Mr Grumpy Visits Llyn Geirionydd

Mr Grumpy Visits Llyn Geirionydd

Mr Grumpy Visits Llyn Geirionydd

Mr Grumpy knows my routine better than I do. So when I started packing my camera gear this morning he knew I was going out for the day. Never one to miss out on a chance to get in a  photo shoot he parked himself by the door and gave me those Big Brown Eyes.

My plan had been to visit Talacre Bird Reserve. With a higher than normal tide and off-shore winds there was a good chance I would get some good photographs of visitors to the marshes as they were forced closer to the shore by the rising water.

All Change! Mr Grumpy likes fresh mountain air and somewhere where there are lots of trees that he can lift his leg to. If there are sheep around that’s an added bonus, because he can fall asleep in the back of the car dreaming about them.

Girl in Blue

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie (Again)

After the Red Monk I decided to have another go at putting together something Eerie for the challenge. Only this time not so dark.

The background choice was pretty easy this time as I had a photograph of three trees in a foggy field that I knew I could play with.

Girl in Blue

The next step was to get a subject and for this one I used a stock image from PersephoneStock on deviantART. The model was against a background of trees and bushes. For my image I wanted her isolated and that’s where one of my favourite Photoshop plugins comes in. Topaz ReMask allows me to extract bits of an image to use elsewhere. In this case just the model.

Using Photoshop Brushes I added the birds and the lightning. You know I think the lightning is too much. Maybe I could have done without it. What do you think?

To darken the image I used I used two textures from Shadowhouse Creations. Jerry creates some amazing textures which he freely makes available. If you are thinking of using textures in your artwork check out his amazing stuff and try his tutorials.

Of course there’s more to this image than the steps I just described, blending layers, cropping, resizing and most importantly my imagination all had a part to play in putting this together.


The Red Monk

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Occasionally I get in the mood to dabble with Photoshop and this weeks challenge seemed like a good time to have a go. Of course it could also be that with all the high winds and heavy rain we’ve been having I haven’t set foot outside the door with the camera. However……

The Red Monk

It’s a bit dark this one but in keeping with eerie I wanted to make it that way. I started off with a photograph of Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters, trust me it is there in the background, not obvious, but it’s there.  Often when I start something like this I will try different things, sometimes just letting my imagination run wild. Originally there was a map behind the monk and then I changed it for a clock. The monk replaced a wood nymph… get the idea, I hope.

Now I don’t have a ready stock of model photographs on tap so I am indebted to “Marcus J Ranum” for making his models freely available for use. I’d also like to thank “dead-brushes” for the use of the clock brushes for Photoshop. Both can be found on Deviant Art.


Mr Grumpy Does Halloween

Mr Grumpy Does Halloween

I’m old fashioned so tonight is Halloween, none of this new fangled “Trick or Treat” in our house. Mr Grumpy is a dog that likes to keep up with the times so he’s got his costume on ready for tonight when he can go out guising.

Mr Grumpy Does Halloween

In Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins  – is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going “guising” around the neighbourhood.

When I was a child living in Scotland we went out at Halloween dressed up for the occasion. We designed our own costumes, none of these off the peg ones you can buy in stores nowadays. The cry was “Anything for Halloween” when knocking at someone’s door and we had to tell a joke or sing a song to get our treat, Usually an apple, a small orange, a sweet, or if we really struck lucky a penny or two.

The idea of playing a trick wasn’t even considered……


Which Way

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Living by the coast I get to see the horizon nearly every day. Nowadays though, its not a flat line….it’s broken up by all the windmills that have sprung up out to sea.


I know a lot of people don’t like them but personally, I don’t mind. Not from any environmental point of view. It’s just that they break up that boring skyline.

I’m stuck for words tonight. Normally I would try to find a nice lead in to this quote by – W. Eugene Smith but it’s just not there. So here’s the quote which I found quite prophetic.

Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.

Which brings me nicely to the next photograph.

