Weekly Photo Challenge: Local

Over the years I have written about many of the places I have visited in North Wales but never really shown you much of where I live; Prestatyn. It’s a typical small town bordered on one side by the sea and on the other by a range of hills, which are supposed to protect us from the harsher winter elements. Do they? Don’t know, but when all around gets snow we don’t see a lot in Prestatyn. But there again we do live by the sea and that’s always good, too much salt in the air for snow and ice to settle.

Anyway to the photographs. Prestatyn High street is typical of many small towns you can find, some empty units, some that never seem busy and some quite bustling. What more can I say.

High Street

There is evidence that the area around Prestatyn was settled in prehistoric finds with artifacts found in caves nearby. The Romans were definitely here as there are still the remains of a bath house to be found situated in the midst of a housing estate. No other Roman buildings exist, probably because the land they may have been buried under was excavated and built on. More on that later.

High on the hill above Prestatyn there lies a bronze sculpture of one side of a Roman legionnaires helmet. With the existence of the bath house it is thought that Prestatyn was probably the site of a Roman fort on the road from Chester to Caernarfon.

Roman Helmet

The sad thing is most people in Prestatyn probably don’t even know it exists , especially as it’s sited an area that very few visitors to the town would venture to. Still staying with old Prestatyn. Up until the arrival of the railway and holidaymakers in the 19th and 20 century the population of Prestatyn was very small. But Prestatyn had something that city dwelling Victorians considered very healthy; fresh air, clean seas, fantastic beaches and promenade entertainers. Prestatyn suddenly became a very popular place to visit.

Nowadays most of the tourists have gone but we still have fresh air, clean seas and the fantastic beaches that stretch for miles and miles. We also get some amazing sunsets….

Long Beaches

If you look in the photograph above you can see to the right a small object sticking up from the sea. It’s a marker for part of the sea defences which become submerged when the tide comes in. But when it goes out you can walk out to those markers and sometimes beyond. So not only are our beaches long, they’re also wide.

Beach Marker

However, we also get exceptionally high tides several times a year and our sea defences have to be able to cope not only with the high tide but also a storm surge if the wind whips the sea up even higher, Unfortunately a couple of years ago the defences were breached just a little bit further up the coast and many houses were flooded.

Stormy Seas

Although Prestatyn is a small town the surrounding area is very rural so we sort of have the benefits of both worlds.

Evening Sunset


Dechrau a Diwedd

Back to the sea again, it’s the best part and those sunsets….what more can I say.

That’s it for this week, here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.

Sky Blue Daze How to be a street performer
Shots and captures Weekly Photo Challenge- Local
Fife Photos & Art Greenside Cottages, Leslie
The Photographer Smiled… Our celebrity
DAVID OAKES -IMAGES. Colours of Autumn.. (Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Local 2)
Penne 4 Your Thoughts Exploring the Waverton coal loader
Photocracy Sukkah
Gwyncurbygodwin’s Blog LITTLE RED CHICKEN HOUSE
Coffee fuels my photography! So Local they made themselves at home! (WPC- Local)
Weekly Photo Challenge- Local – Angela Kay

The Mach Loop

I’m on a roll at the moment, so here’s a quick post about the Mach Loop. It’s an area here in North Wales where low flying military aircraft can be photographed as they fly through the valleys. There’s no timetable of when this will happen, but generally you can say Monday to Friday, usually during daylight hours, although Friday is usually POETS day so there may be limited traffic then.

To get there I have to leave the house at six and after an hour and a half drive it’s time to climb up the side of a hill to the vantage point which puts you level or even above the aircraft as they fly through the valley. In reality there are several vantage points but my favourites are CAD East and CAD West. It’s very rare that you wont find other photographers up there waiting for the same thing as you and often that wait can be long. Sometimes it’s three hours of boredom followed by ten seconds of sheer panic as you spot the incoming aircraft, get you camera up, focus and fire the shutter, hoping that you’ve got a least one in sharp enough focus.


But of course, we’re photographers with a common interest so it’s not really hours of boredom, we chat, talk about gear, which aircraft we seen, keep in contact with the other photographers who are on the other vantage points, have a look at flightradar 360 to see what military aircraft are flying and where they are, and most importantly listen to the radio scanners for those magic words “low level LFA7”. And the tents? Not normally for sleeping, more to keep your kit dry, the wind off, it can be cold at those heights, and generally act as your own little shelter against the elements.

So when your up that hill you have to carry, camera, lenses spare batteries, food, water, hot drink, and the tent. The only good thing is the load is lighter on the way down. Is it worth it? To me yes. If I get one good photograph on a day, I’m a happy guy. If I don’t there’s always the banter, and amazing scenery to enjoy. On a clear day you can see so far.

On the CAD east side you get to see the underside of the aircraft as well as head on photographs as they make their approach. It just gives you that little bit of extra time to pick them up and focus.

