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.


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.

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 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.

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 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 site with one of the new subdomains;

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.


I’m The Young Whippersnapper

Call me Teddy, I’m Bonnie’s best mate and second everything she says. It’s cushy here.

Teddy is an 18 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Now I like playing with a ball and these two will throw it for me all the time. I’ve got them nicely trained now, didn’t take long. The tell me to “fetch” it, but I ignore them because it’s fun to watch them get off the settee and pick it up for me. Now and again, just to tease them, I do “fetch” it and their full of praise for me. But I’m one smart dog, I don’t need no kisses or cuddles like Bonnie does so I do my own thing.

I’m A Lady

Hi, my name is Bonnie and I’m a tri-colour Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Bonnie is a 5 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Up until recently I lived on the island of Anglesey but sadly my owner passed over to Rainbow Bridge; me and my mate Teddy had to go and stay at the doggie hotel, near Prestatyn.

Now doggie hotels can be ok but nothing beats a comfy settee and a warm bed at night so when prospective new members of our family came to see me and Teddy, we were checking out who’d give us the most cuddles and treats.

In the end we picked this man and woman who seemed to fit the bill. Two square a day, three walks, a beach nearby to run on, comfy settees and a really warm bed, I’m in doggie heaven. Did I mention I’ve also got a new man in my life. He lets me snuggle up to him, sometimes give him a kiss or two and tickles me behind the ears. Fantastic.