Revolution! Michael Collins

Walk around any of the main Dublin tourist areas and you’ll see 1916.  The major exhibitions/tours at the National Museum and Kilmainham, the GPO and its exhibition, murals and pubs with photos covering their frontages and prominent places named after the leaders – eg Pearse, Connolly and Heuston stations to name a few.  Over recent decades and particularly around the centenary in 2016, the Easter Rising has been elevated to the pivotal event in Irish history leading to independence and the establishment of the Republic.  Less visible, however is the legacy of the War of Independence from 1919-21 and the subsequent civil war between Pro and Anti treaty forces.

Central to this was Michael Collins – holder of various government posts in the revolutionary republic but effectively the mastermind in the guerrilla war against the British and signatory to the treaty establishing the Free State. He is probably the leading figure in modern Irish history yet perhaps due to the treaty and it’s aftermath and his assassination by anti-treaty forces, his presence around the capital city is a bit muted.

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Michael Collins. (Canon T50/Kentmere 400)

There’s no statue or memorial other than this less than flattering bust in Merrion Square alongside Oscar Wilde and Bernardo O’Higgins.

The old British Army barracks was renamed Collins Barracks in 1922 and now houses a main site of the National Museum, but there’s little of his presence at the site other than his name.

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Collins Barracks, National Museum.   (Olympus OM20/Kodak Tri-X)

There is, however a memorial to his chief of staff and future Fine Gael leader, Richard Mulcahy.

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Richard Mulcahy bust, Collin Barracks.  (Olympus OM20/Tri-X)

Ironically, the most prominent site relating to Michael Collins is his grave at the Glasnevin Cemetery just outside the city centre. Vying for the centre of attention among the great and good (and ordinary) of Irish history, Collins’ grave is one of the most visited and tended-to at Glasnevin.

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Michael Collins grave – English script
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Michael Collins grave – Irish script


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Michael Collins grave and headstone, Glasnevin

(all shot on Olympus OM20 and Ilford HP5)
As Ireland prepares for its next round of centenary commemorations, perhaps Michael Collins will be able to find centre stage in the country’s capital.

Suitable for Students. The K1000

The Pentax K1000 is always declared to be the camera to learn photography.  But is it any different from any other manual camera?

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I never owned a K1000 in the analogue days, I was a Praktica user – a fully manual MTL3, a selection of Pentacon primes and a telephoto zoom from Boots.  Yet even then, it was the K1000 if you were serious about learning photography – Zenits and Prakticas were only for those on a budget.

With a rejuvenated interested in film and a mission to acquire cheap stuff from eBay, I still wasn’t tempted by the K1000 due to the often inflated prices compared to similar spec’d cameras from the likes of Chinon and Ricoh.  Then I was given a well used K1000 about to be binned as it didn’t work.  Well it did – the mirror was sticking up  – a squirt of 3-in-one down the wee rod under the baseplate sorted that and I was the finally the owner of a Pentax K1000.

First things first – it doesn’t have the “Asahi” mark above the Pentax on the prism, so it’s obviously one of the later Chinese models – not as good, apparently.  And the lens is an A series f2, again I could’ve done better.  Would it, however,  be the Praktica killer?

Well, it does look nice and doesn’t have the weight of the Praktica and less of a recoil when you press the button.  The lens was pretty sharp across the apertures and the viewfinder clear and uncluttered.

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nicely under-elaborate

There’s a simple + or – for the meter reading. And here is the first niggle with the K1000. The meter is always on through the lens. If you don’t have a lens cap, the battery is going to drain quickly. So I have a lens cap.

And the next .. thing.  The shutter wind lever sits fairly neat with the shutter selector so changing shutter speed isn’t as freely done as it could be.

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Compared to the Ricoh KR5 and it’s lever-resting position for both metering and selecting shutter (albeit with a smal range of speeds) these quirks would surely affect the K1000’s legendary status?

Anyway – would it work with a roll of film.  With a roll of Kentmere 400 loaded, I took a walk around Dublin.

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Pope Merch – Francis was in town
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queueing for the Pope-bound Luas
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others weren’t so bothered about the papal visit
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dublin bikes.  Dublin
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Arlington Hotel – the Celtic Nights show is great craic here

 

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Barrels.  Probably Guinness

 

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Oysters no doubt served here.

