When I was a child, the Dublin Docklands was a derelict no-go area, unless you wanted to be relieved of your wallet. Today however, the docklands area of the city is the financial heart of the city with a rapidly developing infrastructure. The shabby old buildings and narrow streets frequented by shady individuals have been replaced by trendy new apartments and the shiny headquarters of some of the world’s biggest banks. Thankfully, there are never any criminal types to be found working in banks…… right?

In the eighties, the area was earmarked for major development by then Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Charlie Haughey. Mr Haughey was a cross between a politician and a Bond villain. He wore Chervet shirts and owned his own island during the eighties while the rest of us were trying to decide whether to pay the mortgage or eat. That said,the Irish Financial Services Centre was a great success and today employs over 35,000 people.There was hiatus on development in the area during the financial crash but the cranes are once again filling the skyline as more fancy new office blocks and apartments are once again being built.

The 4 photos in this series were taken over two separate shoots in the Dublin Docklands area and concentrate on the area along the River Liffey. We start at one of the oldest buildings in the area, the Custom House.

 

The Custom House - Dublin

Custom House Reflection

Aperture: f14  |  Shutter Speed: 8 sec  |  ISO: 100  |  Focal Length: 11 mm  | Lens: Sigma 10-20

Click here to purchase a print of this photograph from Fine Art America.

The 18th century Custom House is without doubt one of the finest buildings in Dublin. It was completed in 1791 and is situated between Talbot Bridge and Butt Bridge. To my American readers, yes we  really do have a “Butt Bridge” in Dublin. It was named for Lord Farguire Higgleton Butt, Head of the Manor of Shelbourne, an 18th century aristocrat who invented the salad fork and was rumoured to have an abnormally large posterior. I swear.*

Anyway, back to the photo. This is obviously a night shot but it was actually taken early in the morning before sunrise. You can actually see the sky brightening to the right as the sun began to rise. I love reflections in water and the completely windless conditions that morning resulted in a perfect mirror reflection of the Custom House in the River Liffey. You can also see the aforementioned neon-lit Irish Financial Services Centre to the right of the Custom House.

* May not be entirely historically accurate.

 

Dublin Docklands at Dawn

Dublin Docklands at Dawn

Aperture: f14  |  Shutter Speed: 5 sec  |  ISO: 100  |  Focal Length: 56 mm  | Lens: Sigma 24-70

Click here to purchase a print of this photograph from Fine Art America.

The next photo was taken shortly after the Custom House one. I walked up to Talbot Bridge and composed a shot looking down towards the mouth of the River Liffey in the East. At this stage, the sun was still below the horizon but had painted the morning sky an interesting mix of pink and blue hues.

To the left you can see the National Conference Centre which looks like a giant Coke can. It looks pretty cool lit up at night though as you’ll see in the next photo. The focal point of the shot however is the Samuel Beckett Bridge. To me this is the jewel in the crown of the redeveloped Dublin Docklands. The bridge is designed to look like a harp (which is the national symbol of Ireland) on its side. The silhouette of the famous Poolbeg chimneys can be seen on the far right.

If you look carefully in the centre left of the frame, you can see the unfinished shell of the new Anglo Irish Bank headquarters. The bank collapsed in spectacular fashion in 2008 taking the rest of the country with it. Several of the bank’s board members have just been convicted of conspiracy to mislead investors. I’m sure the sentences they receive will be the toughest few months of reading novels in a comfortable room ever.

 


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Dublin Docklands by Night

Dublin Docklands by Night

Aperture: f16  |  Shutter Speed: 25 sec  |  ISO: 100  |  Focal Length: 10 mm  | Lens: Sigma 10-20

Click here to purchase a print of this photograph from Fine Art America.

This wide angle photo of the Samuel Beckett Bridge and National Conference Centre was taken during an evening shoot a few months later. It was actually the only shot I was really happy with from that evening. It was worth the trip though, as I’ve sold it for commercial use a few times since. It shows us that you should always make the effort to get out with the camera even if you only come home with one or two good shots.

The photo is a very wide angle shot taken with a 10 mm focal length. I wanted to include the dock cleat in the foreground in order to add some depth to the scene. Adding foreground interest like this is a good way of achieving this. I love how the Conference Centre is lit up with the purple lights.

In 2011, Queen Elizabeth II attended a performance of Riverdance at the centre during her visit to Ireland. We’re actually quite good friends with the English these days …… except when it comes to rugby or football of course.

 

Dublin Docklands by Night - Black and White Version

Dublin Docklands by Night – Black and White Version

Aperture: f16  |  Shutter Speed: 25 sec  |  ISO: 100  |  Focal Length: 10 mm  | Lens: Sigma 10-20

Click here to purchase a print of this photograph from Fine Art America.

This was one of those shots that was screaming out for black and white treatment. I find that night time city scenes look really great in monochrome. It was a very simple conversion done in Photoshop CC with a little more contrast added than in the colour version. I think you can get away with pushing the contrast a little more when working in black and white.

I may have only gotten one decent shot that night but the black and white conversion would later make it two keepers. With my single shot in the bag I, as usual, headed into one of Dublin’s many pubs where I drank beer and wondered what I would have to do to get a bridge named after one of my body parts.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. Please feel free to share it on social media using the share buttons at the top and bottom of the post. You can subscribe to the blog below to receive updates on new posts. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Your comments, opinions and suggestions are also very welcome.

 


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