Diary of a Madman

Another bloody Project

Following some doctors advice*, it has been decided to finally work toward getting a much wanted item on my shopping list. Yes, the same list that never seems to get any shorter. Possibly one of the most expensive lists in the land. So the item in question is my first white lens; a Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS.

So that’d be about €1500 give or take. I could buy this outright like I’ve done with all my other kit but wheres the sense of satisfaction? Where’s the joy and pride in the ownership? Well, that’d still be there… So how is this going to be financed? If I was a pro I’d just fork out the dough that I’d be making from substantial print sales, stock sales and all the freelance work I’d undoubtably be doing. Yeaaaah…

But seeing as I’m not actually doing any of that, it’s going to take alot longer to reach the goal. As you may know from my previous posts, I’ve started attending “Art in the Park” in Fermoy. So far in 3 weeks of showing up there, I’ve made several sales. In fact the sales have gotten better with each passing week. All this money is going into my back pocket and eventually into whatever shopkeepers till. That’s all well and good, but it’s not actually doing anything positive. So instead, all the money I make from art in the park, peoples photography and anything else I attend will go straight into the “white lens fund”. I’ll be keeping the tally up to speed via a little addition to the sidebar of this blog so you’ll know where I am and how much is left to go.

Of course if you feel you should do your part and contribute to the fund (while getting a marvellous print in the process), then turn up at art in the park in Fermoy every Sunday (11am to 5pm ish) or be at Peoples Photography on St. Stephens Green in Dublin on the 25th and 26th August. Finally, a reason to get up on a Sunday morning!

Resurrecting a Madman

Forgive me your honour, it’s been nearly a year since my last confession. I’m not about to waffle on so let me cut straight to the bones of the matter. It’s all about the emotions. In this case, anger. Pure, unadulterated rage. Anyone who’s ever been miffed in their lives (and I’m assuming that’s just about everyone) will know that hot feeling you get somewhere inside you that’s just dying to get out and scream until your lungs explode.

Pretty much that feeling, except my insides are glowing white hot. If I get any worse, I fear I may burn off the earth’s atmosphere. I can almost feel the horns preparing to grow out of the top of my head. I want to tear skin from bones, squash eyeballs beneath my bare feet and generally do whatever evil shit I can. Normal anger temporarily blurs the line between right and wrong, good and evil. This new state of being removes the line and puts them all in a blender. Is evil good? Is right wrong? That’s for the courts to decide because I can’t tell anymore.

I’ve had some of the worst days of my life so far these last few. Highs and lows and lows and when you think it couldn’t get any lower, more lows. I’ve no doubt left several people in Waterford (from where I have just returned) thinking I’m either the most insufferably boring dickhead ever or just plain psychotic. Although even at that, I would confess to being somewhat of the latter. I can’t call it depression because it’s not diagnosed. It is what it is, to use a term I heard again recently, a complete headfuck. This kind of shit wasn’t supposed to follow me into my mid (to late) twenties. This is the kind of completely contemptable, moronic, waste of space bullshit you gladly leave behind you when you stop being a teenager. This whole “You hurt me so I hurt you, then you hurt me back so I’ll hurt you again” dialog is enough to drive anyone to console themselves with two bottles; Jack Daniels & sleeping pills.

But life goes on and you either learn to forget or you bury it and run away. Hell, if I did the latter of that combo, I’d be living in Canada now. You don’t go out to maim and disfigure people for life, even though it’s the only thing you can think about. Dig in your heels and see what’s around the next corner, even if you are approaching that corner at 200kph and the road isn’t exactly wonderful. If it’s good, you make it home and live to be fucked around another day. If it’s not so good, you end up dead on with a truck. Life really is a mugs game.

Now to turn off that radiohead cd before I feel compelled to eat it. Be good, take care of eachother and don’t fuck eachother around. In the end of the day when we’re all barefoot and penniless, all we’ve really got is eachother.