So a quick photo walk with the K1000.  And the verdict?  It’s perfectly fine.  The design quirks aside it’s nice to use, looks and feels well and  – well that’s about it for me.  It’s a competent performer, I certainly don’t dislike it and would definitely use it again.  Is it the student camera?  It certainly fits the bill but you’re going to get much better value buying other less celebrated names and at 30/40 years old, reliability is hit and miss with any make.  I’m not going to sell the Prakticas just yet.

Revolution! – Arbour Hill

A century on from the decade when Ireland began the final struggle to gain independance from Britsh rule, a visitor to Dublin will see memorials, museums, experiences and physical reminders of events that have shaped the Ireland of today.  Whatever your take on this chapter of British and Irish history, it’s a rewarding experience to breathe in the history and come to your own conclusions.  The  events from 1916 through to independance are marked throughout the city – the civil war not so much, but we are still a few years from this centenary.

A good starting point is the Arbour Hill cemetery.  A former British military cemetery, it’s also the burial place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, you can get the history on sites like Heritage Ireland.

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Sacred Heart Church, Arbour Hill

While the likes of Kilmainham Gaol, the cemetery at Glasnevin and the GPO Museum are always busy with fully booked guided tours, Arbour Hill is usually deserted.  There’s no entrance fee, no guides (except an occasional free talk at the weekend) and no shop.  Once you pass the church you’re into a fairly staid and unremarkable military cemetery.  Arbour Hill

Then towards the back, there’s the reason Arbour Hill gets visitors.  The executed leaders of the Rising were unceremoniously buried at a British military cemetery seemingly to avoid the martyrdom and pilgrimages that might stoke further unrest.  History of course had other plans for Ireland, and naturally subsequent Irish governments have developed the grave as a remembrance site.

 

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Grave of the 1916 executed leaders
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The text of the Proclamation of Independence in English and Irish

Surrounding the grave site are stones inscribed with the names of those buried – in English and Irish script.  Thomas Clarke, the old man of the Rising, had a floral tribute marking his stone.

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The names in Irish

 

One of the more fascinating characters of the Rising was James Connolly, a Scot of Irish descent, a former Britsh soldier, trade unionist and leader of the Irish Citizen Army.

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Connolly marked by the Starry Plough
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View from the 1916 memorial


Arbour Hill
The 1916 memorial

Arbour Hill is located a bit away from Dublin’s main tourist sites, on a quiet street at the rear of the Collins Barracks Museum.  It is however worth a visit if you’re doing some revolution tourism –  a site of great signifigance in Irish history and you’ve plenty of further options for the tourguides, multimedia displays and souvenir shops.

Photos were taken on a robust (heavy) Hanimex 35SL (a rebadged Chinon CS) a Pallas 35mm lens (never heard of them) using Lomography Earl Grey 100 film.

 

CHAMPIONES!!

It’s all about the winning!!

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Crusaders F.C. win their 3rd title in 4 seasons

It may one of the lower budget sports competitions in Europe, but Northern Ireland’s domestic football league – the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership – is as exciting as any.  I have the privilege of doing the matchday video camera for video analysis and YouTube channel highlights, as well as a bit of photography with Crusaders FC – a fan-owned club in north Belfast. 14 years after nearly going out of business, Crues are one of the top clubs in Ireland. On 28th April 2018, after a neck and neck chase to the title, Crusaders  pipped Coleraine FC to become winners of the Irish Premiership by winning away at Ballymena and also gaining lucrative entry to the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League.

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Manager Stephen Baxter interviewed live on BBC

Most of the players in the league are part-time professional, training 2 or 3 times per week while holding down full time jobs.  There is a strong sense of community within Irish football in midst of all the rivalries as the league competes with round the clock multi-platform coverage of the English Premier league and the other large European leagues.

These photos are of the post-match celebrations on winning the title – taken while also running around with the camcorder videoing the event..

