In Northern Ireland, the 12th of July is a major event, the annual celebration of the victory of King William III, Prince of Orange, over the forces of King James II of England, at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, a victory over the oppressive Stuart dynasty, which granted freedom of religion for everyone in the British Isles. In 2020 the annual festival was cancelled because of Covid, and this year, 2021, only small local parades were held.
The closest parade to me was at Saintfield, Co.Down, and I went along with the Fujifilm X-T4, and two lenses, the 16-55mm f/2.8 and the new 70-300mm f/4. I’m looking for character shots, faces and figures and action and determination…
Here’s a small selection of some of the people mages captured on the day. instrumentalists, bandsmen, marchers…
The colour of the day is enhanced by the banners carried by the bands and lodges.
This week in Northern Ireland saw yet another political agenda being promoted and furthered by the skilful use of photography. To say that ‘the camera never lies‘ is no longer true in the age of digital manipulation, but was it ever? The simple shifting of the photographer’s position can change the perspective of the viewer, flatten distance, and be used to make a political point.
In Northern Ireland, the building of a bonfire, and the lighting of the fire on the 11th July is a tradition, long held among certain sections of the Unionist or Loyalist community. It is an expression of loyalist culture. When I was a boy, back the 60s and 70s, little bonfires were made in each street, no more than little piles of planks and scrap. But the local authorities tried to regulate the tradition. The street bonfires left a mess that needed to be cleaned up, and sometimes caused damage to properties. Often the materials that were burned were far from helpful in controlling pollution; tyres were often burned, pouring out toxic smoke into the air. To solve these problems, some councils began to offer grants to buy pallets, which would burn more cleanly, on condition that the street bonfires were replaced with centralised pyres, and pollutants excluded. This led to pyres like this one in Newtownards:
It was this massive bonfire that became the subject of a media scam, fuelled by deceptive photography. Apparently this bonfire in Newtownards was built RIGHT BESIDE THE LOCAL FIRE STATION! An image was produced to prove the point, The media picked up on the story immediately, – radio programmes, a Twitter storm, newspaper articles, with the collective might of the left lining up to demand that the bonfire be dismantled and removed.
On 9th July 2021 I reproduced the photograph which caused the ‘offence’ – an image showing the ‘alleged’ juxtaposition of the pyre and the fire station.
It looks authentic. There’s no Photoshop manipulation, the image is ‘as shot.’ But what has happened is that camera position is flattening the distance between the bonfire and the Fire Station. It is deliberately deceptive, and it set the local news agenda for a whole morning, before some locals pointed out that the distance between the fire and the station is considerable, with a stretch of waste ground and a four lane road between! Still, the Left got a whole morning of free publicity and a chance to pour more odium on the working class loyalist community of the town.
I’ve no idea who Luke is, but his name is on a string of beads, tiny little beads, at Kiltonga Wildlife Reserve near Newtownards. I photographed this with the new 70-300mm Fujifilm lens, with the lens extended to 300mm (420mm on full frame equivalent) and from a distance of just 3 feet. The lens, technically is not a macro lens, but its close focussing is pretty impressive.
Fujifilm X-T4 F=300mm, f/5.6, at 1/60th sec on ISO100, Provia film simulation.
This old brick gateway at Ballyhome, Coleraine has attracted me for years – I pass it quite often on the way to our family holiday home at Portrush, and I’ve always wanted to point a lens at it – but up until last week I never had opportunity, for one reason or another…
…Until ask week, when Janette and me were driving back from Bushmills, and I determined to stop and make a few images – in between the passing cars on the road down into Coleraine!
I don’t know who owns it or where the path leads, but it’s a striking entrance for whatever property!
Photographed on the Fujifilm X-T4, F=50mm, f/5.6 @ 1/125th sec on ISO800.
I found this fantastic example of the old Ford Escort rally car in a car park and I couldn’t resist making a few images. it was in pristine condition, with anti-roll bars, alloy wheels, CIBIE’s and even a 4-track cassette player! And not a USB plug, mobile phone charger or SatNav in sight!
She’s ready to rally!
Fujifilm X-T3, F=46mm, f/6.4 @ 1/25th sec on ISO800 Classic Chrome Film Simulation.
On Tuesday 22nd June, 2021 our local seat of government, the classic Parliament Building of Stormont, Belfast, was illuminated in blue, to mark the centenary of the first sitting of the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1921. I was commissioned to photograph the building, for publicity purposes, by Traditional Unionist Voice, one of the local political parties, whose initiative had led to this special commemoration event.