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Calendar coup for Belvoir snapper

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Bunratty in Drizzle - John Power’s photograph, which is to feature as part of an original John Hinde  calendar. John is runner-up in the 2009 photography awards.
A NIGHT-time scene of Bunratty Castle captured by Belvoir amateur photographer John Power is to feature as part of an original John Hinde calendar after he was selected as a runner-up in the 2009 photography awards recently.
The Waterford native, who left the Déise for County Clare in the late 1960s, took up photography as a hobby some years back and since then has been viewing the landscape around him through the eyes of a camera.
For the 2009 photography awards, the participants were asked to capture a photo that showed the beauty of Ireland’s villages, towns and cities and last week the winner and 11 runners-up were announced.
John explained his selected shot was taken on a particularly wet evening after he was finishing eating in the Creamery in Bunratty when he noticed the way the light from the castle lit up the sky.
“I’m a hobby photographer and I’m always on the look-out for something a bit different and for interesting light. The lighting of the castle on this night was illuminating the sky and the whole scene just drew me in. It was very difficult to take because it was very wet and I didn’t have a tripod or anything it was just a hand-held camera in those conditions. I took a number of them on the night but I still look at them and wonder did I send in the right one because I have another one that is even nicer,” John explained.
This was his first time entering this competition, although he is no stranger to awards through the years having taken the overall RTÉ weather photo in 2005. He has also taken awards in photography competitions run by Clare County Council, most recently this year when he took the senior prize with their Clare Development Plan competition.
Speaking about where the talent and interest in photography came from, he returns to his home county as his initial inspiration. 
“When I was younger, I took a photograph of a dog standing on high alert because cattle in the background were making noise. The scene appealed to me so well, it was to the backdrop of the Comeragh Mountains. That’s when I first knew I had an interest. Then it lay dormant for years and eventually I got a good camera and became serious about it as a hobby and it went on from there. Then digital came in and I took to that like duck to water. My interest is not confined to just landscapes, it can be any interesting aspect in any scene or an interesting play of light. Even driving at any time, there is some part of you looking for an image. I do take the camera everywhere with me. The day you leave it behind is the day you’ll see something, so I feel I should have some kind of a camera with me at all times,” he said.
John explained there is something mysterious and magical about the landscapes in Ireland, particularly the variety that’s available in County Clare, with a particular appeal in night-time scenes.
“There’s more mystery in the night isn’t there? And I think lighting effects at night can be more dramatic at times,” he added.
John said he hopes to develop his composition skills and explore the idea of what makes an interesting image in the future. “There is a mystery to images, how do we perceive a photograph? The camera just records light and we see and decipher with our eyes in one way and our brain in another way. When you come along with the camera, you try to capture the essence of the scene with a single frame, so it is an ongoing challenge,” he concluded.

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