Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

For personal reasons I’ve been kind of quiet recently and not published too many posts, but hopefully by the end of next week I should be able to get back on track. The choice for  this weeks challenge reminds me of one of those great photography jokes that always seem to pop up now and again.

A photographer from a well know national magazine was assigned to cover the fires at Yellowstone National Park. The magazine wanted to show some of the heroic work of the fire fighters as they battled the blaze. When the photographer arrived, he realized that the smoke was so thick that it would seriously impede or make it impossible for him to photograph anything from ground level. He requested permission to rent a plane and take photos from the air. His request was approved and arrangements were made. He was told to report to a nearby airport where a plane would be waiting for him. He arrived at the airport and saw a plane warming up near the gate. He jumped in with his bag and shouted, “Let’s go!” The pilot swung the little plane into the wind, and within minutes they were in the air. The photographer said, “Fly over the park and make two or three low passes so I can take some pictures.” “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I am a photographer,” he responded, “and photographers take photographs.” The pilot was silent for a moment; finally he stammered, “You mean you’re not the flight instructor?”

I’m sure you’ve probably heard it or something very similar? Anyway to this weeks challenge. Accompanied by my able-bodied assistant and tripod carrier we set off for Parys Mountain on Saturday. Weather wise we had dark clouds, strong winds and the threat of rain. Perfect.


Parys Mountain – in the Welsh language Mynydd Parys – is located south of the town of Amlwch in north-east Anglesey, Wales. It is the site of a large open cast copper mine that was extensively exploited in the late 18th century. However, there is evidence that the mountain was first mined for copper ore over 4000 years ago in the Bronze Age, Parys Mountain is thus one of the few sites in Britain where there is evidence for the prehistoric beginnings of the British metal mining industry. Nowadays there is a way marked trail around the mountain, giving views of Amlwch Port to the north and the nearby Trysglwyn wind farm to the south.

The Warning Notice at one of the entrances to the mine is quite clear.

Upon entering these premises you consent that Anglesey Mining plc and the occupier of these premises will accept no liability for any loss or damage caused.
Entry is at your own risk.

It’s a cover all statement and as long as you stick to the way marked paths there shouldn’t be any problem. This really is a boots area and in the winter wear warm clothing, Parys Mountain trail is rocky, open and exposed to the elements and there’s almost no shelter…..and Anglesey is known for the winds that blow there.

Our objective was to reach the abandoned windmill tower on top of the hill, but on the way we were going to stop to take some photographs.


The bare heavily mined landscape, with predominant red, yellow and orange colour, gives the mountain a strange appearance which has been used in the filming of several science fiction films and television shows,

Due to the high level of soil contamination little plant life survives on or near the mountain, but there are a number of examples of copper-tolerant plants and bacteria.


Parys Mountain dominated the world’s copper market during the 1780s, when the mine was the largest in Europe. Its rise severely damaged the mining industry in Cornwall. The copper from the mine was used to sheath the British Admiralty‘s wooden ships of war, to prevent the growth of seaweed and barnacles and to protect the wood from attack by shipworms. This increased the speed and manoeuvrability of the vessels, and enabled them to remain at sea for longer as there was less need to return to port for maintenance.

By 1901 production had dropped dramatically and the mine was producing only copper and ochre from the pits. Production carried on for another twenty years, until 1921, when the receivers were called in, effectively meaning that the mine had ceased production.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

I was thinking about this weeks challenge and wondering what to submit. There are many things I treasure, some I wouldn’t share, some I would. But one of the things I treasure the photo opportunities I have found with the scenery, wildlife and historical buildings in North Wales.

We have beautiful sandy beaches along our coastline which stretch for miles, and the added bonus of a very photogenic lighthouse, nearby.

Talacre Beach

Talacre Beach is a great place and can be very popular during the summer, but even at it’s busiest it never feels crowded. In the winter time you can spend hours on the beach and if you’re unlucky you might see one or two dog walkers. The lighthouse was built  in 1776 but fell into disuse in 1884. Only 18 metres high, its not big but it’s always a great photo opportunity. The best time to visit Talacre is sunrise or sunset, especially if you want that extra special photograph..

Further along the coast is Prestatyn and when the sun goes down we get some amazing sunsets. If only I’d been at Talacre that evening.

Prestatyn Sunset

But as well as those glorious beaches we have some great mountain ranges and lakes. They may not be the highest, but they are certainly rugged and a walkers dream.


Cwm Idwal is a hanging valley in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern part of the Snowdonia National Park. Its main interest is to hill walkers and rock climbers, but it is also of interest to geologists and naturalists, given its combination of altitude (relatively high in UK terms), aspect (north-facing) and terrain (mountainous and rocky). In a 2005 poll conducted by Radio Times, Cwm Idwal was ranked the 7th greatest natural wonder in Britain.

Llyn Idwal

Of course almost anywhere you go in North Wales, you will see sheep. Lots of them. Sheep farming is important to the economy of Wales. Much of Wales is rural countryside and sheep are a very common feature in the landscape throughout the country.

