Summer! What’s That?

It’s supposed to be summer, here in the northern hemisphere, and my little part of North Wales. Yet, we have been experiencing weather which more resembles winter than summer. June started with rain and low temperatures and then settled down to being quiet. No rain, but equally, not that hot either.

Maybe it’s me but July has seemed wetter than June and the wind has been cold as well.

Which brings me to my photograph. Taken Friday afternoon on a grey windy day just before it started raining, I hope you can appreciate the irony in the photograph?

Bucket and Spade

That’s it. Just a quick photograph….Mike


Weekly Photo Challenge: Half and Half

“My way is better”. “No! Mine is”.  Luminosity Masking, High, Dynamic Range, Post Processing, using Lightroom, using Photoshop, even the settings on your Digital Camera. Each year a new video training course comes out describing new methods of post processing your post photographs. You know the type;  “All new, my post processing techniques for 2013/2014/2015”. They’re out there. All willing to sell you training courses  purporting to be the best thing since sliced bread. I’ve no doubt they may be, in their eyes, but think of this.

If you follow these courses are you going to improve your photography? Probably not. You might improve your post processing, but you’ll adopt the trainers style along the way. What’s wrong with developing your own style of photography?

Your Photograph, Your Look…..

Ok! Rant over. This weeks challenge is to find some photographs that you have taken some time in the past that reflect half and half (excuse the pun). As usual with the Weekly Photo Challenge themes, they’re open to interpretation in many ways.

The Dee estuary is a haven for wildlife, especially wading birds. When the tide goes out, the mud flats are exposed and the birds find plenty to eat. The  estuary attracts migrating birds from other continents who winter /summer in our milder climate.

Mud Flats

Red Shanks are common on both sides of the estuary. Present all the year round,  but during winter there are lots more of them to be seen, many have come from Iceland.


Half of this photograph  shows the new BBC Scotland building in Glasgow. The other half shows the new BBC Scotland building upside down. Amazing!

If I had a picture of two handcuffed criminals being booked, I would cut the picture in half and get five bucks for each. – Weegee , Photojournalism, The Professionals’ Approach by Kenneth Kobre, Betsy Brill

BBC Scotland

Now this is much harder to capture. A Little Egret sitting on another one that looks just like it. Maybe they’re twins. What do you think?

Little Egret

It’s catching…….the Grey Heron is doing the same thing. We’ve got some strange birds here in North Wales.

Double Take

Now we’ve got an Armadillo at it. Well that’s what Glaswegians, residents of the great city of Glasgow, Scotland call this building.

The Armadillo

You may have noticed that my Half and Half seems to be more about Reflections. Maybe, you think this week I didn’t meet the theme challenge. You know when I said  “Your Photograph, Your Look….” , well, I meant the same about my blog. My blog, my photographs, my interpretation of the theme.

Anyway, here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.

52 in 2015 Week 28 High Key

I’ve never been a fan of High Key Photography. To me it just seems over-exposed. But this weeks challenge is High Key so I thought I better give it a proper go.

52 in 2015 Week 28 High Key(2)

One can consider/define the over exposed and under exposed portraits as High Key and Low Key Portraits. – Lakshman Iyer

The first photograph was easy, taken against a grey background of the sky. With a bit of work in Adobe Lightroom I was able to lighten up the background a bit.

Now the next one is completely different. These are flowers growing in my garden. To get the background I stuck a piece of white paper behind the flower before taking the photograph. Nothing fancy, but it works. With the sun almost overhead no shadows to worry about either.

52 in 2015 Week 28 High Key

That’s it for this week. Hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

For this weeks challenge I’m going to return to the Snowdonia National Park and the Glyderau. One of my favourites, it’s a beautiful place to walk and take photographs, even if you are only going as far as Cwm Idwal. Managed by the National Trust, you can see their symbol here.

The Glyderau

A thing is not what you say it is or what you photograph it to be or what you paint it to be or what you sculpt it to be. Words, photographs, paintings, and sculptures are symbols of what you see, think, and feel things to be, but they are not the things themselves. – Wynn Bullock

At the start of the walk, water from the Afon Idwal tumbles over rocks and right away you have a great photo-op.

Afon Idwal

Better still, walk over the bridge and take the photograph from the rocks just to the side of the path. In the winter, when there’s been lots of rain or the snow is melting, the river is a torrent, which throws up spray and mist, so make sure you take something to dry your camera with.

Water Under The Bridge

Once over the bridge follow the clearly marked path, although saying that, it’s not so obvious when the snow has fallen.

Path to Cwm Idwal

Word of caution here. In the winter the path does get icy and it’s very easy to slip and do damage to yourself. When the snow falls it’s treacherous as more and more people walk over it, creating really icy patches. Coming down is worse than going up.

52/2013 Week 4

But saying that, even in the winter it’s beautiful and worth the walk. This is the same waterfall as the second photograph above. It just looks so different with the snow and ice.

