Cultra Hill Climb

Cultra Hill Climb is a yearly event held in the grounds of the Ulster Folk Museum, Holywood.

Its always a good day with interesting vehicles, both on the track and on display.

The event always enjoys good weather, well as I remember it anyway.

For more pics on the day click here.


Dorothys car, designed by Rex McCandless and first registered in 1956. RZ 6516 was originally driven by Dorothy McGladdery. There is a small plaque on the dashboard with her name.


Ford Mustang
Ford Mustang


Crossle cars
Crosslè cars was established in 1957 and is particularly famous for their Formula Ford designs. They are based in Holywood, Co. Down.

Castle Espie and Ducks

About a month ago I visited Castle Espie. I think it was the first time I’d been this year. It was fine when I left home, just okay when I arrived and it got cold and wet while I was there. In short I could’ve picked a better day.

Castle Espie is a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre on the shores of Strangford Lough and I planned to do some close up images of ducks and maybe geese using a wide angle lens.

I bought a packet of food to encourage them to come close and I didn’t expect problems. I’ve photographed them before using a long lens and when they see you they swim over because they expect you to feed them. Swimming nearer is not what you want them to do when you’re using a long lens but  today I was using a wide angle.

I had set up my camera on a tripod and scattered food around. They wandered around but wouldn’t come as close as I had expected.

I waited, it got colder and started to rain but still the ducks wouldn’t come close. I packed my gear away and that’s when they got stuck into the food. I walked over and they waddled back to the water. You know when something is just not meant to happen.

A member of staff told me they were on edge as they’d been getting moved in anticipation of the Vet visiting on in a couple of days to inspect them. Also the breeding season was coming near.

Marked down for another attempt on a warmer day when the vet isn’t coming.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself nearby so called hoping the ducks would be more co-operative. I arrived about 30 minutes after they had been fed and was ignored.

Why this effort to get close up pictures of ducks? Well I think there’s a good photograph to be had and I don’t like to give up on what I originally thought would be a simple job.

Anyway it was a nice sunny Spring day so on the way home I took some photographs of farmers working in fields outside Newtownards and sent them to Alamy Live News. Photographs of the weather are always popular.

I went home for lunch feeling the morning hadn’t been wasted after all.

Click on an image to enlarge.

Farmers work the fields outside Newtownards
Farmers work the fields outside Newtownards


Farmers work the fields outside Newtownards
Farmers work the fields outside Newtownards

Sensor Size

Custom House, Belfast
Custom House

As you will know if you’ve read some of my recent posts I’ve been using Panasonic cameras for general stock shooting.

I’ve came to these little cameras from a full frame Canon 5D MK2 and one of my concerns was the smaller sensor.

I’m using the Panasonics because of their size and weight and also cost. I’ll be upfront and admit the overall image quality is not as good as a full frame camera, especially in low light. Few photographers would argue otherwise.

It’s unreasonable to expect the same quality and the images the Micro Four Thirds cameras produce are easily good enough for general stock shooting.

SSE Arena, Belfast
SSE Arena

I think, because I’ve been experimenting with smaller sensor cameras, I pay more attention to sensor sizes than I used to. So when I came across a review recently of the Fuji GFX 50S medium format camera I read it with more interest than I would’ve in the past given that it costs £6200.

The GFX 50S means that Fuji have a medium format camera and a selection of cropped sensor cameras in the X series. What they don’t have is a camera with what we call a full frame sensor. They obviously don’t feel they need it.

When you think it through you realise that sensor size is no more important than many other aspects you take into account when assessing a camera. You should make your decision, taking into account what aspects are important, depending on your intended use.

Clarendon Dock, Belfast
Clarendon Dock

At present full frame, with around 24 megapixels is the ideal balance between image quality and cost for most general practice photographers shooting subjects from portraits to landscapes. That’s why full frame cameras around this mark are so attractive.

If you do need more resolution you have the option, depending on the manufacturer you prefer of the Canon 5DS, DSR, Nikon D810 or Sony Alpha 7R ll to name the the most popular.

With a medium format camera you get even better quality but you have to pay for it. Cameras such as the Fuji GFX 50S and Hasselblad X1D are edging prices down but they could never be considered cheap.

I’ve decided I don’t need a full frame sensor for stock. The improvement in image quality doesn’t compensate for the increase in weight of the cameras and lenses.

For easily accessible  landscapes and anything that doesn’t involve carrying a large camera for any kind of distance I wouldn’t come to the same conclusion so I will keep my full frame Canon and run both systems together.

Clarendon Dock
Clarendon Dock

Any views? I’d like to hear others thoughts.

St. Paddy’s Day in Black and White

St. Patrick’s Day, Belfast, 2017

There’s nothing like a day of solid rain to remind you that, although it’s Spring, you’re in Ireland and “You don’t come to Ireland for the weather”.

This St. Patrick’s Day we were reminded we were in Ireland. In case there was any doubt it was cold as well.

Waiting in the rain
Waiting in the rain

You have to feel for the people who organise these events, especially as many are volunteers. They give up their free time, live and breathe planning the event and on the morning it’s all to happen – it rains. But they won’t let it put them off, they make the best of it, work to make it a success and they’ll be back next year. Continue reading “St. Paddy’s Day in Black and White”