New Years Eve on the Dingle Peninsula

by Robyn Porteen
( December 16th, 2014 )

Fireworks over the bayDingle Peninsula

Photo by Robyn Porteen

Tradition runs deep on the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland, especially in Dingle Town (Daingean Uí Chúis).  With a large irish speaking population, The Dingle Peninsula was once voted by National Geographic as one of the top ten most beautiful places on earth. Time stands still here and the area is rich with history and culture. Many artists, musicians and craftsmen inhabit the area today.

Downtown Dingle

Photo by Robyn Porteen

New Years Eve in Dingle, Ireland is an exciting place to be! They bring in the New Year with an evening full of festivity. Fireworks are set off at 10 PM off of the Dingle Harbour. After the fireworks, everyone follows the Dingle Fife and Drum Band  around the town and to the bridge at the bottom of main street to watch the projected clock count down to midnight. Then it’s off to the pubs to celebrate the New Year!

Dingle NYE

Photo by Dingle News

Dingle once had 52 pubs, and there are still plenty to choose from to enjoy fresh seafood, traditional Irish Fare and music. Over 2000 people fill the streets to welcome in the New Year!

If you get a chance to get there early, Wren’s Day or St. Stephen’s Day is another fabulous celebration and is on December 26th.

Wrens Day

Photo courtesy of Kerry Gems

People take to the streets on Wren Day dressed in masks and straw suits, accompanied by musicians for a festival that pre-dates Christmas. It is said that the wrens held a parliament to decide who was King. There are many stories of this event. You can read more about Wren Day here.


Dingle is the place to go many times of the year with their annual food festival in September, horse racing on the beach in August and many ancient sites to visit. Visit to learn more about this area.

Irish Coast

Photo by Robyn Porteen





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5 Travel Photography Tips to Master Any Location

by Robyn Porteen
( December 12th, 2014 )

PhotographerDo you dream of taking drool-worthy travel photos? You don’t have to be world-renowned photographer like Ansel Adams to capture the beauty of a foreign location. Sure, you’ll need to master a few composition basics, like how to frame a shot or how to pick the right aperture setting. Once you’ve got these basics down, keep the following five tips in mind to take your travel photos to the next level:

#1: Get inspired. Before you leave on your trip, do a quick Google image search for the location you’ll be visiting. What are the most commonly photographed landmarks? Make a list in advance of the places you don’t want to miss and the best times of day to photograph these locations (e.g., early morning at the cathedral, late afternoon at the museum). When you arrive, visit the local tourism office and ask for tips on favorite photography spots.

#2: Beat the rush. Unless you’re on a tropical island, most folks won’t be up for sunrise. Not only will morning light add a magical element to your photographs, but it will also mean there are fewer tourists out spoiling your shots. For an insider’s view of a city waking up, head straight to the morning marketplace.

Sunset Sea of Galilee

#3: Locate hidden shots for sunset. Like early morning light, late afternoon light is also great for photographers. Rather than fighting the crowds for a space at the sunset overlook, look for under-the-radar locations. For example, notice how the setting sun creates reflections off cathedrals, museum buildings, and statues.

#4: Look for patterns. When we’re traveling in exotic locations, it’s tempting to shoot wide panoramas to capture the sweeping views. Don’t forget that textures, colors and patterns can make for interesting shots, too. For example, take a few shots of an entire marketplace and then focus on some close-up shots of spices, woven baskets or multi-colored fabrics to fully capture a place’s different elements.

Fabrics in the Market

#5: Ask first, shoot second. Respect local customs by asking permission to photograph people before you shoot. Most folks will be more than happy to be in your photographs if you ask permission first. This is also a great way to start a conversation with locals and learn more about the community you’re visiting. Ask them for their favorite spot, like a café or park, that’s off the beaten path and would make a great photograph.

Armenian Photographer

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Five Ways to Get Smiles in any Holiday Photo

by Robyn Porteen
( December 4th, 2014 )


Vintage Family PortraitThe funny thing about family holidays is that there are always going to be some bad times.

But thanks to the amazing abilities of the human brain, some of the less pleasant memories of a generally enjoyable holiday visit will more than likely fade over time.

So, looking back at past holiday journeys, we may only remember the enjoyable highlights, but not necessarily the carsickness, the fighting over directions, the crummy traffic or the surly kids in the backseat.

Family photographers must balance a fine line between honestly chronicling even the temporarily rough edges of a holiday trip, and pretending that every blessed moment was absolutely sweeter than sugarplums.

Here are some strategies for those seeking smiles, even if it means that everyone – including the photographer – must grin and bear it for a bit.

  • Don’t force the grin. Nothing works worse than commanding a smile to those who are wearing their mean faces. You’ll either get larger frowns or frightening smiles.

  • Turn the tables. One method to produce genuine smiles is by asking the group to make their meanest, unhappiest faces ever. By forcing themselves to produce the best scowls around – and then seeing everyone else’s effort – you can lighten the mood briefly, at least to shoot a second happier photo.

  • Take a lot. By this we mean set your camera on multiple takes/repeat and shoot several in sequence. Since most of us are shooting digital now, we don’t have worry about wasting film, so we can take a whole bunch and then pick the best of the batch.

  • Take turns. This can be a risk especially if you like being king or queen of the camera during the holidays. But on longer trips, everyone can have an opportunity to try to pose people and try their own strategies to get smiles. Plus it’s a way to see events from the perspective of different people, making the trip photos true family memories.

  • Bribes are good. Who cares if the kids are smiling because they’re getting ice cream next, or mom is grinning because she gets to pick next year’s destination. At least we all look happy.

How to Get Smiles in Photos


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