Which Way

I was out on the lonely Derbyshire moors looking for photo opportunities and came to this junction in the road. The Black and White road sign just seemed to be right for this little part of the world. I included the road stretching away to the horizon for added interest, otherwise the sign would have been out of context.


52/2013 Week 44


We’re starting to batten down the hatches in preparation for a storm which may or may not hit my little part of North Wales. It’s coming up from the south and we’ll probably know in the early hours of the morning whether or not it’s passed us by. Now it’s nothing like the hurricanes that batter other parts of the world. This one is only supposed to have about 90mph winds which are strong enough to do damage. Could make for some good photographs tomorrow down on the shoreline.

Anyway to this weeks 52 challenge. I’ve got visitors here at the moment so I thought I’d take them into Snowdonia. Bad Mistake! Heavy driving rain, strong winds and difficult road conditions. We stopped off at Betwys-y-Coed and the small waterfall in the centre of the town was in full flow.

This is the highest I’ve seen it, normally you can see some of the rocks below. So with the wind and rain predicted for tonight/tomorrow the waterfall may be even stronger as the water runs off the surrounding hills.

Red Shank


Red Shank

First time I’ve seen one of these, let alone photographed it. Yet, the Common Redshank is widespread across temperate Eurasia. It is a migratory species, wintering on coasts around the Mediterranean, on the Atlantic coast of Europe from Great Britain southwards, and in South Asia.

They are wary and noisy birds which will alert everything else with their loud piping call. Like most waders, they feed on small invertebrates. Redshanks will nest in any wetland, from damp meadows to salt marsh, often at high densities. They lay 3-5 eggs.





Walking in the sand dunes at Talacre Beach I found this rather large piece of driftwood. How did it get there? OK! I know it came in on the tide at sometime. But how did it end up in the dunes? Was it carried? Did a really high tide push it up there? I’d like to think so, but it’s probably the former.

What do you think? Carried, or the Power of the Sea?

52/2013 Week 43

52/2013 Week 43

52/2013 Week 43

With off-shore winds and a high tide predicted today it seemed like a good idea to visit Talacre Bird Reserve. The tide would force the birds who use the estuary, further on shore, hopefully giving me some good photo opportunities.

Talacre Bird Reserve has a hide where you can sit or stand and watch the birds. It’s a good walk along the side of the salt marsh to a promontory which takes you closer to the shore. Just as well the hide is there because the wind was biting cold, blowing in from the sea, and there was the odd spot of rain.

Now I’m not really into birding but I can identify quite a few of the common ones that were flying around, Red Shank, Curlew, Little Egret, Cormorant, Oyster Catcher, Shelduck and of course the Herring Gull.

Lucky me! This Curlew decided to fish for crabs right in front of me.

Technical Note: Photograph taken with a Pentax K-30 and the Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO HSM Lens. ISO 100,  Aperture f6.3, Focal length 500mm, Shutter Speed 1/500 sec


The Carneddau

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, Red, what is my hue? Probably none of them, or maybe all of them. I know that during the day I like a nice blue sky with white fluffy clouds and in the evening a sunset with lots of red, yellow and orange. What about green? That’s the colour I go when I see some of the great photographs that are out there.

One colour I do like is that sort of yellow/green/brown/rusty one that the grasses change to at the start of Autumn (Fall) and there’s nowhere better to see them than the Snowdonia National Park. So come with me along a 900-metre long stone-paved path to Llyn Idwal and let’s see what we can find.

Wooden Bridge

Memo to Self: Don’t shoot into the sun. You get lens refraction, parts of your image is under-exposed and parts are over-exposed.

Anyway the bridge is the start of the path to Llyn Idwal. It crosses a small waterfall, which can be a roaring torrent, after the rains or a small trickle at the height of summer.

Cross the bridge and you will find a well-defined path leading to Llyn Idwal and the Glyderau.

Mountain Path

Llyn Idwal is a small lake (approximately 800 m by 300 m) that lies within Cwm Idwal in the Glyderau mountains of Snowdonia.

