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

13949872435_128aaf2fa2_b (1)

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.


On The Beach

Just before that amazing sunset on Tuesday I took this quick landscape photograph using just some seaweed and footprints in the sand. With the tide having just gone out the sand was quite soft still and my boots just kept sinking in.

Shadows and Highlights

I’m not complaining though because I knew I could use this to my advantage and coupled with the debris left behind by the outgoing tide I had my foreground interest, one of the key elements I try to incorporate into my landscape photographs.

I often find it useful to consider landscape images as comprising three areas, foreground, middle-ground and background. While our human perception tends to focus more on foreground details and objects in our near vicinity, the camera makes no such distinctions. Foreground rocks that the photographer could reach out and touch while at the scene are rendered with the same presence as distant clouds in the final image. When visualising, I think it pays to try to see background and foreground details with equal importance. – Pete Bridgwood

Of course dramatic clouds will always provide the second element for any photograph and coupled with a setting sun what more could you ask for. In my mind this photograph is maybe missing something from the middle but with a vast expanse of flat sandy beach in front of me I’d be hard pushed to get that third element. Maybe you could say the thin ribbon of hills and mountains provides the middle ground?  What do you think? Is the middle ground missing?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Descent

For this weeks challenge I decided to head into Snowdonia and see if I could find a waterfall or river flowing down the side of the hill. You can be spoilt for choice but in the end I decided to settle for a photograph of the Afon Nant Peris as it descends from Pen-y-Pass through the Llanberis Pass to Llyn Peris

Afon Nant Peris

There are plenty of photo opportunities along the side of the river which is easily accessible from the A4086 which runs through the pass. Biggest problem is parking but yesterday the roads were quiet and I managed to stop at several of the well-known ones as you descend the pass.

Say I’m on a path along a stream, but what I really want to do is be down at the stream, not along the path. I go down along the side of the stream and I move up and down, back and forth, looking for, say, reflections. I’m watching the movement of the water. When I find something that pulls me in, something that I feel connected to—and usually it’s a quality of the light—then I open up the technical box… – Eddie Soloway

….and it pulled me in quite literally. I slipped and fell, had my own descent, in a manner of speaking. To cut a long story short smashed my camera into my face, bashed my knee and shin on a rock but today I got the all clear from A&E. I look like a one black-eyed Panda, the bruising is so bad. How did I end up doing this? I broke my cardinal rule by putting myself in harm’s way and I should know better. Wet rocks do not make a good platform for launching yourself off. I stepped onto the rock, my foot slipped and I ended up trying to rugby tackle another rock.

This photograph was taken before I had my fall.

Quick Post – Long Exposure

Whilst I was at Talacre on Friday I did this really long exposure using a 10 Stop ND Filter

Wild Talacre

That’s it…no more to say.

Is Humanity The Foundation Of Any Photograph?

As soon as I heard that this weeks challenge was Humanity I knew I would have difficulty with it. It’s just not in my nature to photograph people, and yet, I have captured this fleeting moment as a mother holds her child on a wind-swept beach here in north Wales.

Mother and child

It’s a moment in time shared with me, and captured by my camera, but as always I feel guilty about photographing people as though I was intruding on that fleeting moment.

Humanity is the foundation of any image. Then comes the journalism aspect, and then the photography. – Edmond Terakopian

Look closely at the photograph, what does it tell you? All too often we see kids running wild, parents on their phones, stuck in Facebook, never looking up. But to me this shows a mother who has interest in her child, sharing knowledge and providing protection.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue

Short one from me this week as I’m preparing for a week on Anglesey. I hadn’t intend to show another photograph from Cribinau this week but when the Weekly Challenge was announced it seemed appropriate to use these two photographs.

Church In The Sea


























Cribinau is tidal and as I wrote last week you better make sure you get the tide times right or you could find yourself stuck on the island till the tide goes out again. Although taken at different focal lengths I managed to get both the churches about the same size. It’s the foreground that is slightly different but if you look at the photograph on the left hand side, the clump of rocks you see in the foreground is the same as those about half way up in the right hand photograph. Time between those two photographs being taken – 4 minutes. Have you ever seen anywhere where the tide comes in as fast as this?

13 Steps To Emergency Help

Apparently a good way of attracting readers to your blog is to include a number in your post title. You know the type I mean;

  • 5 surefire ways you can….
  • 10 websites you must…
  • 7 steps for …..

Oh! And don’t make your post title too serious. Oops! Slipped up there. Or did I?

