South Beach Lifeguard Stands at Sunrise

10th Street Lifeguard Stand at Sunrise

One of a string of unique and colorful lifeguard stands on South Beach in Miami, Florida

For spring break this year, we decided to go as far south as we could reasonably drive in search of warmer weather. It doesn’t get that cold in Atlanta, but, still, after a few months of temperatures hovering around freezing and occasionally dropping well below freezing, sunshine and the beach always sound pretty good. After a good bit of research we settled on a place in North Miami Beach. I wanted to stay away from some of the craziness of South Beach but still be close enough to enjoy it a bit.

So, I took a couple of visits to South Beach at sunrise to see if I could capture the lifeguard stands there in warm, early morning light. My first attempt was a bust because of overcast conditions and a triathlon taking place that day. The second attempt was much more successful. I would have preferred to have a few more clouds in the sky, but I’m still pretty pleased with the results. All of Miami Beach is beautiful, but the lifeguard stands from 22nd Street and southward in general are pretty cool. They are in an Art Deco style consistent with the architecture found in the rest of South Beach. It’s definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in the vicinity. Enjoy.

8th Street Lifeguard Station at Sunrise

One of a string of unique and colorful lifeguard stands on South Beach in Miami, Florida

Dingle Door

Dingle Door

A wonderful painted door in the quaint little town of Dingle

I love shooting architecture. I suppose it’s the symmetry that draws my eye to it. And when you add a pop of color, I’m *really* drawn to architecture. Such is the case with this door that we found in the town of Dingle. It’s a small town but crammed full of pubs, shops, and houses close by each other. Although there are plenty of pretty sights, this door popped out because of its paint scheme. Enjoy!

Ennis Doorway

Ennis Doorway

A beautiful, weathered door in Ennis, Ireland

Whenever I travel to a beautiful place whether for work or for pleasure, I like to get up early in the morning and roam the area I’m staying in at sunrise. Oftentimes, there are very few people on the streets and the light can be wonderful. Such was the case while we were staying in Ennis. I got up both mornings very early and just walked the streets seeing what I could see.

As you have probably deduced if you’ve been following this blog for long, I love to take shots of architecture. I don’t know what it is about doors, windows, steeples, building facades, etc. but architecture simply catches my eye. On this beautiful summer morning in western Ireland, I had the town to myself. When I saw this old weathered door on an equally worn, weathered building I simply had to capture it. The ivy, fading and peeling blue paint, and rotting trim all combine to make a beautiful image to my eye. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Alexander Knox and Co.

Alexander Knox and Co.

A wonderful pub in Ennis, Ireland featuring traditional Irish music

I mentioned earlier that we were based in Ennis, County Clare for two nights while we were in Ireland. Although we weren’t in Ennis for most of the daylight hours, we were there in the evenings. Of course we were looking for a place to eat and – since we were in Ireland – a good place to listen to traditional Irish music. Knox’s turned out to be just the place we were looking for in Ennis. Traditional pub food, locals hanging out, and traditional Irish music just inside the front door. We spent a couple of enchanting evenings just hanging out with friends and being immersed in a bit of Irish culture.

The exterior of Knox’s is actually red and black, but I like the way this black and white image turned out as well. It adds a bit of timeless beauty to the scene, at least in my mind. Enjoy.

Quin Abbey

Quin Abbey

One of hundreds of ruined abbeys scattered across the Irish countryside

After we left Dublin our next stop was Ennis in County Clare in the west of Ireland. Ennis is a pretty little village with some great pubs and conveniently located for day trips. Due to some last-minute changes in our itinerary we wound up with a free day in Ennis. Some of our group headed out to the Cliffs of Moher and to the Connemara region. Since we would be visiting both areas later in our trip, we decided to make an afternoon excursion to some nearby sights.

It became apparent fairly quickly that the local bus system was not our best option. Fortunately, we asked around and found a taxi that could take us to a couple of local destinations of interest. Well, they were of interest to us at least. Neither abbey that we visited was exactly a tourist mecca. At Quin Abbey we saw one other group of three while we were there. At Clare Abbey near Ennis we scared off a group of teenage boys who were engaged in something nefarious enough that they scattered as soon as they saw us approaching. Other than that we had the abbeys to ourselves.

The crazy thing is that these abbeys were built in 1195 and 1402. Think about that. No European – other than some Vikings potentially, but that’s another story – would even set foot in the New World until ninety years after the “new” abbey had begun construction. Yet, these beautiful old structures are just scattered around the countryside with cows sometimes wandering within their walls. In America they would all be visitor attractions with paid admissions and endowments to cover their maintenance costs. Don’t get me wrong. I think the Irish cherish these structures. There are just so many of them that you can’t love them all equally.

It certainly helps that the Irish built these abbeys out of stone and not out of wood. The structures have certainly stood the test of time. Wood buildings just don’t have much of a chance to last for close to a thousand years without some painstaking care and maintenance.

Although it had been rainy or threatening rain for much of the day, the skies broke open a bit while we were at Quin Abbey. I spent a delightful twenty minutes or so composing a shot and waiting for the right combination of blue sky, cloud formations, and direct sunlight on Quin Abbey. I love the lush colors of green in the field and trees as a contrast to the blue sky, white clouds, and wonderful brown gray of the local stone. I think it makes for a beautiful scene. I hope you do as well. Enjoy.

