Industrial North Wales

North Wales has a rich industrial heritage, probably best known for slate mining, but there were also copper and lead mines in existence.

Today’s post is really an experiment. Although I like the them I’m using on my blog I’m not too happy about the size of the images that are displayed. It was so different when I was using Flickr to host the images because you could just click on an image to see it full size. But that doesn’t happen now that I’m using the WP Media Server.

But I’ve been advised that there is a solution, so as an experiment let’s see if it works. Hopefully, once this is posted if you click on an image you will see a larger version.

Archway At Dorothea
Archway leading to the stables at Dorothea Quarry

Dorothea Quarry was one of the many quarries producing Welsh Slate, which was highly prized for its quality and shipped all over the world. Sadly like nearly all of the quarries, Dorothea no longer produces slate and has fallen into disrepair. At one time you could wander freely around these old quarries and there were some great photographs to be had, but increasingly they have become fenced off due to “elfin safety”.

Woodshop
Workshop in the National Slate Museum

Fortunately that industrial heritage has been preserved at the National Slate Museum, Llanberis. Here you can see the workshops and on the mountainside there is a marked trail through the quarry, fenced off either side, with magnificent views to the Snowdon Mountain Range.

Workshop Tools
In the National Slate Museum

I’ve just tested, using the preview button, as I’m writing this post in the WP desktop editor and it works.

Now you will be able to see a much larger version of my images if you click on them

 

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Never Trust A Weather Report

It’s Tuesday, night and I’m at home planning a trip to Llanddwyn Island for the following day. Being tidal I need to check the tide times, Low Tide is 09:15 and High is 14:38, More than enough to get on, have a wander round, take some photographs and get back without getting my feet wet. Now for the weather. Cloudy with sunny intervals, not great, but workable. At least it’s not raining, because Llanddwyn is open and exposed with almost no shelter.

Next day finds me at Newborough Forest and it’s howling a gale, wind speed gusting up to 50 mph, dark skies and looking like there’s going to be a downpour at any moment. That’s the problem with driving to a location, You’re sort of isolated in the car and not entirely aware of the weather outside. It looked so good when I was passing by the mountains of Snowdonia. Well I’m here now so I might as well get on with it.

Way To The Beach
Wooden walkway leading to the beach

Parking for Llanddwyn is in the Newborough Forest Beach Car Park, currently it ill cost you £5, I don’t know if it goes up in the summer months. Once you’ve parked, you can choose to take the boardwalk on to the beach or walk through the forest to get to Llanddwyn Island. I chose the forest route because the sand was being whipped up by the wind and didn’t half sting exposed skin.

Rejuvenation
Using old trees and fences. sand, driven by the wind, can form new dunes

Walking through the forest is quite eerie, apart from the wind, whistling through the tall pines I didn’t see or hear another person until I got onto the beach, near the island. Come to think of it, the car park was pretty empty when I arrived. Maybe people knew something I didn’t.

A Walk In The Forest
You can walk through the forest to Llanddwyn Island

It’s a fair old hike, about 20-30 minutes through the forest but eventually you come out onto the beach and then it’s a short walk across to the island. When the tide is out, you’d never know you are on an island. When the tide comes in I’ve been told as long as it’s not an exceptionally high tide, you’d still be able to get across and maybe just get your feet wet. But with the high winds driving the waves onshore I decided to allow myself three hours to get some photographs before making sure I was off the island. That’s more than time enough, because if you are reasonably fit you should be able to walk around and visit the important sights in about an hour. Of course stopping to take photographs can take longer.

Celtic Cross
Perched on a rocky outcrop, this is the first monument you can photograph

Once your on the island the first monument you see is this Celtic Cross. It stands in an elevated position at the side of the path. It’s nothing fantastic, twice I’ve photographed it but never got anything I would consider putting on a wall.

Just across from the Celtic Cross stands the ruins of Saint Dwynen’s church. She is considered to be the Welsh equivalent of Saint Valentine

The Church Of St. Dwynwen
St. Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, making her the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine

There are two classic views for photographers to the island. This is one of them, include a sunset or the stars at night and you’ve got a real seller. Just be aware the car park closes at 23:00 and wardens come around to check. Apparently you are not allowed to stay overnight in the car park but I don’t know what would happen if you did to get that nigh time photograph.

Cross and Bench
One of the classic views from Llanddwyn Island

The most classic view is probably this one which includes the cross and the lighthouse, maybe even get the bench in as well if you’ve got a wide enough lens.

Cross and Lighthouse
This is considered the classic photograph from Llanddwyn Island

From the island you can see right across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia and Caernavon. Well you can if you’ve not got grey skies and low-lying cloud.

