5kg Weight Limit…Are You Serious

You might have noticed that it’s been very quiet on Say It With A Camera, these past few weeks. There again you might not. I’m taking an early vacation, so I’ve been busily preparing everything for a journey to hotter climes. Of course I didn’t arrange this little trip, I left that to my travel planner, “her indoors”. Now as usual for a trip like this I was I was busy concentrating on my camera gear, deciding what to take or leave behind. Then my travel planner hit me with a bombshell, “You know you can only take a maximum of 5kg of carry-on baggage”, she says. My comment is censored.

A good few years back I lightened the load by switching to a mirrorless camera. But even in doing so, 5kg would be difficult to achieve when you include said camera, at least two lenses, battery pack, spare batteries, battery charger, memory cards, cleaning cloths, remote control, and a tripod. Oh! And don’t forget the back-pack to carry it all.

Still never one to look a “gift horse” in the mouth I took the opportunity to buy a small point and shoot, that weighs about 322 gm and has a zoom lens that far outreaches my longest mirrorless lens. However it’s not all win win. The downside is the censor is small, very, very small so I’m not going to get the same great picture quality that I would get from my Olympus E-M1 Mk2.

Battery charged, memory card in it’s off to the beach I go. Who needs to read the manual, a camera is a camera, is a camera.

Panasonic TZ90

But it’s not too bad, all things considered. So here’s a few photographs that I’ve taken at three of my favourite spots for testing cameras, Talacre Beach, the Cathedral at St Asaph and Rhyl Beach

Panasonic TZ90

Now bear in mind I’m going to be using this camera for “holiday snaps” but even so it has a pretty impressive set of features. It’s not just an automatic camera, there’s a 20 Mp Sensor, 30x Optical Zoom, Raw and JPEG capability,  5 axis stabilisation, PASM Modes, 4K Video to name a few. But with such a small sensor noise could be a factor, however as I’ve said before I’m not going to be printing anything, although I’ve read a user review that said they could print at A2 size without any problems.
No! This camera will be used for Facebook and Instagram, which by the way it appears that if I connect my camera to my phone I can post directly to both social media sites.

Panasonic TZ90

In the photograph below I’ve zoomed out the maximum length of the lens. Not too bad at all…

Panasonic TZ90

Could be sharper. I don’t know if that’s down to me or the camera, but the highlights aren’t blown out.

Panasonic TZ90

Lighthouse is in focus, foreground is slightly out. After a couple of days of using the camera I found out I could direct the focus away from multipoint to single, better still I could use the touch screen to select the focus point I wanted. Moral of the story RTFM.

Panasonic TZ90

Highlights are severely blown, but for a hand-held shot at night it’s in focus, that’s something. Apparently there’s a setting for night photography. I really should RTFM.

Panasonic TZ90

Back at the lighthouse. Winter has taken it’s toll on the paintwork. I’m getting more and more used to using the camera. Admittedly I have found out it doesn’t like dull days. there tends to be more noise. I can cancel it out in Lightroom without making the photograph too mushy, but all in all I’m pretty happy with performance.

Panasonic TZ90

The old castle at Rhudlan, must be high tide because the river lever is really high and we’re not much further than a mile from the sea

Panasonic TZ90

I turned off the annoying electronic shutter sound but maybe I might just turn it back on and mute it down so it’s just audible. Why? I left the camera in hi-speed drive and took this photograph. I had twenty-five more just like it because I couldn’t hear that the shutter was continuously firing.

Panasonic TZ90

This was really at the extreme end of the range of the lens, not only optical zoom but digital as well. Not recommended for small objects like birds, sitting on a swaying stalk about 50 metres away.

Panasonic TZ90

Back on Rhyl Beach, I really must master these focus points.

Panasonic TZ90

A church on the hill beside a river

Panasonic TZ90

Macro mode, I like this….

Panasonic TZ90

Did I mention the camera could also auto bracket, so if necessary I can capture a series of photographs inside in preparation for putting them through my favourite HDR software

Panasonic TZ90

So that’s it, I’ll be back in a few weeks. Now have I packed the sun tan lotion.


