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

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”

International Women’s Day

International Women's Day, Belfast, 2017
International Women’s Day, Belfast, 2017

International Women’s Day, Belfast, 2017

International Women’s Day is on 8th March but the celebrations and events are running all through the month.

On Saturday, 4th March an estimated 2000 people, mostly women, rallied in Writers’ Square and marched to the City Hall. The atmosphere was light hearted and spirits were high. Rain had been forecast, which is usual,but it stayed away for the most part, which is unusual. Continue reading “International Women’s Day”

Horse Ploughing and Country Skills

A demonstration of Horse Ploughing and Country Skills is held in the grounds of the Ulster Folk Museum at Holywood in February every year. It’s always held a week before the Mullahead and District Annual Ploughing match in Portadown, one of the main events in the year.

Horse ploughing Holywood

You can see more images here.

I’ve been told some use the Holywood event as preparation for the much larger Mullahead competition. It gives an opportunity to get the horses back to form after the winter. For competitors who have travelled far it allows a week to adjust and settle the horses. Continue reading “Horse Ploughing and Country Skills”

The Cost of Cameras

cash money

The Price of Cameras


I keep an eye on the prices of cameras, lenses, bags, photography things in general. We all like the idea of a bargain, right?

Every January the cost of equipment is kicked to the forefront of my mind as that’s when I need to renew my camera insurance.

The policy is on a new for old basis so I have to price the replacement value of my equipment or probably be under insured.

This year held a few surprises. My main camera is a Canon 5D2. It was introduced, I think, in 2009 and I bought mine in 2012 when the 5D3 was released. With hindsight, it was more camera than I needed for shooting stock. Continue reading “The Cost of Cameras”