Some of Derry’s most iconic landmarks have been given a whole new perspective thanks to a Fermanagh photographer’s love of kite flying.
Ciaran May, who runs Birdseye Kite Photography, first combined his passion for photos with his life long love of kite flying around three years ago, capturing images in and around his native Maguiresbridge.
“What I am trying to achieve is a perspective that you can’t get elsewhere,” Ciaran says.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do with this project, and at first made a of of mistakes. But as time went on I started to get where I wanted to be.
“It’s not quite aerial photography, it’s not Google earth, what I try and do is keep the intimacy of the shot.”
Marrying modern camera equipment with First world War technology once used to capture images from behind enemy lines, Ciaran sends kite and camera some 50 feet into the air to capture his unique shots.
“I’ll send the camera around 50 ft up, anymore than that and the air tends to be more turbulent, on a bad day it’s like the equipment is in a washing machine,” he says.
“A lot depends on the weather conditions. Sometimes knowing what the weather will do is like a black art, you never really know what it’ll be like until you send the camera up there.”
Using a picavet (a cross suspended under the kite) - named after the turn of the century French inventor Pierre Picavet - with his own specific modifications, Ciaran is able to level the kite and camera ahead of each shot.
His expertise has quickly seen his horizons expand beyond his native Fermanagh. Interest from the WorldIrish website has helped bring his work to a wider audience.
At present he is working with Walls 400 - a project encouraging people to engage with the heritage of Derry’s Walls - and has also captured the Peace bridge, Bogside and St Augustine’s Church while shooting in the city.
And some of county Derry’s most notable landmarks - the Bishop’s Palace and Mussenden Temple - have also had the kite photography treatment.
“With Mussenden I knew it would be a good shot. It’s much easier to shoot on the coast, the air is much more fluid. The camera is just under 50 feet up and it only took around 25 minutes to get the shot,” he says.
“But none of the intimacy is lost, you can still read the inscriptions on the Temple.”
Above all, Ciaran says, he hasn’t lost any of the enthusiasm that first brought him into this work.
“I really enjoy what I do and I hope that comes across in my work,” he says.
“It’s a pastime that is wholly green, and the response I get from people almost always tends to be one of amusement. It seems to make people smile.
“I’ve always loved kite flying, but most people see me and say they haven’t done it since they were a child.”
Now Ciaran - whose three sons also have an active involvement in kite photography - plans to extend his work further, first capturing Belfast, and then “onto the rest of Ireland.”
You can check out more of Ciaran’s work online at www.birdseyekite.com and contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07759 40450