Category Archives: Sunset

Looking back on 2016….

I’ve always lived my life day by day, week by week, month by month. A pretty simple way of living but one that has served me well. Going in to 2016 I decided that I needed to inject a little something extra in to my life and this was going to be more adventure. You could almost say that this decision had made itself, thanks to a competition win with the outdoor brand Salewa, who 9 weeks in to 2016 would be taking me, my lovely wife and a group of like-minded Europeans on a two and half day guided snow-shoe trek through the Dolomites. The excitement that winning a place on this mini-adventure had instilled in me had prompted some reflection upon my own attempts at adventure during 2015 and I’d decided that whilst photography had been a great medium for getting me out in my beautiful Beacons regularly, it had also made me  lazy. I know that may sound quite strange, but before I picked up a camera, I was going much further and staying out longer. My outings had now become more about the making of a photograph and I had started to lose sight of why I went in to the hills in the first place.

Starting 2016 with this was exciting! Now ending it feeling like I’ve achieved this, is incredibly satisfying! From the first snow in January to the coldest night of the year in December, I have walked and wild-camped more this year than in any other and I have enjoyed every outing. The wild-camps haven’t always been comfortable. I think it’s fair to say that after my first few attempts this year I was left questioning why I was even bothering, with sleep being hard to come by and staying warm an achievement just out of my reach. But I am nothing if not enthusiastic and I stuck with it, acquiring the right skills, knowledge and equipment as I went. I was given a huge boost in April, when a new outdoor brand called OEX  saw something in my photographs and gave me their top of the range Cougar Evolution tent, a very kind gesture and one that has gone a long way to keeping me comfortable on my nights out in the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonian mountains. I guess quite fitting that in December I was camped by my favourite mountain lake on the coldest night of the year (-10°C reported a few hundred meters below in a nearby village)  and I am pleased to report that I slept like a log.

Llyn Y Fan Fawr

Llyn Y Fan Fawr wild camp

I have also pushed myself to branch out a little this last year. Our competition win with Salewa played a large role in this. 2 1/2 days of snow-shoeing through the gorgeous Dolomite’s was a first big mountain experience….

dolomites

….which though exhausting, it did motivate me to seek out Wales’ own big mountain experiences, the rugged peaks of the Snowdonia. Previous visits here had resulted in the typical Snowdon summit and little else, as if there’s nothing more of note in Wales’ most epic national park.  I’ve not found as much time as I would’ve liked to head up north, though I have made sure each one counted and they’ve given me some of my most exciting mountain experiences,  with a heart pounding scramble up Tryfan’s north ridge and an awe-inspiring wild camp on Glyder Fach topping the list! odds (1 of 1)-5gyder fach

Glyder Fach Wild camp

Whether a result of the above or not, I can’t talk about 2016 without speaking about the effect the change in attitude and behaviour toward the outdoors has had on my photography. Not necessarily on the quality of photographs, as I feel this has been relatively consistent over the last 2 years, but certainly in the frequency and variety that I have been able to share and of the direct benefit this has brought, which has given some noteworthy reward – beginning the year with a commissioned piece in Outdoor Photography Magazine and ending it with my favourite yet, a huge piece on the Brecon Beacons in December’s issue of The Great Outdoors Magazine. The Great Outdoors have been very good to me this year,  with my photographs being commissioned for the “Escape” feature on several occasions.  I’ve also been interviewed for online promotions by both Outdoor Photography and Birchall Tea, plus had a commended image in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016 and made it in to the years book, aswell as having a spot in the 10 year anniversary edition, all achievements that I am immensely proud of!

I suppose that leaves 2017 which I’ve already dubbed “My Year of Adventure”. A year I had hoped to start as one of The Ordnance Surveys #GetOutside champions, which sadly isn’t to be. But I will still be going in with a mentality and attitude that I hope will help to motivate, enthuse and encourage others to take advantage of the great outdoors. How that is going to look I am not quite sure, though writing more about my experiences will feature heavily. With exploits like hiking the Beacons Way, Icelands Laugavegur Trail,  wintry wild camps in Snowdonia and maybe an entry in to bike-packing, I hope to have lots to waffle on about!

Thank you for your support in 2016!

cribyn

 Llyn Y Fan Fach

The Big Four (1 of 2)

salewa (13 of 27)

Glyder Fach wild camp-4

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The start of my walking season..?

