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Snow day…

beacons (4 of 4)

Whenever there is a little snow forecast for the UK there is always a flurry (couldn’t resist) of excitement and a contagious buzz on Social Media, most notably on Twitter where my feed is full, almost exclusively of photographers, from all over the United Kingdom, with interests as widely spread as our respective post-codes.  Most of us have occupations that dominate our commitments during the working week, which come Friday 5pm – means we must all feel like a dog being let off the lead in the park – all running off into the hills, mountains, valleys and forests. fully laden with hot flasks of coffee, down jackets, tripods & cameras.

Excitement had been building for a few days in the Brecon Beacons, in the run up to the weekend of 16th January, as snow had arrived mid week and forecast conditions for the Saturday morning were looking about as good as  anyone could’ve hoped for.  I hadn’t been able to add any new snowy images  to my “Moments before Dawn” series for quite some time and I was extremely hopeful that this weekend I would be able to make one of the Big Four (Pen Y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn & Fan Y Big).  I had a very clear idea in my head of what I wanted from this trip and if the Beacons were really good to me I also hoped to grab an image of the four central beacons with the first light of dawn gracing the peaks of some of the most walked mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

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From what I could gather, most seemed to be heading for Pen Y Fan, which left me hopeful of an empty summit on Fan Y Big and plenty of un-trodden fresh snow, as being able to make the first footsteps in the snow on any path always feels quite special to me,  maybe not quite as special as Neil Armstrongs’ first steps on the moon but with a hill walking event of 500+ participants starting out from Pont ar Daf early Saturday morning, this experience would certainly be limited to a very select few!

pyf no see

Winter sunrises allow for a much later than start than is typical of the rest of the year, with my alarm for this outing set at a very civilised 5am, allowing 30 minutes for breakfast, an hour for the drive, an hour for the hike up and then plenty of time to chose the specifics of my photographs on location, get comfortable and enjoy the show.  And aside from a very brief  and tricky encounter with waist deep snow, everything went exactly to plan.  Definitely a rarity in my outings as an enthusiastic Landscape Photographer!

The pre-dawn sky was just sublime, more vibrant pink/purple pastels than I had seen in the sky before, perhaps down to it’s contrast with the bright white snow covered landscape. With a little whispy cloud in the sky I thought this would be a great opportunity to use a long exposure to try and capture the movement of the clouds and paint the sky with these most beautifully peaceful of colours. It really couldn’t have worked out much better for me.

The Big Four (1 of 2)

ISO100 / 24mm / f16 / 5 secs

 

I shot maybe two or three frames of varying exposures, trying to find the balance that suited my on-going “Moments before Dawn” series best, and settled on the above, which was shot at ISO 100, 24mm, f16 for 5 seconds – Using a  5 stop nd filter. I am very much looking forward to returning to this spot once the snow has melted to shoot a similar image for comparison.

After I was satisfied with the above image, I sat and waited for the sunrise, hoping that a little of this pre-dawn colour would linger just long enough for me to include it in the only other photograph I had hoped to make on this morning. When I was planning this brief little outing I had envisaged an image of the four central beacons with the first rays of dawn’s light just kissing their summits. But to come away with this and the added bonus of some incredible colour in the sky (not a single adjustment was made to any of the colours in either image) absolutely made my day!

 

The Big Four (2 of 2)

ISO100 / 24mm / f14 / 15 sec

Given how well the first long exposure had gone I opted for the same technique for the above picture, though this time using an additional 3 stop graduated filter, bringing the total exposure time to 15 seconds. Both taken with a Nikon D610 and Tamron SP  24-70 f2.8 VC.

 

beacons (1 of 4)

ISO100 / 24mm / f14 / 1.6 secs

 

beacons (2 of 4)

ISO100 / 24mm / f14 / 1.6 secs

Hopefully this won’t be the last of the white stuff for the Brecon Beacons this season.

Thanks for reading.