Snowdonia View
Looking over the Menai Strait to Snowdonia and Caernarvon

On the island there is a small terrace of cottages, which between the 17th and 19th century housed the Menai Straits Pilots. The pilots guided the many ships, carrying Welsh Slate to the entire world, through the narrow and dangerous Menai Straits. In the photograph above the straits look nice and wide but they soon narrow as you get closer to Bangor before widening out again near Penmon Point.

Cottages
Cottages on the island, I’ve never seen anyone in them

It’s time to leave the island. I’ve still got plenty of time to get across to the mainland and the forest which you can see in the photograph below.

Shelter
At the start of the island there is an information board and shelter

This little building is the only real shelter on the island so I was lucky that the rain held off. Slowly but surely the tide will come in and creep up the beach until it meets up with the tide coming in from the other side of the island.

Anyway, a nice walk through the forest for me, something to eat and a cup of coffee when I get back to the car and then time to head home.

Postscript:

You know I mentioned at the start of this post that it looked quite good in Snowdonia, well on the way home I decided to divert into the Ogwen valley and see what it was like.

Ogwen Valley and the path to Cwm Idwal

What a difference, hardly any wind at the lower levels, the sun was out, some clouds over the mountains but they were moving quite fast, must be windy up there, But all in all, not too bad. If only, (how many times have I said that before after a day out) the weather had been this good on Llanddwyn Island

Well that’s it. I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Inspiration

How convenient that this challenge has just started. After quite a long break from blogging on Say It With A Camera I’ve finally started to get back into the swing of things with some new posts.

Last week I took some time out to visit a place I have been meaning to photograph for years, Gwylfa Hiraethog, which sits high on the Denbigh Moors in North Wales.

Gwylfa Hiraethog
High on the moors above Llyn Brennig Gwylfa Hiraethog is reputed to be haunted

Abandoned now and a total ruin, the lodge is reputed to be haunted, not that I saw anything.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But a photographer friend of mine say visiting at night takes on a more spooky atmosphere. At 496 metres above sea level, the lodge in the late nineteenth century was considered to be the highest inhabited house in Wales, with some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.

Not the greatest of photographs, taken with 75-300mm lens at 300mm this is the view from Gwylfa Hiraethog towards the Snowdonia National Park.

Snowdonia
Looking from Gwylfa Hiraethog towards the Snowdonia National Park

And from another side you can see towards the coast.  Looks so close, thanks to the power of the 75-300mm lens but in reality it’s about 20km away.

Sea View
Looking from Gwylfa Hiraethog towards the coast

Now it might be lonely up there, but it’s far from quiet. This area is used by low flying military aircraft from RAF Valley, training future fast jet pilots. Gets quite noisy at times but I just saw it as another photo opportunity. More on that in another post.

Anyway, moving on. I love the moors, vast open spaces with the occasional tree to break up the featureless terrain.

Lone Tree
Lone tree on the Denbigh Moors

There’s also a lot of reservoirs on the moors. It’s cold up there as well so swimming is not advised.

Warning Sign
Swimming in cold water reservoirs can be dangerous

Being in Wales, we get all signs in two languages, Welsh and English. Can be confusing at times, especially with road signs, but you soon get used to it.

Well that wraps it ups for this post. I hope you enjoyed the photographs and all that is left for me to say is “thank you” to both Snow and Amanda for hosting the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Mike

A Look Back In Time

Way back in 2013 I wrote about the sea defences that protect Prestatyn and showed a series of photographs taken at sunset. When I look back at that post I realise how cringe worthy my photographs were then, mainly due to over enthusiatic use of HDR processing. Nowadays I would do those photos completely differently, so I thought it would be interesting to compare what was then and and what is now. In each case I’ll show the “then” first, with the second being the “now”

Sunset on Prestatyn Beach

When you look at these two, the difference is not too bad, although I do think the bottom one looks more natural. Cropping to the “rool of thurds” has put a different perspective on the bottom photograph.

Wide expanse of beach area at Prestatyn

Lets look at another pair from the same post.

Footprints in the Sand

Oh! My goodness what was I doing in the photograph above. Mind you, I probably wouldn’t even have considered this photograph for inclusion in a blog post today. It’s pretty boring and has no obvious point of interest.

2 Footprints
Footprints in the sand made by me

You can see where this is going. Nowadays I generally veer towards a more natural look for photographs. Yes, I still use HDR but not the pumped-up on steroids version of yester-year.

This one below was originally titled Blue Hour on Prestatyn Beach and so I pushed the emphasis of light towards the blue end of the spectrum, easily enough to do in Lightroom. But I was so into pushing the colours and bringing out detail from the shadows that I often forgot to take care of lens flares or dust spots.

Blue Hour on Prestayn Beach

This is probably another photograph that I would reject for use on the blog. But I do prefer the more warm colour.

3 Ripples
Ripples in the sand caused by tide action

Over the years I have tried just about every HDR program that’s available for PC. When I want something a little bit grungy, usually abandoned buildings then invariably I will resort to PhotoMatix from HDRSoft but I don’t push the sliders, like I used to do. Today I’m more likely to use Exposure Fusion than Details Enhancer. If you’re a PhotoMatix user you’ll know what I mean.