The new gadget

It’s been a while since my trusty Nokia 6600 arrived onto the scene and lately it’s really been starting to show it’s age. Slow menus, dropping dialling attempts, missing the odd call and getting phantom voicemail. With that in mind, I went into Carphone Warehouse this afternoon and bought myself a Sony Ericsson (sp?) W800i. A nice bit of kit by all accounts. Good camera, good music player, an RDS radio (hurrah) and all the other related whatnot.

It’s my second cautious journey away from the shores of Nokia, first time was back with the ill-fated SE P900 with the truly crappy battery. In fairness though, that was a one off fault, not a design flaw. After playing around with the w800i though, it seems all could be rosy when I get to turn it on after it’s maiden charge tomorrow morning.

To sweeten the deal some more, I also managed to get around €50 off it thanks to outwitting some mobile phone shop staff. The first shop I went into were having none of it; I was putting forward the sceal that Meteor shops were selling the phone for €199, whereas carphone warehouse were looking for the unreasonable sum of €229. Of course, Vodafone are demanding €299 for the same package but we all know they are bandits. I should say, meteor shops will be selling this phone for €199 when it is eventually available to them in a few weeks time…

Carphone warehouse make a promise to match any price but the first guy was having none of it. “Only phones that are available now” or some guff like that. Thankfully, the manager of the second branch was not so hard-nosed. Not only did I get it for the reduced soon to be meteor price of €199, I also got a further €20 off for trading in an old phone. Err, an old phone that didn’t even work. Another triumph over rip-off Ireland!

I also moved to Meteor, but that’s a story best kept for another day. Finally away from the cruel beast which is Vodafone.

ShutterStock; a quick bitch.

I recently submitted 10 photos to shutterstock in an attempt to get approved and make a bit of moolah. The photos I submitted for approval were, in my usual style, a mixture of sports, events and arty stuff. It would appear that the bigwigs at shutterstock want mindless camera clickery. Oooh no, nothing too far from the ordinary. Nothing with a bit of contrast. In fact, the only two that were accepted were a fairly standard shot of the surfers in Garretstown and a fireworks shot from Cobh. I’m disgusted. How patronising was the email they sent me? Something like;

“We hope you develop your skills and return to us at a later date”

I know I’m far from professional but every so often I am capable of taking a decent photograph. I know that from the comments I get on some of them. A good deal of my stuff might not be pro standard but I get lucky every so often. I guess I’m just nursing a bruised ego at the moment. Feckers!

On Copper Hill Cleaning…

And so the time came to polish the sensor; and all grimaced at the thought of the task ahead. The time came and went and dust grew thicker and formed minature colonies on the glass surface of the AA filter, resisting all half-ass attempts to remove it from it’s cosy existence.

Yes, I’ve got a dust problem. Wait, to be more accurate – Yes, I had a dust problem. Now I’ve got a dust, grease & streak problem. Woe unto the fool that goes near their digital camera sensor with anything but the finest of surgical materials. Well, either that or something that’s actually designed for the task. But that just wouldn’t be me. If I did a job with the right tools at hand It’d probably go so well I’d die of shock. To put it simply, my sensor is in a bad way. It now really needs a professional cleaning. REALLY needs it.

With that in ming, I rang Canon Ireland today to enquire about the time & money thing. I spoke to a rather helpful woman in Dublin who informed me that it could take anything up to 6 weeks. Err, no. That’d mean I’d have to medicate myself to cope with the loss for at least 5 of those 6 weeks. Apparently (and I must admit this doesnt exactly surprise me), Canon don’t clean sensors. Or at least Canon Ireland don’t. They fob that off to another Dublin company; Image Supply Systems (who now seem to go under Photologic). Again I spoke to a rather helpful chap who told me it’s generally a 24 hour turnaround time provided I book the timeslot about a week in advance and it’s done at a cost of €45 + VAT. (So around €55 quid then).

