Tag Archives: mountains

Getting Vertical With Salewa…..

Our guided Snow-shoe trek in the awe-inspring Italian mountains – The Dolomites.

In October / November last year a sponsored post popped up on my Facebook newsfeed, offering entry into a competition in which the winners would receive an unforgettable mountain experience.. but of course people never actually win those do they! At least never me anyway, but I was feeling lucky and there were Manfrotto Off-Road Tripod’s up for grabs also, which was something I was could definitely use!

So I entered the competition, which entailed a short game where you had to guess the correct items of clothing & equipment needed for your chosen “mountain experience” , in my case this was Snow-Shoe hiking through the Italian Dolomites. Followed by being asked for a few words about why you would wanted to be apart of this incredible opportunity.. Well that bits obvious, who wouldn’t 🙂

That was it.. Done… I entered the competition.. Then completely forgot about it!

Then on December 17th I received an email saying that I had won a place on the Get Vertical Winter Base Camp Experience in Alta Badia.. I couldn’t believe it! I thought it was a joke. People never win these holidays!! At least not me! At the time I was on a Stag Do in North Wales and signal was very poor, so trying to find out the specifics of what I had won was very difficult and involved a bit of a confused, yet cautiously excited phone call to my wife back home to get her to find out just how lucky we had been. I really dread to think how many emails the team at Salewa must’ve had off me in those first days after getting the prize winning notification..

Even as we drove from Venice Airport to the Alta Badia resort, 2 months later, and after a number of communications with the Salewa team, part of us still thought it was all a joke.. This really did all sound too good to be true. I mean it wasn’t just a guided trek in an incredible location, there was also free accommodation in what looked to be out of this world scenes and even free outdoor equipment.. We would never be that lucky, would we?

Then we were shown to our room and found this! We were each given a 35 ltr rucksack, Salewa Polartec Fleece, Salewa Jacket, Manfrotto Trekking Poles and even a neat little BMW bobble hat! Wow!

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Finally, it all became real!! We really were about to go on a real adventure! We met with the rest of the winners and Salewa representatives where we were told about the exciting plans they had for us all over the next few days. Could this get any better!!

Well, yes! The beer was also free 🙂

First stop was a Mountain Refuge in the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park. It was hidden deep in a beautiful alpine bowl, surrounded by stunning snow covered mountains and pine forests. We were speechless and awe-struck!

The plan for the day – An “easy” hike through these mountains.So, off we went for an “Easy” walk in these fabulous mountains..

 Conditions were perfect for the day’s Snow-shoeing, with a light breeze, plenty of blue in the sky and a little sun to warm our faces! Bliss 🙂

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The plan ? To head out in the sublime Val di Fanes and hopefully reach the Col Toron (2459m) before heading back back to the Fanes Refuge.

I think it’s fair to say that about 3 hours in to our activity there were quite a few of us wondering where they got their route grading from! Now I am not as fit as I could be, nor I am a slouch – but 3 hours in these mountains, hiking up to around 2500m and I was a wreck! The going was quite tough and at times also quite steep! The guides were helpful, friendly & patient and it was great to see that I was not alone in finding this a challenging trek!

Inspite of this, it was impossible to wipe the smile off our faces. What a place & what a start to this 2 1/2 day adventure!

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salewa (13 of 27)

We spent the evening recovering and relaxing in a comfort & quality that would rival any 3* hotel in the UK. As soon as dusk arrived it really became clear just how isolated we were up in these mountains and I just had to spend some time outside appreciating the places peace and tranquility…

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The next day we set off for what was the more challenging of the two walks. Todays plan was to hike up Limojoch (2172m) and then onto Stores (2185m) before our night camping near the Pralongia Refuge. I don’t mind saying that I was little apprehensive about this, as I was still fatigued from the previous days outing. But I am not one to turn down a challenge, especially one in a place like this! The first of the day took us through a stunning valley and close to a famous cave where a bears skeleton was once found. The weather wasn’t as great as the previous day, but offered up some interesting conditions for making photographs!

Nevertheless, it was hard not to be excited and inspired!! Even our seasoned mountain Videographer and former professional snow-boarder Harry Putz found it difficult to contain himself at times 🙂


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About half way we were able to stop for a much needed re-fuelling before taking on the final leg of this day which would see us climb to Pralongia Refuge, ready for our night in a tent at 2155m.To get there, we just had to follow a gradually inclined trail for about 2 hours… That 2 hours felt like 4 to me. Some found it easy and made their way up without any difficulty, but for us stragglers at the back it was so tough! I remeber at one point leaning over and using my the handles of walking poles to rest my head, closing my eyes for a few seconds…I am sure at times I was just taking photographs as excuses to stop…

The top couldn’t come quick enough!!! But we carried on, still smiling and when we finally caught up with everyone else – oh the relief! I am sure a few years ago I would’ve managed this just fine, but between marriage and photography I was no longer used to walking long distances , let alone on consecutive days! It had been such a hard climb for me!

We had plenty of time to rest up, before our night under what I had hoped would be stars, but instead up being thick cloud with an over night forecast of -4°C and around 15-20cm of snow!

