Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Whilst I was out today I spotted this lone tree standing in a field.


Highlighted against the blue sky and with no foliage it looked quite stark. But you have to get the whole picture (excuse the pun here) to appreciate this tree.

Our eye must constantly measure, evaluate. We alter our perspective by a slight bending of the knees; we convey the chance meeting of lines by a simple shifting of our heads a thousandth of an inch…. We compose almost at the same time we press the shutter, and in placing the camera closer or farther from the subject, we shape the details – taming or being tamed by them. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Right next to the tree was a field of commercially grown daffodils which are the national flower of Wales. By zooming out and kneeling down I was able to bring the daffodils into the scene, adding some colour to an otherwise dull photograph.

Lone Tree and Daffodils

In Welsh the daffodil is known as “Peter’s Leek“, cenhinen Bedr or cenin Pedr) and it traditional to wear a daffodil or a leek on Saint David’s Day (March 1).

What about the leek? Well, according to legend, Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, ordered his Welsh soldiers to identify themselves by wearing leeks on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field.


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Lakeside Tree

Llyn-y-Dywarchen is a privately owned lake which lies alongside the B4418. On the day I visited there was a cold wind blowing with sunlight breaking through the clouds now and again.

My plan was to walk around the lake, mainly to get closer to this tree and some old abandoned buildings which were on the opposite side of the lake from the roadside car park.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, or as Robbie Burns put it;

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley,

I couldn’t get any further round than this. The whole area was flooded with runoff water from the rock strewn hill to my left, forcing me to abandon my plans to go further.

Still it gives me an excuse to go back once the area is drier. Maybe early spring…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Here in North Wales we have more than our fair share of abandoned buildings. Most are associated with either the slate quarries, copper or coal mines which have long since ceased working.

Miners Barracks

Our first building can be found on the Miners Track as you head towards the summit of Snowdon. At the side of Llyn Teyrn stands this now abandoned stone structure which was the barracks for the men who worked on the Britannia Copper Mine further up the valley. The mine closed in 1916 but the ruined barracks and mill buildings still exist.

Nearly all of the abandoned buildings I have found on my travels no longer have a roof. The walls, made of local stone, will survive the extreme weather conditions, but the wooden supports for the roof will not. Even the walls cannot survive for ever. Often the stone is re-used by local farmers to repair the dry stone walls that are a feature of the hills and valleys in Snowdonia.

Abandoned House

The houses are not big. One, maybe two rooms, at most. What where they used for? In the case of the ones near mines and quarries I think it’s pretty obvious. But the houses that you find high on a hill and totally isolated I’m not so sure about. But I have a theory. Wales is a sheep farming country, and the sheep were allowed to roam the hills. I reckon many of the isolated houses were used by shepherds. Does that sound logical?

Abandoned Hut

Of course not all of the abandoned building were used as dwellings. I found this old building at the site of the Dinorwic Quarry. There’s nothing unusual about it. Three walls and a roof made of slate, which you would expect in a slate quarry. As to its function, who knows? A shelter, maybe?

Stone Shelter

Not all abandoned dwellings are one-roomed, low structure buildings  I’d like to leave you with this final image of the entrance gates to Gwrych Castle which is a  Grade I listed 19th-century country house quite close to me.

Gwrych Castle

The castle was erected between 1819 and 1825 and until 1924 it was the residence of the Dundonald family. After WW2 the castle was open to the public, attracting many visitors through the 1950’s and 60’s. The 1970’s saw it being used as a centre for medieval re-enactments, attracting tourists with such events as jousting and mock banquets. But the decline of Gwrych Castle was already starting and finally it closed it doors to the public in 1985.

An American businessman bought the castle in 1989 but his plans to renovate the building were not carried out. As a result the castle was looted and vandalised to become little more than a derelict shell.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

For personal reasons I’ve been kind of quiet recently and not published too many posts, but hopefully by the end of next week I should be able to get back on track. The choice for  this weeks challenge reminds me of one of those great photography jokes that always seem to pop up now and again.

