Monday, October 31, 2011


Apparently Halloween is celebrated differently here in Belfast.  They have the costumes and the loud shrieking that gets annoying pretty quickly.  I'm not sure if they have the trick-or-treating, I really hope so.  What kind of place wouldn't?  But they add something strange to the common mess of spaghetti brains and zombie face painting...fireworks.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love fireworks.  Fireworks has the word fire in it, insuring that it will find a special place in my heart.  But a full fireworks display over the river? It seems kind of strange.  But again, I have no problems with it, I just wasn't expecting it.  So here's that display of working fire from the 30th...

That boat on the left...apparently it's a museum.

Today, in that it is Halloween, I decided to try my hand at something a little more abstract and perhaps even a bit...spooky.  I'll leave it up to you to decide if I succeeded in the spooky department, but I am definitely intrigued by the result of my attempt.

This is a portion of a window that I can see from my living room window.  I upped the saturation, overexposed on the light parts, and underexposed on the dark parts...besides that, there was no extra editing, no adding of a fun house mirror reflection in any glass pane.  The strange images you see in each glass pane are just the reflections of whatever is near those panes plus the bent glass' ability to distort it.  Strange, right?..the fact that each pane has something different in it?  I sure thought so.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Books, Bokeh and Beaches

The 23rd of October was rainy.  I already posted for it, but had been lucky on that day and got outside before the rain hit.  Once it hit it kept going until early on the 25th.  This forced me to stay inside on the 24th and find something worth photographing within my apartment.  
I have been reading (and greatly enjoying) Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.  In an attempt to keep a visual list of the books I've been reading, I have been taking a photo of each book.  Compelled to stay inside by the rain, I give you...something inside my apartment that is at least slightly worth photographing...

A good book

I grabbed my camera and my homemade tilt shift lens as soon as the rain stopped on the 25th.  I didn't know how much time I would have before it started again, so I ran around outside looking for something to shoot.  A train went by, I squeezed my plunger-like DIY tilt shift lens and pressed the shutter button.  

Not as tilt-shifty as I would have liked

My tilt shift lens was still attached on the 26th, so I used it again.  There are some pretty awesome "post boxes" (mailboxes) around here.  Here is one that is right outside of my apartment.  

Mail me things!

In an attempt to add on to one of my new projects (architectural photography that might not initially seem like architecture) I got this shot of a wall on Thursday.  I don't know if I can actually add it to the project (it is strange, but I think it is pretty obvious that it is indeed something architectural)  but I really like the angle.

Biggest cage ever

I woke up to the sounds of this happening on the 28th... 

I think they were trying to melt the road.  Is that normal?

I then took some pictures of my wife and her morning tea.

With only window light.  

In the evening we went to what was supposed to be a haunted botanical garden.  It would have been nice if it would have been free.  We stood in the line until finding out it wasn't free.  Then we left.

I absolutely love Halloween...but not enough to pay to walk through a garden with people dressed up in an attempt to appease crying children.

On the way back I was trying some low light shots...

...and ended up with some beautiful bokeh.

We went to Larne yesterday.  In an attempt to get people to use a new train that has just been added, they had a "try the train" day.  We tried it.  A free train trip?  Most definitely!  We got off the train and walked around...rather disappointed.  Larne seemed to be a very boring town.  With horrible crosswalks.  We almost died a few times.  What was strange was that we had looked into the town and found what seemed to be some interesting things.  Apparently they were farther away from the station than we had thought.  We chose a direction and walked that way...hoping it would take us somewhere interesting.
After a few miles we came upon a cute little park.  With a stone on the other side of it.  We made our way to the wall and slipped through a little gate and...

  much better.  We thought there was supposed to be some water around Larne.

We found the coastline path that we had read about.  We headed north on it, hoping to find a tunnel that had seemed rather alluring.

that little hole in the mountain...that's my tunnel!

