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 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.
Tim (my son) who is a coffee aficionado, bought me some ’38 Coffee’ whole beans for Christmas. I’d duped him into thinking I was getting a brand new professional Gaggia from Santa, and he kindly thought that I’d need some beans for the big day – and of course to make him a decent cup of Americano. I was lying, of course – a serious breach of ethics, and one of those conscience riddled challenges that we all face from time to time.
We walked through Portrush this afternoon, and then drove out through Bushmills to have afternoon coffee at the fabulous BOTHY COFFEE cafe at White Park Bay. Iv’e spent so much time with a camera in Portrush, so I wanted to get some different shots, something fresh and original from a familiar location. Here’s a few of my efforts…
I looked down this entry and noticed a Liverpool FC flag hanging from a window, giving a tiny splash colour to an otherwise bland scene.
Dringing home along the Moneyreagh Road towards Ballygowan I’ve been fascinated by an old derelict dwelling near the village of Moneyreagh, at what used to be known as ‘Milligan’s Cross.’ There’s nothing special about the building, except that there’s an old second floor fireplace exposed at the side of the building. Tonight I asked Janette to leave me off outside the old building, so that I could make some photographs of the fireplace, and its surrounds, – and then to walk the two mile journey home. Here’s my favourite image:
I love the textures and colours in the walls and brick, and the contrast between the bright blue tiles and the crumbling plaster in the walls.
In December 2019 I had my attention attracted (or ‘distracted’ since I was driving!) by the old Templemore Avenue Baths, – for there were no cars parked in fort of it – which is unusual, and that fact prompted me to actually get out of the car and make some photographs.
So, when I discovered that one of my ‘Baby’s First Year’ mums worked at the Baths, needless to say I asked for quick look inside, and so with the help of David, Sam and Sharon, I got a great tour of the inside of the building, and just in time too, for the building just about to be stripped inside, and incorporated into a new state of the art leisure complex being built on the adjacent site. Here’s some (but not all) of the photos…
The Boiler Room was my starting point. in a lower floor below ground level, the machinery there is still working (for the community group who have been using the building) but no less interesting for that.
The Baths had two pools, and the small of the two has been disused for quite some time.
The larger pool is still in use at the time of writing. It features little changing cubicles along the sides of the pool – probably considered unhygienic by modern standards, but perfect for the period in which the structure was built. Thanks to David for removing the pool cover to let me see the water!
I sat in one of the cubicles to get a swimmer’s view of the pool…
The most interesting part of the building is the actual bathrooms themselves, and these will be in Part 3 – following in a day or two. I’ll post a link here.
Saturday 9th September 2019 – the morning was wet, for heavy rain has been lashing the British Isles, causing flooding. Thankfully Northern Ireland has been spared the worst effects, unlike parts of England, where flooding has ruined homes and even led to loss of life. It’s too wet to go out on the streets, but I had a sort of a back-up plan. In Belfast is an old Victorian Covered Market, ‘St George’s Market’ (built in the 1890s) – and I thought a visit might bring one or two photo opportunities.
In June 2018 I made some photographs of the derelict exterior of the old Moneyreagh Gospel Hall. The building had been unused for some years and was up for sale. Here’s one of the images from that day…
The hall has, presumably, been sold, and the roof has been removed, and the walls stripped back to the brick, – so it’s probably going to be converted to a dwelling. I stopped at the site a few days ago to make some more photographs, and to see what the inside of the building is like now. Continue reading Moneyreagh Gospel Hall – Update→
I had a few minutes to kill today before an appointment, so I had a short stroll around Holywood Priory, an old church and graveyard in Holywood, a medium sized town between Belfast and Bangor, and part of the Ards and North Down District Council area.
Watching Bethany, my granddaughter making chocolate chip cookies, I was intrigued by how her hands kneaded the dough, and caught just a few of the moments on the Fujifilm X-T2. I kept the aperture wide open to reduce the depth of field, and blur the background as much as possible. Difficult enough exposures, for the kitchen was quite dark at the time, and ISO was 12800, so some of the images very noisy indeed. However…