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.
I was sitting in the passenger seat of Janette’s car, crossing the M3 bridge in Belfast, with the Fujifilm X-T4 in my lap, when this track maintenance vehicle crossed the railway bridge which runs parallel to the road. A quick adjustment or two, and thanks to the X-T4’s in-body image stabilisation and continual autofocus, and I got this shot from that rare angle, a shot that would be impossible on foot!
So the only thing planned about this shot was the readiness of the camera!
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!
I’ve this thing about cars. I’m not by any means a ‘petrolhead’ – after all, I drive a Skoda! But I’ve been photographing cars commercially for about 15 years, but I’ve always been glad to get those jobs done and get away home, or back to the studio for some real photography! But there is no studio anymore, and I’ve been reading a book called ‘Autofocus – The Car in Photography.’ It’s pretty inspiring! I’ve taken an interest in getting car images just for fun, my ‘On the Move Project.’ Ive been sitting in the passenger seat, with the camera, on continuous focus, and looking for interesting vehicles out and about. I’ll share more of these images from time to time.
Anyway, I found this Mini One sitting at traffic lights in Belfast. I underexposed by two stops, darkening the background significantly and keeping the brake lights looking realistic. Normal exposure would have rendered the red lights unrealistically bright. In photoshop I duplicated the layer and raised the exposure in the bottom layer by 2stops, added a layer mask to the upper layer and then painted the car in at normal exposure. Except the lights of course!
One of the great advantages of the Fujifilm X-T4, and the unique selling point, as far as I was concerned, was the IBIS feature. It works a treat! So, to combine it with the continuous focus mode, I sat in the passenger seat, with the camera, while Janette was driving.
Ok, so there’s some of our roads here that no amount of digital technology could cope with! Bumps, potholes, bends, (and sharp gear shifts… LOL) all take their toll on the image stability! So, when we got onto a reasonably straight road, I fixed the focus on a few other vehicles on the road, and made some images!
I’ve photographed all sorts of cars, over the past 20 years or so, everything from Jaguars to Hyundais, Renaults to Fords, Landrovers to Toyotas. For the first time last week I had opportunity to photograph a Nissan Nismo – a car I’d never even heard of until now. Here’s the main image…