How I took that shot – by Gráinne Davies

I was trying to do something different for a still life project I was doing and decided to photograph some oil droplets. You get very resourceful with still life photography and just have to look around the house for props, lighting and let your imagination run free.


The set up I used was very simple........

  • Put some water into a glass bowl then add some oil (olive oil/vegetable oil) into the water
  • Add a few drops of washing up liquid to separate the oil droplets.
  • I used a small home studio kit set up on a table in front of a north facing window. If you don’t have a studio kit then just use white/black card (depending on the set up you want).
  • Lift the bowl up a bit (say 10 inches) and set it up onto something so that the bowl is risen up from the surface beneath.
  • Place coloured paper/card/wrapping paper etc on the base below the bowl so this will act as the background but you won’t want this in focus in your shot.
  • Lighting the scene – I used some LED bicycle lights to light the oil from beneath.
  • Set your camera up on tripod and point the camera downwards so that it is pointing directly down towards the oil.
  • Use manual control and manually focus on the area you want as the focal point.
  • Make sure not to use a small aperture of say F22 as you don’t want the background paper in focus, it’s just there to add a background colour.

Image-No.-2-beforePhotoshop changes - This is the original image which I shot in RAW. I used Auto White Balance but later changed it to tungsten in Photoshop as I preferred the blue colouration in the image. I just tidied the image up with some erasing and cloning to remove dust spots and the Pyrex lettering at the end of the bowl. I adjusted the sharpness (unsharp mask) and that’s it.

Check out Google images and Youtube for more tips and help as there is loads of information there and above all HAVE FUN!!!

Technical Details:
Canon 50D camera
Canon 60mm macro lens
F6.3, 1/13 seconds, ISO 250.


How I took that shot by Finbarr O’Shea

Full Moon Guileen.I took this shot last October, on one of my regular visits to Guileen - a small village located in south eastern coast of Ireland about 20 min. drive from Midleton and 5 min drive from Whitegate in Co. Cork. I was very lucky that day to see a beautiful sunset and full moon.

I used a Canon 5D mark 2 with a Canon EF16-35mm 2.8L lens. I also used a Cokin 121, 3 stops graduated neutral density filter to balance the contrast of the scene, a tripod, and shutter release cable. I locked up the mirror to reduce camera shake.

Camera was set on manual exposure at ISO 100 for 30 sec. at f8. Focal length was 35mm. The image was shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom 4 where I made slight adjustments to contrast, sharpening etc.


How I took that shot – by Anthony O’Connor

Anthony O'Connor's stunning underwater shot of a diver is certainly one that most photographers won't ever get a chance to take. Some would say it's hard enough to take a good shot whilst on terra firma not to mention underwater where staying alive might be the top priority! Anthony tells the story of how it came about:


"I took the image in August 2003 on a dive at the Bills Rock. The rock is located approximately 8 miles west of Achill Island and is regarded as one of the best dive sites on the Irish coast. It rises 40 metres above the water and below the water there is a vertical wall down to a depth of 50 metres, which is covered in marine life".

"The image was taken on the ascent at a depth of about 10 metres in natural light".

"The original shot was in colour but was very green. This is because colours are lost from the spectrum as you descend in water, i.e. red, orange and yellow all disappear beyond about 10 metres below the surface. Flash isn’t really an option unless the shot is close up or in crystal clear water, as flash light is reflected off suspended particles in the water causing specks in the image, known as backscatter".

"I converted the image to black & white, adjusted the sharpness and contrast slightly and cropped it so that the anchor line was in the corner of the frame".

Technical Details:
Camera: Canon Powershot A20 in a waterproof housing
Aperture: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/60

See more of Anthony's images here.


“This is a Slide” – Mick Fenton Educates the Group

Mick Fenton

I thought I was reliving my childhood when I walked into the group's meeting at The Midleton Park Hotel on Tuesday 12/3/13. Taking pride of place in the center of the room was a slide projector set up on a projector stand and aimed at a portable projection screen at the top of the room. Several full slide magazines were arranged underneath the projector and a power cable snaked along the floor. Yes, I could have been 5 years old again as this was a common scene at home, once or twice a year back in the 60's, when we would all gather for a slide show and giggle at the sight of our own faces and those of family and friends projected large in front of us. Even then, we were aware of the magic of these shows. The clarity and sheer size of the images as well as the cinematic feel of the darkened room, even if it was our kitchen, lent an air of a special occasion to those times.

It would have been a familiar scene to the owner of all this equipment too. Mick Fenton, a founding member of ECCG, grew up in the same era as me and was treated to similar slide shows by a neighbour which instilled in Mick a lifelong passion for photography which he still enjoys over forty years later.

When ECCG was founded in 2000, there was one member with a digital camera. Today, Mick Fenton is the only member still shooting film, not because he refuses to 'progress' but rather because his love of film and the images it produces is stronger than all the hype and advertising that has converted the rest of us. It was with a sense of great expectation then that we looked forward to this talk and slideshow by a man whose photographic integrity is intact. To add to the air of a special occasion, two more of the four co-founders of the group, John Joe Joyce and the current chairman, Tom Tattan, were also in attendance. Unfortunately the remaining co-founder, Pat Walsh, was unable to attend.

