Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

Regular readers will know that I’m very fond of using HDR with my photographs and I’m always happy to be experimenting. Trying new looks or styles.

This week I have been testing a new software with some very good results. Whilst I say “new” it’s been around some time but just not in the mainstream of HDR software.

Any  way as usual I’m digressing. So where is my Happy Place? It’s got to be the Snowdonia National Park and if I have to be specific I’d say the Ogwen Valley and Nant Ffrancon.

Ogwen Valley Panorama

In the panorama above you can see the Ogwen Valley with Llyn Ogwen to your right and Nant Ffrancon, also a valley, to the left. I’m standing very close to Cwm Idwal at this point. It’s right behind me.

Llyn Ogwen

Llyn Ogwen is surrounded by mountains but luckily the A5 road runs right through the valley giving easy access to the lake and the mountains. Visit here during the summer, especially at weekends and there will be lots of cars parked in the various parking areas set aside for walkers and climbers.

At the far end of Llyn Ogwen lies the drop down to Nant Ffrancon, which is almost at right angles to this photograph. Go left at the far end and you will be at Cwm Idwal.

Let There Be Light

In this photograph we are looking the other way. Llyn Ogwen and the Ogwen Valley lie up there nestled between the mountains to the left of this photograph. Cwm Idwal is to the right of the photograph, also hidden behind the mountains.

Can you see why I have this area as my Happy Place?

Of course visit in the winter and you will see things differently. This is the same road that you can see in the photograph above. Fortunately it’s not the main road. That’s the black line you can see  to the left of the photograph about 2/3 rds of the way up. Where it meets the black clump of trees, that’s where the road bends to the Ogwen Valley.

Icy Road

Incidentally that’s where I got stuck on the ice. Even with 4 wheel drive I was just slipping and getting closer to the edge. Thankfully my fellow photographers where able to guide me back to safety. A hairy moment at the time.


Snow brings the wild ponies down from the higher slopes almost to the edge of the road. Although they live wild, I’ve always found them pretty friendly. Too friendly sometimes.

Water tumbles over rocks, I love to hear that sound, during the summer it can be just a trickle, but once the rains come or when the snow melts, it’s a different story.


Then there’s that bridge, I’m never quite sure if it lies in the Ogwen Valley or not as it’s at the start of the path to Cwm Idwal. One thing I’m pretty certain of. It must be the most photographed bridge and waterfall in Snowdonia. I’ve seen coach loads of tourists dropped off just to see this bridge……and they think they have seen the real Snowdonia

Wooden Bridge

So there you have it. My Happy Place and I hope you have enjoyed it with me?

Here’s what others bloggers are saying about their Happy Place


22 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

    1. Martha, thank you for taking the time to comment. We don’t often see the ponies as they are usually much higher up in the mountains. It’s only when the snow comes do they descend to lower levels. I’m in the National Park a lot and I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen them. This is the closest they have ever been to me or should I say, I’ve been to them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting on my photographs. Snowdonia is beautiful, no matter what the weather, well, maybe when it’s raining it’s not….but it’s my Happy Place


  1. Excellent images, Mike. Love them all and the one with the stone wall and light shining down is really beautiful. I have never heard of that HDR program but will check it out. I use the Nik version. Your result is very natural.


    1. It’s not the easiest to use, Jane, and I’ve encountered a few problems. But I’ve contacted the developers. I think it’s the way I’m using it because I seem to be getting mixed results.


  2. Superb photoset. I am not normally a fan of HDR, but if it is done right (and these are) and not ‘pushed’ too much (which a lot are) then they can be stunning. I did experiment a bit before but never seemed to be able to get it ‘just right’ – but these are excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HDR isn’t to everyone’s taste James, that’s for sure. In the past it got a really bad name and it’s easy to see why. But as I’ve always said, “my photograph, my vision” so I never criticise those who practice “the Black Art” in the more surreal way. Heck I used to do it myself.

      Nowadays I use HDR to give me a more natural look and when I swopped from Pentax to Olympus I specifically chose the E-M1 because it had dedicated HDR functions that I could access at the touch of a dial. This means I can choose the number of brackets and the bracket spread almost instantly.

      Experimentation is the key. I’ve been using various HDR programs since about 2006, I’ve probably tried them all in my time. I have my favourites, Yep! sometimes I will use a different program if I can’t get the result I want with another, but in the main I stick to PhotoMatix and for landscapes I tend to use the Contrast Optimizer which gives a more natural look than the Details Enhancer.


  3. Gorgeous photos. I’m not normally a fan of HDR either but you’ve used it subtly and to great effect – it adds a depth and clarity that is quite soothing to the eye. The backdrop helps, of course, but beautifully taken and processed.


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