I’m On A Roll…

You know the old saying “You wait an hour for a Number 10 bus and then two come along all at once”. Well I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment now that I have sorted out the problems I had with WLW. Actually it’s more like I have found an alternative that works for me.

So some more photographs. Thursday was such a beautiful day, sunny, clear blue skies, very little cloud, not exactly ideal for photography. But with weather like that I made the snap decision to venture into the National Park and take a good walk along with the camera.

The walk up to Cwm Idwal is one of may favourites. It can get busy, I’ve only ever been once on the track and hardly seen a soul. That’s the day I got caught in a blizzard which fortunately passed over quickly. I suppose I should have guessed, No one about, don’t venture far.

Anyway the photographs

Ogwen Fall

On the way up to the Ogwen valley I decided to stop off at the Ogwen Falls. Unfortunately you can only photograph from the side of the falls so this photographs doesn’t really do it enough justice. There’s another large section that I didn’t photograph. Well I did, but it doesn’t look right across the falls.

Devils Kitchen

Once you walk up to Cwm Idwal, it’s a pretty gentle climb even with photography gear, you can walk around the lake. Or choose to start the climb up to higher areas by following the path at the far end of the lake.

Of course if you’re like me, after a cup of coffee and a few photographs you start to walk back down to the car-park. Saying that i have walked around the lake several times before and gone up the path to higher areas but eventually turned back because it was too much of a scramble with the camera gear and the tripod.

So on the way back down I took time to photograph Pen Yr Ole Wen from the path

Pen Yr Ole Wen

And any walk up to Cwm Idwal wouldn’t be the same without photographing Tryfan, probably one of the best known mountains in the National Park and also one of the most dangerous.

Tryfan

Well that’s it. Just a few more photographs whilst I get used to using Open Live Writer to create posts for Say It With A Camera

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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.

Groups

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.

Murmuration

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

Presthaven

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.

Heather

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…..

Fishing

….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

Waterfall

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

The Glyderau

…and this is Cwm Idwal

Heather

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.

Ponies

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

Tracks

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.

Waterfall

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.
 

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.

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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.

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

I’m Not Running Away…………

So much to do, so little time. In the run up to Christmas I’ve been kept busy by “She Who Must Be Obeyed” doing all sorts of things. Not had much time for photography, but anyway the weather hasn’t been that great. Planned trip to Cwm Idwal, cancelled, heavy snow. Planned trip to the Wirral, cancelled whilst I was on the road there, dark grey skies, followed by heavy torrential rain, Just not worth going out. Finally a glorious winters day, Some sun, a bit of cloud, some blue skies. “Remember you said we would do this today……”. Never forgets anything. So here we are. It’s Christmas week, I’ve been out five hours around the shops, how many times do you need to go back and look at that “special item”; I’ve finally managed to sit down and take a break and starting answering some of the emails that have been piling up as well as write this post.

So anyway to this weeks challenge. I’m going back in time with this one to when we had predictions of real stormy seas off the coast. At first it didn’t look too bad but as the incoming tide swept in, boosted by off-shore winds it was obvious that the waves were going to get higher and higher.

Casting

Along the sea-front the wall is designed to break up the waves, which makes for some very interesting formations.

Rising Seas

A normal person sees a storm, thinks help and runs away
A photographer sees that storm, and runs the other way
Off into the cold they go, the wind, the rain and more
To capture pics no matter what, of all the things they saw
Watching all the huge waves crashing, defiantly they stand
Looking out from beneath the pier, with camera in hand
Why do we do such stupid things, like photograph the snow
We can’t resist to get that pic, so off we always go
We see the world through rule of thirds, and many shades of grey
The search to get the perfect shot, continues every day
Dean Thorpe – The poem: “The photographer” by Dean Thorpe

Still Fishing

The guys who fish off the promenade are sort of like the photographers who chase the storm. Whenever it’s predicted for stormy seas you will see them there. To be hones they’re always there, either fishing on the tide line, and slowly walking back up the beach as the t tide comes in. Or else they’re on the promenade. One thing though, no matter what the weather, you’ll find them there. Although most know when to pack up and get to safety if the waves get too strong.

I’d been talking to this guy, taking the odd photograph, up until the seas got a bit strong. At that point I decided discretion was the better part of valour and retreated further up the embankment. Although my camera is weather-proof I still think salt water spray can do a lot of damage, if you forget to clean it when you get home. Anyway I switched to a telephoto lens and continued taking some photographs. Then this big wave came in, most of it broke up on the sea wall, but you can see how far it came up. My fisherman man managed to keep his footing, but talking to him afterwards he said it was touch and go. It was his time to practice a bit of discretion and he packed up just after that.

Nearly

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

Point of Ayr – Long Abandoned

Normally on a Wednesday night I’d be at the Camera Club but with the floor being renovated in the hall it was time for a field trip. A place I haven’t been to in a long time is the  site of the old Point of Ayr colliery, located just a short walk along the coast from Talacre at Fynnongroew. The colliery was situated on reclaimed land right along side the Dee Estuary and entrance to the two original shafts were with yards of the sea-shore, with the workings extending out under the sea. In later years the colliery was taken over by the National Coal Board (NCB) and a new shaft was added in the early 80’s, but now coal came to the surface on a conveyor belt.

Despite extensive reserves of coal in the mine, the colliery closed in 1996, mainly as a result of reduced demand for coal-fired power stations. All of the buildings were levelled and today you would be hard pushed to know that a colliery even existed there, other than for this sculpture of a miner with a pit pony and a cart of coal.

Miner and Pony

I was there to catch the sunset, though, and on part of the land that was once the colliery, lies the Point Of Ayr Gas Terminal. Ironically, the move from coal-fired Power Stations was prompted by the introduction of more cleaner gas-powered ones and the gas from the Point of Ayr terminal is used to provide power to half of Wales.

The fenced off areas are overgrown but you can see the Gas Terminal’s structure beyond the trees…… and that was my idea for a photograph last night. Try and get a sunset with the plant structure in silhouette.

Point of Ayr

Of course, you need a decent sunset and last night it certainly wasn’t. Hardly a cloud in the sky, coupled with a dull orange glow, but you work with what you’ve got.

Since the last time I visited Point of Ayr there have been a few additions to the site. I mentioned the sculpture earlier and I also found this wheel, which represents the winding gear from a mine. Who knows it may even be the original wheel?

So with the gas plant in the background and the wheel silhouetted against the setting sun this was probably the photograph of the night for me.

Point of Ayr

One last little point. One of the old miners who used to work at the colliery told me an interesting story. On the final day of colliery operations they flooded the mine, by boring a shaft from the dock, coal was shipped by sea, and letting the high tide do the rest.

Right that’s it. I’m off on holiday. No doubt I’ll take a lot of photographs whilst I’m away. Many of them will be touristy, but hopefully there will be the odd gem amongst them, worth writing about – Mike