Icy Rocks

Back to the summer time again and further up the path. As we start to climb you can see, more clearly, Tryfan, the 15th highest mountain in Wales. Sir Edmund Hillary trained on Tryfan for his ascent of Everest.


The lake you can see in the distance is Llyn Ogwen, one of the most popular lakes in Wales. Maybe because the A5 runs along the side of the lake and  there are several convenient car parks. Anyway, Llyn Ogwen is bordered by high mountains, including Pen yr Ole Wen and Tryfan. compared to many of the Snowdonia lakes it’s quite shallow at only three metres depth. All in all it’s roughly about one mile long and lies at a height of 310 above sea level.

Llyn Ogwen

Talking of Pen Yr Olwen, further up the path to Cwm Idwal you get a really good photo-op of this mountain.

Pen-yr-Olwen Reflections

Not far to go now to Cwm Idwal and the lake. I like this point on the trip up. It’s a good spot to take a breather, Not that the path is that steep but it’s good to stop and take your time to look around before getting to the lake.

Cwm Idwal

Ok we are at the top now. You can walk round the lake, there’s a clearly marked path, or better still, sit and have something to eat and drink. And of course take more photographs.

Slate Bridge

Before setting of to head back down to Ogwen Cottage and the car-park, follow the path to the right and cross the slate bridge. Go through the gate and climb up towards the rock outcrop on your right hand side.  From here you should be able to get a good panorama of Tryfan, Llyn Ogwen, Pen yr Olwen, Nant Francon and the mountain that I can never remember it’s name. Foel-Goch, maybe.

Ogwen Valley Panorama

As Wynn said right at the start of this post, photographs  are only symbols of what you see and feel. But to really experience them you have to get out there, do the walk and take it all in. Don’t you agree?

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

52 in 2015 Week 27 Natural Light

How hard can that be? Natural Light, it’s all around us during the day time. Unless, of course you are in a cold and dark cellar somewhere. Probably not, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Anyway, all I have to do is pick up m camera, step outside, fire off the shutter, and I’ve probably got something I can use. But it’s got to be more than that.

52 in 2015 Week 27 Natural Light

So I waited until the sun was setting, nice and low on the horizon. At this time of the year, when it does, it bathes the bookcase in a nice golden light which later turns a deep red. Perfect and I didn’t even have to leave the house.

Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obtrusive. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

For my next one I did just step outside, into the garden. At this time of the year the Red Hot Poker is in full bloom and the bees love it. As you get closer to the plant you can hear them buzzing as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. Using a zoom lens I decided to play around with the DOF of this one, blurring the background to make the flower stand out. My wife has a saying, “Red and Green should never be seen together”. But I disagree with this one. What do you think?

52 in 2015 Week 27 Natural Light - 2

Well that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

Weekly Photo Challenge: Door

This weeks challenge photographs have a bit of a medieval theme. They are all from old churches or castles that I’ve ben fortunate enough to visit over the years.

St.Margaret’s Church, Bodelwyddan, more commonly know as “The Marble Church” can be seen for many miles in the Vale of Clwyd, Denbighshire, due to it’s tall spire (202 feet – 62 metres). I first saw it whilst travelling along the A55 on my way to the ferry port at Holyhead heading for Ireland. Today I live about 8 miles (13km) from the church so it’s always a good photo opportunity. This side door is always closed but it is quite ornate and although not really medieval  it looks it, what with the figureheads and the metal work on the doors._G101626.jpg

Wells cathedral in Somerset was begun about 1175, that’s about 840 years ago. Down in the crypt I found this magnificent old door. It looks old, just look at the construction and the lock. Is it medieval? Who knows? I’d like to think so, but you can never be sure because the Victorians carried out a lot of renovation work to our cathedrals and churches.Ornate Door

Caernarfon Castle in Wales is certainly medieval. From sometime in the 11th century until about 1283 there was a motte-and-bailey castle built by the Normans, but it was replaced by the stone castle that stands today.

In 1282 relationships between England and Wales deteriorated and war broke out in March of that year. Edward the first, king of England marched through North Wales, capturing castles along the way, finally establishing his own at Conwy. The last castle captured by Edward was Dolbadarn in May 1283. Shortly after this Edward began constructing impressive stone castles at Harlech, and Caernarfon. Along with other castles that Edward constructed these helped establish English rule over the Welsh. Once again, I’m not sure about the door. It looks old but I don’t think it’s the original.

Caernarfon Castle

A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.’ – Sam Haskins

Secret Garden

Just thought I’d lighten it up a bit. I’ve always loved that joke. It sort of sums up some people’s attitude to photography.

Anyway, in the photograph above is another door, well sort of. The door is actually gone, instead it’s been replaced by bricks. I wonder what’s behind….and why use that particular pattern?

A lot of my early work, especially the reflections, was about what I call the surrealism of everyday life…picking out the strangeness in the world we live in. Those doors are doors that could lead you to other worlds, or what is behind what is in front of you. – Stephanie Torbert

Most cathedrals and church that I have visited seem to have alternate doors. They’re never open, rubbish piles up and quite often the entrance is overgrown, especially in the smaller churches who don’t maintain the graveyards. This door is located at the  side of the cathedral and is very simple compared to the main entrance.