Grant

Posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, snow, Sunrise, Wales Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The moments before dawn…

In my opinion, the last 12 months has seen my biggest gains in Photography. Not in terms of monetary, exposure or credit, just in how I feel about the photographs I have been posting. I’ve been really enjoying myself in the hills and I feel that is has shown in the images I’ve returned with.
But one thing that I felt was still missing, was a project. And this is something that has bothered me and I am not entirely sure why. Though I think it is in part down my Twitter feed being full of wonderful series’ of photographs from some exceptionally talented people and I’ve spent some time recently, wondering how rewarding it must be to have a purpose to your photography other than to enjoy being out with your camera.
Yesterday evening I was feeling a little reflective and through a chance interaction with another photographer on Twitter I was helped to the realisation that I have possibly been unknowingly compiling a project. I’ve been looking at a photography project as this intricate, detailed study of a particular subject. Something above my level of understanding and beyond my current reach as an “Enthusiast / Hobbyist Photographer” But what do I do on my outings? I return to the same locations, under different conditions, to see the effect the changing light has on the landscape and how this affects me, whether it excites me or causes me to reflect.
I think this is beginning to sound like the makings of a project – “The moments before dawn”

Cefn Cwm Llwch
Cribyn (1 of 2)-2

I find these moments before the sunrise to be my favorite of the day, watching the final Stars fade from the night and the beautiful pastel colours gradually build in the pre-dawn sky.  Before the first rays of light have come over the horizon with it’s Midas touch.   The softness of the colour palette of these moments make it virtually impossible to feel anything other than at peace.

Llangors Lake, Brecon Beacons
Pre-dawn on Llangors Lake

Cribyn, Brecon Beacons. 
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Cefn Cwm Llwch & Cribyn, Brecon Beacons 
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Craig Fan Ddu, Brecon Beacons
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Llyn Y Fan Fawr, Brecon Beacons
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Corn Du, Brecon Beacons
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Corn Du, Brecon Beaconsblog post (2 of 2)

I hope that now these pre-dawn wanderings have been given a purpose other than my enjoyment of being there, I can turn this into something more of a story, a set of images that when combined paint a much larger picture.
But if I can’t, then atleast I will still have the enjoyment of these moments. Which in the grand scheme of things is far more important!

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Grant

 

Posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, Sunrise, Wales Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A trip down memory lane…

Before photography, before my dogs, before even my wife, I lived a very different life! A sort of semi nomadic one, where all of my worldly posessions had to fit within a 65ltr rucksack and I would often find the only roof over my head would be something dubbed a “green meanie”, with bread crates for a bed base accompanied by the holiest of foam mattress just to add insult to injury.

But inspite of this, it was a life I lived for almost 6 years and one that provided me with the most amazing backdrops to call home and one that I shared with many great people! It was a life of 6 day weeks with 7 day hangovers made worse by being surrounded 24 hours a day, by sometimes as many 1000 children and young people all waiting on you to teach them something cool!

Before photography, before my dogs, before even my wife, I worked as an Activity Instructor on well known Outdoor Education Centres. I have many very fond memories of my times at the 8 or so centres I worked at in England, Scotland and Wales. One such centre and the focus of this mornings outing, was quite literally on the banks of South Wales largest natural lake, Llangorse Lake.
Llangors Lake, Crannog Centre

This is a lake with plenty of history, with their once possibly being a palace on the man made island or Crannog, that is now covered in trees. It plays host to a large variety of wild life, some of which are just stopping off for a rest and a re-fuel before continuing on their migratory routes. From dawn til dusk (and often well into the night) the unmistakable sound of Canadian Geese can be heard from a good distance.

Moored boat on Llangors Lake

My home for two summer seasons (Apr-Sept) was about about 10 meters from it’s shores in a tent aptly dubbed a “Green Meanie” because of the colour of a powder like substance it left on anything it came in to contact with. The sight of mother ducks wandering passed with their brood in tow was a pretty familiar one! I remember one such mother parking herself outside my tent and refusing to move for almost 3 hours! Lucky for me, there was always something to do on a centre like this, be it the obvious swim, a lesson in kayaking or canoeing or a lengthy session in the local climbing centre and then for quick drink in the Red Lion.
Llangors Lake Long exposure
Hard to believe almost ten years has passed since I was lucky enough to call this home! I’ve been trying to work out if I was able to appreciate this places beauty in amongst the foggy haze of what must’ve been a season long hangover. The answer? Would’ve been impossible not to wouldn’t it!

