Sunday, 22 April 2012

Not Just Belfast - Titanic Belfast

Though I've had this site up for almost two weeks, all I have to show for it is a single post that (only kind of) explains my hopes and intentions.  That's mostly because I am still trying to figure out the best plan of attack.  At this point in time, I must figure out how I'll layout the posts, what sorts of shots I'll allow myself to use (just tilt-shift or regular as well) and if I will also have video.  I figure most of this will be things I will figure out as I go.  I also have to decide on how I am breaking down the posts... my plan is to post different cities from the same country individually.  That means more information per location.  That's the plan, at least - for now. 

And now, for this post, I'm going to totally disregard that plan.  Today's post is on a very specific part of a city which will be featured in many more posts to come: Belfast, Northern Ireland, where I'm currently living.   When travelling, one can only get a basic understanding and a limited photographic approach to the places they are travelling to.  Living somewhere lets you get below the surface and break a city down into a few good tilt-shifted posts.

2012 is the centenary of the maiden voyage of the Titanic and the fateful collision that resulted in its sinking.  The Titanic was built in Belfast, a city known for its shipbuilding.  The Titanic sank on April 15th, 1912 and so, one week ago today a new memorial was revealed on the grounds of Belfast's City Hall.  A plaque with the names of everyone that perished, in alphabetical order so as to not discriminate by race, creed, age or wealth, was unveiled alongside a memorial garden filled with numerous types of flowers.  The flowers, in their diversity, reflect the diversity of those who met their end 100 years ago.  

"In Memory of those who died on the 15th April, 1912."

This memorial lists all of the names of the victims...the first memorial to do so.

This statue can also be found on the grounds of City Hall.  Called the Titanic Memorial Statue or Sculpture, it was unveiled in 1920.

"In the diversity in the fragrance and colour of the flowers of the memorial garden, may there be an acknowledgement of the diversity of humankind."

In that this year marks the centenary, Belfast also decided to open "Titanic Belfast"...a museum, of sorts.  The exhibitions are also referred to as the Titanic Experience, for it is a multi-media and multi-gallery adventure that takes you from the bottom of the building to the top (at one point you must clamber into an ancient looking elevator; at another point you take "an electric dark ride that uses special effects, animations and full-scale reconstructions to recreate the reality of shipbuilding in the early 1900s").  But this "experience" is so much more than just rides on things that resemble early 1900s equipment.  You get to see the detailed plans of the ship, the daily life of those who built it, back stories of the passengers (old and young, rich and poor), the specific messages radioed from the Titanic to other ships, and the other ships' messages back, and so much more.  I was extremely lucky to be living here when it first opened, and to get to visit it while the centenary memorials were taking place.

 Titanic Belfast
This is the first photo on this post, that isn't a tilt-shift photo.  I have decided to use photography that isn't tilt-shifted so long as I have some tilt-shifted shots from whatever country, city, state, territory or whatever it is I am writing about.

Back to the tilt-shifted photography.  Even the building resembles the Titanic.  The parts that jut out are supposed to be reminiscent of the hull and bow area.

This statue is called "Titanica."  It is located in front of the Titanic Belfast complex.

Here is a perfect example of the multi-media approach.  This video is of one of the exhibits, an attempt to create the illusion of a glass bottomed boat.  There are monitors in the floor (you can see me walking on them) through which they play a video of an underwater view of the Titanic wreck site.

The area where the Titanic was built is now home to two of Belfast's icons.  Dominating the horizon from many different points of view in Belfast are two massive yellow shipbuilding cranes, Samson and Goliath.  They were not around when the Titanic was built, but they stand as a reminder to an industry that once boomed in Belfast.  Also, they continue to be used on current ship repairs.


From a distance

From the Gasworks on the River Lagan (you can see both of them in this shot)

...And that is the past and present Titanic Belfast

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Travel and Photography Blog...Tilt-Shifted

About a year ago I started messing around with a DIY approach to photography.  My first successful attempt at this newfound world of camera/lens/lighting hacks was that of creating a tilt-shift lens for my DSLR.  This type of lens allows for more control over what is and isn't in focus by manipulating the plane of focus.  Used heavily in architectural photography, more and more we are now seeing tilt shift photography make its way into other fields.  This is probably because they can be made and used by anyone willing to spend a few dollars (seriously, a $20) willing to get a little dirty (probably just get a little bit of glue on their fingers) and willing to do some heavy lifting (the necessary lenses tend to be a tad heavier than, say, a nifty-fifty (but hey, for $10-15 no one's complaining)).

Right.  So I was willing to do all that.  And I did.  I won't give you my exact instructions now, though, for two reasons.  One, you can find better instructions here (I based mine VERY loosely off of the plungercam classic) and two, I am starting to search for the necessary parts for my next tilt-shift lens and figure I will be able to give better instructions and advice concerning its construction (what with it being my second attempt).

Soon after creating my tilt-shift lens, I got the crazy idea that I should get in on one of those 365 photo projects (you take a picture everyday for a full year).  I did that (really, I did) and was able to use my homemade lens to help me on those days that I didn't have any good ideas for a photo.  Since then, though, I've really started to understand what the lens is capable of...a ton more than just a way to fill in my creatively lacking days.  And more importantly, I've learned that I have just enough extra space in my camera bag for it.

When my wife and I found out that we would be moving to Northern Ireland, specifically Belfast, much time went into planning out what would occupy every square inch of every potential duffel bag, suit case, and backpack.  When we got to the final stages of packing, I was awfully close to filling those few remaining square inches in my backpack with some extra socks, but was lucky enough to bump into that less than well constructed and rarely used lens just to see that it fit perfectly in that tiny cavity.  In it went.

Half of my 365 day photo project happened in Pennsylvania (and surrounding states).  Half took place in Northern Ireland (and surrounding countries).  I finished it just a little over a month ago and since then have been trying to figure out what exactly I should do with that site.  I considered killing it. I considered using it for random photo series/projects that I come up with.  While backpacking across western Europe (luckily with my trusty tilt-shift lens in hand) I came up with my next project.  The plan was to shoot some tilted and shifted shots in every country I travel to (and when back in the states potentially every state I travel to).  I would then be able to do a travel and photography blog that sets me apart from the thousands...dare I say millions...that already exist.  Though I now know that by concept at least it wont set me apart from the (couple) hundred or so other tilt shift travel blogs.  Being set apart from them will have to be done by the places I travel to and the way I use my lens.

When I came up with the idea, I figured I'd just use my already established blog.  That seemed to be a reasonable idea.  But then I realized I had the perfect excuse to start a fresh blog, to have a blog entirely devoted to my travels and my photography...specifically, my tilt-shift photography.

And so, I present my new blog...TILT-SHIFT THE WORLD

Look forward to posts dedicated to specific countries, states, cities and territories.

(I'll have my first real post up within a week...but shall leave you with a taste of what's to come)...

...any idea where this beautiful building can be found?  ...anyone?