Friday, October 28, 2011

Spooky Central...

As promised, my creepy tale for Halloween...


She leaned over and rubbed her knees, gasping for breath.  That was the longest sprint that she had done yet without looking behind her.  

Several minutes ago, she was happily walking home through the forest from the house where she regularly babysat.  The house itself was a stunning modern building with glass walls that faced directly down and into the forest.  Nestled in the centre of the forest were the ruins of huge walled gardens and an old castle; a small castle considering the size of the gardens and height of the secured walled areas.  The tips of these walls peeked just above some of the trees so that when you stood on the second floor landing and peered down into the forest, you could make out the perimeter of the castle, gardens and ruins.  It was a spectacular sight.  Usually.

Recently though, while curled up on the chair on the second floor landing after putting the children to bed and waiting for their parents to come home, she had noticed flickering of light down near the ruins.  Nothing spectacular, more like gentle flashes or reflections from raindrops trickling through leaves in a tree.  Assuming it was walkers or teenagers camping out in the ruins, she paid no real attention.  Last night was different though.

She was sitting in her usual spot, nestled in the comfortable wicker chair on the second floor landing when a loud bang startled her from her book.  She looked up quickly and focused her eyes.  First, she saw her reflection looking back at her from the 10 ft glass paned wall but when she focused out into the darkness, she caught sight of the red stuff oozing down the window pane.  Frozen to her seat, she wished that she could dim the light in the room, or turn on a light outside because right now she was in clear view from the outside.  Closing her eyes for a moment, she breathed deeply and tried to slow her racing heart.  WAS that really something dripping down the window?  She opened her eyes again and focused through her pale & terrified reflection to the liquid oozing down the glass outside, and oh my, was that a flicker of light? 

Terrified, she leapt from her chair and raced to the children’s room, locking the door behind her.  She tiptoed to the bed where the youngest child lay and curled up under the covers beside him, her hearing on full alert. 

It was like she had supersonic hearing.  Every tiny squeak, creak and whistle roared loudly in her head.  Thinking she heard another bang, she pulled the young child closer and blocked his ears.  Her pulse was thudding in her head like a jackhammer, almost blocking out all other sounds.  It reminded her of the time that she fainted in school; the few moments just before she lost consciousness, her hearing had gone all hollow and muffled.   It was like that now, a slow intoxicated mix of low murmurs and loud bangs, but, wait.  That sounded like knocking!

As realisation hit, she leapt from the bed and quickly unlocked the door with a relieved sigh.  The children’s parents stepped back with an odd expression on their faces as she exited the room explaining why she had locked the door.  She glanced towards the window while telling the story and stopped mid sentence.  There was nothing on the glass.  Not a mark or a smudge. 

Confused, she ran over to the glass and peered out, placing her hands on either side of where she had seen the red stuff oozing down the glass.  There was nothing there.  Confused, she began to tell the full story to the parents when her eye caught something outside, deep in the forest.  There was a tiny flicker of light, dancing from one tree to the next, coming closer and closer to the window. 

Speechless, she pointed her finger at the light and turned to the children’s parents.  Both had quite vacant expressions on their faces and yawned at exactly the same time.  They hurried her to the spare room where she was spending the night and went to bed themselves.   The night was a restless one for the girl as she lay there going over and over what she had seen and heard.

The following morning, and in full daylight, she began to start doubting herself.  Had she seen anything the previous night?  Did she really hear anything or was it her imagination?  She said her goodbyes to the children and parents and started her journey home through the forest, loud with birdsong and river water babbling.  It was just beginning to rain so she was thankful that she had her raincoat.

As she reached the big tree at the corner of the track she paused.  The rain was pouring down now and the birdsong had stopped.  Just ahead was the spot where the hair on her neck always stood and she got that tight feeling at the back of her throat where she felt she had to hold her breath until she reached the old gate by the ruin entrance which was almost the exact centre of the forest.  Each time she walked through this stretch of the woods, she did the same thing.  Pause, hold her breath, take one last look behind her, and then run.  Run and not stop until she reached the gate.

