Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

Since moving to North Wales there are two places I’m drawn to constantly for photography. One is the Ogwen Valley in the Snowdonia National Park. I never tire of the ever-changing scenery. Sure the mountains, rivers and lakes are fixed, they never change, but weather, the seasons and lighting conditions make for different photographs every time I visit.

But I suppose my first choice would be Talacre with the lighthouse, salt marshes and nature reserve. Did you know it’s the most northerly point of mainland Wales? So here we go with this weeks photo challenge. I’ve got a few photographs to show you so sit back and relax.

Talacre Sunrise

Over the years I have been photographing at Talacre, sunsets have been the main subject along with the lighthouse. But just occasionally I have managed to catch a sunrise like the one in the photograph above. This was one of those lucky ones. Sunrise can be so unpredictable, unlike sunsets. For one you don’t know if your going to get one. You get up early in the morning only to find it’s raining or maybe cloudy. Whereas with a sunset you can usually see it developing as the sun goes down. For my next photograph I was lucky again. I was getting ready to set the camera up for a long exposure when this dog walked into the frame. Fortunately I had already attached the remote control  so I was able to focus and fire off a shot before it ran off again

The Dog

I don’t think you can create luck. You’re either lucky or you’re not. I don’t know if it’s really luck or if it’s just curiosity. I think the main ingredient, or a main ingredient for photography is curiosity. If you’re curious enough and if you get up in the morning and go out and take pictures, you’re likely to be more lucky than if you just stay at home. – Elliott Erwitt

The next photograph certainly wasn’t lucky. I planned to be on the beach, I knew I was going to get a sunset of sorts and as the sun set over the mountains it started to light up the clouds with a beautiful golden glow. It’s winter time and I almost have the beach to myself. Can you spot him? A lone figure on the beach. Alone, that is, apart from me.

Orange Glow

Talacre isn’t all about the lighthouse and sunsets though. It’s a renowned high tide roost and in the salt marsh, which is open and wild, you’ll find a huge variety of bird species. As the tide comes in the roosting birds are forced further up the salt marsh bringing them closer to the hide

Talacre Bird Reserve

Here are just two, a Curlew and a Red Shank. Can you guess why it’s called a Red Shank?

Red Shank and Curlew

I photograph all my birds and animals in the wild, in their natural environment. Some photographers will cut branches from nearby trees and bolt them to a small table. They’ll then put food at the bottom of the branches and sit back, behind a blind, with a long lens, and wait. To me, that may be bird photography, but it isn’t wildlife photography. – David Young

For some reason or other Talacre gets a lot of driftwood washed up on the beach, from large trees to small branches. It’s always good to find something like that on the beach as it makes the photograph more interesting, especially if you include it as foreground interest.

Driftwood on Talacre

In most photographs you will see of Talacre there are wide sandy beaches. But when the tide comes the beach disappears and water laps at the sand dunes. Can you see the driftwood that’s been brought in? Admittedly this was a particularly high spring tide, often the tide never reaches the dunes, just leaving a small strip of sand and stones to walk along…..

High Tide At Talacre

…..and when the tide goes out we get the beach back again, often with pools of water left behind. Great for reflections. Just to give you an idea of how high that tide can be. Look at the photograph above where the steps up to the lighthouse are covered. Compare it to the photograph below. The stone blocks to the left of the lighthouse are about 1.25 metres (4ft) high, the steps easily 3 metres (10ft). Tides can vary in depth depending on the phases of the moon but this coming Saturday we have a higher than normal one. Still not the highest we’ve experienced but with High Tide at 9.15metres (30ft), and Low Tide at 0.87 metres (2.85ft), I expect there won’t be much beach to see as the tide comes racing in.

Talacre Lighthouse

I started with a sunrise and for my final muse photograph I’d like to leave you with a sunset. Look back to the first photograph, see how the steps are on the right hand side of the lighthouse, whereas they’re on the left in my sunset. I much prefer sunsets. The quality of light is so much better and even when the sun goes down below the horizon there are still some great photo opportunities to be had.

It is light that reveals, light that obscures, light that communicates. It is light I “listen” to. The light late in the day has a distinct quality, as it fades toward the darkness of evening. After sunset there is a gentle leaving of the light, the air begins to still, and a quiet descends. I see magic in the quiet light of dusk. I feel quite, yet intense energy in the natural elements of our habitat. A sense of magic prevails. A sense of mystery. It is a time for contemplation, for listening – a time for making photographs. – John Sexton

Talacre Lighthouse

Finally I’d like to leave you with this final quote…..

You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either. – Galen Rowell

Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge


52 in 2015 Week 26 Free

This week is free which means that I can choose whatever photographs I want for the 52 in 2015. As I’ve been into deepest darkest Snowdonia this week I’m going to use two photographs from that trip. Ynys-y-Pandy Slate Mill is a three storey stone building standing on a hill near Llyn Cwmystradlyn Reservoir. The mill, which is now classed as an ancient monument,  was built around about 1855 to serve the Gorseddau Quarry which is further up the valley at the end of Llyn Cwmystradlyn. As you can see the ruin has arched windows and at first you might think it is a ruined abbey. Unlike most slate mills which normally have only one floor, Ynys-y-Pandy has three.