Side Door

Now my next door is another one of those that has been going some time but I’m sure not as far back as 1300. Saint Hilary’s Church, originally named the Garrison Chapel, was built to serve as the towns chapel. All that survives is the tower, standing on a green just below Denbigh Castle,

Tower Door

That’s it for this weeks challenge…here’s what others are saying about the challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

Since moving to North Wales there are two places I’m drawn to constantly for photography. One is the Ogwen Valley in the Snowdonia National Park. I never tire of the ever-changing scenery. Sure the mountains, rivers and lakes are fixed, they never change, but weather, the seasons and lighting conditions make for different photographs every time I visit.

But I suppose my first choice would be Talacre with the lighthouse, salt marshes and nature reserve. Did you know it’s the most northerly point of mainland Wales? So here we go with this weeks photo challenge. I’ve got a few photographs to show you so sit back and relax.

Talacre Sunrise

Over the years I have been photographing at Talacre, sunsets have been the main subject along with the lighthouse. But just occasionally I have managed to catch a sunrise like the one in the photograph above. This was one of those lucky ones. Sunrise can be so unpredictable, unlike sunsets. For one you don’t know if your going to get one. You get up early in the morning only to find it’s raining or maybe cloudy. Whereas with a sunset you can usually see it developing as the sun goes down. For my next photograph I was lucky again. I was getting ready to set the camera up for a long exposure when this dog walked into the frame. Fortunately I had already attached the remote control  so I was able to focus and fire off a shot before it ran off again

The Dog

I don’t think you can create luck. You’re either lucky or you’re not. I don’t know if it’s really luck or if it’s just curiosity. I think the main ingredient, or a main ingredient for photography is curiosity. If you’re curious enough and if you get up in the morning and go out and take pictures, you’re likely to be more lucky than if you just stay at home. – Elliott Erwitt

The next photograph certainly wasn’t lucky. I planned to be on the beach, I knew I was going to get a sunset of sorts and as the sun set over the mountains it started to light up the clouds with a beautiful golden glow. It’s winter time and I almost have the beach to myself. Can you spot him? A lone figure on the beach. Alone, that is, apart from me.

Orange Glow

Talacre isn’t all about the lighthouse and sunsets though. It’s a renowned high tide roost and in the salt marsh, which is open and wild, you’ll find a huge variety of bird species. As the tide comes in the roosting birds are forced further up the salt marsh bringing them closer to the hide

Talacre Bird Reserve

Here are just two, a Curlew and a Red Shank. Can you guess why it’s called a Red Shank?

Red Shank and Curlew

I photograph all my birds and animals in the wild, in their natural environment. Some photographers will cut branches from nearby trees and bolt them to a small table. They’ll then put food at the bottom of the branches and sit back, behind a blind, with a long lens, and wait. To me, that may be bird photography, but it isn’t wildlife photography. – David Young

For some reason or other Talacre gets a lot of driftwood washed up on the beach, from large trees to small branches. It’s always good to find something like that on the beach as it makes the photograph more interesting, especially if you include it as foreground interest.

Driftwood on Talacre

In most photographs you will see of Talacre there are wide sandy beaches. But when the tide comes the beach disappears and water laps at the sand dunes. Can you see the driftwood that’s been brought in? Admittedly this was a particularly high spring tide, often the tide never reaches the dunes, just leaving a small strip of sand and stones to walk along…..

High Tide At Talacre

…..and when the tide goes out we get the beach back again, often with pools of water left behind. Great for reflections. Just to give you an idea of how high that tide can be. Look at the photograph above where the steps up to the lighthouse are covered. Compare it to the photograph below. The stone blocks to the left of the lighthouse are about 1.25 metres (4ft) high, the steps easily 3 metres (10ft). Tides can vary in depth depending on the phases of the moon but this coming Saturday we have a higher than normal one. Still not the highest we’ve experienced but with High Tide at 9.15metres (30ft), and Low Tide at 0.87 metres (2.85ft), I expect there won’t be much beach to see as the tide comes racing in.

Talacre Lighthouse

I started with a sunrise and for my final muse photograph I’d like to leave you with a sunset. Look back to the first photograph, see how the steps are on the right hand side of the lighthouse, whereas they’re on the left in my sunset. I much prefer sunsets. The quality of light is so much better and even when the sun goes down below the horizon there are still some great photo opportunities to be had.

It is light that reveals, light that obscures, light that communicates. It is light I “listen” to. The light late in the day has a distinct quality, as it fades toward the darkness of evening. After sunset there is a gentle leaving of the light, the air begins to still, and a quiet descends. I see magic in the quiet light of dusk. I feel quite, yet intense energy in the natural elements of our habitat. A sense of magic prevails. A sense of mystery. It is a time for contemplation, for listening – a time for making photographs. – John Sexton

Talacre Lighthouse

Finally I’d like to leave you with this final quote…..

You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either. – Galen Rowell

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