The Quarry Hospital

Now you can see that there are more than thirteen steps here. Probably about sixty, but I could hardly say;

60 Steps to Emergency Help

Or could I….

Anyway this weeks photograph for the Weekly Challenge is from Llanberis, North Wales and shows the Quarry Hospital Museum. Inside you can see some of the original medical equipment from the period around about the 1800’s. There’s also a ward that has been restored, an operating theatre, even an X-Ray Machine, and my personal favourite a gory display of amputating equipment along with the mortuary.

The hospital was opened to treat the men of Dinorwic Quarry, which with over 3000 workers at it’s peak had a lot of accidents. Elfin Safety wasn’t a consideration then. At least, not as much as it is now. Consequently, broken bones, lost fingers, and crush injuries were common-place and having the hospital near to the place of work meant the men could get back to work, quickly, after being treated. Interestingly the hospital remained open until the 1940’s.

Between, In More Ways Than One

All this week we’ve been having some great sunsets. So last night seemed like a good time to go out again with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens for some more familiarity and testing. The more I experiment and use the new camera the easier I will find it when I need to take that all important photograph without thinking about what I need to set on the camera.

My favourite outdoor testing place is Talacre Beach and the abandoned lighthouse. Wide open beach, some good pools of water if the tide has just receded and the sunsets are generally pretty good. You’ve also got the lighthouse to add that little bit extra.

Talacre Sunset

I like to think that I’m a pretty considerate photographer. When I’m out with my camera I’m usually aware of my surroundings and the people around me. If someone is taking photographs, even with their phone, I won’t walk in front of them. I’ll either wait or go round the back. Just as equally I expect the same consideration. OK, you don’t always get it with your average smart phone user, they are usually blithely unaware that you are taking photographs, even though the camera is on a tripod. But hey, I don’t have an exclusive right to any view. It’s something you have to live with, especially in tourist hot-spots.

But you would expect someone with fancy Canon DSLR, filters and a tripod to have come consideration. Not this guy. He came onto the beach, almost as the sun had set, walked right past me and proceeded to start photographing all round the lighthouse. In effect “photo-bombing” He didn’t care that he was in my frame. Oh No! He was Mister Important and he was going to get that photograph no matter what.


Sunset last night was about 21:40, so I was only waiting around for another ten minutes or so anyway before packing up to go home. Note that time. Anyway I left him on the beach busily snapping at everything in sight. As I walked through the now deserted beach car park I couldn’t resist taking this final photograph. “What goes around comes around”.


Have you ever had anyone “Photo-Bombing” your photograph. Did you do anything about it? I’d love to hear from you.

Room With A View

A room with a view. Well it would be if anyone bought it. The old lighthouse at Talacre beach has been up for sale for sometime but it does not look like there are any takers.

Talacre Sunset

It’s been a while since I was on Talacre, it’s my outdoor goto place when I want to try out any photographic techniques or new gear for that matter. So Saturday night, whilst my wife is watching football (soccer for my American readers), I took the new Olympus to the beach for my first test of HDR during sunsets. I’ve been to this beach loads of times and shot off hundreds of photographs of the lighthouse from all sorts of angles and times of the day.

Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes a precise moment in time. We play with subjects that disappear; and when they’re gone, it’s impossible to bring them back to life. We can’t alter our subject afterward…. Writers can reflect before they put words on paper…. As photographers, we don’t have the luxury of this reflective time….We can’t redo our shoot once we’re back at the hotel. Our job consists of observing reality with help of our camera (which serves as a kind of sketchbook), of fixing reality in a moment, but not manipulating it, neither during the shoot nor in the darkroom later on. These types of manipulation are always noticed by anyone with a good eye. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Now Henry was probably right at the time but in todays modern digital age, photo manipulation is all too easy. There’s someone in your shot, clone them out, only takes seconds. Forgot to clean your lens or dust on your sensor, leaving spots in the sky. That’s easy, use the Spot Removal Tool. Likewise you can boost colours, a little bit more red, a touch of purple, get that orange a little darker. All can serve to enhance a photographic or if you overdo it make it look terrible.

But what about composition? Once you hit that shutter button, that’s it. The moment is fixed in time. The clouds are where they are, as is the lighthouse. All that is left is the crop tool to allow better framing of the subject, which some will argue, you should be doing before pressing the shutter. Talking of composition. What do you think of the way I have framed the lighthouse against the sky? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment.

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Enhanced by Zemanta