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Easy 😉

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 Especially when you have been loaned the sort of equipment that Salewa make. I can honestly say I have never slept so comfortably and been so warm when camping.

The next day it was all hands on deck to get everything packed away, which was quite a task and the snow was coming down thick and fast! But still I smiled 🙂

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Just half a day’s walking back to Corvara and then it was all over! We had been truly spoiled by Salewa, Manfrotto & the Alta Badia Tourist Board. What a place, what an adventure!!! We had an absolutely amazing time!!!

We cannot thank Salewa enough and would urge everyone to keep a close eye out for the start of their next Get Vertical Competition, which apparently begins in just a few weeks!!

35’000 people entered this one and I am so glad I was one of them!!

 

#salewagetvertical #getvertical #salewa

 

Posted in Blog Post, Landscape, snow Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Snow day…

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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 , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A near perfect morning for Landscape Photography in the Brecon Beacons…

Over the last few years there have been many memorable moments spent amongst the hills, valleys, mountains and rivers of the Brecon Beacons National Park, but few more so than the morning of the 3rd November 2015.

As a hill-walker & amateur photographer there are few experiences more coveted than being able to stand above the clouds looking down on everything below and the chase for this experience will more often than not mean sitting in cold/damp conditions atop your chosen location, cursing the Met-office for not being right all the time.

pyf no see

These mornings have been quite frequent, where there is little to do but  hunch over in the sometimes sub zero temperatures and disappear in to an almost meditative state trying to keep warm  while waiting, wishing and hoping for something interesting to happen. Often this can be quite a de-motivating experience given the effort that is involved in getting to these places – the 4am alarm, the sickeningly strong coffee, those awkwardly dry mouthfuls of an unwanted but needed breakfast, not to mention getting growled at by your dogs for waking them at such ungodly hours, and all this before you have even left the house! There is still the 45 minute drive with the now twitchy caffeine enthused eyes and the horrible first few hundred meters of walking, when your body is still doing everything it can to get you to turn around and go back to bed.

But I persevere.

In the hope that one day I can reach the top and have the clouds so close I could step right on to them!

On the morning of the 3rd November I came as close as I have done to this feeling.

The few days prior had seen Temperature Inversions in the Brecon Beacons and the Sunday had tempted me up out for dawn a hike up Pen Y Fan. It was a pleasant morning out on the hills, with a nice blanket of “the Dragons Breath” on the land below. But it didn’t rise much passed a few hundred meters and so failed to give me the experience I had been chasing.

brecon

But undeterred from this experience and with another Temperature Inversion forecast I had nothing to lose other than sleep so off I went.

Week-days are a great time to get up on to the hills for sunrise if, like me, you enjoy the solitude and isolation of hill-walking. As I reached the summit of Pen Y Fan, there was a wild-camper packing up and heading back down, a decision I am sure they would later come to regret, as this had the makings of a very special morning indeed! The build up was near perfect. With the Moments before Dawn, my favorite of almost any outing, gracing me with the most beautiful pre-dawn sky and soft pastel colours.

Cribyn (1 of 2)-2

near perfect (1 of 1)-3

Sitting on the summit of Pen Y Fan, South Wales highest mountain watching the clouds flow over Cribyn like a river was like nothing I have experienced before and one that will be with me for some time. If the weather took a turn for the worse from here, I would’ve been quite satisfied and would’ve gone home and then on to work, with a smile on my face and a definite spring in my step.

With the sun still a way off rising, I took some time to enjoy the events unfolding infront of me, without the pressure of trying to photograph it. I just sat above Cefn Cwm Llwch with a flask of coffee, some home made brownies and took the time to enjoy the moment.

The sunrise itself was pretty uneventful, due to a band of cloud on the horizon. But still the Dragon breathed, the valley-fog kept rising and eventually started to engulf the whole of Cribyn. A scene that I had just had to capture, but with little light around I was at first unsure of how best to make a photograph from it. But watching it flow over the highest point of the mountain and cascade in to the valley below gave me the idea of using a long exposure to encapsulate it’s slow graceful enveloping of this iconic Welsh Mountain.

I composed my shot to include a little foreground and used the topography of the mountain to lead the eye in to the main interest of the photograph, I focused (using the back-button method approximately) 1/3 rd in to the scene as I don’t know about you but calculating the hyperfocal distance still confuses me. I set the sensitivity to my cameras lowest native setting, calculated 5 shutter speed stops back from my camera’s light-meter reading &  used the Timer function to ensure as sharp an image as I could.

As soon as I pressed the shutter the sun just began to peak through the clouds, but not so much as to over-expose the final image, just enough to grace the clouds above and below it with a subtle tint of it’s early morning colour. I knew at this point I was going to have a final image to be proud of!

And I was not wrong! I am still smiling 2 weeks later as a result of having this image short-listed for Outdoor Photography’s “Outdoor Photographer of the Year”

Cribyn

 Kit used

Nikon D610, Tamron 24-70, Velbon Tripod, Format Hi-tech 5 stop ND Filter.

Settings

Manual Exposure, 24mm, ISO 100, F20 , 20 Seconds.

If you’ve reached this far  – thank you!

Grant Hyatt

Posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, Myths, 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!

blog post (1 of 1)-4

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 , , , , , , , |