take kitesurfing photographs on the beaches in Ireland, and occasionally elsewhere. 

Five or six years ago, I completely lost my mojo, actually, it might have been longer. There were various reasons for this, although I think the main one was that I tended to have a lot of back ache which I put down to carrying the camera bag. Since December 2016, every single photograph I have taken has been with a Samsung phone, or once or twice, an iPad. I started drawing and painting. I didn’t miss carrying 25 kg of camera gear around with me. Even when I toned it down, the extra camera bag was always heavy, or awkward, and I had other stuff to carry. In truth, I’d done everything I could do with the kites and while I was planning to look at macro photography, I also packed up my life and moved to Luxembourg. For the first time in nearly 15 years, an SLR did not come with me. I did not seem to miss it. 

I certainly did not miss the back pain, that was for sure. And I took some really sweet photographs with the camera on my phone, particularly of fireworks on National Day in Luxembourg. Then in December, I took photographs at a work do and discovered two things a) I still really liked taking photographs of people, and b) I still really liked processing photographs, in particular, choosing what to do with photographs. And that was when I discovered that the phone’s camera wasn’t enough. It struggled with white balance when lights were tinted. One of the things I had to clean up in a lot of photographs was a tango coloured cast. Because the phone image format was jpg, there was not a lot I could do. I wanted a RAW file. 

I was not going to get that from my phone, and while I know there are a ew phones around which do have some sort of digital negative formats, I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy a phone just for its photo file format. 


About 5 years ago, I had to put a photo book together for a family event and in the course of producing this, I located a lot of photographs of my dad and the rest of his clan when he was young. That was when he told me his mother had brought a Kodak Brownie from America when she came home to marry my grandfather and that she always had film in it. 

This tied in to one of the reasons I liked having a camera in the phone. You always had something, at least, to catch a moment. 

I like that idea but I wanted more than the phone could do for me. I know that mid level cameras are dying off because the phones are getting so good for a given value of people’s needs. I also knew I did not want to start another DSLR habit. I bought my 40D (my second one, actually) in 2009. Normally I had looked at updating it but I had the sense to realise I was using it so rarely it probably wasn’t worth my while to replace it. Photographers suffer from gear acquisition syndrome. I owned a lot of lenses; I needed to decide whether to stay EOS or whether to switch to Sony, or to look at the impact of going mirrorless. And all of that was still pointing at a steadily growing gizmo collection. I wanted something different. I wanted a compact camera that did raw that could live in my handbag. Always there, like my grandmother always had her Kodak Brownie. 

So I bought a Canon Powershot G7X a couple of weeks ago. Events eventuated and I really only got a chance to play with it today. 


A couple of things happened. It seems, for some reason, to be easier to pick the camera and go out, than it does for any other reason. It is a strange sort of company. Unlike drawing, I don’t need to find somewhere to work for an hour. I pull it out of my handbag, struggle with the controls but it’s there, and it is obvious to me that the way I look at the world is very different to the way I look at the world when I have a camera in my hand. The basics don’t change, and I can do Av, Tv, Manual, depending on what takes my fancy. I find that high ISO has improved beyond all recognition but then, let’s face it, ten years have passed. It would want to have. 

I don’t remember missing the camera for the last 2 and a half years. I only know that when I had it with me today and I was out taking photographs, the world felt different to how it feels when I go out for any other reason. It’s easier to get lost in the moment. 

A lot of the photographs I took in the past depended on serious zoom capabilities. I don’t have that any more. I want to live in a world where I use that camera, and work within its limitations. I have no doubt that at some point, I will get frustrated by the lack of 500mm.

But it has been fantastic to be back dealing with Adobe RAW and digital negatives. It is like a friend has come back. 

Cold days in December

Today I added yet another sport to the list of sports I have tried. Today I tried curling.

Now, to be honest, when I woke this morning, I did not say “I must try curling”. I said “Where is all that bleeding snow MeteoLux has promised and why am I not seeing a blizzard”.  But life turns out interestingly, and somehow, I accidentally wound up trying curling.


The new transport system went into operation in Luxembourg today – this means a brand new tram, a brand new funicular and all sorts of changes to the buses and rail system. The current changes don’t suit me at the moment – I’m moving from a direct bus to a bus and change to tram which is ludicrous for a 2km journey but sometime next year the tram will extend to where I live and I will have a direct tram journey to work which will be handy if somewhat sweaty for the height of summer. Today it was somewhere approximating the depths of winter as it snowed all morning and this evening, we’ve got gales to look forward to.

Anyway, here’s the funicular. It takes a minute to go from top to bottom and vice versa.



And here’s a video of the trip up with some arty out of focus sections.


I had trouble getting the video to work on the way down.

The tram was running, and to be frank, was packed but I suspect in part that’s because all of the useful buses have been re-routed.


Tram in the winter sun.


As part of their celebration stuff, they set up Luxembourg Curling club with a temporary (plastic) curling rink and you could have a go, if you were so inclined. I had a go. I had several goes. I have looked up the Olympic curling set up to see if I could like, compete for Ireland and it transpires I need four other Irish people with an interest in curling.

That might be a tall order. My options for Olympic greatness continue to be limited.

But curling is compelling.  It’s basically simple. Stand here, and give this circular stone thing an almighty shove up the rink and hope for the best that you get it into the circles. It took me 4 goes to shove it hard enough but so what. It was fun. In fact, I don’t know why it was fun given how simple it is. But it’s more fun than Candy Crush, that is for sure.

There is a curling club in Luxembourg. I’m going to join as the bunch who were there this afternoon were great fun, mad supportive and dead helpful. And they let me have quite a few goes.


CFL, Luxembourg National Railways, also had an ice sculptor in.



After all that excitement, I went off to Auchan (on the tram) (which was packed) to do my my grocery shopping in a shopping centre which was not that busy so I was in and out quickly. I also bought one Christmas present and looked at a watch which I want but will have to save up for.

Walking around a winter wonderland

It snowed in Luxembourg this morning.


It was a rather lovely, peaceful snowy scene in the park near my apartment this morning so I took a walk around it before going in search of furniture. I wandered over to the lift down to Pfaffenthal but that was closed for some reason. I don’t know why.

This is what you could see from the Ville Haute near the lift anyway so you got the view even if you couldn’t get into the viewing platform.


The bridge is called the Charlotte or the Red Bridge. I think they like the colour idea because the new bridge in the city centre is called the Blue Bridge. It was built because the main bridge, called the Adolphe Bridge, is in need of serious repair so it had to be closed. Imagine, if you will, closing O’Connell Bridge and building a temporary replacement almost right next to it. That’s what the Luxembourgers appeared to do.


The glassy thing on the left is the elevator.

Anyway, flickr is not cooperating with me right now so I might add other photographs later.

Coldwater pleasures


Probably one of my favourite kite photographs of all time. Sometimes it doesn’t feel so long again but it was taken in 2009 and that means it is more than five years since I was seriously taking kite photographs.