Category: North Wales

Against The Odds – I’m Struggling

An ideal subject for this weeks challenge would be the Kingfisher I captured some weeks back and featured in It’s A Kind Of Magic. But I don’t want to show you that, instead I’m going to show you, nothing. Let me explain, at the time of writing this, Saturday 12:07 pm UK time, I’m sitting in my office thinking of what I could show you this week. And my mind’s a blank. I can’t at the moment think of anything that would fit the bill. Mainly because I plan my days out, taking photographs. I know where I’m going. If I’m on the coast, I’ve checked the tide times. In the mountains it’s the weather. I don’t really do spontaneous, instant capture type of photography, even when I’m out on the streets. So this really is going to be a challenge this week, unless I go out with my camera and wait for something to happen…..is that really “against the odds”.

Of course I could just throw some photographs in, write a story around them to make them fit the theme…..now that’s an idea.

Right Fast Forward to Monday 20th, it’s 15:44 UK time (that’s 3:44 pm) and I’ve got my photograph.

Breeding Common Toad

Against All The Odds, sure was. I nearly stood on the pair of them as I was wandering by the river looking for something to photograph. This is a pair of Common Toads, the female is the larger of the two. Now the male is smart. He’s “piggy backed” on the female as she makes her way to the breeding ground. But he may not be the one to finally mate with her as more often than not there are more males than females. If he manages to stay with her for the several days required then that definitely is “against all the odds”

Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge

Photography Journal Blog Weekly Photo Challenge- Against the Odds
Crafting Photolog Weekly Photo Challenge- Lucky Against the Odds
Hot Dogs and Marmalade Play Your Game
Against the odds- The Photo Challenge – I scrap 2
Spirit of Dragonflies WPC – Against the Odds
Photo Challenge- Against All Odds – Tricia T Allen
Ed Lehming Photography “Against the Odds”
Following Him Beside Still Waters Fortuitous Frog Find
Smith Creek-Against the odds photo – Thoughts from an Alabaster Beach Girl
PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS Against the Odds

Talacre Dunes

Another post, using the new theme and the WordPress servers to host the photographs. Most comments said everything was OK but “It’s Just A Theory” reported having problems displaying the photographs. So could you please check and let me know if the images are displaying with the post and that you don’t have to click a link or a thumbnail to see them. Thanks in advance for checking.

So this week it’s Graceful. Those people in Automatic sure pick some weird themes at times but here we go.

The sand dunes at Talacre have always been my goto place when I want to test new equipment or a particular method of taking photographs.

Talacre Sand Dunes

Wandering amongst the dunes gives me plenty of scope to photograph wildlife, like this jay which was sitting on one of the trees that are dotted around the dunes. Beautiful birds, very intelligent and this photograph in winter plumage really doesn’t do the colours justice.

Jay

And wherever you go your sure to find little Blue Tits at the edges of the dunes, hiding in the trees. Although not this one, quite cheeky, but very nervous and surprisingly this one came quite close.

Blue Tit

However, back to the dunes, There are certain areas were a lot of conservation work is going on so you will find these areas fenced off.

Dune Protection

It may be for a rare species of plant or wildlife. Sometimes it’s just to protect the ever-changing infrastructure. Sand dunes are very susceptible to damage by us and of course the wind. I never question it. If it’s fenced off, it’s for a reason, so I see no need to enter, even if it means I have to go a longer way round.

Finally you can’t go to Talacre without taking a photograph of the abandoned lighthouse. But this time rather than go onto the beach I’ve stayed in the dunes to give me some foreground interest.

Talacre Lighthouse

Is it graceful? It might be but hey, my post my choice of photographs. Do they fit the theme….of course they do.

As usual, here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge;

Yvette’s photography Graceful
PhotosbyGoldie Graceful in Repose
Photoessayist The Blog Graceful- A Richard Serra Sculpture
A Certain Slant of Light Photography Underwater Grace
Flight of a Seagull
Anvica’s gallery Graceful
Half a photograph Graceful
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Vietnamese Girl in Ao Dai – Nes Felicio Photography
Sara Doolittle Gracefulness, air, and water

High Tide 12:04 PM 8.83 Metres

I want to show you a photograph. It’s of our local beach when the tide is out…and why would I want to do this?

Storm Damage

Because I’m now going to show you another photograph when the tide is in.

Groyne Marker

This week sees higher tides than normal hitting our coastline, here in North Wales. Todays high tide at 12:04 pm was calculated to be 8.83 metres (28.97 feet) and combined with very strong on-shore winds probably means it will be higher than that. Which means our coastal defences are going to take a bit of a battering. Those defences serve two purposes, one to protect the town from storms and high tides and two they act as a nice walking and cycle way right along the coast. This part stretches away in the distance to the Beaches hotel.  It’s a sort of tiered effect as the walkway is bordered by a low wall and the sand dunes.

Dog Walking

But of course when we get really high tides or storms, it’s a different matter. Those defences are shaped to break up the incoming waves but the sea does still get over them and that’s why we have that second wall.

Sun Is Out

My motto has always been “never put yourself in harm’s way to get a photograph”. I broke it once and paid the consequences by ending up in Accident and Emergency. So all of my photographs today have been taken with zoom lenses. I have no desire to get close to the action.

But some people do and I can never understand why. What makes you want to get close to breaking waves that can easily suck you right back out to sea?

Not Me

To show you what I mean…..just under two years ago I took this photograph of a man fishing on the sea-front during particularly stormy seas. That wave and the subsequent one behind it almost washed him off his feet.

Gone Fishin'

Only the retaining wall stopped him going. It was pretty hairy at the time and I couldn’t have helped him because I was some distance away using a zoom lens.

Stormy Seas

But back to today. It almost 12:04 pm and high tide. The waves are breaking right over the front part of the storm defences now, but the second wall is doing what it should.