She wrapped her scarf around her face and looking behind her, took a deep breath before sprinting past the corner.  She was running so fast that the cold air stung her eyes causing them to water and form little streams towards her hairline.  The rain was getting lighter when she noticed that she was near the gate so stopped to catch her breath.  Bend over; with her hands on her knees, she glanced backwards.  That’s most definitely the longest she had gone without looking back.  As she stood up and turned towards the gate, she was startled by a young girl in a pretty red coat. 

“Hi there,” she said, smiling and walked towards her.  The little girl did not say anything and pointed towards the trees in the forest.

“Oh, is your mammy in there?” she asked softly and turned to face where the girl was pointing.  “Ah, There are lovely gardens behind those walls, aren’t there?  Do you live nearby?”
When she turned back to the girl, she was nowhere to be seen. 
Assuming she had gone back to her mother, the girl carried on her journey home. 

The more she walked, the more odd thoughts struck her; The little girls red coat was very old fashioned looking, and she had beautiful shiny patent black shoes on with white frilly socks.  White frilly socks?  In the middle of a forest?  Hmmm.  And the shiny black shoes?  There was NO way that shoes could have been clean after walking through there in the rain.

Up ahead, and nearing the exit, she spotted a farmer walking. 

“Excuse me," she called, getting his attention, "have you seen anyone else walking in here this morning?”

“Nope.” he replied bluntly, clearly busy in thought himself. 

“You didn’t pass a woman and little girl?” she asked, a bit more concerned and glanced back into the woods.

“I’m afraid not, but...” he cut off mid sentence, his face loosing colour.

“But what?” she pressed.

“No, no, it’s nothing.” He insisted and quickly walked away, but not before stealing a quick glance back into the forest. 

As the years passed, the girl heard many similar stories of people out walking and encountering a little girl in a red coat in that forest.  Some swear that she vanishes into thin air, others that she spoke to them warning of danger. 



Me?  Well, I wouldn’t babysit for that family anymore, and I never, NEVER walked through that part of the forest on my own ever again. 
TRUE STORY... I jest you not...

Does anyone else have any spooky stories that are real?  (or loosely based around?)  I would love to hear them!

Friday, October 21, 2011

BEIGE!

After a long stare out the window this morning, I hereby declare this "Beige season"!


I was wondering why I haven't been out with the camera over the last week or so... Is it just me, or is everything beige at the moment?  :)



The light is dull all day.  The colours are dull.  The trees are mid way through loosing their leaves so roads and paths are cluttered with a mushy beige-brown sludge from dying foliage and debris.  The combine harvesters have done their jobs replacing the once lush thriving crops with wet, muddy ploughed fields (now also a beige-brown colour).  All fruit has disappeared from trees and bushes, leaving behind bare skeletons, already prepared for the cold months ahead and awaiting spring.


In saying that, its PERFECT Halloween weather.   Wet, windy, dull and spooky!  Eerie crackling in forests and twigs snapping.  Strange creaks and squeaks from the attic.  Howling wind in the chimney.  The swing in the garden swinging its eerie sway all alone with just enough of a regular swing so you can almost see the outline of a little person there.  Mmm, yes, it certainly is the season to be spooky (fa la la la la, la la, la, la)


Ooh- this spurs a spooky memory from the depths of my brain... one which I might share with you in this beige & spooky approach to All hallows eve...


Stay tuned...Ooooooooooo

Friday, October 14, 2011

And the Winner is...

 ANNETTE HICKEY!  CONGRATULATIONS! 

I hope you really enjoy the night. It is getting amazing reviews so, grab a partner, get dolled up and make a night of it! :) I will DM you in Facebook with details.




Thanks to everyone for entering.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

TICKETS GIVEAWAY!




I find myself in a generous mood and happen to have two tickets to Shakespeares 'The Winters Tale' in Cork Opera House. http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/events/winters-tale



In a moment of madness, I am going to give these tickets away to some lucky blogger/facebooker/twitterer(tweeter?...)

All you have to do is like my facebook page (by clicking the 'like' button in here- on the right, if you cant see it, click here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jen-Conroy-Photography/210905662273739) and post a message on my wall telling me how much you want them. 

