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…
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.
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.
It’s encouraging to drive along a road and see some inspirational words on a wall. In Belfast, it makes a nice change from some of the darker, paramilitary or terrorist inspired murals. Ant when you are ‘getting on a bit’ like me, this wall on the Newtownards Road is particularly appropriate – a good incentive to keep going!
This area of Belfast is known as ‘Ballymacarrett’ – an ancient townland name, and the home of many of the old Belfast industries, most notably the famous Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Short Brothers aircraft factory, the Belfast Rope Works and the Scirocco Works.
The mural features everything that is good about East Belfast, its community and renown, including CS Lewis, born in East Belfast. Also included are a ballerina, Belfast City Hall, and a group of children playing in the street, a boy releasing a dove, symbolising peace.
The main text on the mural is:
You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.
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.
Around 2.30pm this afternoon, I was about to cross the Slaght Level Crossing, outside Ballymema, when this old trackside hut caught my eye, and I thought, “Ah ha! There’s an old trackside hut! Time to get the camera out.” I parked the car, and walked to a gate with a view of the track, and fitted a medium length zoom on the Fujifilm X-T4. (No, I wasn’t trespassing on the tracks.)
Fujifilm X-T4, F=200mm, f/4.8 @ 1/250th sec on ISO 1600.
I needed the faster shutter speed to steady the lens in the wind, – I should really have got the monopod out, lowered the shutter speed to 1/60th and the ISO to 400.
But then hindsight’s a wonderful thing!
Actually, a few days down the track (see what I did there) and I decided to take away that ugly sign in Photoshp. It probably improves the image significantly!
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.
Why is Ardglass in a Jamjar? I’ve no idea! But I’ve heard that expression used by my late grandparents, back in the 1960’s. It was made famous by Van Morrison, the singer/sngwriter, who immortalised it in his song ‘Coney Island.’
…On and on, over the hill to Ardglass In the jam jar, autumn sunshine, magnificent And all shining through Stop off at Ardglass for a couple of jars of Mussels and some potted herrings in case We get famished before dinner…