Orange Carpet

Orange and Green

Orange Carpet

On the way back from Valle Crucis Abbey we took a wrong turning and ended up high on the hills overlooking Llangollen. I say a wrong turning but sometimes I like to get off the main roads and follow some of the narrow farm tracks that criss-cross the hills and moors in this area. Why? Because I get to see some amazing scenery, if you stop, you don’t hear the sound of traffic and more often than not you can find some good photo opportunities.

This one caught my eye. The patch of green, with the little white dots of sheep, surrounded by the orange colours of Autumn. I used the tree to break up the dark sky and provide a little framing.

Valle Crucis Abbey

52/2013 Week 46

Valle Crucis Abbey

Hot off the presses, so to speak. Not long been back from Llangollen and Valle Crucis Abbey. It was a beautiful day and the autumn colours are getting deeper and deeper. I’ve featured the Valle Crucis before but for those of you who haven’t seen it here is some information about the abbey.

Valle Crucis Abbey (Valley of the Cross) is a Cistercian abbey located in Llantysilio in Denbighshire, Wales. More formally the Abbey Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Valle Crucis it is known in Welsh both as Abaty Glyn Egwestland Abaty Glyn y Groes. The abbey was built in 1201 by Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, Prince of Powys Fadog. Valle Crucis was dissolved in 1537 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and subsequently fell into serious disrepair. The building is now a ruin, though large parts of the original structure still survive.

Nostag 10

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

These weekly challenges are getting weirder and weirder. I mean Habit, this week, Eerie last. How am I meant to find a nun wearing a habit, let alone photograph her. That’s if she would let me. And where am I going to find an eagle in its nest. They’re not exactly in abundance around here.

Oops! Got that one wrong. EE not EY…but I digress. What about this habit thing?

If photography is about anything it is the deep surprise of living in the ordinary world. By virtue of walking through the fields and streets of this planet, focusing on the small and the unexpected, conferring attention on the helter-skelter juxtapositions of time and space, the photographer reminds us that the actual world is full of surprise, which is precisely what most people, imprisoned in habit and devoted to the familiar, tend to forget. – John Rosenthal

I must confess, I’m having trouble with this weeks challenge. Sure I’ve got lots of habits, some I won’t share here, but this is a photography challenge so here goes…..


No! That’s not my habit. A lot of my photographs are landscapes taken in the Snowdonia National Park. This week I’m going to break the habit and show you some photographs from the coast, but no sunsets or Talacre Lighthouse.

Yellow Marker

Zapcat races are run on short courses with repeating laps. Generally they are close to the shore, ensuring that spectators get a great view of the action.

Delta Jet

The origin for Zapcats was the early 80’s in South Africa where local crews competed against each other with inflatable boats. The races were held on rivers and along the coastline.


Since those early days the technology has improved and racing has spread to many countries including the United Kingdom.

Now for something a little gentler. Out to sea we have seen the growth of wind turbine farms. You can see them in some of the photographs above.

North Hoyle Wind Farm was Wales’ first offshore wind farm, and the UK’s first major offshore renewable power project. Situated in Liverpool Bay, it commenced operation in 2003.

North Hoyle covers an area of 10 square kilometres (3.9 sq mi), and is located approximately 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) off the coast of North Wales, between the towns of Rhyl and Prestatyn.

Have you ever wondered how they get those massive turbines out to sea?

Wind Turbines

This ship takes them out, you can see some of the turbine masts at the front. I think this is also used to install the masts into the sea bed.

Also off the coast, although some time back, was the Nostag 10 which is a cable laying barge.

Nostag 10

It was laying electricity cables between North Wales and Ireland as part of a power-sharing project.

Right that’s it for me. I hoped you enjoyed this brief break with my normal habits.

Autumn Colours

Autumn Is Here

Autumn has finally arrived in my little part of the world. It’s one of my favourite times of the year, only matched by Spring.

Autumn for me is when colour really comes into the landscape. Sure Spring has a lot to offer but the beautiful reds, yellows and oranges of Autumn far surpass anything produced by Spring. Where better to see it than they Gwydyr Forest which is located in Conwy county borough and the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. It takes its name from the ancient Gwydir Estate, established by the John Wynn family of Gwydir Castle, which owned this area.

Golden Valley

Occupying an undulating plateau and reaching to between 700 and 1,000 feet (210 and 300 m) above sea level, the forest is divided by the valleys of the rivers Llugwy, Lledr, and Machno, all of which are tributaries of the River Conwy.

Within the forest there are numerous lakes including Llyn Geirionydd which lies in a valley where the northern edge of the Gwydyr Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains.

Autumn Colours

Llyn Geirionydd is the only stretch of water in Snowdonia where it is permitted to use power boats or water ski. In all the times I have visited I’ve only ever seen these canoes on the lake.

The lake can be reached by car from Trefriw or Llanrwst in the Conwy valley, the lane passing through the hamlet of Llanrhychwyn, or from the road through the Gwydyr Forest. Access is not particularly easy by either route.

Orange Glow

On a small hill overlooking Llyn Geirionydd stands the Taliesin Monument, which commemorates the sixth century Welsh bard, Taliesin (c. 534 – c. 599), the earliest poet of the Welsh language whose work has survived. He was chief bard in the courts of at least three kings of Britain, and is associated with the Book of Taliesin, a text from the tenth century containing his poems. He lived in the area, mainly on the shores of Llyn Geirionydd, where he is also stated to be buried.

The Taliesin Monument

Descending from Llyn Geirionydd, heading for Llanwrst and Betwys-y-Coed (don’t you just love the Welsh place names, I know I do),  I came across this newly formed lake. It wasn’t there in the summer but now that the rains are starting to fall it has appeared. Seemed like a good photo opportunity……too good to miss.

Lakeside Colours

Betws-y-Coed was founded around a monastery in the late sixth century. The village lies in the Snowdonia National Park, in a valley near the point where the River Conwy is joined by the River Llugwy and the River Lledr.

In the centre of the village the Pont-y-Pair Falls cascade over rocks and under a bridge, best time to see the falls is after rain and on a fine day.

Now the good thing about these falls is they are free to view. There’s a small car-park nearby (50 pence/1 Hour) which gets busy at the weekend, so if you can, visit during the week.

Just a little upstream from the falls there is a small picnic area where you can sit and watch the river pick up speed as it heads towards the falls.


This will probably be my last landscape photography post for a while. Over the next few weeks I will be concentrating on trying to perfect my bird photography technique, something I really need to improve. I’ll also be working on resurrecting my digital artwork, incorporating some of my photographs and stock images, through the medium of Photoshop.

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.