I will be picking a winner by means of random number selection through my followers in Twitter (you might as well follow me in Twitter too to be in on the number guessing bit! ;) )

The tickets are valid for performances 17th-19th October only.  Competition closes this Friday 14th at 1300hrs GMT.  Winner will be announced on Friday after random number selection has been completed.  Competition is open Internationally, but do keep in mind, you will have to be in Cork to attend the showing on your chosen date!  LOL.



1....2.......3...... GO! Get entering!  You can enter as many times as you like by posting on my wall.  :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Touching base...

Hi Everyone!  *Waves*

Just a quick update from the ever HOT Boston, MA.  Weather is Hot Hot HOT here!  Well, it is for me anyway, given that I am more accustomed to the perpetual sunny/cold/drizzly/windy weather at home.  Humidity is such an underestimated thing- I mean, hair alone takes on a life of its own (Seriously... I have Diana Ross perched on my forehead) and then there's the feeling of breathing and walking in a huge pond of warm water.  Lovely.  :)  Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not complaining.  I'm loving the change, it just takes afew days to get used to. 

Leaves are beginning to fall and the plane packed with Irish is landing as I type.  The next few days are going to be MANIC!  I can't wait!  Hoards of people are coming together to celebrate the fantastic launch of my sisters debut novel, 'Carrier of the Mark' on Tuesday!  So, batten down the hatches and hang on to your hats, Boston, for you are about to be invaded by high pitched screaming and jumping girls (& boys!). 

To all those in the US, please do pop in to a bookstore on Tuesday (4th October) and have a peek at the UBER gorgeous book 'Carrier of the Mark' and pick yourself up a copy.  Open up that back page and be sure to have a peek at the author portrait!  You might just see a familiar name *cough cough- ME!- cough cough*

On a final note, if anyone is in bookshops around the MA area on Tuesday, be sure to keep an eye out for a suspiciously large group squealing loudly and waving books in the air... it might just be us!  (if you think it is, make sure you say 'Hi' as Leigh, being the super duper nice author that she is, might just sign a copy for you!)

Talk to you all soon! 

Toodles!  :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

And we have a WINNER! Woooooo!

Thanks to the powers of random selection through the ‘Twitterverse’, the winner has been chosen!   

Congratulations to Christine Murray!  You are now the proud owner of:

-The amazing CD album ‘Parcels and Polaroids’  by ‘The Pawnshop Manual’; ( http://www.thepawnshopmanual.com/ )

-An A4 print of your choice of any of my photo’s, you can browse here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenconroy/ and...

-The ever amazing surprise prize! 

Now I know you have all been on the edge of your seats...

The surprise prize was- a very amusing, yet ridiculously cheesy, touristy type porcelain model of a sheep, but unfortunately (but probably luckily for the winner- LOL) it got broken on its journey back from Dublin- SO...

The ‘Surprise prize’ is now, either *clears throat*: have your print mounted and ready for hanging like the example on right: (surround will be complimenting colour of your chosen print, example photo here), OR another A4 print of your choice.  

Christine, Please DM me (either through Twitter, Facebook or email me at jenconroyphotography@gmail.com ) with your choice of print, surprise prize choice and postal address and I will get your swag off to you ASAP.  Yay!

Thanks everyone for entering through my blog, twitter and Facebook. 

Till next time, take care & Toodleloo!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Exhibition done and dusted, what's next?

Hi Everyone! *Waves*

Well, the exhibition was a huge success.  Thank you SO much to everyone who came in to visit me over the two days.  It was so lovely to have visitors and meet so many of you. 

Several sales were made which was fantastic!  It was so interesting to see which exhibition pieces got the attention and which were glanced over.  Thankfully, not many were glanced over (phew!) but a few got a huge amount of interest which I was not expecting.

Without a doubt, ‘Finely Tuned’ was the most popular of the weekend, with the framed, finished piece selling along with 3 prints.  From what I gathered from the accents of the purchasers, these numbered editions will be hanging on the walls somewhere in America, England, Germany (but the accent might have been Austrian... not sure) and our very own Emerald Isle, Ireland.  There is already one in Canada, so it really must attract a Wiiiiiiide audience worldwide!  J  Yay!

The other numbered edition prints that sold were ‘Sandycove’ (a fine choice- one of my favourites too J ) and ‘Late in the Day’.

