Sunday, August 26, 2012

Irish Faces In Different Places

Those of you who have followed this blog know that I don't often take photos of people in places that I visit. The short explanation for this is I am hesitant to be intrusive in the lives of others for my own photographic gratification.  On the other hand, I consider those who perform or work in public fair targets for my lens. If they are street performers, I am considerate and tip them for the privilege.

The photos in this post were taken in a variety of settings.  The top two were taken in a glassware factory in County Claire. I found the difference between the somewhat haughty woman owner/manager and the down-to-earth glass craftsman amazing. The role-playing Viking coin-maker in Dublinia was both informative and personally interesting (he winters in the very unViking-like location of Arizona). The iconic face of Che Guevarra on the wall of a small town that thrives upon vacation residents puzzled me at first.  A bearded young man pushing a baby stroller solved the puzzle for me by informing me that the artist who drew the original lived in that town and the town's people were proud of him. The photo of the County Claire farmer was taken from a tour bus window simply because I liked the image and felt that I could take it without being intrusive. Finally, I couldn't resist the image of two friendly Dublin leprachauns with the statue of Molly Mallone in the background.  I was in Ireland. I was a tourist. How could I NOT take that photo?

Thank you for visiting, please feel free to stop by the Tavern again. In the meantime, may your own travels be both interesting and enjoyable.


p.s.  I may not be posting for the next couple of weeks.  Next Friday I will be on my way to Maine to spend time with my 88 year old father. While I enjoy my visits with dad, he has no internet and I may experience a sense of internet withdrawal. (Not completely, I will have access on my just won't be easy to post unless I can slip off to a wi-fi hotspot.)  Funny in some ways.  When I was a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Kenya (1969-1971) I went for three years without using a telephone or a television.  Now the thought of possibly three weeks without immediate access to the internet is at least a minor concern.  Perspectives certainly do change, don't they?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicago Sunday Morning Interlude

I thought that I'd take a break from my Irish posts.  Last weekend I spent 24 hours in Chicago.  Sunday morning we took an "early" 9AM walk around the downtown area where we were staying and wandered by Milenium Park on our way to Lake Michigan.  There were some walkers, runners, Segeway explorers, and other wanderers but the streets had a slower pace than Saturday afternoon's bustle.  It was a good walk and something I wanted to share. If the photos seem distorted to your eye,it's not you- it's because I used my GoPro HD2 camera with its 170 degree lens. I liked the effects that it created.

On the whole, I am not an urban person.  Life in a metropolitan area would be a sensory overload if I were faced with it full-time. On the other hand, I truly enjoy my urban interludes, be they in Chicago, Dublin, Sevilla, Paris, Albuquerque, London, or in many other cities that I have spent time in. Nirvana for me is living in a small city near a large body of water and aceess to a metropolitan area for a change of pace.

Thank you for visiting; feel free to return at any time.  In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Irish Faces / Urban Places

                                                                hen party

                                                  Ennis walking tour guide

                                           Dublin "blood diamond" protester

                                                             traditional dancer

                                                     pseudo Viking tour bus

                             Prime Minister listening before the austerity vote

One interesting aspect of travel is to observe people in their natural settings. Spending time wandering around and unobtrusively people-watching adds to the flavor of the setting, and can sometimes help you develop a better understanding of the place that you are visiting. The key word for me, whether I'm just watching or trying to capture a photo, is "unobtrusively". It is a challenge to be part of a scene in a community that is unfamiliar to you without either disrupting it by drawing attention to yourself or creating an "in your face" situation. I wince when I see tourists doing either, they miss so much in the process and alienate people in whose community they are as a guest.

When I considered making this post, I had to decide what aspects of Ireland I wanted to give a glimpse of. One of the customs I found interesting were the "hen parties".  There were an number seen in Dublin, and they consisted of groups of women dressed with some sort of identifying costume wandering around and having a good time together. I took this shot from a distance and from the side because I didn't want to intrude on their fun. Unobtrusiveness was the key.

I am less reticent in taking photos of people who are doing something in public as a performer or drawing public attention to a cause. The walking tour guide of Ennis explaining the history behind a statue seemed to be a natural. The intense protester on Dublin's Grafton Street with his message related to "blood diamonds" while a man in the background calmly observed seemed to be an interesting contrast. The blurred image of an Irish dancer in motion caught a sense of action that I liked. Then there were the pseudo-Vikings on their themed tour bus-why else would they do it except be be noticed by others (and have an obnoxiously good time as well)?

The final photo in this collection was taken through a cafe window in Ennis. We were sitting around one afternoon and just finishing up a cappuccino when we noticed a crowd was blocking the doorway. The action focused upon a man in a suit talking to another man in a black leather coat.  People accompanying the suited man were attentive to what was being discussed. It would have be rude of us to try to leave the cafe through the crowd, so we sat and watched a while longer. When we asked a cafe worker if she knew what was going on, she said,"Oh, that's the prime minister. Some people like him and some don't". Upon learning that , I decided that it was a definite photo op and brought out my camera for a few shots.  This all happened just before the Irish people voted to decide if Ireland would accpept the European Union's austerity plan for Ireland.

After the discussions outside of the cafe were done, the crowd moved on and we observed the interaction from a distance.  One of the things that really struck me as the lack of a visible state security presence.  Here was a figure of national importance wandering around meeting with the people and discussing a highly emotional issue.  Traffic was not diverted, armed guards did not for a protective barrier around the prime minister. There were no apparent screenings of people who were interacting with him. The event was memorable to me not in what was said (I was never close enough to overhear discussions), but rather in the degree of ease that people interacted with one another. It taught me much about the state of culture in democratic Ireland. Awesome, in the true sense of the word.

Thank you for visiting, please feel free to come again. Remember- visitor comments are always appreciated. In the meantime, may your own travels be interesting and enjoyable.