Tag Archives: photography

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

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!

pic 1

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 🙂

salewa (4 of 27)

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 🙂


salewa (19 of 27)

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 🙂

salewa (25 of 27)

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…

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.

beacons (3 of 4)

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. 
cribyn dawn (1 of 1)

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

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 🙂

Posted in Blog Post, Gower, Landscape, 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 , , , , , |

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 , , , , , |