We found the tunnel just as the rain found us.  We went up to the tunnel, looked around and turned around.  The half hour walk back was not much fun, what with the ocean breeze slamming the rain into our faces and soaking us thoroughly.  We found a little shelter, asked an old couple that was taking refuge there if we could join them, and they told us of a very nice little cafe that would hang our clothes up by the radiator and give us hot soup.  We went there.  The soup was good.  My roasted red pepper and mushroom panini was better.  But they didn't hang up our jackets by a radiator.  

This isn't the cafe.  It's a close up of the tunnel.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ferries, Feathers and Flags (of the pirate variety)

October 16th.
My last post had some images from the lough (lock) that is but a few minutes from my apartment. It is a part of the Lagan River, located in what is known as the Belfast Waterfront. It is a great area filled with waterfowl, ships (mostly the touring type) and the scent that only lapping waves can send landward. In that I am in the middle of Moby Dick, that little bit of water calls to me.  My best method of answering that call is by sitting somewhere near the water long enough that I swear I'm in North Carolina.  The slightly less likely method is by saving up all my gold doubloons and purchasing a whaling ship...and finding a crew.
Here is a picture of one of the nicer sections of the won't find nearly as many cutthroat pirates in this area...

As well as the water and seagulls and such, they also have an interesting "art path" running along the water.  Here are some pictures of the art installations (almost all of which are large metal statues) that you would come across if you were to follow that path...

The 17th of October's picture created a cropping conundrum for me.  I will show you the original as well as how I would crop the original were I to do so.  I can't figure out if I should or shouldn't.  The cropped image has great geometric leading lines that take you up and down the image, but the full photo shows a beautiful little town and mountain scene in the background.  If you leave the nice background scene, the geometric lines take your eye from the bottom of the image (if they are even good enough to grab your attention) and drop you off in the middle of the image with no idea of where to go next.  So yes...that is my cropping conundrum.

The uncropped version with the nice background scene.

The cropped version with the strong leading lines that take you by the hand and actually lead you.

The 18th
Tuesday was graffiti day.  There is some positive inspirational graffiti down the street.  Let it inspire you to...

Right next to it you can find less inspirational, but still pretty awesome, graffiti...

October 19th and 20th were both bicycle days.  I try really hard not to have similar content right next to each other....but with the way people dress up their bikes around here, as well as the fact that it was late and I was yet to get my photo for the 20th, I just had to push the shutter button.

At least they aren't that similar...besides the fact that the subjects for both photos are bikes.

The 21st was Friday, also known as market day.  We buy a week's worth of produce every Friday.  We have really gotten the seven days worth of food down...come Thursday we start running out of our peppers and onions and mushrooms.  It's pretty horrible...and then we wake up and go to the market.

If only we had the money to purchase a whole barrel of delicious olives.

We went to Strangford Lough yesterday...a 40 something mile long lough with cute little towns on either side and a ferry that will take you across for £1.  A nice long bus ride got us from Belfast to Portaferry (the closer of the two towns) where we had tea and toast in a bed and breakfast cafe.  It was situated on top of a hill and the walls were made of big glass panes that allowed you to see most of the town and much of the lough.  This was helpful in making sure we saw when the ferry was docking and accepting passengers.  We made our way across and spent much time walking around Strangford (the other of the two towns).  We had lunch in The Cuan, a restaurant and hotel that is celebrating their 200th year this year.  They also won first place for best restaurant in Northern Ireland in 2010.  The food was amazing so I am really not that surprised.  We then continued to meander and after awhile made our way back to the other town where we went to a little cafe and got hot chocolate and cappuccino in order to keep the rain that had just started at bay...

Some of the houses in the two towns were even more brightly colored than usual.  

This door is also pretty bright....but I'm sure it wasn't as recently painted as those houses.

 We saw a few boats.  Oddly enough.

...some more awesome than others.

On a little peninsula-like bit of land (on the Strangford side) you can see this beautiful sight.  Sadly that bit of land was private property.

