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.
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
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.
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
My mailbox is full. Just under 400 messages from WordPress in the space of a couple of days with comments on “It’s A Kind Of Magic” and new followers to “Say It With A Camera”. It’s going to take me some time to catch up with all of your comments and have a look at my new followers blogs.
So I’d like to thank you all for your kind comments and follows and I promise over the next week I will get round to replying and visiting your blogs.
In the meantime I’d like to show you some photographs from an area that I have the fortune to have in my back yard – the Snowdonia National Park. It’s such a beautiful and wild place to visit, yet easily accessible and because of this it is difficult to find areas where you can be truly alone. This photograph of Pen-Yr-Ole-Wen (that’s the mountains name, looks remote and yet at the bas of the mountain lies one of the busy main roads through the national park.
In the park you will find sheep, lots of them, Wales is well-known for it’s sheep farming, feral goats and these lovely little Welsh Ponies. Most of the year they live higher up on the slopes of the mountains but once the snows come they start to come lower down into the valleys which makes them more easy to photograph. Although most of the year they live quite wild I have found they are pretty friendly, you can even stroke them as long as you take it slow and easy. Of course like all wild animals you just have to be careful.
Throughout the park you will find evidence of abandoned dwellings from the 18/19th century, maybe earlier in some cases. These are left over from when sheep farmers had small holdings and lived a very simple way of life.
That’s it and I will get round to everything this week – Mike
Being mainly a landscape photographer I really applaud the choice for this weeks challenge. And to celebrate I went out and photographed some fresh landscapes from one of my favourite areas in the Snowdonia National Park: the Ogwen Valley and Cwm Idwal. Easy to get to, a well constructed path leads up from the car park at the side of a main road to the shore of the Idwal lake. Along the way you get some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Like the photograph below showing Tryfan which forms part of the Glyderau group. Although not the highest mountain in Wales by any means, it is one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain, but at 917.5 m (3,010 ft) above sea level it is only the fifteenth highest mountain in Wales.
Now Pen yr Ole Wen, on the opposite side of the Ogwen Valley to Tryfan, is the seventh highest mountain in Snowdonia and Wales and forms part of the Carneddau range.
Down in the Ogwen Valley lies Llyn Ogwen which lies at a height of about 310 metres above sea level. Llyn Ogwen is a very shallow lake, with a maximum depth of only a little over 3 metres. In the photograph below yu can see Llyn Ogwen, Tryfan to your right, Pen yr Ole Wen to your left and the path coming up from the car park. It’s a popular walk and probably one of the easiest in Snowdonia. Even on a weekday you can see quite a few people are heading up to Cwm Idwal which is behind me.
Cwm Idwal is a valley in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern Snowdonia, within the valley lies a small lake called Llyn Idwal. That lake drains down to the Afon Ogwen by a small river which tumbles over rocks all the way to the base of the Ogwen Valley
Other small tributaries come down from the mountains but eventually they all end up at the Afon Ogwen.
All the while I was up at Cwm Idwal, the light kept changing as did the weather. A little bit of sleet, some hail, sunny patches, but hey, this is Snowdonia and we are in the mountains. But look at the light. Some great patches of light and shade, constantly changing, what more could I ask for.
That wraps it up for this week and as usual here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.
The Photographer Smiled… Polder View
Wednesday Lensday- Sunshine and Solitude – Aloada Bobbins
Claire Rosslyn Wilson Fishing Rods
Dr D in Oz Outback Trio
Elizabatz Gallery Weekly Photo Challenge- Irish Landscapes in Psykopaint
Maria Jansson Photography Amazing Places in Northern California- McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial
Weekly Photo Challenge- Landscape – Sky Blue Pink Design
Rebecca Gillum Photography I Love Rainstorms
Beyond the Brush Photography Dalveen Pass
Weekly Photo Challenge- Landscape – Connie’s World
Each year I look forward to the snow falling in the National Park. For me as a photographer it adds something new to the ever-changing landscape and makes me want to get out there and photograph it. Of course it’s not as simple as that. Falling snow is not good for the animals that live in the park, nor do the farmers welcome it, especially if we have blizzard conditions. However at the lower levels it’s still not too bad. so with my photography buddy Adrian Evans, I set off to the Ogwen Valley with the hope of catching some snow. The Ogwen Valley and surrounding area is probably my favourite spot in the National Park for two reasons. It has waterfalls, mountains, rivers, some nice wooden bridges, stone ones as well, lots of sheep, sometimes wild ponies – only when the snow is heavy and best of all it’s easily accessible with a main road running right through the valley. But first of all I’m going to start off in Nant Ffrancon.
Nant Ffrancon is a steep-sided glacial valley dropping to Bethesda between the Glyderau and the Carneddau Mountain Ranges. To the left of the photograph above is the start of the Ogwen Valley. There are two roads through the valley, the main trunk road (A5) and the old road built by Lord Penryhn of Penrhyn Castle near Bangor around about 1790 – 1792. This is the old road, it’s my favourite way of getting up to the Ogwen Valley because there are some good photo opportunities on the way and usually you never see anyone except farmers and the park rangers.
Lord Penrhyn’s road was built to allow the easy of movement of slate from his quarries to the shipping point at Port Penrhyn. Nowadays it has a standard road surface and throughout the year it’s usually quite passable. But as you can see from this photograph below, taken in early 2015, it can sometimes become a bit treacherous. Even with 4-wheel drive I couldn’t get past this point. It was just sheer ice with no grip at all.
Still in Nant Ffrancon you can find little waterfalls like this all the way along the valley. Of course at the moment there’s not a lot of water coming down the hillside but you can see from this photograph that the torrent here could be a lot stronger.
Almost at the top of the old road as it enters the Ogwen Valley you can see Pen yr Ole Wen. Wikipedia describes the mountain as the seventh highest in Wales at a height of 978 m (3,209 ft) equal to England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike. You can also see the modern road, the A5, and some Welsh ponies which have freely roamed these mountains for centuries.
From this spot a short walk takes me to the path to the Glyderau and Cwm Idwal, a spot I have visited often before. It’s a nice gentle walk to Cwm Idwal and probably one of the easier ones in the Snowdonia National Park. But even still you have to dress for the conditions or else you put yourself in danger and possibly others as well, who have to come and get you out of trouble.
Would you believe, whilst I was waiting to take the photograph above I saw two idiots, and I will say idiots, walking up the path wearing cotton track suit bottoms and tops, along with trainers with no socks on? Just after that another couple, he was wearing light shoes, she had fashion boots with a heel. Most people using the track were wearing proper outdoor walking gear with boots. Bearing in mind that the further up you go, the more snow you get and the colder it becomes. And it was cold.
Anyway. We decided to leave the Ogwen Valley and head for Capel Curig and the Llanberis Pass, on the way stopping off to photograph Snowdon from a distance. By now the weather was changing with some light sleet starting to fall. With the light rapidly disappearing it was time to head home. So I leave you with this view of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands.
That’s it from me. I’ll be back soon with this weeks WordPress challenge and of course my 52 challenge for next week. Meanwhile here’s what other great WordPress Bloggers are saying about Snowdonia;
Mist and missing Capel Curig – Happy New Year!
Favourite Images 2015 – No. 7
Nant Ffrancon Jaunt
Snowdonia – November 2015
Carnedd Y Gribau, a winter walk to the PyG Hotel
#189 – Snow time in Snowdonia – The Glyderau
Winter comes early on a Snowdon horseshoe
Slate And Stuff
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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