Duke Special ULAID

ULAID and Duke Special – The Belfast Suite

4 mins read

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to catch up with Duke Special and document a unique project he and ULAID have launched via the Crowdfunder platform. Ulaid and Duke Special have been writing/arranging and performing together since early 2016 and after a successful crowdfunding campaign have raised enough money to fund a live record of the material that they have compiled, aptly entitled ‘The Belfast Suite’.

Having already performed the music throughout Ireland and the UK to a hugely enthusiastic response, Duke and ULAID have decided to put this incredible music to tape… yes, actual analogue tape! Over the last two nights John McSherry, Dónal O’Connor, Seán Óg Graham and Duke Special have worked with a live Studio audience at Analogue Catalogue Recording Studio in Rathfriland. This amazing studio is set in a 3 storey stone mill overlooking the stunning Mourne Mountains in County Down. The live room hosted the band with 45 lucky guests each night who had the privilege of being part of the recording process.

About the Project

Drawing on their influences from the traditional music world and pre-rock and roll song writing, Ulaid and Duke Special combine forces to create an original work called ‘Belfast Suite.’ Exploring the collection of noted historian and antiquary – Francis J Bigger, they have written new compositions inspired by obscure treasures found among the Bigger collection and by the incredible story of the city of Belfast. Playing to their strengths, the collaboration allows the stunning musicianship of Ulaid and Duke Special’s curiosity in story to shine which delivers a unique and compelling new sound.

Documenting with the Fujifilm X100F

I decided to capture as much of the event and behind the scenes activity with the Fujifilm X100F using the film simulations and the digital teleconverter options offered at both 50mm and 70mm. I packed my TCL-X100. The first image shows Dónal and Duke at the standard 23mm field of view.

X100F at 35mm

I have assigned the focus dial on the camera to rotate through the three different focal lengths and the following image was shot in the same position this time with the 70mm digital teleconverter selected.

X100F Teleconverter at 70mm.

It was a great opportunity to mix the teleconverter options with the built in film simulations and in particularly ACROS-G and the experience was so positive I am now toying with the idea of shooting for a few months using just my Fujifilm X100F alongside the TCL-X100 and digital tele-conversion modes. The X100F is an elegantly powerful tool for documentary photography.

ULAID & Duke Special – The Belfast Suite

With the recordings now complete ULAID and Duke Special will be releasing ‘The Belfast Suite‘ in the upcoming months. The pledges have now, (obviously) sold out but I would highly recommend getting your hands on the live album on release, it’s a remarkable collaboration producing a quite remarkable music.


Duke Special
Analogue Catalogue


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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