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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Do you believe in miracles?

Probably not the most common title for a blog post.  Actually if you google it the main story is the of the 1980 American Olympic ice hockey team which I had never heard about as I was only born 4 days before it happened!  America entered a team of amatures and college students and not only beat the Soviet team who had won almost everything since 1954 but actually won the gold medal. 

Anyone who knows me or who regularly reads my blog may have picked up that I have a faith which is very important to me.   I see that more today than ever people are all to keen to preach about their atheistic believes but dear help anyone who declares a faith in God or belief in creation.  My faith is very real to me.  Its not something I can easily describe or prove to people.  Its something I experience and have no doubt about.  Now I'm not saying that I hear God talking to me everyday or experience miraculous things on a regular basis but it does happen occasionally.  I do believe in miracles.  Recently my wife and I experienced what we can only describe as a miracle.

We are blessed with 3 fantastic children but as everyone will know there are times when children really test you.  Our middle child Lucie seems to like to test us more than average.  I think Kathryn and I have probably forgotten half of the mischief she has got up to and she is only 3 and half.  A few weeks ago we sat down to have 1/57th of a particular brand.  This 1/57th happened to be tomato soup.  Kathryn and I were in the front room with our baby Arwen as the Finlay and Lucie were sitting at the table eating.  I don't know exactly what happened but suddenly there was a loud crash and then a cry from Lucie.  I went in to see what had happened as Lucie can often be a bit of a drama queen.  I walked in to find Lucie picking herself up off the floor.  She was feeling particularly sorry for herself even though there really was nothing wrong with her.  I quickly noticed her bowl on the floor and as I reached down to pick it up I started to discover soup.  Soup on the floor.  Soup on the chair.  Soup on the wall behind Lucie.  Soup opposite her on the sofa.  Soup up the window.  Soup up the door.  But the worst of all, soup on the curtains!

Obviously Kathryn and I remained very calm and didnt raise our voices at all!  I quickly removed the curtains as Kathryn googled "how to remove tomato soup stains".  Following the resulting advice we took the curtains to the bath and rinsed them.  This did reduce the effect of the stain but only mildly.  We then added some Oxi granules and soaked them for several hours.  Again I think this did reduce the stains slightly but they were still very visable.  It think it was about 3am that we were going to bed (busy as usual with cakey stuff) that we remembered about the curtains.  I rather quickly ran down stairs and out the front door leaving a trail of drips everywhere.  I fought with the rather heavy wet curtains to hang them on the line and then proceded to hose them to try and wash out the slimy soapy resedue that the Oxi solution leaves.  I often wonder what our neighbours actually think about us and the mad things we do in the middle of the night but then I guess most of them are asleep when we do the most of them.

Now the big thing about these curtains is that it was actually 2 sets as they cover the french doors and window beside and of course typically one from each set was sprinkled liberaly with the offending soup.  They actually cost us quite a bit of money and I had to ask my mum to take them up for us as we couldnt afford to pay someone to do it at the time.  We knew that there was no way we would be able to replace the curtains for a good few months.  They havent even been up for 9 months.  We couldn't believe it.  I think it actually took us around 4 years to eventually decide to get curtains and find something that we or to be honest that Kathryn was happy with.

During the next day it rained a bit but once they were almost dry Kathryn brought the curtains in and hung them over the chairs in the house.  They were both still very clearly stained and the only thing we could think to do would be take them to the dry cleaners and see if that worked.  I think it was the next day or maybe 2 days later that we went to look at them and at first glance I couldnt see any stains.  I lifted the first curtain to hand and brought it to the light.  I couldnt find any stains at all.  I quickly shouted for Kathryn and we closely inspected both curtains.  There wasn't a single stain.  Not even a hint of a stain.  I asked Kathyrn again about how they looked when she brought them in from the line and she repeated that they had been very clearly stained just like when I had hung them on the line the other night.  A day or two later I decided to iron the curtains to rehang them.  I was almost afraid to look at them encase I discovered a stain but even after ironing every inch of them there is not one hint of a stain to be seen. 

The only thing we can put it down to is a miracle.  What other explination is there?  How can two heavy fabric curtains be stained one day and totally clean the next?  I know plenty of people will try and try and come up with some explination other than a miracle but we know what happened and for us its easy to accept that it is plainly and simply an answer to prayer.  As I mentioned I believe in God and creation.  If He can make the world in 6 days then cleaning a couple of curtains isn't exactly a challenge!

"..but with God all things are possible."  Matthew 19:26



Friday, 27 September 2013

SS Nomadic and a jolly nice man!