I must squeeze in a quick note about where I stayed.  It had, without a doubt, the BEST breakfast selection that I have ever seen and tasted.  I’m a fruity gal, and their fruit salad was freshly cut fruit with blueberries and strawberries etc (not a hint of the tinned stuff *crap-ehem* that you find in some hotels.) and they had other amazing breakfast selections; scrambled eggs with smoked salmon full Irish fry, porridge, pancakes, the list goes on.   It makes such a difference when the ‘B’ in the latter end of B&B is amazing. 

It is a Grade A, Georgian guesthouse a short stroll from the Grafton street and great value for money.  If you ever find yourself looking for somewhere to stay in Dublin, I highly recommend you check this place out.  www.kilronanhouse.com  Be sure to book directly with them to ensure all of your needs are catered for.  The staff are SO nice and helpful, in fact, they were so good, that that I gave them one of my framed pics as a thank you before leaving.  They chose 'The Heebeejeebies', so hopefully it will be happy on one of the walls of its new home.  If you do stay there, make sure you keep your eye out for it!  :) 

Well guys and gals, the light outside is amazing at the moment so I must dash to catch afew snaps.  Till next time.

Toodleloo!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Give it away, Give it away, Give it away, Now!

To mark my exhibition weekend this coming Saturday and Sunday, I am going to have a Giveaway!!  YAY! 
So, as most of you know by now, I am a huge fan of the Canadian band, ‘The Pawnshop Manual’ (http://www.thepawnshopmanual.com/)

 Now, as they are SO super cool and deadly, they have given me one of their CD’s to give to one lucky winner, so guess what’s up for grabs!?!?!   J
Swag consists of *clears throat loudly*:
-          CD of the FABULOUS album, ‘Parcels and Polaroid’s by the excellent ‘The Pawnshop Manual’

-          An A4 print of your choice of any of my photographs

-          A Surprise! (oh yes, you can get yourself well excited here... it could be a voucher for a round the world hot air balloon trip, or it could be a turnip... the joys and excitement of a surprise!   Are you on the edge of your seat yet?) *hint- high chance of surprise item being from Kinsale or Dublin... ;)*
So, what do you have to do to win this amazing load of goodies???  Simple! 
Follow me on twitter (Here: http://twitter.com/#!/Jen_Conroy)
And if you want some SERIOUS brownie points, come to visit me this weekend for the Exhibition (Chatting to me on Facebook ,Twitter and blog will do for my overseas lovelies)
Spread the word, tell your friends and most importantly, let me know that you have entered this comp by commenting here in my blog! :)

As always, Competition is open internationally and closing date for entries is Sunday 11th September 2011.
EEEEEEEeee!!!!!  (is it sad that I am so excited about this when I am the one giving stuff away??? LOL)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Featured in Irelands Photography Magazine

How very exciting, my Black and White shot 'Sandycove' was featured in todays 'daily shot' in Irelands Photography Magazine, "The Shot".   Woooooooo!    http://www.theshot.ie/daily.html

Cant remember what it looks like?  Here you go:


Hoping to see some of you this Saturday or Sunday at the exhibition in Dublin.  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Exhibition Update

I have my exhibition allocation spot! 

If anyone is around Dublin on the 27th & 28th, don't forget to stop by.  I will be at position 354.  Lets hope the weather is as beautiful as it was when this satellite image was taken, otherwise, I'll be the one in the yellow wellies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Athens? Oh how nice that would be...

Hi everyone!

Sorry it's been a while, but the preparations have been, and still are underway for the coming exhibition in Dublin.  I am working on the hanging process right now so am literally tied up in knots.  Oh, the joys.

On another note, I have submitted a project for an exhibition in Athens this year.  (yeah baby!) Oh, how wonderful would that be...
I am unsure as to whether I would have to be there in person (gosh darn, how TERRIBLE would that be... *snort*) but either way, it would be a superb exhibition to get my claws into, so cross your fingers and toes for me please!  :)

The theme is 'Reality Check' so I've stuck with that subject and gone for a Recession/economic crisis/Strapped for cash type series of photos.  For your eyes only, here is a mini preview of the submission pieces *ssssshhhh, dont tell anyone*. 