A Murmuration Of Starlings

Previously I have mentioned how I am so lucky to live very close to the Snowdonia National Park. Living on the coast I also have the added bonus of having nature reserves used by migrating birds right on my doorstep. So last night I went out to photograph a phenomena that not everyone gets to see…a starling murmuration.

The Gathering

Each evening starlings from all around gather together to roost in the reed beds at Gronant Dunes. Slowly but surely they fly in, usually in small groups, from the countryside and towns where they have feeding during the day.


Those small groups start to become larger groups as they fly around waiting for other starlings to join in. Why do they do it? The thought is that grouping offers safety. It’s harder for predators like peregrine falcons to attack one bird when there is a flock of thousands. Safety in numbers as they say.


It’s also thought that the starlings communicate good feeding areas and by gathering in numbers it’s easier to keep warm during the night.

Lift Off

Slowly but surely more and more birds arrive and the sky is full of them. You can hear a sort of swishing sound as they fly about and the closer they get to you the noisier it becomes. “Take Cover……”

Bigger Yet

One thing I will say, don’t get underneath them. It can get extremely messy.

On The Move

Eventually, when the group is large enough they head of to their night-time roosting areas in the reed beds


Just behind this caravan park are the dunes and the marshes, home for the starlings at night. And there they are. One last flourish and down they all settle. It’s pretty safe out there. The marsh has lots of water making it hard for predators to approach the starlings .

Settling Down

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this quick post – Mike

Where Are The Dragons?

Wales, or more specifically North Wales, where I live, is the land of magnificent castles, stately homes, railways, festivals and the scenery is superb. Fantastic sandy beaches, tumbling rivers, waterfalls, mountains and lakes. I think I’ll just let the photographs do the talking this week

Yes we have rugged coastlines, but look at the sandy beaches.


There are sand dunes and of course that old abandoned lighthouse that I love to photograph

Talacre Dunes.jpg

You can fish, even at night…..


….although you shouldn’t leave your nets behind.

Net Blue

We get some fantastic sunsets

Purple Haze

And there’s that lighthouse again

Talacre Beach

We have an industrial heritage as well. I wonder who Karen is?

I Love Karen

Of course much of the heavy industry is long gone and we are left with the ruins.

Porth Wen Chimney

It’s not really a castle but we do have them, honest

Gwrych Castle Gate

Lead was also mined here

Minera Lead Mines

And we’ve got the odd waterfall


Plus mountains. One of my favourite walks. Take the path up to Cwm Idwal

The Glyderau

…and this is Cwm Idwal


If you turn your back to Cwm Idwal you get to see Pen Yr Ole Wen

Pen-yr-Olwen Reflections

Butt we also get snow.

52/2013 Week 4

That’s when you ate likely to see the ponies who live wild in the mountains. They come down for food.


I did mention we had lakes. Didn’t I?

Reflections at Llyn Nantle Uchaf

With walking paths that let you appreciate the countryside. This one eventually leads to Snowdon.

Llyn Teym

Probably the most photographed bridge in Snowdonia. Despite it looking rugged, one of the main roads through the park is no more than a short walk of about 75 metres away. I’ve seen coach loads of tourist stop here to photograph this bridge and they think they’re seeing Snowdonia. By the way cross that bridge to the left and you’re on the path to Cwm Idwal

Afon Idwal

Another one of my favourite walking areas. I’ve been in this valley 3-4 hours and not seen another person. It is quite lonely but so peaceful and usually the only sounds you hear are the water tumbling down the hillside, sheep and birds calling.

Rhosydd Terrace

Yet in this remote valley, families lived and worked, mining slate. Above are some of the small terraced houses and below is the ruins of the church

Cwmorthin Chapel

Slate mining was probably the most industrial activity in North Wales with several large quarries extracting slate in vast proportions with Welsh slate, used to roof houses and buildings worldwide


Well that’s it. I could have shown so many more photographs. If you want to know more about North Wales follow the link at the top of the page.