So Kathryn and I at Candytuft HQ are going to be exhibiting aboard the SS Nomadic this Sunday with Our Events NI.  After the Quirky Weddings show I think this should be a bit more relaxed.  My good friend Gary Boal from Boal Photography will be exhibiting along with us and this will be his first ever show so if you are manage to make it please say hi to him.  He asked me today if we were about sorted for the show and I was about to say yes but then I proceeded in listing what I still needed to do in my reply to his message and almost needed to sit down!  I know we bring it on ourselves to a certain extent in not keeping our display simple, as if there isn't enough to do with sorting out the cake samples and promotional material!
We have been meaning for the past several months to start a regular newsletter for Candytuft Cakes and this took me fair bit of trial and error before I got it right.  Little did I know that you cant just make up a mailing list and send out to all recipients at once using Outlook.  So this week saw our first "campaign" and newsletter #1 got sent out.  I will get round to adding a link for signing up onto the Candytuft Cakes website over the next week or two but in the meantime if you want added then just drop us an email to that effect.  So my next plan was to send out a short bulletin about the show aboard the SS Nomadic and for Kathryn to put a post on her facebook page.  With being a photographer I am totally against using other people's work.  As I wanted to include photo of the SS Nomadic I needed to get a photograph.  Anyone who has been down to see the SS Nomadic or Titanic Belfast will know that there are more double yellow lines painted in the area than the rest of Northern Ireland combined it would seem.  After driving about for that seemed like an eternity I eventually spied a small section of pay and display parking by the road side.  I parked up just as the parking attendant arrived to check the other cars for valid tickets.  0-1hrs = £1.50!  what the flip!  I only want to park for 10 mins not buy the space.  Now my experience of these parking attendants is not good.  I even had my motorbike clamped/chained once and had to pay a release fee!  So as I walked past this guy I asked if there was any chance of a 30min rate as all I want is to take a photo.  This guy has restored my faith in his kind.  He very kindly told me to forget about the ticket and just do what I needed.  Happy days as I actually only had £1 in my pocket so I couldn't have even bought a ticket if I wanted to.  I quickly grabbed my gear and jogged over to the SS Nomadic and got my shots.



Wednesday, 25 September 2013

New website!

I did it.  I have launched my new website, got a logo designed and business cards printed!  If you get a chance have a look at

The site is in essence a blog so feel free to leave comments.  I'm not sure how it will work but thought it was worth a try.  I haven't gone for anything too fancy.  I really just wanted something simple.  Something that would give people an idea of what I love to photography and a way to contact me.



Friday, 23 August 2013

I think it's about time

I think it's about time I started to take things more seriously. 

I was reminded recently that the first wedding I shot was just 2 years past.  It was a stressful day and looking back at it I do wonder did I really think about what I was doing.  It does bring back wonderful memories though and the bride and groom are still talking to me so I guess I must have done something right!

Those that know me will know I don't do many photography jobs as my wife's 4th baby, Candytuft Cakes is constantly growing and requires a lot of work from both her and myself to keep it going.  I just love my wife's work and to see how she is developing over the years.  It actually gives me plenty of opportunities to get my camera gear out which is brilliant.  We will hopefully have a few interesting projects coming up which will get to test both of our skills so I can't be happier.

As far as my own work goes though I think its time I tried to promote it a bit more as I love each photo job.  Even though they bring a certain amount of stress I love the challenge and the sense of achievement when I get the results I wanted.  I know I have a lot to learn but there is no better way of learning than actually doing.

Almost a year ago I got myself a domain name but never did anything with it so now I am in the process of getting a website made.  I have had a logo designed and am about to get some business cards printed.  I've also just recently joined the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers.  I'm going to give a good go anyway and see what happens over the next year or two.

Watch this space!



Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sunday, 23 June 2013

I don't like photographs!

That's about the first thing he said to me.  And he said it again several times during the shoot.  I'm the same though.  When it comes to having to pose for photos I would rather not.  I tried to tell him it would be as painless as possible.  Probably didn't help that once he came off the phone after our initial conversation that he then told all of his family what I wanted to do.  Think his nephew Matt gave him the most slagging, and during the shot his sister stuck her head in the door at least once and laughed.  Mind you when I offered to photograph her too she quickly disappeared!

I love photographing people.  Using shadows and light is something I really love.  I have recently decided that from now on if I see someone interesting I am just going to offer to photograph them.  A few weeks ago I discovered that my dad's cousin was home visiting from New Zealand where he moved to while I was a teenager to be a farmer.  Andrew, or Hank as he's known, though I have never heard why, has what I would class as an interesting face.  I saw a photo of him from a recent holiday and instantly I knew I had to photograph him.  Hank has just turned 50 and between farming and sailing he has a "worn" look to him.  Mind you being a "Hodge" brings with it its own features, though I think I have managed to avoid most of them.

For the shoot itself it was pretty simple really.  I arrived at the house and was instantly offered a cup of tea and some cake.  Anyone that knows me will know I never turn down a cuppa and as for cake, that's a no brainer.  We had a bit if a chat and then got down to business.

I used a simple black back drop, my D300 and an SB-910 in a softbox triggered by CLS.  I shot at about 1/4000 to kill any ambient.

For someone who hates having photos taken Hank was no problems at all.  He was patient and did exactly as I asked.  I kept it as quick as possible, once I was happy with the shots I just packed up and left.



Saturday, 22 June 2013


I just had a message from a relative who commented on the cuteness of my kids.  Love it when people say that.  It made me think about all the things they do that make me smile.  Usually when I get home from work Kathryn will hold Arwen up to the window as I get out of my car and her wee face lights up as she sees me.  Once I open the door I am greeted with Finlay and Lucie shouting out "hello daddy!" and then they come running and throw themselves against my legs.  There is nothing better.  It sure makes up for all those times that they drive you mad :)

Finlay, Arwen & Lucie.
I thank my God for them and the blessing they are to me and Kathryn.

"Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord."
Psalm 127 v 3