Queen’s Quarter, Belfast

I’ve always had mixed feelings towards the Queen’s area in Belfast.  I grew up around this part of Belfast and it’s got an undoubted charm, but as a graduate of the University, studying there was nothing special – dull and uninspiring, even.  Maybe it’s an age thing but I’ve had much more productive learning through part time study and of course, through life experience.

Still, it’s one of the city’s nicest areas for a walk with the camera.  These were shot on a Canon T70 (underrated and not the slightest bit ugly) and Ilford HP5+, not too grainy and a pleasure to scan.

Welcome to Queens
Inside the Lanyon building
Along the quadrangle


Queen’s has Belfast’s leading Art House Cinema and while there’s always an eclectic mix of films on show, the seating is most uncomfortable and at my last visit, I surprisingly witnessed numerous Wittertainment Code Violations.

Elmwood Hall
Theological College for non-factual study…
The ever popular city bikes
But is it art..
Play School windows
Tree-lined University Road
Quadrangle archway

The Home of GAA

Croke Park, Dublin

For those born into a particular community in Northern Ireland, one tends to follow a certain ‘conditioning’ in what’s ‘ours’ and what’s ‘theirs’. If the community is the British facing one, then in my experience there’s a lot to miss out on during one’s formative years and beyond.

One large cultural gap in my life experience was that of the world of Gaelic sports – the GAA and its components of football, hurling and camogie. Thankfully that has been rectified and I enjoy going to a gaelic football or hurling game almost as much as going to a (proper) football match.  (‘Soccer’ is not a word I care for…)

A must-see on any visit to Dublin is a guided tour of Croke Park and the GAA museum.  The sport itself is dynamic, athletic and with an admirable amateur ethos at its core –  and a history and culture inextricably linked with the evolution of the Irish state.

I took a visit out of season with a roll of Tri-X loaded in that neglected design icon of the 1980s, the Canon T70.

Croke Park, Dublin
St Joseph’s Avenue, Dublin – arriving at Croke Park
Croke Park, Dublin
the other Gaelic sport
Croke Park, Dublin
Welcome to Croke Park

The GAA has a presence throughout Irish society where the sports are at the heart of community.  The role of the clubs can be seen throughout the ground and museum.

Croke Park, Dublin
the county clubs

Michael Cusack, the GAA founder – marked by statue and stand.

Croke Park, Dublin
Michael Cusack, founder of the GAA

Hill 16  – once named Hill 60 based on an Irish regiment of the British Army – renamed to reflect the legacy of 1916.   No  large stand at this end – it’s in a residential area after all.

Croke Park, Dublin
Hill 16

Croke Park holds over 82,000  It’s an Irish Nou Camp

Croke Park, Dublin
the Davin stand meets the Hogan stand
Croke Park, Dublin
The Iconic County Shirts – colour slide film may have been better

The museum itself is one of the best presented sports museums I’ve visited.

Croke Park, Dublin
Museum entrance
Croke Park, Dublin
GAA Museum
Croke Park, Dublin
from the Hall of Fame to Government.  Former Irish Prime Minister, Jack Lynch

Many stadia and clubs have tours and a museum although perhaps only Nou Camp in Barcelona  compares with Croke Park in having a historical context and cultural significance beyond the sport itself.

Croke Park, Dublin
Replica trophies for the selfies – Hogan stand
Croke Park, Dublin
that was Croke Park

O Fortuna 2.

Inside the Espirit Arena – after the ticketing and bratwurst purchases – every seat seems to have a perfect view of the pitch.  And no-one seemed mind a visitor shooting with an old film camera.

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The civilised German approach to bottled beer in the stadium
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Sky Bundesliga
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when they come, they come together…

Ricoh KR-5
Kentmere 400

Contains Flash Photography

Every so often it’s good to do a studio shoot using a few flash heads.  I’ve nothing grand – a cobbled collection of eBay-sourced Interfit units with cheap backdrops and stands. It’s a basic setup with a soft-box facing the sitter and two units at 45 degrees on to the white cloth, then using a black backdrop with a soft-box and brolly two-light arrangement.

Lighting setup
the budget setup..

To make things interesting, the session with my good friend and singer/songwriter/guitarist Thomas, was to be captured on full-frame digital ( Canon 6D) and on 35mm black and white film (Kentmere 100) using mid 70’s basic manual camera, the Ricoh KR-5.  Without a flash meter, the plan was to get a setting on the 6D that looked ok, then set something similar on the Ricoh.  So 1/125 at f8 – then play about with the lights.

First up – some low key against the black backdrop,

softbox, brolly fill and 85mm lens
single light with soft-box

Then a white backdrop with the softbox straight on.

key – no guitar
and with guitar

Next up was a repeat of this lighting with the Ricoh. It’s a very basic but solidly built mechanical SLR. And it did ok

tones ok  – but scanning a bit off round the face
look forward to the darkroom print…
getting there…
35mm close up glory

As is often the case, scanning a low key image is a bit tricky  – the real test will be darkroom print – but the high keys portraits on the Ricoh were near the mark with the full frame Canon digital.

So a quick photo shoot to compare digital and 35mm black and white film.  Next will be to compare negative scanning with a darkroom print scan as well as an indepth look at using the Ricoh.