“Hmmm” I thought to myself and before thanking him and hanging up I proceeded to question him on the subject of how exactly camera sensors are cleaned. “What do you mean?” he asked, as if trying to hold in the secrets of the McDonalds secret sauce. “What exactly is the method by which they are cleaned?”, “What do you use?”. Again, rather unsurprisingly the answer came back “Swabs and an alcohol solution”. “Hmmmm” I thought again and wanted to say “Ohh, just like the famous Copper Hill method then?”.

Oh to have options. Wait, I do! So I could pay Photologic €55 for one cleaning, only to have to pay them €55 more in a few months (if I’m VERY lucky) to clean it again. OR I could buy a Copper Hill cleaning kit myself and do the exact same thing for ohh €52 (plus P&P). Now presuming I used my own bought kit and clean the sensor like an obsessive compulsive every, say 2 weeks, that kit would last me for at least three and a half years. Oh to have options eh. Lucky then that I leaped before looking on this one and have already purchased the Copper Hill kit from Chili-pix, their European distributor. It should hopefully arrive before the weekend to leave me with a shiny, good as new sensor for the weekend’s photo session.

If it works, and I presume it will seeing as it’s the sworn solution by many a pro, it’ll save me God knows how much money both in courier costs to & from Dublin and in the cost of the cleanings themselves. Not that I’m trying to beat Photologic down or anything, I’m sure the service they provide is top notch. As a technically competant and somewhat intelligent human being, I feel quite safe in saying I can handle the Copper Hill learning curve. I guess blowing air on the sensor to clean it just got old…

Update: the kit arrived this morning just before I left for work. Much of my Friday evening will now no doubt be spent swabbing and praying.

Bobblehead Ray

The hype, the excitement, the bobbleheadedness of it all! Weeks spent trying to think of an occurence in my life so incredibly mad that it would earn me one of the prized bobblehead Ray’s. Failure. The woes of leading a mildly humorous life. I could have bullshitted my way to an amazing story, dreamt up alibi after alibi to support my “How Mad Is That?” application only to put it to the ultimate test; The critical eye of Jenny Kelly and the sharp(?) mind of recently barified Will Hanafin.

No, alas I was destined to always have that empty space on my desk and over time it grew dusty and became occupied with CD cases and other various debris one collects during the course of daily web surfage (and of course blog updateage). “Who cares anyway?”; I bravely consoled myself and over time, learned to forget about the existence of the little man with the disproportionate head.

All until earlier today. I arrived in Kilkenny at one of our customers premises only to find a Bobblehead Ray smiling from ear to ear, his head gently nodding in the soft breeze. I went about my work, installing & upgrading computers, with Ray D’Arcy on the radio in one corner of the room and Bobblehead Ray standing next to me, watching my every move. I’ve seen plenty of pictures of Bobblehead Ray and heard countless descriptions of him while listening to the show; none of which can fully prepare someone to be in the presense of such an icon. For a tiny moment it was like being in the presense of a Hollywood movie star. The voice coming out of the radio in the opposite corner of the room and the little fella standing on the desk next to me, minding my cup of tea and smiling all the while. I think I’m listening to morning radio a bit too much. I imagined that at and minute, I would turn my head to see the figurine perched on my shoulder, uttering the timeless word “bauble” into my right ear. “Bauble” he’d say, only to follow it up with “bauble”.

I faced my demons and before long, I found that midday had come and Bobblehead Ray was overseeing the data transfer between two computers (see picture above). He’s a helpful little chap who seemed to be adjusted to life in Kilkenny well. High praise indeed coming from a Corkman.

So now I must flee and resume my plans of several months ago to construct my own Bobblehead Ray. Either that or have something hugely mad happen to me so I can claim my own genuine, bona-fide copy from the man himself.

As for my brief meeting with the man, the legend, the bobblehead.. I can only imagine that it’ll be an experience I can recount to my children and my childrens children long after I’m diagnosed with alzheimers.