A photographer from a well know national magazine was assigned to cover the fires at Yellowstone National Park. The magazine wanted to show some of the heroic work of the fire fighters as they battled the blaze. When the photographer arrived, he realized that the smoke was so thick that it would seriously impede or make it impossible for him to photograph anything from ground level. He requested permission to rent a plane and take photos from the air. His request was approved and arrangements were made. He was told to report to a nearby airport where a plane would be waiting for him. He arrived at the airport and saw a plane warming up near the gate. He jumped in with his bag and shouted, “Let’s go!” The pilot swung the little plane into the wind, and within minutes they were in the air. The photographer said, “Fly over the park and make two or three low passes so I can take some pictures.” “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I am a photographer,” he responded, “and photographers take photographs.” The pilot was silent for a moment; finally he stammered, “You mean you’re not the flight instructor?”

I’m sure you’ve probably heard it or something very similar? Anyway to this weeks challenge. Accompanied by my able-bodied assistant and tripod carrier we set off for Parys Mountain on Saturday. Weather wise we had dark clouds, strong winds and the threat of rain. Perfect.


Parys Mountain – in the Welsh language Mynydd Parys – is located south of the town of Amlwch in north-east Anglesey, Wales. It is the site of a large open cast copper mine that was extensively exploited in the late 18th century. However, there is evidence that the mountain was first mined for copper ore over 4000 years ago in the Bronze Age, Parys Mountain is thus one of the few sites in Britain where there is evidence for the prehistoric beginnings of the British metal mining industry. Nowadays there is a way marked trail around the mountain, giving views of Amlwch Port to the north and the nearby Trysglwyn wind farm to the south.

The Warning Notice at one of the entrances to the mine is quite clear.

Upon entering these premises you consent that Anglesey Mining plc and the occupier of these premises will accept no liability for any loss or damage caused.
Entry is at your own risk.

It’s a cover all statement and as long as you stick to the way marked paths there shouldn’t be any problem. This really is a boots area and in the winter wear warm clothing, Parys Mountain trail is rocky, open and exposed to the elements and there’s almost no shelter…..and Anglesey is known for the winds that blow there.

Our objective was to reach the abandoned windmill tower on top of the hill, but on the way we were going to stop to take some photographs.


The bare heavily mined landscape, with predominant red, yellow and orange colour, gives the mountain a strange appearance which has been used in the filming of several science fiction films and television shows,

Due to the high level of soil contamination little plant life survives on or near the mountain, but there are a number of examples of copper-tolerant plants and bacteria.


Parys Mountain dominated the world’s copper market during the 1780s, when the mine was the largest in Europe. Its rise severely damaged the mining industry in Cornwall. The copper from the mine was used to sheath the British Admiralty‘s wooden ships of war, to prevent the growth of seaweed and barnacles and to protect the wood from attack by shipworms. This increased the speed and manoeuvrability of the vessels, and enabled them to remain at sea for longer as there was less need to return to port for maintenance.

By 1901 production had dropped dramatically and the mine was producing only copper and ochre from the pits. Production carried on for another twenty years, until 1921, when the receivers were called in, effectively meaning that the mine had ceased production.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

I was thinking about this weeks challenge and wondering what to submit. There are many things I treasure, some I wouldn’t share, some I would. But one of the things I treasure the photo opportunities I have found with the scenery, wildlife and historical buildings in North Wales.

We have beautiful sandy beaches along our coastline which stretch for miles, and the added bonus of a very photogenic lighthouse, nearby.

Talacre Beach

Talacre Beach is a great place and can be very popular during the summer, but even at it’s busiest it never feels crowded. In the winter time you can spend hours on the beach and if you’re unlucky you might see one or two dog walkers. The lighthouse was built  in 1776 but fell into disuse in 1884. Only 18 metres high, its not big but it’s always a great photo opportunity. The best time to visit Talacre is sunrise or sunset, especially if you want that extra special photograph..

Further along the coast is Prestatyn and when the sun goes down we get some amazing sunsets. If only I’d been at Talacre that evening.

Prestatyn Sunset

But as well as those glorious beaches we have some great mountain ranges and lakes. They may not be the highest, but they are certainly rugged and a walkers dream.


Cwm Idwal is a hanging valley in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern part of the Snowdonia National Park. Its main interest is to hill walkers and rock climbers, but it is also of interest to geologists and naturalists, given its combination of altitude (relatively high in UK terms), aspect (north-facing) and terrain (mountainous and rocky). In a 2005 poll conducted by Radio Times, Cwm Idwal was ranked the 7th greatest natural wonder in Britain.

