Back in mid-December, I had an opportunity to get out with the camera on a Sunday morning and picked Our Lady of the Roadside Church in Connemara from my ever-growing list of local places to visit.
I have a bit of a thing for post-war, concrete churches and have photographed them in the UK, Spain and Poland in the past and enjoyed their architecture, especially the more extreme versions in Eastern Europe. I’m not religious but enjoy that these examples of modernism are still celebrated, while other structures from a similar period are being neglected and pulled down.
Some of the designs are truly adventurous, almost as though the construction of something so daring was a demonstration of faith (although thinking about it, centuries of religious architecture could be considered in the same way).
Unfortunately, Storm Deidre also chose to visit Connemara on the same day, and a few hours ahead of the Met Éireann schedule. By the time I arrived, the rain was already horizontal and taking pictures was going to be difficult.
My intention was to shoot the church in its spectacular surroundings, sitting as it does in remote moorland, at the side of the road between Westport and Clifden (here’s a GoogleMaps link) but even in my full waterproofs, it would be pretty unpleasant to to get across the sodden bog to a suitable position. Also, 1970s TLRs are not known for their weatherproofing.
I sat in the car for an hour or so hoping for an improvement in the weather that didn’t come. Before I gave up and started the two-hour drive home, I snapped a couple of pictures of the chapel, the entertaining ‘Stop and Pray’ sign and the dismal view through the car windscreen.
Connemara is the most beautiful area of Ireland that I’ve visited so far. I explored it in the summer on a glorious bike ride that you can read about here, and covered some of the same ground on this visit. On this drive back though, the only pictures I could manage were when I stopped, had the car door ripped from my grasp as I opened it, and shot ‘downwind’ to keep the rain off the camera – that’s why there are so many similar pictures here.
Having said that, I quite like this composition, with the road disappearing into the gloomy distance, intimating the start of a journey into the unknown – the inclusion of the telegraph wires suggesting a continued connection between ‘here’ and ‘there’…
I was using a Mamiya C330f that I’ve recently bought. It’s a model that I owned briefly a couple of years ago but gave up in favour of the smaller, lighter Yashica-Mat124G. I got this new copy via Facebook marketplace from an ex-press photographer and I guess this camera once saw a lot of professional use. Since then, it looks to have been stored in a swamp judging by the fungus on the lens and mildew on the leatherette.
I negotiated a discount from the seller and then set about cleaning it up, disassembling the lens and soaking in Milton to kill off the growth, then stripping the rest of the camera into as many parts as I dare to clean it up.
It seems to be doing what it should.
Finally, I was using Ilford’s FP4+ film. Once the Fuji Acros runs out, I think it’s going to be my long-term, go to film. The results are always excellent with low grain, massive tonal range and perfect contrast.
Mamiya C330f twin lens reflex camera with 80mm lens, Ilford FP4+ film at EI125, processed in Ilfotec HC and scanned at home.
Finally, to give you an idea of the location, a quick (digital) picture showing the view from as far as I got across the bog…