People Skills for PhotoJournalists; A Guide

As a photojournalist, or someone that looks quite like a photojournalist from time to time, you’ll come across three main types of people. There’s the norms, the freaks and of course, the dickheads. In the last few years I’ve come across all three types frequently , with the first of the two categories coming up in first and second place respectively. Before we continue, lets define the particulars.

Norms: People that see you may work for a newspaper, see that you have an expensive camera but realise that although you may be able to put their face in the media, a human being just trying to do a job is actually what you are. In simple terms, they just don’t give a shit.

Freaks: Almost the same as above. These are people that have decided, long before they open their mouths, that you are a big, important photojournalist for some various newspaper and your sole mission is to get that picture of them to spread across the front page. They duck, dive, weave and block you at every possible chance in order to get their picture taken. If displeased or unsatisfied by your response to their demand, they can easily metamorphasise into type three.

Alas but in so many other walks of life; “there’s always one”. For the purposes of this rant, I’m going to refer to these “people” as type three. What follows is a 100% accurate series of events from earlier this evening.

I parked on the docks about 7.15pm and made my way speedily toward the train station to get a few (hopefully) half decent shots of the victorious Cork team making their way home. I made it past a couple of barriers by doing the ol’ famous ‘point at camera’ trick. “Press Pass?” . Erp. Not going to get past this last one. Ahh well, I made the best of it and took my position on the rail tunnel bridge just outside Kent station. 7.30 came and went. 8pm came around and as darkness fell the open top bus started rolling. Myself and the guy next to me made some idle chit-chat for a few minutes to break the monotony. Got a few shots off in the few minutes before the bus passed us and ran alongside to keep up, firing off the odd shot while dodging the running crowd.

Eventually made it down as far as the bus station, where the open top bus dissapeared from sight. The crowd made their way to Parnell Place, where a huge screen had been setup showing a stage which was presumably setup at the top of the South Mall. I waited a few moments by the triangular piece of ‘art’ in the middle of the road while the crowd got larger. Perfect for a quick picture of the overall event. When that time came, I turned to the two young girls standing on one corner of the construction and the following conversation took place.

Me: Sorry, would you mind if I just stood up there for 5 seconds to take a couple of pictures?

A not entirely unreasonable request and one that any type 1 or 2 person would gladly permit. Let’s define some variables. T3 is the girl nearest to me standing on the ledge. T3M is the girls mother. Yes, you can already see that this was a mighty interesting exchange.

T3: Eh, wha? You gotta be jokin’ like. No way like.
Me: Ah c’mon, I’m just asking for 5 seconds to take a few pictures, then I’ll get down and you can have your spot back.
T3: I been waitin’ for half an hour here like. No fuckin’ chance biy.

How stressed was I? How unreasonable was this festering she-male? Yes, I was stressed after running through crowds for ages. Yes, I deemed it to be quite unreasonable. The resistor in my head that controls anger management suddenly burned out in a flood of white hot rage and red vision.

Me (at top of voice): You’re some fucking langer. I’m only asking for five fucking seconds you scabby stella cunt.
T3 (looks at me as if she wanted to say): Ehh, where did that come from biy?

I turn to walk away, f’ing and blinding the crabfaced, disesase ridden, teenage mother of ten, pram pushing assfork of a so-called human being as loud as I could yet in a decidedly noticable mutter. Then, “the mammy” got involved. Woe unto anyone that crosses an Irish mammy. However, God himself wasn’t about to stop me now so it would have taken a whole fucking armada of Irish mammies to even slow me down.

T3M (in her poshest possible accent, despite the fact her daughter was as common as pig shit in a pig sty): Excuse me, that’s my daughter you’re talking to.
Me (thinking quickly): My deepest condolences.

Mammy looked shocked. I nearly crapped myself laughing as I brushed past her, imagining that at any minute either of the two outcomes would become reality.