Llyn Idwal

Of course almost anywhere you go in North Wales, you will see sheep. Lots of them. Sheep farming is important to the economy of Wales. Much of Wales is rural countryside and sheep are a very common feature in the landscape throughout the country.

Welsh Lamb

Sheep farms are most often situated in the country’s mountains and moorlands, where sheepdogs are employed to round-up flocks. Sheep are also reared, however, along the south and west coasts of Wales. I read recently that there are  more than 11 million sheep in Wales and that sheep farming accounted for 20% of agriculture in Wales. Maybe that’s why in surveys with tourists to North Wales, the sheep are always the first thing they mention.

In some areas of North Wales, especially the Carneddau, Mountains you can find Welsh ponies which roam free and have done for years and years. The ponies go back to Celtic times and form the gene pool for many different breeds of horses in England and Wales.

Welsh Pony

Talking of horses leads me nicely to Harlech Castle. Can’t see the link? Let me explain.

Harlech Castle is a medieval fortification, constructed atop a spur of rock close to the Irish Sea. It was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282 and 1289.

Have you got the link yet?

Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars, withstanding the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn between 1294–95, but falling to Owain Glyndŵr in 1404.

During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians for seven years, before Yorkist troops forced its surrender in 1468, a siege memorialised in the song Men of Harlech.

If you still haven’t got the link, here it is. King Edward 1 was a knight as well as a king. Knights rode horses into war. I know, I know,,,,,it’s tenuous at best, but hey it’s my lead in.

Harlech Castle

UNESCO considers Harlech to be one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”, and it is classed as a World Heritage site. So we move on from a great big castle to a small house. Actually the smallest house in Great Britain or so it’s claimed.

The Smallest House

The Smallest House in Great Britain, also known as the Quay House, is a tourist attraction on the quay in Conwy, Wales. The house, which has a floor area of 3.05 metre by 1.8 metre (10 feet by 6 feet) and a height of 3.1 metre (10 feet 2 inches) to the eaves, was used as a residence from the 16th century until 1900; as its name indicates, it is reputed to be Britain’s smallest house…..

…..and so from one type of house to another. Pentrefoelas church was designed in the late 1850s by Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most celebrated architects of Victorian Britain. He incorporated the south transept, of 1774, from the earlier church on this site.

Pentrefoelas church

Pentrefoelas church is noted for its stained-glass windows and a challenge for visitors is to spot the strawberry hidden in one of the windows. Some of the windows are by the noted stained-glass specialist Sir Ninian Comper (1864-1960).

That wraps it up for this week and I hope you enjoyed the treasure that we are lucky to have here in North Wales.

I leave you with this. Could you live in the smallest house?


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Who Is Saint Valentine?

Today is February 14th and I don’t suppose there are many people who don’t know that today is Saint Valentine‘s Day, also known as Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. Although it’s not a holiday it is celebrated in many countries around the world.


St. Valentine’s Day began as a celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies.


A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.


The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“).


Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Years ago I bought a collection of greetings cards from the Victorian Era which included, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, 4th July and Valentines. All of them had been digitised and sold as stock photographs which I have used in some of my posts. I hope you like the ones I have used.


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Just Published: A Complete Photography 101 Guide

Mike Hardisty:

Well if you haven’t already been notified about the new E-Book it’s well worth downloading

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Here’s another free ebook to add to your virtual bookshelf: Photography 101: The Basics of Photography and the Power of Visual Storytelling.

View original 273 more words

Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

English: The first photographic portrait image...

English: The first photographic portrait image of a human ever produced. “Robert Cornelius, head-and-shoulders [self-]portrait, facing front, with arms crossed”, approximate quarter plate daguerreotype, 1839 or Nov.. LC-USZC4-5001 DLC Also see: Library of Congress, American Memory, complete source description. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Selfies came to prominence in the early 2010’s when improvements in design – especially the addition of front-facing cameras – started to appear in Smartphones.

Therefore it was no surprise that in 2013 Oxford Dictionaries announced that selfie, meaning  a type of self-portrait photograph, had been chosen as the word of the year.

But selfies were nothing new, In the early 2000s, before Facebook became the dominant online social network, self-taken photographs were particularly common on MySpace and Flickr.

