Category Archives: Photos of home

Clematis -(Cee’s flower of the day)

At last, a flower growing in my own garden that I was able to photograph for Cee’s flower of the day challenge!

Don’t have many flowers in our garden sadly, lots of greenery but not a lot else. Anyway this time last year I planted a clematis to grow over a little pergola, so this year it has it’s first blooms – well, two so far. So when the word Clematis popped up on Cee’s flower of the day and even better the sun wash shining I popped outside with my macro lens and captured this…

clematis 1

Just so happens that we have another Clematis which grows over our garage roof from our neighbour’s garden. It has a proliferation of bloom and I just wish it was in a position for me to look out at rather than being at the ‘wrong side’ of the house. Anyway, about a month ago it was in bloom and I rather liked this one – again a blue sky is the backdrop but  don’t be fooled 😉 We are enjoying a rare settled spell of warmth and sunshine here in Northern Ireland (we call it “exam weather”), sadly we will be back to more normal NI weather tomorrow, normal service resumes! Thank you Cee, for making Clematis your flower of the day today whilst the sun is shining and I have one single flower in bloom!

clematis 2

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Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Distance

I do like these photo challenges! This one is part of Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge – Distance  and it has inspired me to post two very contrasting images on that theme.

The first is “Rhianna’s Tree”… This tree (now sadly deceased) made the headlines here in Northern Ireland when the farmer, having previously rented his field to Rhianna for her to film her latest music video, discovered that she was ” was in more of a state of undress than a bikini top” in his field. When she appeared to be topless (she may indeed have just been wearing a bikini top unlike any one he had ever witnessed) he drew a close to proceedings and sent them packing, after telling Rhianna that she and her film crew should become acquainted with God.  The filming later appeared in Rihanna’a We Found Love video which went on to win the best video of the year award at the MTV VMAs.

Rihanna's tree
Rihanna’s tree: This tree makes for a peaceful scene itself, however, when I stopped by the roadside to photograph it one day (with a long lens at it is quite some distance from the road) I was delighted to be able to pick up the little old tractor sneaking up into view, for me making the picture and wondering if it was “the farmer” who didn’t quite realise that his actions were about to give him his 15 minutes of fame. I love the simplicity of this photograph, there is no foreground distraction, nothing in the sky, just three simple attractions.

The second is a view of downtown Calgary, Alberta Canada taken from the Olympic Park Calgary, a distance of approx 15km.

distance (4)
Even though, like the photo of Rhianna’s tree, there is no distraction in the foreground, the greenery somehow does create that sense of perspective. Yes you would never guess that the City Centre is 15km away but it is. 

Huge, I hope you like my first venture into your world of blogging. I’m just in the early stages of blogging and trying to learn and build.

 

Belfast ‘born and bred’

Born and bred
Belfast, the home of many a bakery, was famous for it’s bread. The proliferation of the different types of bread that you see now in supermarkets all around the UK was something we always knew here – potato bread, soda bread/farls, wheaten bread, veda bread etc etc., yes before it became trendy in mainland UK we took it for granted here.

Born in 1964, pretty much all of the childhood that I can remember (i.e. from the age of 6) and well into young adulthood, was a life surrounded by ‘The Troubles’. Don’t worry, I do not intend to be political in my posts, however, there is no doubt that living in Belfast during this time was a different and often difficult way of living, but life it was and we just had to get on with it. Perhaps sometime I will write about some of the very negative things we had to live with as a matter of routine, but not now.

Since the whole ‘peace process’ thing, life here has certainly changed for the better in many ways. For me, one significant improvement is to be able to have much more freedom to safely enjoy the lovely little country in which we live. In the past we were often compared to Beirut, ironically now with everything else going on everywhere else in the world perhaps we are one of the safest cities/countries to be in.

As a keen photographer, I am happy to go off with my camera most places and try to capture the atmosphere of what we have on offer in and around Belfast and other places in NI. Actually we are such a small country that almost everywhere is ‘on our doorstep’ – an hour and 15 minutes will take me from Belfast to the furtherest point on the beautiful North Antrim Coast, home of the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Royal Portrush Golf Club, filming of The Game of Thrones, not to mention the Titanic (we like to remind people that it was fine when it left Belfast!) and many of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

One of the places I have enjoyed exploring over the last couple of years has been St. Georges Indoor Market, right on the edge of Belfast City Centre. I had always known it was there but until my son began to frequent it for the fresh food on offer I had never been. Having benefited from one of the National Lottery Heritage Projects it was named UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities. So, I took the plunge (and my camera) one Sunday morning to see what all the fuss was about…

I discovered that it is a vibrant, happy, cosmopolitan place, busy with traders, eateries, musicians, locals and many tourists. A place that underlines how far we as a little country have come in the last number of years.

