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.
Shooting seagulls at Islandhill, near Comber today, using the Fujifilm X-T4 and a 55-200mm lens. The tide was fully in when I was there, so there was no chance of getting along the Causeway to the island itself. Still, there were a few photo opportunities.
When it come to scenery, there’s few places better than Strangford and Lecale, – an area of outstanding natural beauty, and of great scientific interest.
On Thursday 7th January I crossed the straits between Portaferry and Strangford on the ferry, with my Fujifilm X-T4. It was a cold, bright winter day, and Strangford village was sparkling in the winter sunlight.
The Martin Memorial Clock Tower – beloved monument or ‘a decrepit eyesore?’
Back in September, 2020, Janette and I did a drive around the Lecale District, an area of outstanding natural beauty, not too far from where we live in Co.Down. I did three blog posts about that area, and in the first of those pieces, https://bobmcevoy.co.uk/2020/09/01/the-lecale-district-1/ I mentioned Van Morrison’s song, “Coney Island.” (Is it really a song?), in which Mr Morrison, one of our native sons, mentions many of the local places of interest in this part of Northen Ireland. But one of the lines of the song intrigued me. For Mr Morrison writes of driving through Shrigley to take photographs before he travelled on down to Killyleagh.
Between Dundrum and Newcastle, Co.Down is this ancient Dolmen, a strange stone structure that stands out against the skyline.
It is generally supposed that these stone structures mark burial grounds, probably from around 3000-4000 BC. Who built them, or how they were built is a mystery, it seems, but they occur all over Western Europe. Notice how the heaven top rock seems to fit into ‘sockets’ on the supporting rocks, and marvel at ancient engineering skills! To visit the Dolmen take the A2 road from Dundrum to Newcastle, and on reaching Murlough Nature Reserve turn onto Old Road, The Dolmen is on the left. Be aware though, that the tomb is sited on private land, which often is sowed out in crops, and to cross over to the monument would be trespass. It’s wise to take a medium range zoom lens if you want to photograph the Dolmen, and work from the road verge.
I visited the Dolmen on a bright afternoon, so conditions for photography were not optimal. I had to overexpose by around 2 stops to bring out some detail in the stones, which left the sky overexposed. I’d no tripod with me, so no opportunity for a series of shots for HDR processing.
The images above was made with the Fujifilm X-T2, F=180mm, f/8 @ 1/250th sec on ISO250.