By Grace Kieran
Senior Lecturer of Geography and Archaeology, Dr Chaosheng Zhang, took this shining shot of the quad this time last year whilst he waited for his daughter to finish her violin lesson. The self-proclaimed ‘amateur’ described how it only took half an hour, and it poignantly links to how his passion for photography came from taking photos for his children when they were small.
Where many might see photo sharing online as boasting, he sees mobile photography as “a good way of communication, especially with old friends living far away,” referencing the Chinese social media WeChat as the origin of his posting. He began posting photos on social media in 2017 as part of a photo competition, and has gained over a thousand followers since.
As his work progressed, the humble phone was replaced by a professional camera and two basic lenses: 24-105 mm and 16-35 mm. He learnt about the rules and theories of photography and you can clearly track his improvement through his Instagram profile. Dr Chaosheng Zhang described himself as “delighted and honoured” since many of his campus photos are used for promotion by the University. Furthermore, his skills have reached as far as France, where a Blackrock landscape hangs on one couple’s walls.
With almost daily posts, this photographer must spend a lot of time getting the perfect frame. Nevertheless, he is a dedicated senior lecturer at NUI Galway. He outlined how academics often do not get the opportunity to squeeze exercise into their working day, so he uses photography as part of his daily routine, whilst walking to and from campus (weather permitting).
“I usually paid annual membership fees to the health club at the University, but I did not use it fully, as it was quite boring for me to run on a belt. Taking photos provides a good opportunity to walk around and I really enjoy it,” Chaosheng shared.
When asked to pick a favourite spot for photography, the lecturer gave three, proving his appreciation for the beauty of our surroundings.
Firstly, Blackrock Diving Tower is his favourite. He admits that “too many photos have been taken [there] almost on a daily basis,” however advises that you concentrate on the divers and people around the tower. “In the meantime, sunset sceneries over the tower are never the same.”
The Claddagh area, including the Long Walk comes in a close second, offering wonderful reflections and serene swans when the water is still. Of course, the NUI Galway campus makes it onto his list as a favourite spot. Of the adjoining photo, he adds “perhaps you have never seen such colourful photos of the Quadrangle.”
For anyone wanting to try and pursue photography, or just take it up as a hobby, the lecturer advises you follow the rule of thirds to begin with. After a while, “you may gradually forget about the ‘rules’ and begin to establish your own style.” That’s right, a lecturer telling us to forget the rules, 2019 is off to a brilliant start! Lastly, the most important part is “you need to be sensitive to the beauty of our environment, care about and love our environment.”
From locals to Erasmus students missing home, his account reminds us all how blessed we are to be in such a beautiful city. His content is heart-warming and you can tell that he believes in his parting quote – he treats his landscape with respect and wants us to care about it, too. The sunsets and silhouettes showcase Galway and prove its beauty, even on a rainy day.