This is supposed to be sunset and yet you can see every detail in those rocks below. There are no shadows to speak of and that’s what I was trying to achieve in 2013. Really.

Sunset on Prestatyn Beach

With the sun setting, those foreground rocks would never be like that. Come to think of it, even in broad daylight they wouldn’t be like that.

Hidden by the incoming tide, these rocks can be slippery when exposed

Halo’s around the groyne marker caused by pushing the strength slider in PhotoMatix far too high and then I think I added a touch of Glamour Glow from NIK Color Efex as it was then.

Groyne Markers on Prestatyn Beach

Compare this to the far more natural version of the same photograph below. I know which one I prefer.

5 Silhouette
Groyne marker silhouetted against the setting sun

Earlier in this post I mentioned the Detail Enhancer preset in PhotoMatix which if over enthusiatically used tends to give that grungy, way over the top look so indicative of HDR on steroids.

Thin Yellow Line

Compare that to the photograph below that, yes has been blened for HDR, but this time in Lightroom, then sharpened using Frequencty Separation in Photoshop. I hope you’ll agree it’s a vast improvent from it’s 2013 version?

6 Sea Defences
Concrete steps and a curved wall help protect Prestatyn against the sea

OK! My final photograph for this post. Oops look like I really went to town with this one in Photomatix.

Mind the Steps

I’ve alos learned how to correct perspective issues, which has been made so much easier in Lightroom these days

7 Warning
When the tide goes out the concrete steps can be slippery.

Well that’s it for this post. I hope you’ll take time to comment. Do you think todays version of the photographs is better than those from 2013. I really would like to hear your thoughts – Mike

Chester Cathedral

First of all an update to the SmugMug/Flickr situation. I have now taken steps to reduce the file count down to the 1000 that Smug now allow. This means that many of the early posts on Say It With A Camera are now going to have broken links as there are so many photographs missing. Nothing I can do about it.

I’ve taken steps to register a new blog Mike Hardisty Photography but I will hold that in a dormant state for the time being. By doing so I have reserved a .photo.blog sub-domain with my name. There are a few test posts on there, just to make sure it works.

It makes more sense for me to continue posting to Say It With A Camera. Photographs will now be uploaded to the WP Media Server. So you won’t be able to click on them to see a larger view. But I’ve chosen a theme that gives a reasonably large image size to start with.

Right let’s get some photographs up. Thursday I spent some time in Chester. The idea was to go Christmas Shopping but I couldn’t resist taking the camera with me and a quick visit to the cathedral seemed a good idea to test the new wide angle lens.

Choir
Carved wooden pews and beautiful tiled floor in Chester Cathedral

The photograph above was taken in the Choir and it looks towards the rear of the cathedral. Just to the left side of the Choir is this passageway leading to the Lady Chapel.

Side Passage
A side passage in Chester Cathedral to the left of the Choir and Lady Chapel

I couldn’t photograph in the Chapel because there was a service on, so I moved to the Cloisters, which were really busy. I waited about 15 minutes to get this gap in visitors.

Christmas At The Cathedral
Christmas trees in the cloisters of Chester Cathedral

Just off the Cloisters is the Chapter House. It’s a quieter part of the Cathedral so I was able to take my time to get this photograph.

Chapter House
Beautiful stained glass and polished floor in the Chapter House, Chester Cathedral

So that’s it for this post. I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

 

A New Blog Domain

Have you seen the announcement last week from WordPress that we can now have .blog subdomains. They have reserved 28 subdomains including art, health, politics, travel, there’s even one for photography with a .photo.blog. That’s really good, but the downside is you need to create a new blog.

Now, being quick on the uptake, and before anyone else could get in, I decided to register a site for photography with my name included. So I now have a brand new wordpress.com site with one of the new subdomains; mikehardisty.photo.blog

At the moment the site has no content but I got to thinking that maybe I could use this new site to start again, this time using the WP Media Server instead of Flickr for the photographs.

As regular readers will know I documented last week the problems Say It With A Camera is going to have in the coming New Year when SmugMug starts deleting photographs from non-pro Flickr accounts. This blog will have so many broken links that I suspect Google will stop indexing it.

Interestingly, yesterday I found a plugin for Adobe Lightroom that allows me to publish straight to the WP Media Server from Lightroom. As I use Lightroom for all my photograph cataloguing and processing this makes working with the WP Media Server so much simpler to use, especially as I can control the file size. The photographs of Bonnie and Teddy were done this way and as far as I can see it works fine.

I am now in the process of evaluating starting a new blog, looking at the pros and cons. Sure it will be a challenge starting again, but I think I need that challenge in light of the fact that my input to this blog had almost dried up.

Mike