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…
Hillsborough is one of the trendy, affluent areas of Northern Ireland. Situated on the A1 between Dromore and Lisburn, Hillsborough boasts a fine park with a lake, historic buildings, a fort, and even a Royal Residence (Hillsborough Castle).
I visited the town for a ‘walk with a camera’ one morning recently, when the sun was shining and it was around 24 degress celsius. Here’s a few of the images…
Hillsborough Main Street.
This old meeting hall has been abandoned for quite a few years now, and has been on the market for sale. Driving past it I noticed that it has begun to deteriorate in condition. I stopped to make some photographs. The old sign board is still standing…
Gracehill Moravian Village.
On a wet Sunday afternoon, I spent an hour or so wandering about Gracehill. I’d driven through it many times, but never explored it on foot. The village is situated around two and a half miles from Ballymena, and was built in 1765 by Moravian Settlers.
I’m still playing with the new Fufifilm X-T2, so today I took it on a walk around Kiltonga Nature Reserve in Newtownards, to test out the film simulation feature. One of the interesting features of this camera is the ability to set it to emulate various Fufi Films, like Fuji’s popular Velvia colour film for example.
The camera has a black and white option to record images on virtual ‘Acros’ monochrome film, which should give outstanding contrast, and a rich tonal range. Furthermore, Acros simulation will produce grain in the image exactly the same size as the film version, by ISO. The claim made by Fuji is that Arcos film simlation is even better than shooting in RAW and later converting to monochrome in Photoshop. Fufi even claim that Acros will outperform any other high end digital camera shooting in B&W mode. So, today I set the X-T2 to shoot in Acros Monochrome on card two, and in RAW on card one. (Shooting in RAW, of course means that should I want a colour image, I can use the RAW unprocessed files to produce it.)
In 2002, I visited Cluan Place in East Belfast for the first time. I was visiting a couple of homes in the street, – people who were parishioners of a church that I belonged to at the time. The reason for my visit was to see if their homes had been damaged in the rioting that was taking place at that time. Cluan Place lies right on one of the Belfast interface lines, ‘peace-walls’ seperating two communities. In the case of Cluan Place, it interfaced with the largely republican Short Strand area. In 2002 friction between the two communities was at a height, and there was a constant police presence to keep the warring factions apart. One of my friends in the street was an ederly man who had found a pipe bomb in his garden; it had been lobbed over the wall from the other side.
In August this year I had occasion to visit the street again. It’s fifteen years from my first visit, and I havent been there since, and I wondered how the community and the atmosphere had changed. was there still that fearfullness, that alertness of suuden attack? was there a constant police landrover sitting at the single entrance to the cul de sac?
Needless to say, I had a film camera with me. I never go anywhere without one, so after my visit with one of the residents I did some photographs. I hope they paint a small picture of life in Cluan Place 15 years on.
The other side of the wall is Short Strand, equally smitten in 2002, – here’s some pictures of the wall from the Short Strand side, and a lovely new building, on the site where the old ‘Picturedrome’ cinema once stood.
If I had to choose my ‘image of the day’ – it would probably be this one, for after all, like life the summer barbecues go on!
Dunluce Castle, 2nd November 2016.
A visit to Dunluce Castle, between Portrush and Portballintrae on a cold, windy day in November, yet still plenty of foreign tourists around the ancient monument. The castle was built in the early 17th Century, by Randall McDonnell, and the now derelict mansion house sits out on a rock, reached only by a wooden bridge.
The approach to the castle is by way of a walled ‘funnel’ – to make it virtually unassailable. Visitors would have to be processed through the funnel, and any attack would be almost impossible.
On Saturday 1st October, I went for a walk up to Scrabo Tower, on the outskirts of Newtownards. This landmark has towered over much of my life, living and working around the Ards area. The tower was built in 1857, 540 ft above sea-level, as a memorial to the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, Viscount castlereagh, Charles Stewart. The tower is situated in a country park, close to Scrabo Golf Club, and is approached by car only as far as the golf club entrance, then by foot up a steep path to the summit. Thankfully, there are resting places on the ascent!
Being October, the road up to tower ran beside fields that had just been baled, – which provided my image of the day, and set the scene for my exploration of the towers surroundings.
St Patrick’s Grave
On Tuesday, 22nd September, I had occasion to visit Downpatrick, Co.Down, and after I’d completed my work there I went for a walk around the grounds of Downpatrick Cathedral. Unfortunately the cathedral building was closed, so no interior shots, but there were plenty of visitors and tourists around the building and in the adjoining churchyard, for Downpatrick is the (alleged) burial place of Ireland’s patron saint, Patrick. Continue reading St Patrick’s Grave