I would love to hear what you think!









 


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Exhibition preparation

Ok- there is not much left of my fingertips and my nails are no longer visible, but it was SO worth the time and effort. 
Here are the 15 pieces that I will be exhibiting next month in Dublin:




















And so you can get a feel for the actual size, here one frame is beside my iPhone...


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

GREAT NEWS!
I will be exhibiting in the Peoples Photography exhibition in Dublin this year!!!
The exhibition is now a significant national affair and has become the largest photographic exhibition in Ireland in terms of both the number of photographers involved and the number of works on view. 

I am one of 200 photographers who have secured 8ft of delicious exhibition space on the perimeter of the beautiful and historic St Stephens Green park in the heart of Dublin city to display their work. 
If anyone is pottering around Dublin on the 27th and 28th of August this year, Have a stroll over to Stephens Green to check out the exhibition and do pop over to me for a chat.  :)

Now comes the grueling and torturous decision of what photos to exhibit.  Do I go for the option of fitting as many small photos as I can into the space, or should I take the fewer, larger option?  At the moment, I am leaning towards the ‘fewer but larger’ option.  I think I can get 15 A4 framed sized pictures into the space, so if I choose wisely, I think that is best.

Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

To Photoshop, or not to Photoshop, that is the question...

I am dragging myself slowly through the steps of learning how to use Photoshop at the moment (god bless youtube tutorials!) and, as amazing as it is, I have to ask the question; where do you draw the line?  (Not literally draw the line...)

I mean, photography is about catching a moment in time, unique to that moment and time and place.  Surely by using Photoshop, one is technically ruining the shot that may have taken hours/weeks to plan?  Or even that perfect shot that is caught by being in the right time and place. 
Picture this:
You researched a location and had particular shots in mind.  Then comes the waiting game- you trudge through the weather websites, waiting and waiting for the conditions you require.  Finally, all of the elements fall into place and you rush off to make sure you get as much time as you can shooting.  After a fantastically successful day, you get home and upload your photographs.  Painstakingly, you go through them one by one, scrutinising everything, culling the duds and binning ones that you arent happy with.  There you have it!  Hurray!  You have narrowed them down to the handful that you wanted, but oh, wait a second... what’s that? 

 Oh dear, the horizon is off slightly in that one- so you pop into Photoshop to do this one little teeny weeny edit.
Yes.  Just. This. One. Teeny. Edit.  Mmmmmm...
Two hours later, you find yourself staring at the screen displaying this amazing photograph that looks, well... kind of familiar.  You sigh in sheer contentment at your fabulous artistic skills and go to pour yourself a well deserved glass of wine.  When you return, you take a glance at the screen to admire your work when, BAM, what the HELL is that???  Unnatural colours and tones glare at you with contempt.  Shadows are unnaturally dark and contrast is, well, it’s just ALL over the place.  What happened to the stunning picture you left two minutes ago?
Well ladies and gentlemen, Photoshop brain happened.  I am convinced that there is some sort of a Mrs Doyle (Father Ted) type program running in the background throwing subliminal messages at you the moment you open Photoshop to do a quick and innocent edit. 
"CLICK ON MEEEEE!  GO ON, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO... GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON..." so off you go, clicking and editing up to your eyeballs and the more you change, the more hideous it becomes but you don’t see until, well, hours later.
So, yes.  After two hours of painstakingly clicking and editing and changing and updating, you undo the whole lot and are left with the fabulous photograph that you started with in the first place. (Well, with the horizon straightened)
I know that, used correctly, Photoshop has its place in Photography.  There are stunning effects that you can get etc, but for the minute, I think I will stick to the basics and do as much as I can on my camera. I think, when I do properly use Photoshop, it will either be so subtle that will go unnoticed, or so overused that its  just short of a neon flashing sign.

 I am sure that it is just me and experienced Photoshop people do not run into the problems that I am encountering.  Perhaps it is just ‘teething pains’ as I go through the learning period.  My advice for anyone self-learning Photoshop; When working on a photo, take breaks... take LOTS of breaks and keep going back to the original shot to remind yourself what you intended to edit in the first place. 

Happy snapping!

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