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The final score – equal on points with Coleraine but on better goal difference going into the game, a win guaranteed the championship.
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Super-sub.  David Cushley (and daughter)  – Cush got the late goal which clinched the title.
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The winning squad with NIFL Confetti Gun Operator on the left
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Howard Beverland – one of the best defenders in the league, and possibly made of steel
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Club captain Colin Coates tells the BBC how it was won

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photo-bombing the BBC
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Sean Ward – can play anywhere.  A previous league winner with Linfield
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Brian “The Beast” Jensen.  He’s Danish.  Previously of Burnley fame, now a League winner.
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Matthew ‘Skimmer’ Snoddy.  A young player with his 3rd league winners medal
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From the backroom – coach Marc Wilson
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The club’s record goalscorer – Jordan Owens
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The glittering prizes for 2018  – The Gibson Cup league trophy (right) and the Co Antrim Shield
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Winner of the club and Northern Ireland player of the year awards – Gavin Whyte, with manager Stephen Baxter.  It’ll not be long before we see Gavin in the English league.

The great thing about football is that as the season ends – on a high or in disappointment – we get to do it all over again after the summer.

Kit:  Canon 6D, tweaked in Color Efex Pro pretending to be Portra 160

Osaka

Osaka is a nice city to visit and works well as a base for trips elsewhere (Kyoto, Hiroshima etc) albeit without an overwhelming must-see identity of its own.  It is however clean, safe, friendly  – and has a Universal Studios park.  I’d only a few days in the city armed with the Nikon F60 and Huawei P9 and got some shots.

A good place to start is downtown at the Shinsaibashi shopping street, 600 metres of covered shopping.

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Shinsaibashi shopping street, Osaka

There’s also every conceivable eating place, including a bit of crab.

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Downtown Osaka, seafood restaurant.  Crab on the menu.
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Downtown Osaka, Dotobori Canal

One of the main sites for a visit is the Osaka Castle in its large gardens. It focusses on local history and art as well as some viewpoints of the city.

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Osaka Castle
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View of the city from Osaka castle
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Osaka Castle gardens
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Osaka Castle gardens

Osaka is also the site for Japan’s Universal Studios theme park. Cue lots of Minions but I was particularly taken with Hogsmeade, Asian style.

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Hogsmeade, Japan (snow not real)
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Hogsmeade staff (Owl not real)

Practicalities – we stayed in the suburbs at the wonderful Rainbow Hostel near Imazato train station about 20 minutes from downtown.  The area was nice and quiet and you’ll not go hungry

 

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Out in the suburbs

And of course in  Shinsaibashi there are plenty of camera stores.  Nice that film is still widely used in Japan.

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just over a tenner for a three-pack of Acros

Kit:  Nikon F60 / Kentmere 100 and the Huawei P9

 

Hiroshima

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Atomic Dome, Hiroshima

Most visits to Japan will include a trip to Hiroshima – to the Peace Park with the Atomic Dome and the various monuments, and to the museum.  Like many war and memorial sites, they’ve been photographed countless times but it’s still the best way of recording your own visit, your thoughts and having an aide-memoire as one gets older.
All pictures taken on Kentmere 100 in the Nikon F60.

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Atomic Dome detail
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Atomic Dome – rear view
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Memorial by the Motoyasu river

There are a number of peace activists and displays around the park.  This is an in-utero survivor from the bombing meeting with tourists.

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In-utero survivor
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Eternal flame – possibly colour would have been a better choice
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Students memorial
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Workers memorial
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More riverside statues
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Memorial Hall
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Children’s Peace Monument
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Inside Memorial Hall
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Museum

A few practicalities.
The best way of getting to Hiroshima is by the fast JR train – the pass is great value
http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/

At the station there is a free bus that goes around the city including a stop at the Peace Park.  There are also Tourism Meeter/Greeters around the station who are really helpful.

 

Tokyo: Asakusa

The Asakusa district in Tokyo is a real tourist trap, traditionally a ‘pleasure quarter’ – we don’t have many of those in NI.. – it’s a great day trip for the temple and the market.

Photographically I arrived with an  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100 which had a broken meter so was shooting manually on 1/40th – and a Nikon F60 loaded with Tri-X.  On probably the brightest sunniest day of the year.  Probably a case for digital..

Anyway  – the Sensoji temple

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

A Chōzuya,  for pre-worship purification

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Chōzuya.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X

Then for shopping, there is the Nakamise arcade area.

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Entrance to Nakamise, Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
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Posing in kimonos while shopping.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X 
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Souvenirs.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

It’s a smallish area but you can still be sold the guided tours

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Tour guide. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Random music parade.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Kimomos and umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the kimonos. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Quieter moment.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
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Covered arcade. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Information.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

The magic of travel is that at home two of the least likely things I would do would be worship and shop. With or without the camera.