Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sherkin Island Artist in the Community Workshop 23 Nov 2008

Our next Artist in the community workshop on Sherkin will be at 2pm, Sunday 23rd November

At the last workshop participants learned how to use a pinhole camera and saw that you can arrive at some pretty amazing images with very basic technology.

At the next workshop we will look more closely at how this process works using a studio pinhole camera.

We will be using a late 19th century studio camera manufactured by Patrick Meagher, Southampton Bow, London.

I would like to use the camera for what it was intended - portraiture -

Participants please take a few moments between now and then to think how you would like to be photographed, bearing in mind that you will need to be still for around 5 seconds!

The Meagher camera design had a movable back focusing screen connected by a bellows to a lens board. For storage the back was moved by rack and pinion to the front and the hinged baseboard lifted up to protect the focusing screen and if present a side gate was swung across to protect everything that was secured in position with a slotted strut and screw.

p247 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography, John Hannavy, 2008

This is quite a unique camera and we are fortunate to have it on loan from Alison Trim.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II

Photos by Marc Holden

Click on the image above to see full size view

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II

Photos by Calvin Jones

Click on the images above to see full size view

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II - We did it!

Photo by Marc Holden
Yes, indeed we did!

We had a great team. There were two boats carrying a total of 14 volunteers - 3 were documenting the spectacle using still and video cameras and 11 were torchbearers. Ashore, we had another still and video camera team with a driver to take them to pre-identified locations and we had 3 torchbearers ashore to light up key landmarks.

Myself, Chantelle Stewart & John Harrison had worked hard all day visiting the locations by land and by sea. The sping tides meant a very low - low water, so it took three attempts before we could do a walk through of all the locations. In the meantime we were back at the house putting together a plan, documenting it and getting ready for the team to assemble.

We had a team briefing at 4:30 pm , where I explained the concept for Epiphany , Chantelle then gave a brief introduction to sustainable public lighting and the actions of guerrilla lighting in Dublin, a detailed plan of the lighting design, which was presented very much like a play with different scenes, was given to everybody with the press release and then I went through all the safety considerations. People were assigned boats, everyone was given a buddy to work with and everyone was checked for lifejacket and personal torch.

We were at the pier at 5:15 and headed down to Church Strand in twilight. This is where it became magical. As darkness descended, we entered a different environment where you become sensitised to the sound and smell of the sea.

We took up our positions and were ready to go at 6pm. The cameras were having difficulty focussing, as the boats were only lit with domestic torches, we were reserving our main beams as much as we could because the battery lasts only 20 minutes.

Then Chantelle blew the first horn signaling to all of us to commence the first scene and turn on our torches, minutes later we got the signal to turn off the power and get ready for the next shot. And that is how we went from scene to scene , we had some small difficulty in communicating with the shore, but this was quickly remedied.

It all flowed in a very slow and measured manner. There was an undercurrent of nervousness that gave way to excitement that became more palpable as the shoot progressed. ... and then were done, we finished about 7:30pm and headed back to Baltimore pier.

Not all the torch batteries had been exhausted, so on the way back we lit each other up and became stars in our own private spectacle.

What a night - making soul memories. Thanks to everyone.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II

Photo by Marc Holden

Photo by Calvin Jones

The Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II

Yesterday I teamed up with lighting designer Chantelle Stewart and a band of volunteer torchbearers, photographers and videographers to light an abandoned fishing boat at Church Strand, Baltimore, Co. Cork.

The Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II, which is lying beam on in the mud at Church Strand, Baltimore, was illuminated in a multi-coloured display symbolising the realisation of a moment of destiny – the vessel will never put to sea again, she will never fish again. The hopes and dreams of those who built her and fished her are dashed.

I pass these fishing boats every day and they are such a sad sight as they lie crippled in the mud, that I felt I had to do something to mark their demise, I got in touch with Chantelle and she immediately saw the potential for a strong visual display.

High powered torches and coloured filters were used to light the fishing boat in an exercise that required meticulous planning, taking into account weather, tides, sunset and moonrise. Volunteers were taken by RIB from the pier at Baltimore to Church Strand, where different lighting displays were directed at the stricken vessel. The Mulroy Bay II's final resting place, beneath the graveyard at Tullagh, added further pathos to the scene.

The decline of the fishing industry has had a huge cultural, social and economic impact on small communities such as Baltimore and this event touched a chord with many. The project got great support from the local community and there was no shortage of volunteers.

Stewart, from Ballybofey, Co Donegal but now working in Dublin, has been active in public lighting display for several years. Last Month she staged Guerrilla Lighting Dublin in the capital, speaking of this event she said ‘it's great to come out to Baltimore and help a community use lighting design to create something that speaks of the history of the people of Cork".

The Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II will be exhibited at the West Cork Arts Centre next Spring and online at and

A big thank you to all involved!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

High Dynamic Range Imaging

Taking good photographs in the dark at a distance over water is not easy. I discussed this with Marc Holden in advance of the epiphany shoot. He referred me to the technique of HDR and a great online tutorial by Trey Ratcliff

HDR is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of exposures (the range of values between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDR is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.

