Autumn Colours

Autumn Is Here

Autumn has finally arrived in my little part of the world. It’s one of my favourite times of the year, only matched by Spring.

Autumn for me is when colour really comes into the landscape. Sure Spring has a lot to offer but the beautiful reds, yellows and oranges of Autumn far surpass anything produced by Spring. Where better to see it than they Gwydyr Forest which is located in Conwy county borough and the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. It takes its name from the ancient Gwydir Estate, established by the John Wynn family of Gwydir Castle, which owned this area.

Golden Valley

Occupying an undulating plateau and reaching to between 700 and 1,000 feet (210 and 300 m) above sea level, the forest is divided by the valleys of the rivers Llugwy, Lledr, and Machno, all of which are tributaries of the River Conwy.

Within the forest there are numerous lakes including Llyn Geirionydd which lies in a valley where the northern edge of the Gwydyr Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains.

Autumn Colours

Llyn Geirionydd is the only stretch of water in Snowdonia where it is permitted to use power boats or water ski. In all the times I have visited I’ve only ever seen these canoes on the lake.

The lake can be reached by car from Trefriw or Llanrwst in the Conwy valley, the lane passing through the hamlet of Llanrhychwyn, or from the road through the Gwydyr Forest. Access is not particularly easy by either route.

Orange Glow

On a small hill overlooking Llyn Geirionydd stands the Taliesin Monument, which commemorates the sixth century Welsh bard, Taliesin (c. 534 – c. 599), the earliest poet of the Welsh language whose work has survived. He was chief bard in the courts of at least three kings of Britain, and is associated with the Book of Taliesin, a text from the tenth century containing his poems. He lived in the area, mainly on the shores of Llyn Geirionydd, where he is also stated to be buried.

The Taliesin Monument

Descending from Llyn Geirionydd, heading for Llanwrst and Betwys-y-Coed (don’t you just love the Welsh place names, I know I do),  I came across this newly formed lake. It wasn’t there in the summer but now that the rains are starting to fall it has appeared. Seemed like a good photo opportunity……too good to miss.

Lakeside Colours

Betws-y-Coed was founded around a monastery in the late sixth century. The village lies in the Snowdonia National Park, in a valley near the point where the River Conwy is joined by the River Llugwy and the River Lledr.

In the centre of the village the Pont-y-Pair Falls cascade over rocks and under a bridge, best time to see the falls is after rain and on a fine day.

Now the good thing about these falls is they are free to view. There’s a small car-park nearby (50 pence/1 Hour) which gets busy at the weekend, so if you can, visit during the week.

Just a little upstream from the falls there is a small picnic area where you can sit and watch the river pick up speed as it heads towards the falls.


This will probably be my last landscape photography post for a while. Over the next few weeks I will be concentrating on trying to perfect my bird photography technique, something I really need to improve. I’ll also be working on resurrecting my digital artwork, incorporating some of my photographs and stock images, through the medium of Photoshop.

Mr Grumpy Visits Llyn Geirionydd

Mr Grumpy Visits Llyn Geirionydd

Mr Grumpy Visits Llyn Geirionydd

Mr Grumpy knows my routine better than I do. So when I started packing my camera gear this morning he knew I was going out for the day. Never one to miss out on a chance to get in a  photo shoot he parked himself by the door and gave me those Big Brown Eyes.

My plan had been to visit Talacre Bird Reserve. With a higher than normal tide and off-shore winds there was a good chance I would get some good photographs of visitors to the marshes as they were forced closer to the shore by the rising water.

All Change! Mr Grumpy likes fresh mountain air and somewhere where there are lots of trees that he can lift his leg to. If there are sheep around that’s an added bonus, because he can fall asleep in the back of the car dreaming about them.

Girl in Blue

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie (Again)

After the Red Monk I decided to have another go at putting together something Eerie for the challenge. Only this time not so dark.

The background choice was pretty easy this time as I had a photograph of three trees in a foggy field that I knew I could play with.

Girl in Blue

The next step was to get a subject and for this one I used a stock image from PersephoneStock on deviantART. The model was against a background of trees and bushes. For my image I wanted her isolated and that’s where one of my favourite Photoshop plugins comes in. Topaz ReMask allows me to extract bits of an image to use elsewhere. In this case just the model.

Using Photoshop Brushes I added the birds and the lightning. You know I think the lightning is too much. Maybe I could have done without it. What do you think?

To darken the image I used I used two textures from Shadowhouse Creations. Jerry creates some amazing textures which he freely makes available. If you are thinking of using textures in your artwork check out his amazing stuff and try his tutorials.

Of course there’s more to this image than the steps I just described, blending layers, cropping, resizing and most importantly my imagination all had a part to play in putting this together.


The Red Monk

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Occasionally I get in the mood to dabble with Photoshop and this weeks challenge seemed like a good time to have a go. Of course it could also be that with all the high winds and heavy rain we’ve been having I haven’t set foot outside the door with the camera. However……

The Red Monk

It’s a bit dark this one but in keeping with eerie I wanted to make it that way. I started off with a photograph of Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters, trust me it is there in the background, not obvious, but it’s there.  Often when I start something like this I will try different things, sometimes just letting my imagination run wild. Originally there was a map behind the monk and then I changed it for a clock. The monk replaced a wood nymph… get the idea, I hope.

Now I don’t have a ready stock of model photographs on tap so I am indebted to “Marcus J Ranum” for making his models freely available for use. I’d also like to thank “dead-brushes” for the use of the clock brushes for Photoshop. Both can be found on Deviant Art.


Mr Grumpy Does Halloween

Mr Grumpy Does Halloween

I’m old fashioned so tonight is Halloween, none of this new fangled “Trick or Treat” in our house. Mr Grumpy is a dog that likes to keep up with the times so he’s got his costume on ready for tonight when he can go out guising.

Mr Grumpy Does Halloween

In Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins  – is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going “guising” around the neighbourhood.

When I was a child living in Scotland we went out at Halloween dressed up for the occasion. We designed our own costumes, none of these off the peg ones you can buy in stores nowadays. The cry was “Anything for Halloween” when knocking at someone’s door and we had to tell a joke or sing a song to get our treat, Usually an apple, a small orange, a sweet, or if we really struck lucky a penny or two.

The idea of playing a trick wasn’t even considered……