Browsing or buying local fresh food and crafts and enjoying cooked food from all over the world (including Belfast Baps (aka buns) filled with a mountainous supply of bacon, sausage, eggs and of course ketchup) to the sound of a live musician is a real pleasure.

The opportunity to browse with my camera is what I tend to do there – other than maybe buying a ball of wool or two every now and then ;). I always liked to photograph the mundane and see the beauty in it…

 

As a photographer I always prefer to capture the candid, and what a great place to do this.

However, what strikes me most when I pop down to the market is that the range of both stall holders and visitors make it a truly cosmopolitan place. Tourists from all over the world, China, Germany, America – everywhere, huge countries coming to ‘our wee country’ to to enjoy what we have to offer. Perhaps this is one of the biggest changes our country has seen since the ‘peace process’, not only can I, who had to endure the many years of The Troubles, enjoy life here but so also can so thousands of visitors from every corner of the world.

Inspired to blog again

It is quite some time since I wrote on my blog, actually I only ever wrote 4 despite the very best of intentions! However, two things have inspired me to return, firstly, in the last couple of weeks a few people have suggested that I write a book. Well, if I can’t manage more than 4 blog posts in a row then I’m not too sure about whether I would ever succeed in writing a book. However, the comments set me thinking. Secondly, when photographing the starling murmuration in Belfast recently I spotted a fellow female photographer… Murmuration 5

The rails over which the drunk woman climbed threatening to jump.

Im always glad to meet ‘regular’ people and especially those with a common interest in this particular event. Standing at dusk alone on the Albert Bridge Belfast, with expensive camera equipment can make one feel a tad vulnerable. In fact one night at the same location I was somewhat distracted from my task by a woman, with a substantial amount of drink in her, deciding she wanted to jump into the River Lagan. She got as far as climbing over the rails (the ones you see in the above photo) and was wavering over a sheer drop into the river -a critical situation for sure and no matter what I said didn’t seem to make much sense to her and indeed none of what she said made any sense to me. The alcohol had taken over. She then became rather aggressive at my attempts to intervene which actually had the effect of her storming off – relief. This was only a temporary aversion of the crisis, however, as she returned a number of times and stood on the inches of concrete on the wrong side of the rails. That night I found myself relocating myself, my tripod, camera and lenses wherever she went to try to ensure she was safe. Albert Bridge is literally a “stone’s throw” from one of the more difficult areas of Belfast and in truth many stones have been thrown right there. Nevertheless, it is a sight of one of most dramatic of nature’s phenomenons. In fact, it is one of the few remaining city centre murmurations in the world.

Murmuration 1
This is as close as I have come so far to taking the photo I really want – a pattern from the starlings, some colour in the sky and of course the bus crossing the bridge

Anyway, I digress (a regular problem of mine – a bit like Ronnie Corbett without the humour!). As I loitered by the Albert Bridge I spotted two people including a lady with camera. My assumption due to the timing of their appearance was that they were walking towards the bridge to view the murmuration. So, I spoke to them only to find out that they knew nothing about the murmuration. Certainly this was going to be an opportunity for a photographer and traveller to Belfast not to miss. So they waited around for the murmuration to begin. It really is mesmerising although an umbrella is often recommended! I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it thoroughly and I was glad I had been able to introduce what seemed to be seasoned travellers to something almost unique to Belfast and a very dramatic event of nature. So, we parted company after the murmuration and the partner of the lady with the camera happened to mention that she had a blog. Needless to say I went home and looked it up only to find out that Debbie Smyth is quite a prolific blogger and a pretty impressive photographer to boot. That night, because of the lenses we each had on our cameras, we each took completely different images of the  murmuration. How lovely it was to chat to a fellow female photographer with not dissimilar interests, connect with her through wordpress and that I am now inspired to restart blogging and share some of my pictures.

Murmuration 2
Lift off – during the murmuration the starlings roost a few times on the top of this residential building. The sight of them taking off is pretty impressive

I now have to figure out how this blogging thing works and try to improve my following etc. Thank you for reading and all positive advice welcome!!

Jennifer Murmuration1 1

Murmuration1 3
A different night, different lens, a concentration of a few of the thousands of starlings that gather
Murmuration1 4
Sharing the experience with another friend not from Belfast – another first