Tag Archives: photographer

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….

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….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

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salewa (13 of 27)

Glyder Fach wild camp-4

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Posted in Blog Post, Brecon Beacons, Landscape, snow, Sunrise, Sunset, 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 , , , , , , , |