Tom Tattan got proceedings underway. He spoke about the early days of the group when the magic of the darkroom was what it was all about and the efforts that were made by the founding members to get the group off the ground. He expressed his delight at having a 'photographic purist' like Mick to share his knowledge with the group and gave him the floor.

Mick spoke briefly of the testing time it was when the group was being set up. A group was originally suggested over dinner, after a shoot, in Kenmare on a bank holiday Monday and those present agreed that they'd give it a go. They contacted Mary Tobin and Liam Supple who were then secretary and chairman, respectively, of the Dungarvan camera club who gave them direction and invited the Midleton contingent to their annual exhibition a few weeks later. Following the exhibition, an extended meeting of the founding members was held in a nearby restaurant where they proceeded to clean the place out of tea and scones over several hours as they debated and decided on the path which they would follow in setting up the group. From those humble beginnings the group went on and is still around and vibrant today.

Mick attributed its success to the commitment of the officers and members of the group over the years. "It was an honour and privilege for me to have been chairman of the group for several years. The group is only as strong, not as the officers are, but as the members are - if the commitment comes from the floor, the officers are under pressure to organise, research and step up to fulfill the requirements of the group", he said. The group made good contacts in neighbouring clubs around the country which was a fantastic help. He also paid tribute to the many professional photographers who were prepared to share their knowledge with them over the years.

Explaining his own love of the film medium, Mick acknowledged that digital was a fantastic medium too. He recalled an old photographer who refused to move from slide film to digital who compared both to oven cooked and microwaved meals: "there's nothing wrong with a microwaved dinner", he said, "but you can't beat sitting down to an oven cooked one!". Mick acknowledged that photography is a personal thing - what one person likes, another might not and that's fine.

This is a Slide!

Leading in to his slideshow, Mick looked at his audience, held up a small square of plastic and announced "This is a slide" and proceeded to educate the people before him on the whole process of slide photography, many of whom had never shot slide film or any film for that matter. The slideshow consisted of over 100 images of landscapes, seascapes, portraits and macro all shot on Fuji Velvia slide film using a Canon EOS3 camera (that has no LCD screen at the back!).


The images were, without fail, sharp, well exposed, well composed and had clarity and deep colours rarely seen in other media. For this post, I have scanned some of the images for the digital slideshow below but must say upfront that the scanning process has done no favours to the images. Highlights are blown out, shadows have gone to complete black with some softness introduced where none existed. That said I hope this will give you an idea of the treat we were afforded by Mick who has kindly offered to have some of his images properly scanned for future posts on this site. Mouse over the image below to activate the slideshow controls.


Mick gave the the back story to all the images but with the caveat "what happened in Prague, stays in Prague!".

Tom Tattan thanked Mick for his effort and help over the years and for the fantastic slideshow and insight he gave to the group. All adjourned to discuss matters further over refreshments afterwards.

Photos from the night: Dave Edmunds

See more images from the group here.


How I took that shot – by Karen Fleming

The winner In our recent ‘Food’ competition was Karen Fleming with her homely coffee cup image. Here, in the second of our 'How I took that shot' series, Karen explains how she created this image (click to enlarge).

Winning image by Karen Fleming

"To come up with the food shot I thought to myself what is my favorite thing that I like to indulge myself with? The answer was simple enough - a nice cup of coffee accompanied by cake! Since Irish weather does not lend itself to alfresco lattes, I had to work indoors, and where is nicest place to enjoy such a treat besides out in warm sun? Curled up in front of a blazing fire!"

"This gave me a general idea for the shot set up. As I was using the theme of 'homely / fire', I wanted to portray the element of "home made" in my shot so I borrowed the coffee grinder and bean sack from a friend".

"With all the elements at hand, I began to set up the shot. I put the coffee table in front of the fire in a dark room to cancel out all other ambient light and bring out the detail and colour in the firelight itself. One of the biggest challenges was to find a shutter speed that would be slow enough to bring the firelight into the shot and fast enough to hold some detail in the flames without them blurring totally. There was a lot of trial and error to get the right look".

"I set the camera on a tripod and at ISO 100, I chose f22 to give me depth of field through the shot. I tried a few different shutter speeds to get a feel for where the fire was casting light onto the table and the objects on it. Looking at the results of these I could then see where I needed to start adding in extra light to my image".

"To achieve this additional lighting, I put a flexible desk lamp on the left and a flash head on the right fitted with a snoot so as to concentrate the light from that side onto a specific area in the image. I only used the modeling light of the flash head and not the actual flash itself. This could have been achieved just as well with a second desk lamp, fitted with a home made cardboard cone for a snoot".

"Now I had ambient light in the background from the fire and fill-in lighting coming from both sides, so all that was left now was to add some light from the front to highlight some of the details. For this I used my LED ring light, which attaches to the front of the lens. This is a continuous light source that can be switched from full ring to half ring, left or right as desired. They are designed for, and I use it mainly for, macro photography. They are available for about St£30 online".

"All set up, I left my camera on f22 and tried different shutter speeds to see the effects I was getting. Too slow was bringing in too much light and too fast was not enough light. Two seconds gave me exactly what I wanted".

Technical Details:
Canon 5d mk 1. Sigma 105mm macro lens.
ISO 100, f22 at 2 seconds.
Levels and Curves adjusted slightly.

See more of Karen's images here.