written by Paul Lavery
With the dark nights of winter and the bright lights of Christmas, a visit to Belfast during this festive season was a must! So, this month we set off to our neighbouring city to see what Christmas magic we could capture.
First stop, the Christmas market! Not only capturing it's many many stalls (oh, what a shopper's delight!), we also turned our attention to the Helter Skelter. For a bit of variety, some of us nipped outside the market and down a nearby side street, to get different perspectives of the attraction. This is where carrying a tripod comes in handy, as we were able to experiment with different techniques and exposure times - without getting sore arms or shaky images.
Once we had a few shots in the bag, we ventured off in the direction of Queens Bridge and the Salmon of Knowledge. The city centre was busy with it being one of the last Sunday's before Christmas. So, we shuffled along with our heads down and cameras under the arm, moving with the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Of course, when the opportunity arose, we stopped to grab those candid shots that we just couldn't miss.
Some of us are usually never brave enough to take the camera out in such crowded streets, but with friends around us our confidence is bolstered. When you bring the camera up to your eye and hit the shutter, you realise that nobody even looked in your direction, never mind cared that you were taking photos - you realise there is nothing to worry about, and from there the confidence grows more.
Arriving safely at our location and with the weather still on our side, we looked out onto the river Lagan. With the Titanic building in view and the calming water perfectly reflecting the city lights, the captain's words from the Titanic movie echoed in our minds - "It's like a mill pond". These words aptly described the river Lagan without a ripple on its glassy surface.
Moving along the shore a bit to the Salmon of Knowledge, we set about getting our exposures from another landmark of the city, while some of us used less obvious settings to practice our 'advanced selfies'.
From here we decided to make our way back towards the meeting point, taking a few detours along the way to visit the Cathedral Quarter and Victoria Square. As we walked and talked, laughter broke out as one of our members (*ahem*...me) told the others about the time I tried to get a photo of the Albert Clock, but became frustrated because no matter what I did it always looked wonky. Many moons later, I finally caught up with what the rest of the population seemed to already know - the Albert Clock sits at a slant and has done for over 100 years!
At the Cathedral Quarter, we stopped for a few minutes at an old favourite, The Duke of York. It was less busy than expected, which worked out well for our purpose of trying to capture something dramatic. It also turned out to be an extremely educational stopping point, as we discovered that there is only seven types of rain in Belfast!
The last stop was Victoria Square, and we just couldn't resist capturing the lights - they swirled up from the floor, towering high to meet the shopping centre's beautifully lit domed ceiling ...
Until next month...Merry Christmas from all of us at Raw Photographic!!