Lens-Artists #67: Candid

This week, Ann-Christine has challenged us to capture candid shots of people and/or animals.

This challenge was a difficult one for me because it’s hard for me to get good photos of people. Usually my candid shots are epic fails, either blurred or someone has a funny look on their face. As I searched through my photos I found some candid shots from our trip to Ireland and Scotland earlier this year.

On that trip we visited more than a few pubs. I couldn’t help but capture a few candid shots as we enjoyed a pint and dinner after a busy day of taking in the sights.

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Bartender pouring our first Guinness pint at the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Brewery
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Bartender at the beautiful Crown in Belfast, Northern Ireland
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Decisions, Decisions… in Edinburgh, Scotland

I loved hearing the music in the pubs and seeing the street performers.

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Musicians in Dublin
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Musicians at a pub in Dingle, Ireland
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In the shopping district in Galway
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Bagpiper in Edinburgh, Scotland

I managed to capture a few people doing everyday things.

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Waterville, Ireland
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Dingle Boat Harbor, Ireland
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Surfers at Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
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Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

I can’t end this post without including some candid animal shots.

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A shepherd tending to his flock during a sheep dog demonstration in Ir
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Highland Cow at Fernie Castle, Scotland

Many thanks to Ann-Christine  for this weeks Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Candid

 

Lens-Artists #63: Magical

This week, Ann-Christine has challenged us to show what is magical to us.

What is more magical than an ancient castle? As we traveled through Ireland and Scotland earlier this year one of my favorite things was seeing the many castles.

For me, the most magical of all was Dunnottar Castle in Stovehaven, Scotland. Sitting on top of a cliff that juts out into the North Sea, it seemed to magically appear out of a thick fog.

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Dunnottar Castle on a Foggy Day, Stonehaven, Scotland
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The North Sea was barely visible below Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland
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A path led down to the sea at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland

Occasionally the fog would clear just long enough for a clear view. Even without the fog, it was a magical site to see.

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Foggy day at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland

Many thanks to Ann-Christine for this weeks Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical

 

Our last days in Scotland

The drive from Inverness to our next destination, Aberdeen was not very far.  To get there all we had to do was stay on the same road through about 50 round-a-bouts. The drive took us through several pretty villages and beautiful countryside. We were in desperate need of a laundry so when I spotted a self serve launderette at a gas station we pulled over and washed clothes.

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When you run out of clean clothes while traveling in Scotland, you stop at a launderette at a gas station
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Somewhere between Inverness and Aberdeen
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Yellow fields, Scotland

The beautiful old trees and gardens surrounding the MacDonald Norwood Hall Hotel in Aberdeen made me feel like I was on a country estate. The hotel was once a private home and later converted to a hotel. Although it is supposedly haunted we didn’t see any ghosts. While we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the dining room there was a wedding going on in another part of the hotel.

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MacDonald Norwood Hall Hotel, Aberdeen, Scotland
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Beautiful gardens in Aberdeen

The next day was another short driving day. Before we left Aberdeen we were talking to the father of the groom from the wedding the night before. He lived near Aberdeen and gave me some insight about my Scottish ancestors who emigrated to America from the area. He also recommended we stop at Donnottar Castle on our way to Fife.

I’m so glad we took his advice. We ventured off the main road to visit the castle which sits on a cliff high above the North Sea. The fog made it really eerie.

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Donnottar Castle, Scotland
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Donnottar Castle, Scotland
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Donnottar Castle, Scotland

It was early afternoon when we arrived at Fernie Castle in Fife, our home for the night. We enjoyed having time to relax and enjoy the castle and the beautiful grounds. The castle was haunted but alas, we never saw a ghost there, either.

There are Highland Cows, a horse and goats on the grounds of Fernie Castle. One of the things on my bucket list for Scotland was to see a Highland Cow up close and personal so I thoroughly enjoyed watching them and taking lots of photos. Hamish was not shy and came over to see what I was doing while the Heather ignored me and kept on eating her grass. I fed Hamish some potatoes and other vegetables but when I tried to pet him he nudged me gently with one of his horns to let me know he didn’t like it.

We said good bye to Hamish, Heather and Fernie Castle and continued on to Edinburgh for our last two nights in Scotland. The city is built on hills with Edinburgh Castle at the end of the Royal Mile on top of one of the hills . The walk to the Royal Mile from our hotel was down steep stone stairs and through an alley. We spent a day and a half wandering along the Royal Mile.

We toured historic St. Giles Cathedral.

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St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland

We took a self guided tour of Edinburgh Castle. We joined a small tour group and learned about the history of the castle as our guide led us to some of its most famous spots.

