My Nikon D600 – A Digital Workhorse
A few years ago I would never have dreamt of owning a Digital SLR Camera costing close to 3 grand, but in 2013 I had a life change, surrendering the boring day job to pursue my dream of being a full time photographer. Risky? Absolutely, but truth be told it was something that I had to do before “that” job was literally the death of me!
I had been using a trusty little Nikon D40x for a few years and had reached a level of confidence in digital camera technology to take the next step, but I just wasn’t going to the whole hog and blow £5,000 on a D4. The D600 is a full-frame DSLR aimed at enthusiasts, with a price to match. At a body only price of £1955, the 24MP D600 was significantly cheaper than its big brother the D800, and on a par with Canon’s recently announced 21MP full-frame EOS 6D.
Yet it became clear that investing in the D600 would also require investment in some top of the range glass – no point having a full frame SLR with a crappy little kit lens, so I left the kit lens option on the table and invested £1,500 in a fine Nikkor 24-70mm lens which weighed twice that of the camera body (how much glass is that?), but it has remained attached to the camera bayonet faithfully since I bought it.
The D600 matches or exceeds the pixel count of every other full-frame DSLR bar one (the D800) at a pricepoint which puts it within the reach of many enthusiasts as well as professionals.
The D600 with the fantastic 24-70mm lens has been my trusted workhorse since I turned professional – despite weighing nearly 5 kilos with the added battery pack – and it has yet to fail me in any image environment. Whether bobbing in a boat on Lough Neagh to capturing the sunset atop and mountain in Donegal, to getting close up and personal on portrait shoots, the mighty beast has never done anything other than produce great images that require only minor post-processing.
So if you’re thinking of taking a leap into the full frame (FX) digital world, remember that the more common DX will never do justice to what you see through the viewfinder – and that the first ever FX camera appeared nearly a decade ago at a cool price of nearly £5,000 for the body alone – making 2 grand for this superior camera body a bargain.
Take a whirlwind tour of Malta with Fergal, Siobhan and Caroline on a five day break on the Mediterranean island!
Whiteriver Hotel – Food & Drink Assignment – October 2014
Toomebridge, County Antrim
I was commissioned by the Whiteriver Hotel for a menu assignment in October 2014. The Whiteriver House Hotel & Restaurant was formerly the O’Neill Arms Hotel in Toomebridge, County Antrim. After a major refurbishment and expansion in 2010 the hotel was relaunched, but it is only in the last year under the most recent management of Henry Doherty and Michael Lennon (also Head Chef) that the hotel has really begun to shine.
I was invited by Michael to their first ever Gourmet Evening and Wine Tasting Event in October 2014, where he was introducing his new menu and wine list to an expectant public. In the dual role of dinner ‘guest’ and ‘photographer’ I went along with the trusty Nikon in tow to get a sense (in every sense!) of what the Whiteriver has become.
People of my generation remember the hotel for its infamous Sunday nights at ‘Arby’s’, the nightclub annex, and not really as a place of fine dining and fine wines. But Henry and Michael have quickly turned around this hackneyed view of the hotel and are establishing it as one of the finest dining experiences not only in Northern Ireland, but on the island of Ireland. Added to this is the hotel accommodation, spacious and beautifully decorated spaces that make an appealing place to stay the night, whether you are local or from further afield.
As one of the many guests at the Gourmet and Wine evening in October, we witnessed the hotel’s renaissance first hand and were priveleged to be there to be part of it. The guys have focused on the finest local ingredients, fabulous wine and most importantly a discreet, friendly and attentive service that brings new standards to the dining experience in mid-Ulster.
I took a few photographs of the event, including a few of the food awaiting service – not the ideal setting for professional photography – but the results seemed to impress Henry and Michael enough to invite me back to capture their new menu! A frenetic afternoon of food preparation and setting led to the results below. I hope the photography does justice to the marvellous food now served at the Whiteriver and that it whets your appetite sufficiently to book your table at this ‘foodies paradise’.
Bringing Life on the Lough to Life
In August 2014 I was working on a project to remember the life of the Nobel Prizewinning poet, Seamus Heaney. Seamus had long ago written about the eels of Lough Neagh, the snake-like fish that journeyed 3000 miles from the Sargasso Sea to the lake that forms Northern Ireland’s centre.
Putting together a coach tour of Seamus Heaney country, we ventured into the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative, a somewhat forbidding edifice just on the riverbank at Toomebridge. Although conscious of the eel fishery all our lives, this was nonetheless the first time I had ever visited.
The coach tour took place, but time restrictions meant that we did not get to the eel fishery as planned and in effect we ‘stood up’ the director of the co-operative. I expected a call from him – perhaps to berate me for leaving him standing on the riverbank that day – but instead I got a phonecall inviting me to a meeting to talk about the potential for a photography project.
So started a photographic adventure that took me, and the fishermen of Lough Neagh through a remarkable journey on and around the lake, charting its every detail and the lives of the characters who work there – usually invisible to the rest of us. Here is a part of that story. All images ©Fergal Kearney 2014.