Tag Archives: visit Belfast

That Tree, always in Black and White…

Part of Cee’s B&W photo challenge  – Open Topic

I have photographed this tree at the Giant’s Ring Belfast a number of times, of course at different times of year and in differing lights, however, I have always turned it into varying B&W effects. Perhaps my first attempt was “the original and best” but I am posting a selection of them as it seems to me that this tree naturally tells me that it needs to be in B&W to do it justice and create the atmosphere. For that reason it seems to me to be the obvious choice for Cee’s B&W Challenge Open Topic this week.

tree 2
needless to say the little boy and his pup make the photo for me
same tree, different angle
tree 1
don’t know just decided to take this with the tree and the stones as background rather – was enjoying the meadow that they have allowed to grow up in recent years
the original
a different day, different light, like the sky



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.


Hanging, headlands, hockey and many more ;)

Lori’s Weekly Letter Challenge: Letter H

So, this is my first adventure into Lori’s weekly letter challenge and I see that I am joining rather late – perhaps I can fill in the letter ‘a’ to ‘g’ in due course, although with the letter ‘d for dog’ I just might get stuck in there for a while 😉 Nevertheless here I am. As usual I have difficulty focusing on and staying completely on one track on my blog and I, therefore, tend to diversify but I do offer variety I HOPE some decent photos for everyone to enjoy. I am consistent, however, in that I usually include something of my home land, Northern Ireland, trying to show it off in it’s better light, and also my love of animals, in particular dogs. I’m a keen photographer with a huge archive of photos and I admit to enjoying having the opportunity to share a few of them in these challenges.

OK so, the letter H… I came across a photo that inspired me to choose a few others on the same theme – Hanging!

H 2
Yes, it’s a Hangman’s noose! Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast. The Crumlin Road Gaol dates back to 1845 and closed it’s doors as a working prison in 1996. It is now a very popular tourist attraction and believe it or not well worth a visit. The Gaol played a significant part in the recent history of Northern Ireland. The last Hanging at the Gaol took place on 20th December 1961. 

Having at last found a use for this photo I then found a few others along the same theme albeit much more fun than this kind of Hanging 😉

The first was taken through the railings of a skate park in New York, this little lad pictured Hanging from the the edge of the bowl, maybe 5 or 6 years old was there with his dad. Clearly neither of them had any sense of fear. The second is one of my boys at this point Hanging during pull ups whilst training at the gym.

Below, just some scarfs and safety gear hanging…

And back to promoting ‘our wee country’… the beautiful Headlands on the North Antrim Coast – photographed from the west and then the east

H 1
Headland from the west looking over Benbane Head, Dunluce Castle, Runkerry Point and Giant’s Causeway Headland beyond.
View from the east of Whitepark Bay, Portbradden and the reverse side of the Giant’s Causeway Headland beyond 

So now some animate ‘H’s from home and beyond…

Some of the connections to ‘H’ are obvious but for the sake of indulging my fastidious nature let me say in the above collection I have a pet Hamster I photographed many moons ago, a rider on Horseback, Banff Canada, a Hare, Calgary Alberta, swans in Hillsborough Lake Co. Down NI, Heron Strangford Lough Co Down NI, a Hairy chimp, a very Happy wren on my Hedge at my House, a Hawaiian Goose a lady Hunting in a bin for food Calgary Alberta and two beautiful Horses San Roque, Spain.  Fairly random selection.

So now a few inanimate ‘H’s…

The cranes you could not miss if you ever visited Belfast. They are Harland and Wolf gantry cranes, previously used in shipbuilding, now more for heavy lifting during the building of of wind turbines and refurbishment of oil rigs. Then there is a very sad Headstone for a baby, St Andrew’s Scotland, a collection of cowboy Hats on sale Downtown Calgary a Hand-knitted Hat on a Head in St George’s market, Belfast – (another place worth visiting) and finally Stormont Building known colloquially as “The House on the Hill” (where all our politicians work). I have blogged previously about Stormont if you would like to read more. Again, worth visiting.

And finally for my indulgence, no selection of ‘H’ photos would be complete without a of one of my boys playing Hockey, in this case for a team called Harlequins!

I hope you have enjoyed my first entry into Lori’s Letter Challenge. I would love to receive feedback,


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: the Colours Red and Yellow

My first entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

The Colours Yellow and Red

I relished the chance to photograph a firework display last year in Calgary. Having travelled from Banff (about two hours drive) just for the event, we got caught up in a long traffic hold up so at the risk of being late for the display we tried to bypass the traffic only to realise we were trying to cut through a First Nation Reservation. It was reminiscent of the time in Northern Ireland where the Orange Order blockaded roads in protest against the rerouting of one of their parades. On meeting one of those road blocks it was prudent to turn the car around and not engage with those involved 😉 I have to stress that the the First Nation blockade was a rather more simple, civilised affair – no bonfires, balaclavas or lorries requisitioned for the purpose – just a couple of First Nation men leaning menacingly against the hood of their car with their arms folded ensuring that the world and his wife did not drive through their protected land. The effect, however, was the same. We promptly turned around rejoined the traffic jam and our two hour journey turned into a four hour endurance. We arrived at the park in Calgary (hungry and busting for the loo) with only minutes to spare before the start of the display. I had no time to make any preparations for my camera before the start so just had to guess shutter speeds, exposures and began shooting.

We all agreed that it was worth the effort. The display was put on by the team who did the Beijing Olympics, it was a feast of wonderful colour, choreography and of course themed to some beautiful music. The combination of sight and sound was a quite emotional jaw-dropping experience.

As most of my photos were taken using my rucksack as a makeshift tripod, I hadn’t realised that the couple in front were in shot. Lucky break and thankfully they sat pretty still on most of the long exposures!

yellow and red (2)

yellow and red (6)
A bit of ‘life imitating art’ or some version of that saying! On trawling through my photos I saw this and it struck me how alike it was to a couple of my firework photos

I have lots of red flowers and yellow flowers, however, I decided to post these two instead. Yes, I do realise  that the daisy is well past it’s best, but there is still beauty there, something akin to photographing and old beat up car I suppose. The leaf stood out to me one day as the sun was shining through it.

And from the natural to mechanical…

yellow and red (3)
Medical aid snowmobile off to the rescue. Not something you ever want to have to call into service but these guys do great work on the mountains.


yellow and red (5)
Harland and Wolff cranes – Samson and Goliath dominate the skyline in Belfast. They are twin gantry ship building cranes, but since the cessation of ship building in Belfast they are in dry dock and are engaged for heavy lifting, in the repair and reconditioning of huge oil rigs and building of wind turbines. When you fly into George Best City Airport they are the most notable and impressive sight and whilst not ‘listed’, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency recognises them as “buildings of architectural or historic interest”


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.