Indiana Wants Me

I’ve had the good fortune to visit the US on 3 separate occasions in recent years – and most of that time has been spent in Indiana.
These were working visits – it’s one of the more unlikely holiday destinations if you’re heading across the Atlantic but it has a quiet charm and warm feeling that makes me want to return.


The city of Indianapolis is a smart place with an accessible downtown area, the speedway and is home to my weekly dose of NFL.

P6273270View from Monument Circle
Capitol Building
Monument Circle

Upstate (Downstate..?)

I spent quite a while at two of the state’s Universities – Ball State and Taylor – and travelled around some unheralded places.

Headin down south. Upland, IN
A poor man’s Stephen Shore. Muncie, IN
The Middle. Surrounded by corn
another photogenic gas station (petrol as we call it..)
The big sky around Matthews Restaurant, Matthews, IN
Welcome to Matthews
Old trucks and primary colours. OK, ‘colors…’
Grain Truck, Matthews

Gas City – the smallest ‘city’ I’ve ever been to, but home to Friday speedway. Noise, fumes and fried food.

The home of motor racing
Gas city Speedway
Gas City bunting

One of the most striking visual features I noticed was the signage. Sometimes grander than the actual place, sometimes unintentionaly funny but something we’ve lost over here.

The King of Pizza
It was closed, but I would’ve had a good time here
Free panties on Friday night, Fort Wayne, IN

Baseball. If ever a sport is more enjoyable watching live rather than on TV, it’s baseball. This was my first experience at Fort Wayne.

Parkview Field, Home of the Tin Caps
Uncontroversial kneeling

I hope to go back to Indiana next time I visit the US. It’s an unassuming place with warm, friendly people, incredibly photogenic and seems to exude a laid back form of conservatism. Sometimes, though you have to be immodest, especially if you are the best damn sports bar.

Simply the best. Blu 49


It Happened at the County Fair

Summer in Indiana and I got to experience that colourful cultural experience – the County Fair. We have, of course, fairs in Ireland – it’s usually cold and wet, they’re often like outdoor shopping malls, and they’re a bit… two dimensional. Now whether it’s the novelty of travelling or enjoying a trip to somewhere like parts of Indiana that are well off the tourist trail, there are things you just don’t get at home.

Forget Healthy Eating
There was a serious diet and a gym membership organised after this trip. It wasn’t just the grilled/fried everything – it was the sheer size and volume of portions.  All delicious, of course.

Corn Dogs.  Wrong on every level.. I ate loads
Make sure you have an up to date dental plan
Porky’s.  Ate here as well….
Satisfied customers from the Big Dog Diner
Something for the little ones..
Are we in Scotland???

We The People
With the fine weather and good food, everyone seemed chilled.

The Fire Department – ready for action
I think it’s a Nikon
Competition time
Love it when a Bass Player Smiles.  And nice Gretsch.

Bit of Politics
I have to say that these guys had considerably less attention than the food, agricultural shows, sports and entertainment. The Tea Party strangely had no tea.

Democrat casual.
Down with this sort of thing. Careful now.
A military presence

Tractors we have at home. Horses at agricultural shows, ditto.
Demolition derbies and pig wrestling, not so much.

John Cougar….   …. John 3:16
They actually did play ZZ Top for this
Driving without lights.  and windows
One careful owner
a fine display of horses and hats
ZZ Top tribute band and pig wrestlers
Ladies and Gentlemen., we have a winner

And finally..
Sorry about this Dave, but we were on the lookout for you the whole time.

most wanted
Lock up your daughters.. Dave’s skipped bail

Hancock, Grant and Delaware County Fairs, I salute you. Every conceivable type of food and entertainment, everyone enjoying themselves and so, so much to photograph.

Tech note:
ColorEfex Pro was used to punch the Raw files taken off the Olympus E450.  It’s a great free tool.

the Fuji 160 film emulation



Fairmount, IN.

Understated James-Dean-free welcome

It was while watching a recent documentary about Magnum Photos,  a segment on Dennis Stock’s photos of James Dean reminded me I’d been to his home town of Fairmount on a trip to Indiana.  Due to lack of time, I ended up in Fairmount early on a Sunday morning, had a walk, took some shots of the town and some James Dean related sights with the Olympus E450, and in the absence of any other souls or open cafes, headed on to my next stop.

I then forgot about Fairmount and the photos sat on a hard drive for a few years.  Looking at them now and running them through a quick Color Efex filter, Fairmount looks to these European eyes exactly like how a mid west US town should look.  with added James Dean.

An ornate 19th Century bank and stop sign.  Main Street, Fairmount


Fairmount Post Office.  Closed on Sundays
Wall based nostalgia
no MP3s
I’m sure a Beth Grant lookalike librarian works here

It doesn’t take long to find visual sightings related to Fairmount’s most famous son, and it’s all reasonably tasteful.

The Giant Bar and Grill.  
Fairmount Record Store
Rebel wall art

I never got to the James Dean gallery, museum or his grave site – it was a fleeting visit at an early unsociable hour  – but I’d love to go back.  I’d orginally had a look at these shots in black and white but a town like Fairmount deserves colour – and Kodachrome would have been wonderful.  Sadly like Fairmount’s most famous resident it’s another much missed Amercian cultural icon.