This method was developed to produce a high dynamic range image from a set of photographs taken with a range of exposures.

You can see from the images above that HDR can capture distant, dark images very well. This technique is perfect for the epiphany shoot and I am looking forward to seeing the results.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gillian Kenny

Earlier this year, I had begun to expieriment with screen printing using a photo sensitive mask. This was ideal for use with photo negatives /found objects and it is something I want to return to in the future.

An artist I will reference before beginning again is Gillian Kenny
Gillian Kenny: New Work , Phatory Gallery, New York, 9 September - 2 October 2004
Gilian Kenny: Bins , oil and acrylic silkscreen on steel, 15.5 x 22 cm; courtesy the artist

"The realistic nature of photography has unfortunately led the medium to be associated with pragmatic truth, where each supposedly functions as a given of the other. Gillian Kenny chips away at this long-standing paradox within a series of fifteen pieces that use the silk-screen process to render a different photographic image upon each unframed, steel surface. Suspending her work between perception and depiction, Kenny then scratches or applies paint over these representations, so as to transform the objective to subjective. In the end, these pieces play with machinations of personal memory" (Jill Connor Art Critic NY, RECIRCA 2005)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Epiphany - Location Visit

We went out again today, to look at safety issues on the water.

We have an agreed route for getting past the boats and mooring lines safely, a landing point on the pontoon and an alternate platform if time and weather allow.

Each RIB will have a boat driver and assistant , each has navigation lights, high power torch and VHF.

Above is the alternate view

As well as illuminating the fishing boat we may also light this abandoned church which overlooks the bay

This shot was taken at high water. Note that the superstructure is very submerged. High Water on Saturday will be even higher as it is a Spring tide, so that is why we have the alternate view.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Epiphany - Update 1

I took a good long look at the external exigencies regarding the project and as a result have revised the timeline somewhat.

On 15th November High Water is at 18:21. These are spring tides with a height of 3.6 metres.

Sunset is at 16:28

Moonrise is at 17:47. This will be a waning gibbous moon 95% full.

On the basis of this information it would be much better to start at least an hour earlier. Get everyone in position in twilight. Do the shoot as soon as darkness falls and before the moon rises to high in the sky. The torchlights will primarily be directed in an Easterly direction, so too much moon light could affect the display. The rising moon will make for an easier RIB journey back to the pier.

Revised Plan:

Briefing & Safety Check at Lios na Si 16:oo
Board Ribs at Pier 17:00
Commence Illumination 18:00
Debrief at Lios na Si 19:30

Lastly but most importantly this is all weather dependent. At the moment weather for Saturday is not great, Front crossing Ireland late on Friday night giving F6 SW winds. There is an area of High Pressure to the South so at this early stage I am hoping that it will keep the weather at bay for another 24 hours.

is a great weather resource for this area. Check out the weblink or search for windguru and sherkin to find the nearest station.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Epiphany - The Plan

Its a green light for next weekend, and probably red and blue as well. I have spoken with all the main collaborators and we have a plan in place for next weekend.

We will do a site visit on the water next Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm to finalise torch positions and camera angles.

A briefing will be held at 6pm to ensure that everyone is aware of their role and the different parts each will play. Most important is the safety of everyone concerned, everyone will have a lifejacket and a buddy.

We have two RIBs each with a driver and an assistant to direct light. VHF on board

The ribs will take torchbearers and photographers/videographers to the illumination points.
One VHF for torchbearers.

On land we will have a liaison for shore based viewing/photographers who will also have a VHF. The best viewing point from land will be the road near the graveyard at Tullagh, which overlooks Church Strand.

It is not intended that there be a large viewing audience, but it is essential that good quality photographs and video are taken and that these activate conversation subsequently. Exposure to the press will be important in generating discussion.

Very importantly we will have a Feast of the Epiphany afterward so that we can relax after what will be a very exciting event for those involved. I am tingling already!

The whole event will not take more than half an hour from start to finish

Monday, November 3, 2008

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II - Scoping

These shots were taken today at dusk, with a basic digital camera so images are fairly poor. These are the places I consider most accessible /safest to access. If they are not suitable we will have to go to plan B.

The shot above is taken from the graveyard 180^ from the one below

Graveyard at Tullagh Baltimore

Mulroy Bay II from Graveyard Tullagh

Tullagh Graveyard

Tullagh church taken from the foreshore

Mulroy Bay II - this is the closest we can get on land - I like the angle of presentation.

This is slightly further away, but slightly more accessible.

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II

Epiphany of the Mulroy Bay II

A temporary public spectacle, a collaborative project instigated by artist Sheelagh Broderick and lighting designer Chantelle Stewart of Guerrilla Lighting, with a team of volunteer torchbearers, photographers and videographers.

Abandoned fishing boats at Church Strand, Baltimore are iconographic landmarks of our past and our future.

Why an epiphany?

An epiphany is an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure: a revealing scene or moment symbolic of revelation or insight: it is a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something: an intuitive grasp of reality through an event usually simple and striking usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

An epiphany cannot be planned, this project is contingent on many factors: weather, tides, moonlight and torchlight.