Northern Ireland is not the best place in the world to see the Northern Lights. That would be Norway, or Iceland, or Alaska perhaps. But under favourable conditions we can get good displays here, particularly around the time of Solar Maximum. Sadly Solar Cycle 24 has been and gone so there’s not much activity, but… Continue reading Aurora Borealis
A particular branch of Astronomy that has always fascinated me is the eclipse. I’ve seen the Total Solar Eclipse three times as well as many partial and lunar eclipses which are all well worth seeing. I’m hoping to stand in the Moon’s shadow again at some stage. Quite possibly in the USA in April 2024.
Northern Ireland has two regular air shows. One in Portrush and one in Newcastle, Co Down. This is a selection of shots taken at both venues over the last few years.
Having been at school during the time of the Moon landings I have always had a special interest in them – it’s where my interest in space began. So when the 50th Anniversaries came around I decided I would put together a collection of talks outlining the history of the project with a view to… Continue reading Space Exploration Talks
Noctilucent Clouds are very well observed from Northern Ireland during the season from the end of May to the beginning of August. Unlike the Aurora, going further north is not necessarily beneficial as the sky becomes lighter and contrast is lost. These pictures have been taken since I first saw these magnificent clouds back in… Continue reading Noctilucent Clouds
For a space nut like me, this place is paradise! Positioned on the east coast of the United States, almost as close to the equator as it’s possible to get in the USA, rockets launched from here benefit from the Earth’s rotation getting the first 1,000 mph of the 17,500 needed to attain orbit for… Continue reading Kennedy Space Center
Cloud formations, Lightning, Contrails, Halos, Rainbows. All are atmospheric phenomena that can be seen almost everyday and which can make pleasing photographs too. The place to go to identify all of these is Les Cowley’s excellent website Atmospheric Optics.
Situated in County Fermanagh, these caves are an absolute must see if you’re in the area. Carved out of limestone by three rivers this is the most magnificent cave system on the island of Ireland. More information about the Visitors Centre here….. And on Wikipedia here….. Google Maps here…..
Kodachrome was a superb fine-grained colour slide film made in various speeds from 1935-2010. At this point the combination of falling demand and the fact that the k-14 process was somewhat toxic resulted in it being discontinued. This was my last roll of Kodachrome 64 shot with a Minolta Dynax 800Si camera and 24mm, 28-135mm… Continue reading Kodachrome 1935-2010
Here’s a small collection of shots taken at The Grand Canyon in 1995 during a whistlestop drive across the USA. So of course this is film. It scrubs up pretty well in fact, though I have recently (2018) returned with a digital. The newer pictures will appear here in due course!
Built in the 1820s using a lot of dynamite The Antrim Coast Road opened up the towns and villages along its 26 mile length which had previously been mostly accessible from the sea. It is a beautiful scenic drive with many attractions a short way off the road. The Antrim Coast Road forms part of… Continue reading Antrim Coast Road
Here’s an interesting place! Beaghmore Stone Circles are up in the Sperrins above Cookstown. A collection of Circles, Cairns and possible Alignments that must have been pretty significant in prehistoric times, though now we can only make educated guesses as to their purposes. A fascinating place indeed! Wikipedia article here… Google Maps here……
Pictures from what has become the essential annual pilgrimage to Portglenone’s Sunflower field
This was just a simple afternoon walk up to Cranny Falls from Carnlough, only I happened upon this one bush which was inundated with dozens of Painted Ladies who were happy to keep on posing for me as I snapped away! I also shot some video and cut that into a short film shown below.
Mainly known as the home of Mission Control, Houston, there is much more to JSC than this. We visited the Center in 2013 and were able to see a lot of Space memorabilia as well as the Classic Mission Control restored to its 1969 configuration, the International Space Station Training Rig and of course the… Continue reading Johnson Space Center
It is often assumed that because the stars only come out at night, taking photographs of them must be difficult and require very specialised and expensive equipment. In fact this is not the case and with advances in technology even relatively ordinary cameras can produce images that only a decade or two ago would have… Continue reading Astrophotography for Beginners
I’ve done many talks, usually on astronomical subjects over the last 12 or so years. I’ve filmed a few and since the Covid lockdowns this has evolved into a regular series of Sky Guides. IAA Season Introduction, 20th September 2017 “Beginners’ Astrophotography”, Irish Astronomical Association, 16th November 2016 “Getting Started in Astrophotography” – Larne Camera… Continue reading Astronomy Talks
Back in 2012 my photography was at a crossroads. I was really using three sorts of camera. I had my full Sony DSLR-A700 system with a bag of lenses, mostly the Sony 16-105mm zoom and a collection of classic Minolta lenses made for film. Indeed I almost had the whole set of mainstream lenses as… Continue reading Micro Four-Thirds Photography
This was the trip of a lifetime, travelling to China to see the 22nd July 2009 Total Solar Eclipse, the longest totality of the 21st Century! We travelled with Oriental Travel using Finn Air to Beijing via Helsinki and embarked on a whistlestop tour of Beijing, the Great Wall, Xian and Shanghai, observing the eclipse… Continue reading China 2009
In March 2010 we decided to do a bucket list trip, flying into LAX and out of SFO driving up the Pacific Coast Highway aka California 1 in between. Plan A was to do it in a Mustang Convertible, and we did indeed hire this car. After two days we decided it was awful –… Continue reading California 2010
2019 has, for some reason, been a fantastic year for butterflies in Northern Ireland. They have appeared in large numbers in the most unexpected places, and surprisingly they’re still here at the end of September!