Breakers

However, nothing changes, despite the waves breaking pretty high and the walkway being under water at times, people were still walking along, taking a chance. The thing is, if a rogue wave comes along, they’ve nowhere to go. They’re trapped between the sea and the second wall and the dunes. Admittedly the second wall is low about 1.2 metres (4 feet) and if a big wave did come along they should be able to scramble over it onto the dunes. But it’s all concrete there and by now it’s wet and slippery.

We're Brave

And then a cyclist came along…..

Cycling Along

So that’s it. Just a little insight into our coastal paths and see defences and how we cope with storms and exceptional high tides – Mike

A Mountain Path–Back To My Roots

Regular readers will know that I am a great fan of Ansel Adams and his amazing Black and White photographs taken in the Sierra Nevada’s, his spiritual home, and in America’s great State Parks. You might also have noticed that in the last few weeks I’ve been doing a bit of bird photography, which I have a bitter-sweet relationship with.

Like Ansel Adams, I’m more at home in the mountains taking landscape photographs….and so that is my path for next year. Go back to my roots and spend more time in the mountains. Now obviously I can’t go to the Sierra Nevada and in a country the size of UK there really isn’t any great wilderness left. There are some areas where you could go walking and not see anyone else but in truth you are never really that far from civilisation.

However the Snowdonia National Park has some great areas to photograph and that’s where I’m going to be next year.

Old House

I’ve photographed many places in the National Park but this time I’m going to be looking at it differently. For a start I want to try to get it right in Black and White, medium that I’ve dabbled with before, mainly for street photography

Ask yourself, “Why am I seeing and feeling this? How am I growing? What am I learning?” Remember: Every coincidence is potentially meaningful. How high your awareness level is determines how much meaning you get from your world. Photography can teach you to improve your awareness level. – Ansel Adams

Lone Tree

Ansel Adams once said “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer”, and I want to you to see what I see, the stark beauty that can be found in the National Park.

This lone tree in the photograph above sits at the side of Llyn y Dywarchen. Why is it there? When you consider the landscape all around it’s amazing that it has grown to such a size and survived especially through it’s early years as a sapling. This is sheep country a tasty morsel like a new sapling would have gone down well to the sheep that roam this terrain. Yet it survived because it is growing against the side of a wall which stopped the sheep gaining access to it.

The Valley

Of course it means I have to be more prepared for walking the hills and getting off the beaten path. Where previously I would visit several locations in a day I think I need to research a location and stick to it. It’s all too easy in this digital age to press that shutter button and just keep taking photographs. But a more refined approach is called for.

The ‘machine-gun’ approach to photography – by which many negatives are made with the hope that one will be good – is fatal to serious results. – Ansel Adams

So that’s my path for the coming year. I hope you will join me – Mike

Wild Bird Photography–What A Malarkey

I’ve come to the conclusion that wild bird photography is not for me. Standing around or sitting in a cold hide waiting for something special to land on a branch long enough that you can photograph it. Take yesterday for instance. A bright sunny day, not much wind, perfect for a bit of bird photography. Yeah it is, as long as the birds come out to play as well.

Over the past weeks there have been reports of Waxwings, a winter visitor to the UK, arriving in numbers at St Asaph, a city not too far away from me. So camera in hand I set off to photograph this winter visitor.

Waxwing

They were there. Wonderful. High on the trees, flying around, chattering to each other, and way out of range for my 300mm lens. They just weren’t coming down to the lower levels of the trees. Anyway, I hung around for an hour and half before finally giving up. Apparently in the afternoon all the photographers, and there were lots of them, got some great photographs when the Waxwings decided it was feeding time and came down to the trees beside the river.

It was such a nice day so on the way home I decided to stop off at Rhudlan Nature Reserve. I’ve had mixed results here with wildlife photography so I wasn’t hoping for much. Wonderful, a Cormorant in the pool, drying it’s wings and silhouetted against a low-lying sun. But how frustrating. I can’t really see the head and the sun is playing havoc with the colours.  Not only that the wind has started to get stronger and it’s cold down by the pond despite the sun being out. Hung around for about 30 minutes but that Cormorant never changed position, always facing away from me.

Cormorant

Seen as I’m out and it’s still not too bad a day I decided to visit Big Pool Wood as well. There had been reports of Kingfishers and Siskins putting in appearances, might as well see if there’s anything about. Now to get to Big Pool Wood you have to walk along the side of an Equestrian Centre. The path was so chewed up with horses passing back and forwards along it that it was just a slippery, muddy mess. Just as well I had put my boots on. So settling down in the cold hide I waited for the Kingfisher to appear…..and waited ….and waited.

I did however catch a Robin, but frustratingly it’s only got one leg (the other one is almost hidden by the Robin’s body) and there’s also a big bit of stick obscuring part of the tail.

Robin

Maybe I’ll have better luck with this little, err, what is it? My bird identification is not that great but I finally worked out this must be a Coal Tit. Lovely little bird. Of the twenty photographs I shot, this was the only one I could use. They really are nervous, dart onto a branch, sit for a second, dart to the feeders, quick peck and away.

Coal Tit

Now then. Blue Tit or Great Tit?

Blue Tit

Finally something different, a Dunnock with a twig sticking out of it’s rear end.

Dunnock

Yep! I’m convinced bird photography is too much of a malarkey for me. I’d much rather be out there in the hills, getting some good exercise and fresh air. Besides which, hills, mountains and streams are nice and big, they don’t move, well the streams do, but that’s a minor detail, and as I’m walking about I keep warm.

Coming next week. “Snowdonia National Park In All It’s Winter Glory”. That’s assuming we get some winter weather between now and next week because right now I don’t think there’s any snow on them there mountains.