Award-winning photographer John O’Neill will be putting his images in the frame when his exhibition opens at the Burnavon arts and cultural centre in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, next month.
John who is the proprietor of Sperrins Photography is putting on a solo exhibition ‘The Dark Side’ at the arts centre from February 1 to 27, featuring an interesting and unusual collection of surreal images of the Sperrins.
Many places of outstanding natural beauty are included in the collection from the Beaghmore Stone Circles, Ballyronan Marina and Ardboe Cross to the Seven Sisters near Omagh, County Tyrone as well as other remote parts of Mid-Ulster which have been beautifully captured by John in his own inimitable style.
The Ballinderry man’s photographs involve exposures of between two minutes and 15 minutes and they have all been taken around one hour after sunset, giving them an unusual and quite breath-taking quality.
John has used long exposure coupled with flashguns and torches to ‘light-up’ the images and make the end product that little bit more unconventional.
With a lifelong interest in photography and the creative industry, John explained how the exhibition came about.
“What I do is ‘paint’ the light in with handheld flashguns. The camera stays open for an undefined period of time and if I’m taking a photograph of a derelict building, I walk around the windows and paint the light into the picture, so that’s how the images come about,” he said. “Using the long exposure allows me to walk around, and the camera won’t pick me up.”
Around 20 images taken around the Mid-Ulster area by John will be on display at the Burnavon, many of which will be instantly recognisable.
One in particular which will hopefully pique the interest of visitors is of a frozen Lough Fea with a ‘halo’ appearing through the cloud.
John stated his career as a glass blower with the world-renowned company Tyrone Crystal and spent 18 years there before delving into his first love full-time.
“With the changing market, and production slowing slightly, I decided to go back to my hobby which I really loved and to work full-time at it. It’s something I love doing and when you enjoy it, it makes all the difference,” he said.
John completed his City and Guilds, achieving a gold medal in excellence, and he had the privilege of travelling to Buckingham Palace for the presentation.