Red Door in Dublin

Red Door in Dublin

One of a seemingly endless stream of beautiful doors in Dublin, Ireland

Although I captured many elegant Georgian doors while strolling through Dublin, this simple red one is my favorite. I was actually just crossing from one neighborhood to another and in a bit of a rough area when I stumbled across this door. It isn’t fancy or surrounded by stately architecture, but it is beautiful. The vibrant red paint contrasts beautifully with the brick that has been painted and worn down over the decades. Enjoy.

Mount Street Bicycle and Doors

Mount Street Bicycle and Doors

A street scene from Mount Street near Dublin’s Merrion Square

While wandering around near Merrion Square I spent most of my time taking pictures of doors. I have a project in mind that I’ve toyed with and hopefully will be able to post soon. To give you just a bit of a taste of the look and feel of the area I’ve selected this image. These doors are fairly typical of the architecture in the area as are the casings and the ironwork. The bicycle just adds a bit of local flavor to the image. Enjoy.

Looking Toward St. Stephen’s Church

Looking Toward St. Stephen's Church

Dublin’s Mount Street Upper looking toward St. Stephen’s Church

Pamela and I enjoy checking off the most-visited sites in a location as much as anyone, but we also enjoy just wandering around. Once we had hit the highlights that we had noted for our Dublin visit, we spent an afternoon just wandering around the neighborhood around Merrion Square.

We were motivated to explore the area by a series of posters that we saw in gift shops that displayed doors in Dublin. The doors were mostly Georgian style but had been painted bright colors and were surrounded by some beautiful carvings and iron work. I can’t remember exactly how, but we determined that many of those doors were likely in the area around Merrion Square.

As it turned out, our deductive powers were on target and we found ourselves immersed in a row of gorgeous town homes or row homes that had been constructed in the Georgian style. It seemed that we had been transported back 250 years to an era where King George ruled in Ireland and in America. Fortunately, Dubliners take great pride in these architectural masterpieces and they are well-preserved even today.

As we walked down Mount Street Upper Pamela noted the absence of cars and how it felt as if we were on a movie set. Now, here is a good place to point out that many of my best images were really spotted by my beautiful bride. She spots the shot. I carry the camera. Shot is taken. Voilà! Nice image (sometimes) emerges. In this case, it *did* look like we were on a movie set. *And* there was a lovely moody sky overhead. I don’t know if I knew it just then for certain, but this shot was destined to be presented in black and white.

I don’t process a lot images in black and white, but occasionally an image lends itself to that look and feel. This is a good example of that. The texture of the street, the lines of the architecture, the symmetry of the buildings, and the lovely cottony sky all contribute to this image’s look and feel. I’ll continue on with our journey through Ireland. But, for now, enjoy this scene.

Sphere in Trinity College Courtyard

Trinity College Courtyard

A sphere by the Italian sculptor, Pomodoro, graces the courtyard of Trinity College

We visited Ireland for two separate but equally important reasons. The primary instigator for our trip was that Pamela earned an incentive trip for both of us to spend six days on the Emerald Isle. But, the reason that we extended our trip for six additional days was that we both had discussed visiting there for many years. While working for First Union National Bank (now Wells Fargo), Pamela had an employee named Una who was originally from Ireland. She talked constantly of the beauty of her native land and instilled in us a deep desire to visit.

Now no visit to Ireland is truly complete without visiting Dublin. I suppose some would say that it’s just another big city. After studying a bit of Irish history, though, I would find it difficult to say that I had truly experienced Ireland without spending at least a bit of time in Dublin. Fortunately, Dublin did not disappoint. We spent two full days exploring much of the inner city and enjoying quite a few of her pubs and restaurants. I was ready to move on and experience the countryside but I very much enjoyed spending time in Dublin.

One of the must see attractions in Dublin is Trinity College and the Book of Kells. The Book is a beautiful and early example of a manuscript illustrated by monks that preserved books of the Bible. I’m sure that the monks illuminated other works, but the Book of Kells is a gorgeous example of the painstaking work that the monks took to preserve the scriptures.

While queued up to visit the exhibit I had a few minutes to explore the courtyard of one of the quads of Trinity College. My eye was immediately drawn to this fantastic sculpture by the Italian sculptor, Pomodoro. Although not a landscape that I normally shoot, I love the warm tones, the geometric designs, and the way the sphere complements the otherwise cold courtyard interior. It took quite a while to click a frame or two with no people in the shot, but after twenty minutes or so I managed to do so. Within two or three seconds of this shot there were a dozen people surrounding the sphere! So, enjoy this moment frozen in time with the coast clear!

Hore Abbey

Hore Abbey

Hore Abbey as viewed from the Rock of Cashel

An unanticipated result from our visit to the Rock of Cashel was the view of Hore Abbey in the valley below. As soon as I saw the abbey sitting in the surrounding pasture I was captivated by the sight. Adding to the beauty of the scene were the wonderful cloud formations floating majestically above.

Taking this shot turned out to be difficult, though. There is a fairly significant wall surrounding the Rock of Cashel. It appeared to be trivial to walk up to the wall and take my shot over the top of it. As it turned out the wall was just higher than I could stand even on the tips of my toes – and I’m 6’3″ tall! Finally, I found a relatively low spot in the wall and a large rock that I could use as a short stepladder. I balanced rather precariously on my perch and tried to hold my camera steady in order to capture a series of images. Fortunately, my balance held and I was able to grab the shots.

After we exited the Rock of Cashel we were able to drive to the approach road of the abbey and walk to it. I was certain that I would get an even better image the closer I approached. Alas, that turned out to be a false premise. The abbey walls are quite high and the perspective from the fields surrounding it was not nearly as impressive as the one from the overlooking hill. I’m glad I took this shot while I had the chance! Enjoy.