Dichotomy on Dawson Street

January 21, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I was walking along Dawson Street in Dublin one night recently with herself after a concert when we came on this somewhat apocalyptic scene of apparent destruction at the junction with Molesworth Street. According to the Irish Times, however, it just the demolition of the old Royal and Sun Alliance Building to make way for a new mixed retail and residential development “One Molesworth Street”. In this anniversary year of the Easter Rising, it brought to mind the many shots we are seeing of the destruction of the city centre 100 years ago.

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A promised drink in the Shelbourne was briefly put on hold while I got this shot with my pocket camera, the  Panasonic LFI – the settings were 1/10 second (braced on a safety barrier with image stabilisation on), f2, and ISO 400 at 28mm. As usual with this camera, I shot in manual mode and in RAW. I converted to black and white to eliminate the orange colour of the digger that was distracting from the jagged structures. I also played with the exposure, contrast and clarity sliders in Lightroom until I got the look I wanted.

Once I had the camera out, of course I also had to try a few quick shots of the Mansion House just up the street – all lit up in blue. It’s the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin. The First Dáil (parliament) met there on the 21 January 1919 to adopt the Irish Declaration of Independence. Unlike the 1916 Proclamation which, initially at least, only had the support of the small number of extremists involved in the Easter Rising, the Declaration of Independence was backed by the overwhelming democratic mandate of the 1918 election, except in most of Ulster where there was, and still is, a Unionist majority.  Of course, before country was properly established, there was still to be the War of Independence with the British Government, the split with Northern Ireland, a Civil War . . . but enough of the history that we will all be drowned in for the next seven or eight years!

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The settings were the same as for the previous shot and there was a convenient road sign for support. I could not get back far enough back to get everything in at 28mm so this image is two-shot vertical stitch panorama. This can be done automatically using Photo Merge with the latest version of Lightroom (Ctrl M) but, due the restrictive shooting conditions,  I had left myself with too little border for that to work well. Instead I exported to Photoshop (Ctrl E) and then used File > Automate > Photomerge to make the panorama (there’s no keyboard shortcut for this in Photoshop). I was left with quite a bit of blank space on both sides of the stitch, so I had to do several Content Aware Fills to deal with this (Edit > Fill > Content Aware – Shift F5). I did them separately for the cobles, the railings and the walls as one big fill did not work well. Even then, I had to do a bit of cloning to tidy up the edges.

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As luck would have it, two people walked up the steps and in the door as I took the shots. To highlight the figures, I used a radial filter in Lightroom (Shift M) to increase exposure and contrast around them. I’m not sure if prefer the colour version as it was lit up, or the black and white, so I’m showing both!

Oh, and yes we got have that drink as well!


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