Today I was lucky enough to get my wife to go for an early morning walk.  Had I not done so I would have been forced to take a picture of the rain or something inside.  It started around 10am and is yet to let up.  
We walked through the Botanic Gardens and came across what looked like the area of an avian battle to the death.  Either that or some bird is molting.  Drops of what could only be rain, dew doesn't have a chance to show her pretty face here, littered a single feather.  Here it is...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Over A Week's Worth

It has been a long time since my last post.  There was a reason why I made a commitment to updating on a daily basis...because I knew if I didn't do it that way, this would happen.  I have an excuse, well...had ability to log onto my blog was based on the decency of the workers at my local coffee shop...I'd buy one cup of horrible coffee and sit there for hours.  Now I have the INTERNETS.  So I may just need to go back to my daily updates.  We shall see what happens.

I'm going to have a hard time remembering the stories and locations that go along with these photos...I shall do my best.

Here we go!

The 6th of October was a pretty boring day.  Nothing special happened.  I know this because I felt like this here photo of a guy looking around on his half constructed building was a good enough photo for the day.  Eh...I actually do like the oranges and greens.  I at least knew that one photo of this caliber wasn't good enough, so yea...there are two pictures of insufficient quality!  The second photo shows a guy with an X on his briefcase.  That is interesting enough...right?

The 7th was a better day.  It started off with me (kind of) surprising my wife by taking her to a lookout that actually extends out of the top of the mall.  It provides a nearly 300 degree view of Belfast and allows a different take on Samson and Goliath, Belfast's massive shipbuilding cranes.  I'm sure I will get up close for a more traditional image of them sooner or later, but for now they act as a good backdrop to the city.

We went for a hike the next day.  As beautiful as it was with red leaves everywhere and broken down stone walls, you'd think I'd remember the name of the place.  I don't.  Again, that is definitely an issue with not updating on the day of these excursions.  In lieu of a name, these pictures will have to do.

There is a wonderful thing called a Full Irish Breakfast.  It is something that my smorgasbord loving Lancaster County friends would be all over.  For my wife and I it is something that, even without the three types of meat it normally has, we could only eat once a month.  Well, we have been here for a month and a half now, so it seemed like we should try to create our own.  It was rather successful and rather delicious, but like before mentioned, it was probably half the amount, at most, that would normally constitute a Full Irish Breakfast.  Normally, one can expect two types of bread (at least), two types of normal breakfast meat (at least), at least one type of the abnormal kind (search black or white pudding), one fried egg (at least), half a fried tomato, mushrooms, and baked beans.  Fairly glorious. There was a tie for the best breakfast item.  It was between my wife's homemade potato bread and Linda McCartney's vegetarian sausage.  Yes, Paul McCartney's wife makes delicious vegetarian sausages.

I was taking a walk the following day and came across a building.  I would have passed it by but it had a very strange window.  The window had no glass panel, just some wood work, and when you looked into it, you could see clear out into the sky.  The building looked perfectly normal, but apparently was hollow...or enough of it was hollow for this to be possible.  Also, the inside part of the window had grass growing around it.  This was a third story window.

I found a beautiful fern on the 11th.  It made me hungry for fiddleheads.

I caught my first leaf of Fall on the 12th.  I have been waiting patiently for one to come to me.  I decided this year, even if it meant I didn't get one, that I wasn't chasing after it.  This leaf fell right in front of me, nice and slowly.  It's a rather cute little leaf, no?

Another walk, this time on the 13th, took me to this location.  We walk a lot.  Oh, and though it might look otherwise, this is not a composite image.  Just one single image that reminds me of something out of Mary Poppins.  Minus the tons of telephone wires.

 Guess what...I went for a walk yesterday.  
On the way back to my apartment I had the luxury of walking past a photo shoot that was in the process of being set up.  I stood there patiently, and as the ?dragon and trumpet players? got into position I started shooting with the actual photographer.  No one seemed to mind.  
I then walked past what seemed to be the aftermath of a fire.  A bunch of guys looking tired, leaning against some hedge, with a firetruck in the background.  