1. Mammy would give me an almighty clip with her Dunnes Stores handbag, full to the brim with naggins of Scrumpy Jack.
2. More worryingly, Daddy (fresh from mountjoy) would turn up and turn his attention to smashing the fuck out of my camera, diverting his attention periodically to smashing the fuck out of my face. Given that there were police everywhere, I felt decidedly cocky and chose to chortle merrily away as I strode away. I didn’t get the picture but I did get a bloody good laugh. And a rant.

I’ll take 50 freaks for every 1 dickhead. I can take pictures and scribble down names all day and all night until you meet one absolute dickhead that knocks you out of your rythm temporarily. Photojournalism? Nah, I’d do studio photography instead. Or travel photography. It’s all good!

The War on Nature

The War on Terror has been a ridiculous bloodbath. The hidden agendas behind the operation are numerous and far reaching. Iraq and it’s people will never be the same again. Be that good, bad or indifferent remains to be seen. America and it’s people will never be the same again either. How many have died needlessly? Anyway…

The shocking events currently taking place in New Orleans may lead Bush onto another war. This time, mother nature is gonna get it! “The War on Nature” will no doubt aim to remove the current dictator (hereafter known as Katrina) and install a more pleasant yet even more unpredictable leader. I predict the existance of weapons of mass destruction are caught up in the 250+kph winds and *cough* large oil deposits are certain to be found along the way.

To fund this new Christian effort into the unknown, ‘big business’ will be called upon. The 600 year plan to install and abide by the Kyoto Protocol will have to be postponed indefinately. Mandatory conscriptions are to be in effect for anyone above the age of 12. Veitnamese children preferred. They eat less and are frighteningly accurate with small arms. Oil drilling experience not nessecary but preferred. Ability to target foreign journalists and allied troops at long distanes required. Apply in writing, enclose preferred undertakers name & address.

Mother Nature; what a bitch. We always knew she was hiding something, (other than WMD). She goes and floods the city, destroys countless homes and offices, maims and kills and for what? God is angry, we must be doing something wrong…

Get your own Muff

Recently came the news that a list of the most naughty place names in Britian had been compiled; among them a town named Muff. The huge problem I have with that is as follows…

Anyone that knows their geography will know that the town of Muff is in Co. Donegal, part of the Irish Republic. That is to say, not under the rule of the crown. The Republic of Ireland, not in the list of countries collectively referred to as Britian.

I could go on about 800 years and mention some less than subtle rebel songs but I won’t. Instead I’ll simply advise the creator of these utterly pointless, waste of space compilations that he or she invest in a book of maps. Political maps at that. We do not use sterling. We do not have proper fish & chips. We do however have Muff, Co. Donegal. I’m sure the residents of the town would agree with me in my sentiment and I’m very sure that anyone listening to the radio yesterday when this was announced feels the same.

Day of the Lefties

No, it’s not a dodgy 50′s horror film, today is “International Left-Handers Day”! I celebrate this wonderful yet oddly obscure day with fellow left-handed humans including our very own Bertie Ahern, Bill Clinton, Julius Caesar, Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie (purrrr), Nicole Kidman (purrrr x 2), Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso and my own personal hero; Matt Groening – creator of The Simpsons.

Lest we forget Sir Paul Mc Cartney and Kurt Cobain also belong in the list. We are among the sinister (Latin) in society, the strange ones (Ciotóg – Irish), the awkward and clumsy (Gauche – French) and more inslultingly the maimed (Mancini – Italian). We represent 10% of the population that for 40,000 years, history has saught to wipe out. The Inuit people thought us sorcerers, in Japan a man can divorce his wife if she’s a lefty and the less than level headed Spanish used to torture and kill us for favoring “the hand of the Devil”.

Even at home the reclusive left-hander wasn’t safe. As recent as 1960′s Ireland, students were forced to write with their right hand and punished if they used their left. God bless that wacky church mentality. The French put their (left) thumb on the answer. Left-handed people have survived because apparently we’re bloody good fighters. Everybody knows a “southpaw” often surprises their rivals with a knockout punch that seemed to come from nowhere.


Behold and Celebrate; The left hand of Rymus!

The Left-Handers Club of Ireland