Ireland Theme #2: All Kinds of Signs

Here is a post I’ve been sitting on for a while. It’s been nagging me that it’s been sitting in my “drafts” folder, so I’m finally getting around to pulling it together and posting, only about a month late.

I love photographing signs when I travel. I just love signs. I think they say a lot about a place. Of course, by definition they tell about a place – where you are, or where something else is.

But they can also tell more than just what the words say.

They can demonstrate language differences, (like “yield” vs. “give way”).

They can show if a place is bilingual (Ireland has two national languages, Irish and English) or if it’s monolingual (like the Gaeltacht areas of Ireland that use Gaelic as their primary language).

They also tell about what kind of dangers lie ahead, or what kinds of animals to watch out for.

And some signs are just bizarre. Those are usually my favorite kinds.

But I love all kinds of signs, because each one can tell you something a little more about a place. And that is why my memory card often ends up full of photos of them!


Bricks of Boston

One of the things I love about old cities are the cobblestone and brick walkways. Chicago is too new of a city to have much of that, but in Europe and in some older East Coast cities, I always find myself amazed at how cool they are.

Here’s a shot of a brick sidewalk I took while in Boston last weekend.









Making Memories or Photographing Them? They’re Two Different Things.

My head and memory card are both filled with things I need to post here ever since I’ve been back from Ireland but just haven’t gotten around do. I will make time to get all caught up, but today isn’t the day. Instead, I’m going to completely change gears and try to get up some posts from this past weekend’s trip to Boston and Fenway Park!

But even before I get to the photos, I wanted to reflect on one of my personal struggles as a “photographer”, photo lover, and traveler. I love to see the world, experience new things, and to try to capture as many memorable sights, signs, people, and views as I can. But I’ve come to find that sometimes seeing the world, experiencing new things, and capturing great photos can actually become at odds with one another.

Sometimes I think about what it might be like to travel someplace completely free of all things weighing me down. Just grab my ID and credit card and go. In some ways is sounds so liberating. But then I catch myself thinking, what about my camera! I need to photograph all the amazing things I do and see while I’m travelling so freely.

And sometimes seeing the world through a camera lens is completely different than seeing it with your own eyes. I’m finding the better I get with the settings on my camera, the harder I’m concentrating on the photo itself, rather than the amazing setting that is creating such a photo. I’m fumbling with shudder speeds and f-stops while missing the bird fly by or the moment the real memory takes place.

But it’s not just something I struggle with since I’ve gotten my new camera. I had this problem even when it was just my point-and-shoot. I want to capture the people I was with, the things I saw, the food I ate. And suddenly before I know it, I spent half my time snapping away, rather than just taking it all in.

This past weekend while in Boston, I had a few instances where I didn’t take photos of everything I wanted to. Some by choice, some by necessity. And it was an uneasy feeling. Some of the missed opportunities left me disappointed. Others made me proud of myself for just living, rather than capturing.

Here are a few examples:

1. My very first time ever seeing Fenway Park, I didn’t have my “fancy camera”.* The tickets for the game said no bags allowed in the park. In fear of not being let into the game, I left my camera bag at the hotel. I did, however, manage to fit my point-and-shoot in my wristlet, so I wasn’t completely without a camera. But everywhere I looked when I first arrived at Fenway, sights screamed out to me of photos begging to be taken. Things I could have zoomed in on, backgrounds begging to be blurred, details desperate to be in focus. They were everywhere. And I was helpless do to anything about it.

Of course, I took a few shots with my Little Camera (by the way, I’ve come to refer to the Rebel as “Fancy Camera” and the PowerShot as “Little Camera”). But, eventually I tried to control the urge to want to get every detail of Fenway Park captured on “film”, convincing myself that the memories in my head are more important than trying to pretend I’m going to capture some shot no one before me, in the history of the oldest baseball stadium has never taken.

Plus, it kept my hands free for cheering for the Cubs!

2. I missed getting a photo with an old friend I haven’t seen in 7 years. While in Boston, I had a chance to meet up with a friend who I met back in 2004, when I was her summer camp counselor at Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development. She’s been in Boston for college for 4 years now, and I kept telling her I’d come visit her. Ironically, I made it out to Boston just one week before she graduates.

Needless to say, it was great seeing her and catching up a little. It had been so long, and we’ve both changed so much. And normally when I see people, I like to get a picture of us together. Especially in this case, where we hadn’t seen each other in so long, and I’m not sure when I will get to see her again. But for some reason, I never took my camera out of my pocket. There is no physical record of our visit together. And I’m kind of bummed about that.

3. Sometimes you need to be spontaneous, and that may mean sacrificing the camera. Saturday morning of our trip, we had planned to get up early, grab some breakfast, and head over to the Sam Adams brewery before the game. We’d heard that on Saturdays you need to get there early or there can be quite a wait. So, we had the best intentions of getting an early start on our day.

Bet you can’t guess what actually happened? Yep. We overslept. So, disheartened, we decided to give up on Sam Adams, and just go straight to breakfast, then come back to the hotel to shower and figure out what to do before the game.

Well, on the way back from breakfast, as we walked pasted the T station, I think we all got the same idea at the same time. If we skipped going back to the hotel and got on the train right then, we might make it to Sam Adams after all.

In the spirit of adventure, we decided to go for it. Unshowered, and more importantly, unequipped with my camera, we dashed toward the train in hopes to make it in time. In the end, we made it. We didn’t scare anyone away with our unwashed hair and frumpy outfits, and I still enjoyed my beer and my tour without documenting the whole experience.

In the end, this whole revelation isn’t going to change my behaviors too much. I’m still going to take my Fancy Camera with me when I travel. I’m still going to keep my Little Camera in my purse with me at all times.

But what it has taught me is that it’s okay on those times where I don’t have my camera, or I don’t take it out. I will still survive. And perhaps in some ways I can make the experience even better by just taking it all in, instead of worrying about the photos I am missing.

*I did, however, end up bringing my Fancy Camera into the park on Saturday night. Friday, on the way out of the game, I spotted a girl with my exact same camera bag, and I decided it would have been okay to bring in after all. So, the next day, that’s what I did. 

Ireland Theme #1: Flowers

I’ve been going through my Ireland photos more slowly than I normally would. I’m still really overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. But I’m just about done creating a “Best of Ireland” album on Picasa, containing the ones I think either turned out particularly well, or the ones I think my friends or family may be interested in.

However, choosing the ones to post to my blog is a bit of a different task. I am trying to select photos that either show my growth, or demonstrate some learning opportunities.

As I mentioned in my first post when I got back, I realized I can group many of the photos I took into a few categories. I thought it might be fun to post a series of photos from each of those categories.

Last night I started with flowers. I think photos of flowers, for the most part, can be kind of boring. So I tried really hard to capture them from a unique angle or in a light that makes them slightly more interesting. In some cases, I think I succeeded. In other cases, not so much.

Below are some photos of flowers and other cool plants I saw along the way. Included are photos from the Dingle Peninsula, the flower garden at Kylemore Abbey, the rocks and cliffs at Giant’s Causeway, and a sunny day in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

P.S. I apologize if this page takes forever to load. The files are pretty big and there are a lot of them. I would edit them down, but I’m tired of making decisions right now.