Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

Well this is an interesting challenge this week. I didn’t set out today to capture these daffodils. In fact I didn’t know they existed in the location that they are, more importantly I didn’t even know that the location existed. You’ll note that I keep saying location, There’s a reason. I was asked not to publish where I found these daffodils are they are in a protected area. Suffice to say I was in the Conwy Valley, although “in the valley” is probably the wrong thing to say as I was about 850 feet up on the side of a hill.

Daffodils

The whole area is carpeted with Daffodils, This photograph doesn’t really do it justice as they just seemed to stretch on and on along the hillside. Twenty minutes before this photograph I was sheltering from the rain and hailstone shower. Not easy when you are stuck on the side of a hill but thank goodness for one of the old ruined buildings that dot the North Wales landscape. It was cold as well with a blustery wind, the remnants of the storms we’ve been having in the past few days. But as soon as I stepped into this little cleft in the hillside, the sun came out, the wind dropped, even the odd spot of rain that was in the air stopped. Perfect!

What’s the connection with Ephemeral?  These daffodils will only be there another week or so, returning again next year.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Serenity, I could think of so many places in North Wales where I have felt serene. Talacre Beach on a cold winters day, Cwm Idwal, Llyn Cowlyd, the Denbigh Moors. Even Dinorwic Quarry seems so serene now despite it’s industrial past, when it must have been a height of activity. All have their own unique points but one place that has always struck me with it’s simplicity and serenity is Llangelynin Church which I’ve visited more than once.

Weekly Photo Challenge Serenity

Situated high in the hills above the Conwy Valley and the village of Henryd, at 900 feet, Llangelynin is considered to be one of the most remotest churches in Wales (53.2458°N 3.8730°W). I have visited Llangelynin several times over the years and it never ceases to amaze me how quiet it is there. Standing on the hill to the side of the church and looking out over the valley you feel as though you are alone in the world, that is, apart from the sheep, birds and maybe the odd hill walker who happens to be passing by. But it is quiet most of the time and the views are magnificent.

The very secret of life for me…was to maintain in the midst of rushing events an inner tranquillity. I had picked a life that dealt with excitement, tragedy, mass calamities, human triumphs and suffering. To throw my whole self into recording and attempting to understand these things, I needed an inner serenity as a kind of balance. – Margaret Bourke-White

Inside Llangelynin you will find a simple church. Stone floors, wooden pews, a small wooden table for an altar and plain leaded glass windows. Some imitation flowers provide a splash of colour but the simplicity of the church remains. Sit down in one of the wooden pews, take a moment and enjoy the peace.

Llangelynin Church Interior

Although Llangelynin is quite simple inside writing on the wall in front of you shows the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, in Welsh. The inscription “Fear God and honour the King”, together with scrollwork, can clearly be seen today, as can a skull and cross-bones. Whilst I was researching Llangelynin using Wikipedia I discovered that the writings were covered by a whitewashed wall so it must have taken some skill to reveal them without too much damage.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip to Llangelynin with me. It is relatively easy to get to by car but you need to park about 100 metres away and walk up a farm track

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Llangelynin is not the easiest building to find if driving by car but it’s well worth the visit. The signposts to the church could be better and the first time I visited I got lost in the narrow single track lanes leading from Henryd so I’ve included a map for anyone considering driving to the church. Winter may not be the ideal time as the road is narrow and steep. For the walkers, apparently the church is not named on an Ordnance Survey Map but you can find it at reference SH751737 or (53.2458°N 3.8730°W). Services aren’t held in the church that often, usually summer and special occasions so it’s open to visitors most of the time.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed

I have suddenly found a passion for Street Photography and Black & White. It all comes from a talk I attended not so long ago at Cambrian Photography in Colwyn Bay. On Saturday last I took the opportunity to attend a photowalk in Liverpool organised by Matt Hart who is based in Liverpool. Great day out, I managed to meet and talk with a good few photographers, but best of all I learnt a lot and came away with  some photographs I really like.

But here we are in North Wales so I need to find something for this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge that I’ve taken in North Wales.

Shadowed

The National Slate Museum at Llanberis is one of may favourite places to do a bit of photography on a wet day. It’s nearly all inside and there are some great little places to photograph within the buildings. Lighting is not great but many of the workshops are flooded with natural light from the big windows. You can get some real dark and grungy photographs if that’s your thing. Previously I have done this photograph in colour, I love the shadows created by the narrow passageway and available light, but I thought I’d give it a go in Black and White.

No Smoking

I’ve added a colour version of more or less the same scene. Which do you prefer? Colour or Black and White? I’d love to get your opinion so please feel free to leave a comment.

A Passion For HDR

Ever since I saw my first HDR photograph by a great photographer called Peter van Allen that was it, I was sold. HDR was something I wanted to do and I was going to find out how. Search around the web and you will find plenty of tips, tutorials, etc on how to do HDR. You will also find lots of articles talking about how HDR sucks or similar. Look at the dates of when these articles were published, most of them are a good couple of years back, some even longer. The photography world is divided as are the camera manufacturers, some like Pentax and Olympus have dedicated HDR functions built into some of their cameras now. My old Pentax had 4 HDR functions, 5 if you include the Night Scene setting. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has two and but makes up for this by having dedicated Auto-Bracket settings for HDR available at the turn of a dial.

Yellow-Gorse

If you read my last post about going mirror-less you might recognise this photograph. It’s the HDR version of the yellow gorse which I shot on a rainy day in the hills above Colwyn Bay. HDR, or to give it it’s proper name, High Dynamic Range (Imaging), is a technique used to get a greater dynamic range of luminosity than you would get from a normal photograph. In other words, by using HDR you can compensate for loss of detail in the Highlight or Shadow areas by taking multiple exposures at different exposure levels and then combine those photographs using software to give you a more balanced result.

Christ-Church

Here is an example of what I am talking about. In the original photograph I was having trouble balancing the highlights because the stained glass window and the side ones were over-exposed. If you compare the original to this one above you will see that there is more detail in the HDR photograph but it also has a certain “look”. This “look” has nothing to do with the HDR technique which combines the photographs. It’s about how I then use the software (in my case PhotoMatix) and post-process in Photoshop to give the photograph a style.

Altar

Now you may or may not like “my style” – feel free to say so, I won’t be offended, in fact I welcome criticism and I won’t bite back. However, others do and this style has been working for me over the last couple of months as I’ve been providing photographs for a funded tourism project. More about that in the coming months when I’m officially allowed to talk about it and show you some of the photographs.

Of course HDR used inside presents different challenges to when your outside but a great time to use HDR is when the sun is setting or rising for that matter.

Reflections

I mentioned “styles” before and this photograph would not look good if I had used the same processing techniques as I did for the churches. Each photograph presents different challenges for HDR processing and therein lies the problem. Some HDR practitioners find a style they like and then apply that to every photograph they take. But what is good for one may be absolutely terrible for another.

Sunset

Even these two, taken about ten minutes apart had different styles applied to them. Subtle changes, but different, nevertheless.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on HDR. Have you ever tried it? If you did, did you like the results you wanted. Or maybe you’re just thinking it’s not for you. Let me know.

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