It is named after Prince Idwal Foel a grandson of Rhodri Mawr, one of the ancient Kings of Wales, legend stating that the unfortunate offspring was murdered by being drowned in the lake. In fact Idwal Foel died in battle against the Saxons in 942 and the legend is that he was cremated beside the lake as was the burial custom for Celtic nobility.

I forgot to mention. As you are crossing the bridge, don’t forget to stop and take a photograph of the waterfall and what must be the most photographed tree in Wales, maybe even Britain.


Right, back on the path which gently slopes up the hill towards Llyn Idwal. If you have time take a quick detour after about four hundred metres and walk over the slope on your left hand side.

Llyn Ogwen

It will be well worth it because you will be able to see Llyn Ogwen which lies alongside the A5 road between two mountain ranges of the Carneddau and the Glyderau. Llyn Ogwen lies at a height of about 310 metres above sea level and has an area of 78 acres (320,000 m2), but is a very shallow lake, with a maximum depth of only a little over 3 metres. It is fed by a number of streams from the slopes of the mountains which surround it, which include Tryfan and Pen yr Ole Wen.


Tryfan forms part of the Glyderau group, and is one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain, having a classic pointed shape with rugged crags. At 3,010 feet above sea level it is the fifteenth highest mountain in Wales.

Pen yr Ole Wen is the most southerly of the Carneddau range and is the seventh highest mountain in Snowdonia. It is the same height as England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike. It is often climbed as part of a longer route on the Carneddau range. The mountain’s average annual temperature hovers around 5 degrees celsius.

The Carneddau

Many of the upland paths in the Snowdonia National Park can become easily flooded, due to the large amount of rain which falls in the area. The water erodes the path surfaces and, with millions of visitors each year, the wear and tear on the defined paths and adjoining land, as walkers try to avoid the floods, impacts greatly on wildlife and the landscape.

Mountain Path

Drainage channels are now being dug along the side of paths and in some cases paths are now being re-stoned. As the path heads up towards Llyn Idwal you can just see the outline of Cwm Idwal which is a hanging valley in the Glyderau range of mountains.

In a 2005 poll conducted by Radio Times, Cwm Idwal was ranked the 7th greatest natural wonder in Britain.

Once you reach Llyn Idwal one path encircles the lake.

Llyn Idwal

Two paths lead from opposite side of the lake to the top of the ridge close to the Twll Du (Devil’s Kitchen), but these paths become rather steep in places. They lead to Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr.

Rusty Bridge

A number of small streams flow into Llyn Idwal from around Cwm Idwal. One small river flows out under this bridge and joins the Afon Ogwen river at Pont Pen-y-Benglog near Ogwen Cottage, immediately above the Rhaeadr Ogwen waterfall. It’s the same river you see at the bottom of the hill as it flows under the wooden bridge.

There is a small pebble beach at the northwest edge of Llyn Idwal which is occasionally used by visitors for recreation, including bathing in the summer months. You can get to it by going through the gate and following the path.

Mountain Gate

As a mountain lake, the waters can be cold and care should be taken by swimmers not to go out beyond their depths.

I hope you enjoyed this brief virtual walk with me to Llyn Idwal and maybe we can do it again sometime, only for real.

Technical Note: All photographs were shot using a Pentax K-30 and Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 Wide Angle Lens with the focal length at 10mm. As usual I shot for HDR with brackets of –2, 0 and +2, hand-held, no tripod. Shake reduction was enabled on the K-30. The ISO was 100, Aperture f11

HDR processing was done in PhotoMatix version 5, still in beta trial, using the new Contrast Optimizer, tone-mapping algorithm, which give a very natural look. Final processing in Photoshop used NIK Color Efex Pro Contrast to counterbalance some of the flat contrast that can often occur with HDR Tone Mapping. NIK Glamour Glow was also used to warm the photographs slightly. Finally the Lens Correction Filter was used to straighten and take care of perspective problems caused by using a wide-angle lens, shooting hand-held.