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Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
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Guard at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
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Looking at the city from Edinburgh Castle

Our timing was perfect. There was a changing of the guard while we were there.

 

We had one last look at Edinburgh Castle as our taxi took us to the airport.

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As we rode in the taxi to the airport we had our last view of Edingburgh Castle

Good bye Scotland! I’ll never forget you!

 

A Day in the Scottish Highlands

Our small tour bus with Rabbie’s Tours departed Inverness early on a Saturday morning for a 12 hour tour across the Scottish Highlands. As we rode from place to place our guide Colin filled us in on Scottish history and folklore.

Soon after leaving Inverness we were riding along with views of Loch Ness to our left. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one on the bus who was searching for Nessie, more commonly known as the Loch Ness Monster.  We didn’t stop at Nessieland, a small theme park.

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Nessieland was just up the road, Lock Ness, Scotland

Our only stop on Loch Ness was at historic Urquhart Castle. The castle is undergoing some restoration and we did not tour it. It was our last chance to see Nessie and she wasn’t cooperating.

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Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, Scotland

We had plenty of time to tour Eilean Donan Castle and enjoy the gorgeous setting.

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Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland near Kyle of Lochalsh
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View from the bridge at Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
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Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Most of the day was spent on the spectacular Isle of Skye. There are dramatic mountains and cliffs, charming seaside villages, and gorgeous scenery all around the island.

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Dramatic Cliffs, Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Henry was glad he wasn’t driving! Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Curvy roads around the Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Wow! We’re really here! Isle of Skye, Scotland

We stopped in the town of Portree for lunch and a view of the harbor.

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Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Town of Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

A few people on the bus brought back some beer from the Isle of Skye Brewery.

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Isle of Skye Brewery, Scotland

Our last stop on the Isle of Skye was the town of Kyleakin. It was raining as we walked around the waterfront with a nice view of the the Skye Bridge and the Kyleakin Lighthouse.

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Skye Bridge, Scotland
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Kyleakin Lighthouse, Isle of Skye, Scotland

It rained most of the way back to Inverness. When we arrived in Inverness that Saturday night the restaurants and pubs were hopping with young people out on the town. We found a restaurant with no wait, had a quick supper and called it a night after a long but fantastic day.

 

Hello Scotland

It was really sad leaving beautiful Ireland but the time had come to move on to Scotland. We boarded the Stena SuperFast VII Ferry in Belfast for our 2 1/2 hour voyage to Cairnryan, Scotland. The ferry was huge with lounges, restaurants, and even free WiFi. The seas were calm and the sky was clear for the entire trip.

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On the Stena Superfast Ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan, Scotland

As the ferry was passing by our first sighting of Scotland, we saw the Corsewall Lighthouse.

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We saw the Corsewall Lighthouse from the ferry

We picked up our rental car at the ferry dock and were soon traveling on Scotland’s roads on our way to Glasgow, our first destination.

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Another country, another rental car, more curvy roads. We have arrived in Scotland
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Scenic drive from the ferry to Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is a huge city, much bigger than I thought it would be and we only had one full day to explore. After a good night’s rest we enjoyed our first Full Scottish Breakfast before starting our sightseeing. Henry tried the haggis with eggs, I passed on the haggis. We set out on foot to explore the area around the hotel. Our wandering took us to the Museum of Modern Art, George Square and the Glasgow City Council Building.

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Wellington Statue at Museum of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland
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George Square with Glasgow City Council City Chambers Building in the background, Glasgow, Scotland
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Ceiling in Glasgow City Council Building

We decided the best way to see the highlights of Glasgow would be to take the Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour. The tour was about two hours around the city, making a few stops along the way. If you got off, you could get on another bus to continue the tour. The top deck of the red double decker buses were open and a guide pointed out places of interest as we went. The city is an interesting mix of old and new.

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Mural in Glasgow, Scotland
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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland
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Italian Shopping District, Glasgow, Scotland
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Glasgow SSE Hydro concert, sporting, and special events arena
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The old and the new in Glasgow, Scotland

The next day our adventure was a ride from Glasgow to Inverness in our rental car. After a few wrong turns and a ride through the Glasgow suburbs the scenery got better and better as the day went on.

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On the road to Inverness, Scotland
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Snow in the Highlands, Scotland

Inverness is a much smaller city with the River Ness running right through the center of town and a castle at the top of a hill. The name Inverness means “mouth of the Ness”. We arrived early enough to take a walk beside the river.

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Inverness Castle, Scotland
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Faith, Hope and Charity statue in Inverness, Scotland
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River Ness, Inverness, Scotland
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River Ness, Inverness

Next up, a full day bus tour through the Scottish Highlands.