It’s Now Tuesday……

All is quiet in our household. Photography has taken a bit of a back seat as the weather, once again, has not been conducive (that’s a big word for Monday morning) to getting out with the camera. By this time last year I had made eight photography trips out into the National Park and yet, this year I have done just one and that was none too successful. Even outside of the National Park I have been very limited in travel for photography. Maybe it’s just me, perhaps I’m slowing down or just getting bored with photography. Even now as I’m looking out of the office window I can see nothing but grey skies, that’s no incentive to pick up the camera and go out and shoot something.

What is a good photograph? I cannot say. A photograph is tied to the time, what is good today may be a cliché tomorrow. The problem of the photographer is to discover his own language, a visual ABC. The picture represents the feelings and point of view of the intelligence behind the camera. This disease of our age is boredom and a good photographer must combat it. The way to do this is by invention – by surprise. When I say a good picture has surprise value I mean that it stimulates my thinking and intrigues me. The best way to achieve surprise quality is by avoiding clichés. Imitation is the greatest danger of the young photographer. – Alexey Brodovitch

Like last weeks challenge, which I missed, this weeks, just does not excite me. Usually in my mind’s eye I have a good idea what photographs I’m going to use but I’m sitting here at the moment with a sort of blank in my mind.

It’s now Tuesday morning, I had writers block yesterday. Last night the Met Office issued a severe weather warning for the whole of the UK. However in my opinion, severe is relative. Leaves fall on the track, trains stop running, heavy rain, schools close. There’s severe and severe. But saying that, I’m sitting in my office looking out at blanket of snow which is still falling, so maybe they were right.

OK I’ve prattled (another big word) on enough, let’s get some photographs….

The Road To Snowdonia

My favourite road leading to the Llanberis Pass with a view of the Snowdon Triangle. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have stopped somewhere along this road just to take in the beauty of the National Park.

Meanwhile in the Ogwen Valley the Afon Ogwen tumbles over rocks on it way to Nan Ffrancon and the sea.

Ogwen Valley

One of the things I like about the National Park is that you can find little waterfalls in places you’d least expect them. Always fun to photograph and if the light falls right what more could you as for as a photographer.


Well that’s for this week. I hope you enjoyed the photographs. Yes it’s still snowing but I suspect that as we live very close to the coast that soon it will start melting again. Too much salt in the air.

It Is What It Is

How do you think up the title of your posts? At one time I used to use “Weekly Photo Challenge: and then whatever the them was for that week i.e. Weekly Photo Challenge: Silence. Real interesting and very eye-catching. So then I started to think of a catchy phrase that I could use each week like “Oops! I Forgot” or “The Donkey Said “What’s Behind Me””. But how do I come up with that phrase? Usually it’s based on one or more of the photographs I include in my post so this week I give you “It Is What It Is”.

A bustling kitchen and yet very quiet. Not because the nuns have sworn a vow of silence, they haven’t, because they are not real. Their just mannequins dressed up in a nuns habit for an exhibition in a museum


Now you might have noticed that the above picture is a bit heavy on the HDR side. That’s because it was adjusted to appeal to a specific audience on Instagram. Yep! I’m on there now, happily gathering followers and following others. Slowly but surely I’m weaning myself away from Facebook. It no longer has the hold it used to and to be hones I’m sick of all the bullcrap advertising that is appearing there. With their new Algorithms I’m seeing less and less of the people I follow and more and more of “stuff” I’m not really interested in. So I’m now an Instagrammer.

Despite being right next to a busy rail and road bridge crossing the Menai Straits from North Wales to Anglesey, this spot down by the shoreline was quite peaceful and calm. However, once the tide turns this becomes a noisy flowing dangerous torrent due to the fact that there are differential tides at the two ends of the strait. Differential tides = very strong currents to flow in both directions through the strait at different times. Due to the narrow width of the strait between North Wales and Anglesey and with hidden rocks, this makes for a difficult passage for sailors.