Ynys-y-Pandy Slate Mill

Gorseddau Slate Quarry opened in 1807. At first the workings were very small, taking until 1860 to reach peak production of about 2140 tons. Considering the quarry employed 200 men this output was woefully small compared to other slate quarries in Wales. By 1867 the quarry closed although there was some sporadic work for several years later.

In the Ogwen Valley there’s a mountain called Tryfan, which forms part of the Glyderau group. Tryfan has rugged crags and a very distinct pointed shape which makes it very recognisable. It’s the 15th highest mountain in Wales where the peak is 917.5 m (3,010 ft) above sea level.


In 2014 Tryfan topped a survey by hillwalking magazine Trail, with Helvellyn in the Lake District coming second and Wales’ highest mountain Snowdon in third place.

52 in 2015 Week 25 Sunrise or Sunset

It’s got to be sunset for me. As I’ve explained before I don’t do sunrise. Not because I’m not a morning person, more a case of I can’t see the point of getting up early only to be disappointed that the sunrise is going to be a non event . So with that in mind here a couple for this weeks challenge. Being as our coast mainly points north we are quite lucky that we get some really great sunsets. Normally Autumn and Winter give us the best ones but so far, this summer the weather hasn’t been that great. For some reason we’ve been getting some really good sunsets in return.

With this photograph I did a long exposure HDR, which is why the water looks so milky around the Groyne Marker which is silhouetted against the setting sun.

Groyne Marker

I’d left the beach and was starting to head home, then realised that the sunset was getting more intense. Fortunately I don’t live so far away so a quick U-Turn and I was back at the beach. The North Wales Coastal Path is popular with walkers and cyclists and every so often there are signposts giving distances and directions. Gronant is a popular area with large sand dunes and a long sandy beach. But you can’t drive there. It’s either walk or cycle.

52 in 2015 Week 25 Sunset or Sunrise

That’s it for this weeks challenge. As usual feel free to comment, tell me you like the photographs or ask a question.

52 in 2015 Week 24 Down On The Farm

Well in this case it was actually “up” in the farm as I took the photographs in the mountains of Snowdonia. Sheep farming is the main farming type here and all over the hills you will see sheep wandering and at this time of the year they will have their lambs still with them.

52 in 2015 Week 24 Down On The Farm (2)

Of course there are some boundaries where the sheep aren’t allowed to roam and in most cases there are dry stone walls. Nowadays there is a tendency to put wire fences in and these farmers were preparing to move some posts further round the side of the mountain.

52 in 2015 Week 24 Down On The Farm

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the photographs, as usual feel free to comment, say you like the photographs, or ask a question.

Weekly Photo Challenge ROY G. BIV

Ellen Hopkins once said “Memory is a tenuous thing, like a rainbow’s end,  or a camera with a failing lens”. I don’t have a camera with a failing lens and my memory is still pretty good for most things. Now I knew I had photographs, that would fit the theme, in my vast collection that I’ve taken over the years but how was I going to find them? Simple really I keyword all of my catalogued photographs with location data, dominant colours, word like sunset, mountains, sea, sand, beach and sometimes subject.i.e lighthouse, aircraft etc.

My first image is of the Hong Kong skyline during the nightly light show. It’s amazing to watch and if you ever get to Hong Kong make sure you get down to the waterfront on the mainland side to see it.

Hong Kong Skyline

On the Dee Estuary is a small harbour called Greenfields Dock. It is thought that there has been maritime activity here since before the Romans occupied Britain and there is proof that there was a Roman settlement in the area. Looking at it now it’s hard to believe that it was once a busy port with up to 40 vessels using it. When the legend of Saint Winifred spread many pilgrims wanted to visit the Holy Well and Basingwerk Abbey which where nearby and a ferry service was established across the estuary between Lancashire and Greenfield Dock. In the 18th century the slave trade played an important part in the development of Greenfield Dock. At the time Liverpool was the main slaving port of Great Britain. Copper goods shipped from Greenfield went to Africa and were used as currency. Other goods were shipped to Liverpool and from there to Africa to be used in exchange for slaves. The slaves ended up in America where they were exchanged for raw cotton. This cotton was shipped back to Liverpool, where some of this was then imported back through Greenfield to cotton mills located in Greenfield Valley.

Weekly Photo Challenge - ROY G BIV

My final photograph is of an under road walkway in the town of Conwy. There’s nothing spectacular about it. But when I saw it I liked the colours and thought I’ve got to photograph that. Have you ever done that? Seen something unremarkable but thought I need to photograph it?

Pedestrian Walkway

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the photographs and as usual feel free to comment, ask question or generally say I like that one.

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