Carton House in Maynooth, County Kildare was once the country residence of the powerful Duke of Leinster. Today, the stately home has been transformed into a luxury hotel and the spacious grounds house two world class golf courses. Incidentally, the city residence of the Duke was Leinster House on Kildare Street in Dublin. Today this building is the seat of the Irish parliament or Dáil in the Irish Language.
The grounds of the Carton Estate are open to the public and are an excellent place for a leisurely stroll. I love getting here at dawn when the morning mist frequently hangs over the grasslands and the still waters of the Rye Water Lake reflect the various trees that line its banks. In this post, I’m going to present some of the photos of these trees that I’ve taken during my early morning excursions to Carton. Luckily for me, this charming and tranquil location is only 20 minutes by train from where I live.
Now, I’m no dendrologist, so I’m afraid my descriptions of the trees I photographed will be limited to ‘Yup, that’s definitely a tree alright’. I may be able to say that it’s ‘big tree’ but that’s about it I’m afraid.
I actually studied French and History at Maynooth University many years ago but never once made the twenty minute walk to the Carton Estate in my three years in the town. I think I was too busy
partying and drinking beer studying very diligently and engaging in deep discussions about eighteenth century French literature with my fellow students.
I think the photo above illustrates why I love coming here early in the morning. The perfectly still waters of the Rye Water Lake create a perfect mirror image of the lakeside tree and its surroundings. A light mist hugs the surrounding grassland and three ducks swim into the frame at just the right moment to help complete the shot. The colours in the sky at this time are often quite stunning with pastel hues of amber and pink providing an attractive backdrop to the scene.
This composition illustrates the effectiveness of leading lines. In this case, the winding pathway gently leads the viewer to the mist shrouded tree. The ‘S’ shape of the path tends to be very pleasing in a compositional sense. On this particular morning, the dawn light had painted the clouds in a pleasing shade of light pink. I can also confirm that this is a ‘big tree’. It also has a trunk, many branches and a lot of leaves. Hey, I’m not so bad at this!
Often it’s the simple compositions that work the best. In this case, the simple left to right diagonal of the path again leads the eye to the tree. The scene is uncluttered and minimalist. A lot of my photos tend to be quite busy with plenty to see around the frame. It’s nice to try something a little different now and again. Shortly after taking this shot, a wayward golf ball missed my head by about six inches. Who ever said landscape photography isn’t a dangerous activity? I required several medicinal hot whiskeys to recover from the shock.
I took this shot shortly after sunrise on a chilly Winter morning. Back-lit subjects can be very difficult to capture due to the huge differences in exposure from the darkest to brightest areas. In this case I took three exposures, one at -2, one at 0 and one at +2. I then blended them together in post production in order to record as much detail as possible. If you look to the left of centre in the frame, you can see the tree that featured in the first shot. Maybe I’m not so bad at identifying trees after all. That first tree was a ‘small tree’ by the way.