Hawk T2

Tornado GR4

CAD West, you’ll get cockpit photographs but the difficulty is that you are photographing into the sun which can make it difficult.

Tornado Swept Wing

Hawk T2

At the end of the day I’ve been on the hillside ten and a half hours, it’s six o’clock and it’s time to go home. Faced with another hour and a half drive home I’m eager to get off the hill, and I’m not alone. Military activity has slackened off. The scanners have been quiet for a good hour the radar picture shows nothing up flying in the vicinity so we all make the decision to head home.


The tents get packed up, camera gear is stowed, we take all of our litter and head home.

Weekly Photo Challenge–H2O

Whoo Hoo! It’s Thursday and I’m actually early for a change. Despite being up CAD East yesterday to photograph low flying military aircraft as they transit the Mach Loop I’m ahead of schedule. Having now had my broadband link restored albeit still with some dodgy speeds I’m now able to concentrate on the blog again. This week it’s H2O so let’s get started and get some photographs on show, After all, that’s what Say It With A Camera is all about.

In Greenfields Industrial Park which is now a Heritage Museum you can find several waterfalls. In the industrial age water was a source of power, turning mill wheels and engines. This is a great waterfall to photograph but it really is a shame that they don’t cut the vegetation back. It would be a much better photograph.

Three Tier Waterfall

First and foremost, make it an obvious picture of colour! Rather than looking for rocks, leaves, trees, waterfalls, birds, flowers, fire hydrants, starfish, boats, orchards, or bridges, focus your energy and vision on red, blue, yellow, orange, green, or violet. Colour first, content second! – Bryan Peterson


That’s what I’ve tried to do above. Some of the sunsets we get here are quite startling, brilliant colours, but they only last for a short time, especially in the winter months. A photograph really doesn’t do them justice and yet I have been accused of over-hyping the colours on some sunsets. Honestly, you have to see them to really appreciate them.

Cwm Idwal and the Afon Idwal have always fascinated me ever since I moved to North Wales. The Afon (River) Idwal drops down the valley from the lake which is higher up in the valley. By the time it gets down to the bottom of the valley it’s usually flowing pretty strongly over the rocks and that’s where most people photograph it. From the wooden bridge at the start of the walk up to the Cwm. Yet, if you follow the river up the valley there are some really good photographs to capture and it’s far faster than following the well trodden path that most walker use.

Say I’m on a path along a stream, but what I really want to do is be down at the stream, not along the path. I go down along the side of the stream and I move up and down, back and forth, looking for, say, reflections. I’m watching the movement of the water. When I find something that pulls me in, something that I feel connected to—and usually it’s a quality of the light—then I open up the technical box… – Eddie Soloway

Afon Idwal

Talking of Cwm Idwal, “Winter Is Coming” as they say in a well known blockbusting TV show. In all the times I have visited the Cwm in winter I’ve only ever seen the lake freeze once. It’s not totally frozen but it’s well on the way.

Idwal Snow

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the photographs.

Now I’ve got the time and a broadband connection I’m able to look at other bloggers again. Here’s a selection from the weekly challenge that I have liked this week. Yes, I actually do visit, have a read, and leave a like. I don’t always comment, not unless it’s something that really catches my attention, usually photography related.

Susi Lovell Swan Girl
Attuned Photography Color of Water – Macro
Claudia Curici Photography ‘Asking for Help’
PhotosbyGoldie Reflections (on Water)
Lotus Reflections – Leanne Murphy
through the luminary lens Solar Power, Water, and the Promised Land
janeMcMaster Weekly Photo Challenge- H20
Broken Light- A Photography Collective Psychosis
Julie Powell – Photographer & Graphic Artist WPC – H20
H2O – Photo Challenge – ladyleemanila

Goodbye Olympus, Hello ???

It saddens me to say this but I’m going to have to say goodbye to my trusted E-M1 from Olympus and seek a more robust camera. As regular readers will know I had a problem with my E-M1 whilst on holiday in Germany. It suddenly developed a green squiggly line in the viewfinder. Fortunately it did not affect the finished photographs and I was able to continue to use the camera whilst I was away.

And now comes the sad part, I thought the camera was still under warranty so I sent it off to be repaired. Later that week I got a bill from the repair centre. My receipt that I got when I bought the camera wasn’t the original bill of sale. I knew the camera was second hand when I bought it from the dealer but I didn’t think there would be a problem when I registered the camera for warranty purposes when I bought it. Turns out I was wrong.

But there’s a second part to this. Apparently damage to the viewfinder isn’t covered under warranty as the service centre took pains to explain to me recently in a letter.

The EVF (as mentioned in the manual) should not be allowed to sit next to, or within direct sources of light or heat as this may cause damage to the TFT LCD screen within the viewfinder.
Excess heat will cause a rainbow effect on the screen, a light source will cause small dots or worm like burns in yellow and green. Something very similar to the effect on the main image sensor.

However you can drop the camera and that will be covered, as Olympus take great pains to say in this months edition of their online users magazine.