There is a little road that myself and my wife often take from our home near Brynamman in to Llandeilo and the Towy Valley.
It traverses the far western fringes of the Brecon Beacons National Park and offers up great views over the Amman Valley and then, further along, over Carreg Cennen Castle and the picturesque village of Trap, with Bronze Age Burial Cairns dominating the hill tops to your right with some great walking opportunities, on paths that few others seem to tred, despite the great views, topography and history that it follows. Tair Cairn Isaf
The slopes / open land here is grazed by Cattle and Horses and with narrow roads, driving slow is highly recommended and be prepared for lengthy reversing manoeuvres if you come across others. It is very wet underfoot, often quite boggy which offers up great conditions for some plants as the seasons pass. In the Spring, Cotton Grass seems to do exceptionally well here.
Cotton grass
Though, now Summer (if it can be believed we had one at all) is drawing to a close, it is the turn of Heather, and it hasn’t disappointed! This area is dominated by vibrant purples / pinks at the moment and can be seen from miles away! Heather loves the moist soil here and it’s tips are often grazed on. It has been lapping up all of this rain and is flourishing! A lovely place for an evening stroll!
It also gave me a little time to think about where I am going to concentrate my photographic efforts on during this coming autumn/winter/spring.
Heather (2 of 4)

Heather (3 of 4)
I’ve decided to stick around my local hills and try to avoid the more popular central beacons. I am very much in my infancy with Photography, having only really discovered the importance of good light, quite late in to last years Autumn and was left mesmerised by the effect Dawn’s light had on anything it graced. I spent the next few months out as often as my work commitments would allow and felt I made huge leaps in my confidence both in composure and in my understanding of the elements..
Now with this in mind I think regular visits to the likes of Llyn Y Fan Fawr / Fach, Fan Bryncheiniog, Fan Foel, Picws Du, Fan Gyhirych would offer me up some great viewing experiences and give me the chance to learn more about the landscape and it’s history, aswell as help me progress in this most captivating of hobbies that is photography…..

Heather (1 of 4)

Have a good day!

Also posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, Myths, Wales

Location, location, location :)

In the 2 or so years that I have been attempting to make nice photographs of even nicer places I have lost count of the amount of locations I have driven passed and thought to myself “I must come back here with my camera”.. Some of these places have been when on holiday, some on my daily commute to work while others I pass regularly when visiting friends and family. Some I know I will probably never visit again, others, I will kick myself every time I am in the area without my camera..

There have been a few occasions where a friend / family gathering has been happening in area where I know there is a subject close by that I wanted to photograph and despite how rude it may have seemed to my companions, I have made my excuses and disappeared to said place.. As, not only was it close by, but I would perform my disappearing act when conditions were also favorable for the makings of a nice image.

The first such occurence was during a charity music gig where by my Wife’s Aunt was performing on stage, as lead singer in a blues Band… Now I may have had a secondary motive for the evening out but I was not above appreciating her talents and didn’t perform my Houdini like disappearing act until well after she had finished on stage. I think my absence was barely noticed and I was able to spend an hour or so Photographing the moored boats on the estuary around Penclawdd on North Gower.

Grant Hyatt  (1 of 2)

I came away with several images that I was happy with and was able to tick one of many locations and many, many subjects off my list..

Dusk on Penclawdd

Most recently we were visiting some friends in Pontarddulais, where as am sure some of you will know, there is a beautifully engineered 11 Arch Bridge over the Afon Llwchwr and within a stones throw from the M4 Bridge.
This place we pass so often and usually catch it in the most beautiful times of day.. So much so, that all my lovely wife wanted off me for Christmas was a framed picture of it. A present that Santa failed to deliver, I might add! So I decided to capitalise on our venture to the area by spending a little of our time in the area out photographing the Bridge during sunset.

11 Arch Bridge, Pontarddulais

Luckily this time, the husband of our pair of friends agreed to come with me (and also gave me the idea of including the cracks in the mud in an image) so I didn’t appear quite as rude as it would otherwise have seemed and we spent an hour admiring and photographing it’s location..

Pontarddulais 11 Arch Bridge

And we still managed to make it back in time to rescue our respective wives from a broken, cold hot tub!!

Pontarddulais 11 Arch Bridge

Another “tick” and my Wifes 2015 christmas present sorted 🙂

Also posted in Blog Post, Gower, Landscape, Wales Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Chasing the Light…

I had decided that I was going to get up for a sunrise yesterday morning and that I was going to head to Carreg Cennen Castle. It is a magnificent castle in an impressive location, with the commanding and majestic views that you would expect from a Welsh Castle. I’ve been driving passed a particular spot that I wanted to photograph the castle from and the forecast looked favourable for something special this morning!
Unfortunately for me, at 4am , my body had other ideas! It point blank refused to get out of bed when I asked it too.
So I have spent quite a large portion of today a little miserable as a result of my laziness. Fortunately, around 5pm tonight I happened to glance out of my window and see the most amazing skies rolling across the western flanks of the Brecon Beacons National Park, so I grabbed my camera bag and headed out!
And with only one place on my mind – Carreg Cennen Castle above the Village of Trap. One of Wales most loved and supposedly most romantic Castles. What a sight I was greeted with! DSC_1756
After managing the capture the Rainbow against the castle’s hill I decided to head over to Paxtons Tower to try and see the last view moments of the suns light. The most interesting and dramatic skies can often be viewed from Paxton Towers throne in the hills over-looking the Towy Valley. I arrived just as the last slither of sun was going dipping beneath the horizon. A nice calming end to a bit of a frantic hour!

DSC_1766
Grant

Also posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, Wales Tagged , , , , , , |