Welsh Lamb

Sheep farms are most often situated in the country’s mountains and moorlands, where sheepdogs are employed to round-up flocks. Sheep are also reared, however, along the south and west coasts of Wales. I read recently that there are  more than 11 million sheep in Wales and that sheep farming accounted for 20% of agriculture in Wales. Maybe that’s why in surveys with tourists to North Wales, the sheep are always the first thing they mention.

In some areas of North Wales, especially the Carneddau, Mountains you can find Welsh ponies which roam free and have done for years and years. The ponies go back to Celtic times and form the gene pool for many different breeds of horses in England and Wales.

Welsh Pony

Talking of horses leads me nicely to Harlech Castle. Can’t see the link? Let me explain.

Harlech Castle is a medieval fortification, constructed atop a spur of rock close to the Irish Sea. It was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282 and 1289.

Have you got the link yet?

Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars, withstanding the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn between 1294–95, but falling to Owain Glyndŵr in 1404.

During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians for seven years, before Yorkist troops forced its surrender in 1468, a siege memorialised in the song Men of Harlech.

If you still haven’t got the link, here it is. King Edward 1 was a knight as well as a king. Knights rode horses into war. I know, I know,,,,,it’s tenuous at best, but hey it’s my lead in.

Harlech Castle

UNESCO considers Harlech to be one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”, and it is classed as a World Heritage site. So we move on from a great big castle to a small house. Actually the smallest house in Great Britain or so it’s claimed.

The Smallest House

The Smallest House in Great Britain, also known as the Quay House, is a tourist attraction on the quay in Conwy, Wales. The house, which has a floor area of 3.05 metre by 1.8 metre (10 feet by 6 feet) and a height of 3.1 metre (10 feet 2 inches) to the eaves, was used as a residence from the 16th century until 1900; as its name indicates, it is reputed to be Britain’s smallest house…..

…..and so from one type of house to another. Pentrefoelas church was designed in the late 1850s by Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most celebrated architects of Victorian Britain. He incorporated the south transept, of 1774, from the earlier church on this site.

Pentrefoelas church

Pentrefoelas church is noted for its stained-glass windows and a challenge for visitors is to spot the strawberry hidden in one of the windows. Some of the windows are by the noted stained-glass specialist Sir Ninian Comper (1864-1960).

That wraps it up for this week and I hope you enjoyed the treasure that we are lucky to have here in North Wales.

I leave you with this. Could you live in the smallest house?


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Who Is Saint Valentine?

Today is February 14th and I don’t suppose there are many people who don’t know that today is Saint Valentine‘s Day, also known as Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. Although it’s not a holiday it is celebrated in many countries around the world.


St. Valentine’s Day began as a celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies.


A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.


The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“).


Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Years ago I bought a collection of greetings cards from the Victorian Era which included, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, 4th July and Valentines. All of them had been digitised and sold as stock photographs which I have used in some of my posts. I hope you like the ones I have used.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

English: The first photographic portrait image...

English: The first photographic portrait image of a human ever produced. “Robert Cornelius, head-and-shoulders [self-]portrait, facing front, with arms crossed”, approximate quarter plate daguerreotype, 1839 or Nov.. LC-USZC4-5001 DLC Also see: Library of Congress, American Memory, complete source description. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Selfies came to prominence in the early 2010’s when improvements in design – especially the addition of front-facing cameras – started to appear in Smartphones.

Therefore it was no surprise that in 2013 Oxford Dictionaries announced that selfie, meaning  a type of self-portrait photograph, had been chosen as the word of the year.

But selfies were nothing new, In the early 2000s, before Facebook became the dominant online social network, self-taken photographs were particularly common on MySpace and Flickr.

Even further back Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself, in 1839,  which was also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. He recorded on the back “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839

Selfie as a word seems to originate on September 13th 2002 in an Australian Internet Forum – ABC Online

Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie

The debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box camera in 1900 led to photographic self-portraiture becoming a more widespread technique. The method was usually by mirror and stabilizing the camera either on a nearby object or on a tripod while framing via a viewfinder at the top of the box.

Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna at the age of 13 was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. In the letter that accompanied the photograph, she wrote,

“I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling.”

Now to my selfie – I’m not a great one for self-portraits. I prefer to be behind the camera not in front. Annie Leibovitz was once asked by Ingrid Sischv “Did she ever think about doing a self-portrait”? Her response sort of sums up my feelings about self-portraits or selfies….

I think self-portraits are very difficult. I’ve always seen mine as straightforward, very stripped down, hair pulled back. No shirt. Whatever light happened to be available. I’d want it to be very graphic – about darkness and light. No one else should be there, but I’m scared to do it by myself. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. The whole idea of a self-portrait is strange. I’m so strongly linked to how I see through the camera that to get to the other side of it would be difficult. It would be as if I were taking a photograph in the dark

So finally,  here’s my selfie

Weekly Photo Challenge - Selfie

That’s me, it’s graphic, about dark and light. I’m on my own on the beach using the last light of the setting sun. It was mid-winter so too darn cold to strip my shirt off and unlike Annie I don’t have any hair to pull back. But I think I’ve managed to achieve the essence of a self portrait as described by Annie. What do you think?

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