So why am I saying goodbye? Simple really. I no longer trust my E-M1 to perform in all weather conditions, in fact, I have become quite paranoid about it. The only way the viewfinder could have been damaged whilst I was on holiday, was with exposure to sunlight. I didn’t knowingly sit it next to a source of bright light but I suppose if the camera was hanging at my side, I use a Black Rapid strap, then it could had the sun shining onto the viewfinder all the time. In that case, there probably would be damage, but I ask myself, is the E-M1 fit for purpose, or maybe I should ask is the E-M1 fit for the way I use it.  Clearly I do not especially as my paranoia about sun damage has stretched to me putting a piece of masking tape over the viewfinder. I’m not having the sun get at it again, ending in me having to pay for another repair.

To be fair my local camera shop, where I bought my E-M1, have tried to help me resolve the problem, as did the local Olympus rep. But this is all down to trust. I need to know that I can trust the E-M1 in all weathers but I no longer do, so sadly it’s time to say goodbye.

Red Light On Router–Internet Down

Regular readers may have noticed that it’s been pretty quiet here on Say It With A Camera in the last few weeks. First of all I don’t have a working internet connection. Haven’t done for 14 days now. Got up in the morning and there it was a RED light on the router. Between my ISP, the wholesaler (middleman) and the telecoms company, no one would admit they had done something to disconnect me. To cut a long story short, here we are 14 day later, I’m still disconnected, well sort of, but the telecoms company now have a dedicated faults team, whatever that means, working on it. All I can say is they work awfully slow for a dedicated team, excuse the pun.

Meanwhile my ISP finally agreed that I could buy a mobile dongle and a data allowance and they would cover the cost. Now those dongles are nothing like hi-speed broadband, they’re slow, prone to dropouts and the cost of the data package is extremely expensive, but I’ve got a connection, albeit it’s only useful for email and maybe a bit of blogging.


Now you might be wondering what this weeks photographs are all about and that brings me to my second reason for being so quiet. A couple of weeks back I was asked to give a talk to a photographic society about some of the abandoned buildings I have visited in the last few years. “We just need a one hour session, followed by a short break for tea and coffee, and then if you could do another three-quarters of an hour that would be great” That’s a long time to fill up and first I was really reluctant. But hey I need a challenge at the moment so eventually I agreed. This week I am showing you some photographs from the talk I gave. Are the appropriate for the weekly challenge, probably not, but with my broadband still being down, with no sign of it being restored, this is it.

Grwych Castle 3.jpg

The top photograph is from Porth Wen on Anglesey. Not the easiest place to get to but well worth the visit. Followed by Grwych Castle. It’s really a modern castle, built in the last 150 years, not like some of the really old one we have here which were built 8 to 9 hundred years ago.

Just below is Sheldrakes, or to be more precise, Lower Heswall. It’s a boat graveyard and all along the tidal estuary you can find old abandoned boats that are fantastic to photograph. You have to watch though, the tide comes in really fast, and I mean fast. It’s very muddy and wellie boots are required if you go walking there.

Sheldrakes 7.jpg

Of course no talk about abandoned would be complete without including Dinorwic Slate Quarry, Lots of tunnels, old ruined buildings, rusty metal and fantastic views over to Snowdon.

Dinorwic 6-3.jpg

Way out in the middle of nowhere is Ynys-y-Pandy Slate Mill. It’s now a preserved building, so the outside views are much better. Visit on a nice day or wait for those dark brooding skies when you’ll get some amazing black and white photographs.

Ystradlyn 3.jpg

Another place well worth visiting on a sunny day is Copper Mountain on the island of Anglesey. When the sun is out it seems to enhance all those reds and oranges of the rocks. The only building worth photographing though is the old windmill which sits high on the hill, where else, with commanding views over the countryside.

Copper Mountain 6-2.jpg

Dorothea Quarry is another great source of unusual abandoned building. This is the entrance to the stables, lots of graffiti, vastly overgrown, but worth photographing.

Dorothea 6.jpg

So why do I photograph these old buildings? For one, they are there, and two, in past times I used to do quite a lot of digital art, compositing different photographs together to give me a totally new scene. Unfortunately I’ve let that skill slip over the years, but last week I was looking at some old composites I had put together in years back and thought maybe it  was time to rebuild that skill. Especially as “winter is coming”, where have I heard that before, I go out less often to take photographs so it’s an ideal time to spend some time in front of the computer.

Below is a couple of examples of what I’m talking about. Both of the figure in these composites are stock photographs supplied by Phelan Davion who can be found on DeviantArt. The buildings are mine. The first one from Dinorwic Quarry and the second is from an abandoned industrial site called Greenfields.


Greenfields 9.jpg

That’s it, normally I would include ten blogs here who were taking part in this weeks challenge and whom I’d visited but with the limited data allowance and slowness of the broadband circuit I’m going to skip that this week.