The stillness of movement on Llangors Lake

Grant

Posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, Sunrise, Wales Also tagged , , , , , |

Purple Smog? The Perfect Sunrise? And that other thing, you know, the Eclipse !

So, today was the day I have been looking forward to for several months! As soon as I found out about todays Partial Eclipse, some 2 months ago, I booked the day off work! To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement! I’ve spent a fair amount of time this week, just staring at weather forecasts trying to work out where in the UK I was going to stand the best chance of catching a good glimpse and hopefully a few good pics too!

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Luckily enough, the best weather for the whole of the UK happened to be right on my door step. So I could get out to enjoy something for the very first time (I honestly have no idea what sort of hole I was in in 1999, but it must’ve been a deep one). There has been quite a lot of hype around this mornings event and had already heard of a large number of people planning on watching it from the top of Pen Y Fan. However I fancied a slightly quieter viewing point for this, as I was intending to get to my venue for a little after 5am. At this time of the day I can barely talk to myself let alone anyone else!

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So Fan Frynach via Craig Cerrig Gleisiad seemed like the perfect place. A quick check of the Photographers Ephemeris confirmed it was going to be a nice spot for sunrise too! And I certainly wasn’t disappointed! The predawn colours were incredible, with the most vivid purples and violets hovering above the main peaks of the Central Beacons, I do wonder if that was anything to do with this band of toxic smog around South Wales at the moment!The walk up was tough! Alot tougher than I remember. Though it isn’t as high, or as long a walk as Pen Y Fan I do think it is considerably steeper!

The sunrise was pretty spectacular! With the sun rising right in the saddle between Corn Du and Pen Y Fan and the customary “selfie” took place. The time was only 6:30 and I had quite a bit of time to plan my photo for the eclipse.

My intention was to capture the full sequence of the Eclipse and then over lay them on to an earlier photo of the location, in their correct positions in the sky! Now, had I achieved this I think I would’ve been quite proud of myself! And, I think I would’ve managed it too, it is certainly within my technical know-how. But alas, I fell asleep and then when I woke I had missed quite a large porton of the inital stages! So I had to settle with a few snaps of the final stages of the Moon passing between directly between me and the Sun.

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All in all a fairly succesful morning i’d say 🙂

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Grant

Posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Eclipse, Landscape, Sunrise, Wales Also tagged , , , , , , , |

The Beautifully Quiet Three Cliffs Bay

I realised the a couple of days ago that the only place where you can read ( if you were so inclined ) about the story behind my photographic attempts, dawn wanderings and sunset chases, is on Facebook. Which I think is a bit of a shame as this is also the place that is most harmful to the quality of the photos.

So in an effort to combat this and to try and develop myself as a Landscape Photographer, I thought it was high time I started a blog! Now, to those that know me, know that I do not usually have much to say, so this attempt may be futile and short lived!

So here goes :-
In my mid 20’s I spent what seemed like all my spare time climbing on the faces of the stunning Three Cliffs Bay, but since then don’t seem to visit much at all, which is a shame given my previous fondness for this beautiful place!
But over the last few weeks I have seen some amazing photos of here, which has given me a bit of a kick up the ass to come and visit early in the morning. It was a low tide around sunrise this morning, which worked out perfectly as I wanted to capture a sunrise looking in from the sea.
The 4am alarm was a little more hurtful than usual, due to having a couple of pints of Guiness at my Grandfathers birthday meal last night. But after getting onto the beach and making the very first footsteps in the sand of that day, it was clearly worth it!
The sun didn’t make much of an appearance but there was plenty of colour around in the sky to keep me entertained!

Have a good day!
Grantpano-Edit

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Posted in Blog Post, Gower, Landscape, Sunrise, Wales Also tagged , , , , , |