Britannia Bridge

Yesterday I was out in the Snowdonia National Park. One of those spur of the moment ideas. We’ve had terrible grey days for what seems like weeks now, not ideal for photography. Yesterday I got up, saw a patch of blue sky and thought, fresh air and a stop at Moel Siabod Cafe, what more could I ask for? Go to their website and you’ll see why it’s so popular amongst walkers and photographers. Anyway, weather wasn’t great in the mountains so after a stop at the cafe for lunch I headed to the coast and caught this female Goosander fishing at the mouth of the river at Llandullas.  So peaceful, just me and her. I’m sure she knew I was photographing her because she kept posing for me.


Further afield now. To Berlin and the top of the dome in the Reichstag. We managed to get in one winters evening and there was no one there. Plenty of time to get the photographs I wanted.

The Dome

Well that’s it for this week and I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

A Mixed Bag, This Week

It’s been a week of contracts. New phone, car insurance, broadband, travel insurance, had to get that renewed as I’ve got some interesting trips coming up this year starting in March. Told the kids I’m going to take up SKI’ing, they thought I was mad. Anyway  bit of a mixed bag this week, photograph wise. So without further ado let’s get on with it…

First up is Valle Crucis Abbey, or to be more precise the ruins of the abbey. Although it is maintained nowadays. time has not been good to the structure and although it is safe to walk around the site, especially when the snow falls. One year when i visited that low wall was completely hidden, instant leg or ankle breaker.

Valle Crucis

A couple of years back I found this great little piece of artwork on the Wirral near Hoylake. It’s made from driftwood found on the beach and the structure is sound enough for kids to climb on it. It’s a great pirate ship, don’t you think?

Grace Darling

This bench sits at the side of a river in an area where the conditions are right for moss and lichens to grow. Not sure I’d sit on this bench because it looks as though it could be permanently wet.


Out on the Denbigh moors I found this building. Although it looks in disrepair and isn’t obviously habitable. There are official looking signs saying “No Entry”, and I have seen some plain unmarked vans parked right next to the door. Maybe it’s the entrance to a secret bunker. Or probably it’s just an old abandoned building out on the moors.


The only tree, honestly. You can see the ones down in the valley but this was the only one in view when I got to the top of the hill.

Lone Tree

My next photograph is a bit of a strange one. The structure in the background is the Point of Ayr gas terminal and I’m standing on the surface of the now defunct Mostyn Colliery. Lot’s of coal beneath me, but apparently it’s the “wrong type”. So they closed the colliery and flooded the mineshaft by opening a hole to one of the levels from the sea which is just behind me. At high tide, the sea rushed in and filled all the levels of the mine, which incidentally went out under the sea bed. Of course all this happened  a good fifty years or so and it’s unlikely they would ever be able to recover the coal now.


A metal bar, left behind when the copper mine closed. I love that little patch of light as the sun broke through the clouds.

Steel Bar

I really am not sure what this was used for, but it’s at the side of the Menai Strait, so I assume it was used for winching something in from the water.


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

Storm Eleanor

My first photograph of 2018 and it seems appropriate that it should be of the sea, seeing as I live in a coastal town. Today sees our coastline battered by Storm Eleanor and with higher than normal tides predicted Natural Resources Wales issued a Flood Warning for properties along the Beach Road. High tide today was around 11:30 and expected to be around 9 metres. But with the storm raising sea levels the tide level was expected to be 5.5 metres above this level.

First stop for me was Rhyl sea-front just along the coast. Because of the way the sea defences are shaped you can see some pretty spectacular wave action.


But it was my home town I was more worried about. There have been improvements to the sea defences in the last couple of years but with the Flood Warning in place there’s always the possibility the sea defences could be breached. I’m lucky. I live high enough that I doubt our house would be affected, but there are an awful lot of low-lying properties which rely on those defences.

And fortunately they have done their job, this time. It’s high tide, although the sea is surging now and again with some of the bigger waves, there is no need to close the flood  barriers which I’m standing just in front of.


First post of 2018, here’s to many more and before I forget, A Happy New Year to you all.