 I went to the Belfast loch today.  Just meandered around until it started to rain.  These seagulls were nice enough to fly in a pattern/line that corresponds well with the leading lines in the photo.

This photo, also from today is probably not what you think it is.  Awhile ago I remember reading something about a guy who used landscape techniques to shoot buildings and architecture.  He would shoot up the walls/with the walls as opposed to at them.  This created a very unique and sometimes even futuristic result.  I've been toying with the idea of doing something similar.  My twist would be that the result is indiscernible from a normal everyday perspective...or at least close to it.  I expect slight giveaways, but I hope that I can at least make it difficult to assume that I am shooting straight up building walls.  Here is my first attempt...
The giveaway that this isn't just a normal brick path with glass windows next to it would be the sloping ground.  The slope gives it the appearance of a roof.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Food, Mist, Faces, Ratios, Bells, Bikes, and Complimentary Colors

One of the most delicious things I have ever eaten is easily obtainable in Northern Ireland.  Not only is it easily obtainable, it is cheap.  When I first had this delicious thing (in Canada) I got home and got online, knowing that I would not be able to find it in any regular or even specialty shops.  On I found a decent amount of it for about $8-10 after shipping.  Not bad for the most delicious thing ever, but still alot for a crazy frugal person like myself.  Halloumi Cheese.  It is really really good.  It is a cheese that has a very high melting point...meaning where regular cheeses would be a gooey, albeit, delicious glob, halloumi cheese would be standing firm.  You can grill it, you can pan fry it, bake it..I just saw what I thought was a great idea...cutting it into cubes and threading it onto skewers for shishkabobs.  I will definitely be doing that.  The best part is that here, both in the regular grocery stores and in the specialty stores/markets it can be had for cheap.  I got three times the amount that was selling for a little less than the same price.

So I've been figuring out the best ways to use this fantastic thing...roughly two pounds of this fantastic thing.  The other night I decided to pan fry it in a little butter and compliment its saltiness with some malt vinegar marinated mushrooms and onions.  My wife made bread sticks.  It was a glorious meal.

Sunday was National Trails Day.  That means that most parks and hiking areas were free (if they normally have a fee) and that many of them had events going on.  Being in Northern Ireland on our own, my wife and I don't interact with people as much as we did back in the States.  She, being here for a grad program, is definitely interacting more than I, but still, not as much as we once did.  So we searched out a guided hike.  We figured this would make it more likely that we would actually be around people...people that enjoy the stuff that we enjoy...the woods.  We had a great time learning about both the natural and historical aspects of the area we were in.  Also, it was green and misty...something I was yet to get from Northern Ireland but had been waiting for...

This is part of a sculpture outside of my wife's school's library.  I'm sure I will get a shot of the whole sculpture at some point in time, but on Monday night lights were illuminating it from below, giving the face an eerie appearance...

I spent some time in the Botanic Gardens on Tuesday.  I have a hard time not being fascinated by anything that is displaying Phi, also known as the Golden Ratio, so when I came upon this rose, I had to get a shot.  My wife hates most floral pictures, but even she was able to see past the cliche macro flower shot and into the beauty of such a commonplace but still fascinating element of the natural world.  

Then, as it got darker, on my way out, I noticed the silhouette of this bell hanging from a pole.  It was, at one point in time, rang before the closing of the park...this was true of most parks around here.

I was walking down the street yesterday with my camera in hand, not expecting to use it, but then I saw a beautiful bike.  I knew it wouldn't be too long before I would get a shot of a bike, but sadly this one wasn't as good as I would have hoped.  I didn't have much time to take the picture, someone looked at me suspiciously, so I took a photo and left.  The bike was awesome, a red frame and yellow wheels...I wish I had more time...I could have gotten a much better picture. 

I also walked past a building that had a wonderful light shade of purple on the outside (aided by the dark purple sky at that point in the evening, no doubt) and a wonderfully complimentary green spilling out of one of the windows.