One of the joys of using the Micro Four-Thirds system is that the flange distance – ie the distance from the lens mount to the sensor – is only 19.5mm. Most SLR systems designed to fit a moving mirror into this space have flange distances in the 40-50mm range. This means it is very easy… Continue reading Vintage Lenses
In days of old this would have been considered a moderate wide-angle with a field of view significantly wider than the “standard” 50mm but not quite out there with the 24mm and 28mm optics that would be considered “proper” wide-angles. Of course the crop factor changes all this and mounted on an M43 body this… Continue reading Vintage Lens – Minolta MD W-Rokkor 35mm f2.8
This lens was one of those introduced by Minolta in 1985 when they launched the 7000 AF – the first SLR with in-body Auto-Focus. These lenses were all very sharp and very well built, and of course Minolta’s mastery of colour was well established by this point. This one has a full 1:1 macro mode… Continue reading Vintage Lens – Minolta AF 50mm f2.8 MACRO
This was my Zoom Compact camera in the late 1990s. Towards the end of the film era the previous generation of fixed focal range compact cameras gave way to the zoom compact due to consumer demand for a bit more reach, and indeed some wider angle coverage too. However doing this whilst keeping the camera… Continue reading Pentax Espio 928
This was my compact camera in the 1980s when I was travelling a lot with work, so it has been to India and much of Europe, also Cyprus, Israel, Cairo and various holidays to Greece and Turkey. It pre-dates the compact zoom designs and has a fixed focal 35mm f2.8 lens which is very sharp,… Continue reading Pentax PC35AF-M
Tollymore Forest Park was the first state forest park in Northern Ireland, established on 2 June 1955. It is located at Bryansford, near the town of Newcastle in the Mourne and Slieve Croob Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These photos were taken on a walk through the park in October 2020 in between lockdowns
This is a talk that I’ve delivered a number of times over the years, hopefully improving with each version. This version was delivered by Zoom to Connemara Astronomy Club during lockdown
Although I had lived in a few places in England during my childhood, by far the longest time was my time in Woking from 1974-86. Indeed my parents are still there and it was during a visit in 2019 that I went on a walkabout with my Action Cam and made a short documentary about… Continue reading Woking in 2019
This magical event of nature happened, quite spontaneously, while Jude and I were walking along the seafront in Brighton while on a short trip celebrating our wedding anniversary. Fortunately I had my Lumix FZ200 with me which had a long enough lens and a good enough HD video mode which allowed me to capture the… Continue reading Murmuration of Starlings
I often, at the end of the year, take a look through my favourite snaps of the year and compile them into a slideshow. Here’s some of them….
This was a Road Trip across some of the most amazing parts of the South-Western United States flying in and out of McCarran International Airport, staying a few days in Las Vegas then driving down to Lake Havasu City, home of the old London Bridge, then travelling along many of the remaining parts of Route… Continue reading Las Vegas and Arizona 2018
This is a camera that was made in the LOMO factory in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) in the USSR about 50 years ago. I used to have one of these in my teens and it got passed down to a cousin, but a few years ago I picked up a mint example from ebay for… Continue reading Cosmic 35 – A Soviet Classic
This of course used to be the only way of doing photography until the digital revolution came along around the turn of the Century. I put my first toe in the water in 1997 with the purchase of a Kodak DC210 which was not cheap and by modern standards wasn’t very good either. But it… Continue reading Film Photography
Nestling in the shadows of the Mountains of Mourne, Tollymore is a true paradise with waterfalls on the fast-flowing Shimna River and many pathways to follow through the forest. Always at its best in Autumn, this collection consists of two walks through the forest in November 2019 and October 2020
This was a very quick flypast of Belfast at 13:58 on Saturday 15th August as part of the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day. Belfast was privileged to be the only UK capital to get the flypast as London, Edinburgh and Cardiff all had bad weather! This was also the first flypast of Belfast since the… Continue reading Red Arrows Belfast Flypast