Even further back Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself, in 1839,  which was also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. He recorded on the back “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839

Selfie as a word seems to originate on September 13th 2002 in an Australian Internet Forum – ABC Online

Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie

The debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box camera in 1900 led to photographic self-portraiture becoming a more widespread technique. The method was usually by mirror and stabilizing the camera either on a nearby object or on a tripod while framing via a viewfinder at the top of the box.

Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna at the age of 13 was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. In the letter that accompanied the photograph, she wrote,

“I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling.”

Now to my selfie – I’m not a great one for self-portraits. I prefer to be behind the camera not in front. Annie Leibovitz was once asked by Ingrid Sischv “Did she ever think about doing a self-portrait”? Her response sort of sums up my feelings about self-portraits or selfies….

I think self-portraits are very difficult. I’ve always seen mine as straightforward, very stripped down, hair pulled back. No shirt. Whatever light happened to be available. I’d want it to be very graphic – about darkness and light. No one else should be there, but I’m scared to do it by myself. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. The whole idea of a self-portrait is strange. I’m so strongly linked to how I see through the camera that to get to the other side of it would be difficult. It would be as if I were taking a photograph in the dark

So finally,  here’s my selfie

Weekly Photo Challenge - Selfie

That’s me, it’s graphic, about dark and light. I’m on my own on the beach using the last light of the setting sun. It was mid-winter so too darn cold to strip my shirt off and unlike Annie I don’t have any hair to pull back. But I think I’ve managed to achieve the essence of a self portrait as described by Annie. What do you think?

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Floors – Week 6/52 of 2014

Floors - Week 6

OK! A bit of a grab shot this week. I’ve not really had time to settle down and put together a decent post, sorry. The challenge this week was Floors, normally I would go out but with my schedule this week it’s got to be the floor in my house. Now the floor on it’s own is pretty boring so I included a “selfie” for a bit of added interest.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Object

…with most of my photographs, the subject appears as a found object, something discovered, not arranged by me. I usually have an immediate recognition of the potential image, and I have found that too much concern about matters such as conventional composition may take the edge off the first inclusive reaction. – Ansel Adams

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

How I wish I could have said that about this photograph. I found the tool further down the hill lying abandoned in a ditch. I wanted to use the rocks in the foreground but thought there was something missing. So I moved the tool. What do you think? Does it add anything to the photograph?

Whether you agree or disagree that the tool adds something to the photograph also consider the ethical standpoint.

If I move something into or out of the scene I am about to photograph is it ethical? Granted it may make the photograph aesthetically pleasing but is it really a true representation of that time and place.

the camera machine cannot evade the objects which are in front of it. No more can the photographer. He can choose these objects, arrange and exclude, before exposure, but not afterwards… Your photography is a record of your living, for any one who really sees. – Paul Strand

Nowadays with digital cameras it is easy to capture a photograph and later manipulate it, in Photoshop or similar, to add or remove elements. Is that any different from me doing the same prior to pressing the shutter.

Retouching had become controversial ever since Franz Hanfstaengl of Munich showed at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris a retouched negative with a print made from it before and after retouching. It was, Nadar recollected, the beginning of a new era in photography. – Beaumont Newhall

If you shoot in RAW it is inevitable that you will carry out some alterations to your photograph. Maybe boost the colour or sharpening? What about exposure, highlights, shadows? All are candidates for adjustment, in some way. But is it any less ethical than adding or removing something from your photograph?

Now you might say that a colour adjustment was fine and well within the bounds of ethical practice. But colours can be changed in software like Topaz Restyle so as to render the new photograph quite unlike the original. The content will be the same but the context will not. For example, you can make a photograph look like it was taken at sunset when in reality it was midday when the shutter button was pressed.

In the end ethical policies may be down to where the photograph is used. The fashion industry and the editors of fashion magazines may think it is permissible to alter photographs used in magazines,  but news editors more often than not would deem it unacceptable for anything to be changed from the original scene, including colours.

How did you answer at the beginning of this post? Did you think it was OK for me to add the tool into the scene prior to pressing the shutter button?

Consider this. Nowadays many media outlets rely on us, the public, to become journalists and help them capture the news. How often have you seen appeals for photographs on your local TV station, or in our case SKY News, when some big news event has happened? Or what about the Weather Man, sorry Person. They’re always asking for sunset/sunrise photographs to use as backdrops. Could I in all honesty send in my photograph knowing it had been altered?



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