Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

The last of our summer visitors have gone and whilst it’s been fun having them we need to get ready for our vacation at the end of the month. Meanwhile I need to get this weeks challenge article written and as usual I’m late.

In Conwy there is a house so small it’s been classified as the smallest house in Britain. No one lives in it now, it’s mainly a tourist attraction which attracts a lot of visitors and , as you can guess, gets photographed a lot.

The Smallest House

It’s not the white one at the side , that’s a completely different house, it’s just that little red one……….

Smallest House

…..and just to give you an idea of how small, here it is with people in the photograph.

The Smallest House

That’s it for this week. Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge

Mr H Narrow minded…
Simply Photos Tightening Trail
Sara Doolittle
Weekly Photo Challenge-Narrow
Narrow- Weekly Photo Challenge – Sunni Buchanan Photography
Third Person Travel Narrow
Path of Self Discovery – Girl With A Tripod
Solfatara Entrance – Geriatri’x’ Fotogallery
Danny’s Photographs Narrow
Julie Powell – Photographer & Graphic Artist Weekly Photo Challenge – Narrow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry On Top

I suppose that “Cherry On Top” moment for me was when I realised how beautiful the Snowdonia National Park was and the amazing photo opportunities I could have there. Having moved from Somerset it was nearly a year before I first ventured into Snowdonia.

Ogwen Valley

This was the first photograph I ever took in the National Park on a cold winters day, late in the afternoon. I’ve lost count of the number of photography trips I’ve made to this and the surrounding areas but it never ceases to inspire me.

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

Cherry on Top – My Life as Kate
The Final Touch of a Little Red Elephant – From Hiding to Blogging
The Reluctant Photographer Cherry on Top
Weekly Photo Challenge- Cherry on Top
My Photographic Life Cherry On Top~End of the Week
Mindfulness through a lens WPC- Cherry On Top
Spirit of Dragonflies WPC – Cherry On Top
Isadora Art and Photography Latte – Desserts and a Cherry on Top
Day-To-Day Photography Farmyard Decoration
Photoessayist The Blog Pink Ball Of A Cherry

Find My EPIC

Yes it’s me. I’ve found my EPIC #FindYourEpic. As part of a tourism initiative to get visitors into the area a large sign measuring four metres high by eleven metres wide was fixed to a hillside at Pen-y-Gwryd in the Snowdonia National Park. The sign is mirrored and has the word EPIC. Visitors were encouraged to share their images of the letters on social media using #FindYourEpic. Now here’s the thing, the National Park gets enough visitors as it is in the summer time so it hardly needs more, especially in that area.

There has been a mixed reception to the sign, some people like it, others say it spoils an area that has some beautiful scenery. Fortunately it’s not staying long as the sign is due to me moved somewhere else in Wales tomorrow

Find My Epic
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 12-40mm f2.8 PRO, 1/1250s at f3.5, ISO 200 #FindYourEpic

Knowing it was going tomorrow and despite heavy rain being predicted for all day it seemed a shame to miss getting a photograph. So off we went into the National Park to find it. Now knowing where it is and actually finding it in low-lying cloud are a different thing. Ten minutes before this photograph was taken, the road you can see in the background was shrouded in a thick mist and we were having trouble following the road. Fortunately the cloud started to lift and by the time we parked up, got the camera gear out, we could just see the sign on the hill through the mist.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

After a busy week with two days on the Mach Loop photographing low flying military aircraft it’s time to settle down to something more sedate for this week challenge. I thought I’d start with another low flyer, this time a Damsel Fly.

Damsel Fly
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 40-150/4.0-5.6 R, 1/250s at f5.6, ISO 200

Although not truly a macro photograph my lens has got close enough to show the detail on the wings. And now for something completely different. A beautiful Pond Lily and if you look close enough you can see a bug on it.

Pond lily
Olympus OM-D E-M1, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO, 1/60s at f6.3, ISO 200

This is slightly different. Walking through the Newborough Forest I came upon these flowers. I was searching for Red Squirrels which seemed to have suddenly become very camera-shy. No idea what they are but I liked the clusters of white and the shape.

Wild Flowers
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 40-150/4.0-5.6 R, 1/16s at f7.1, ISO 100

Another one I found in the forest. Once again not a macro but a very good close-up. You can see the fine hairs on the buds.

Wild Flower
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 40-150/4.0-5.6 R, 1/100s at f7.1, ISO 100

Well that’s it for this week. Wednesday I’m changing my broadband supplier so there’s a fair chance I’ll be experiencing disruption over this week as things are prepared prior to the change-over. Call it co-incidence but over the last few days I have noticed that my broadband speed has slowly been decreasing and things really are slowing up. I wonder why?

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

tybeetabby There Be Dragons
shakibaphotography Details-Bologna
Thiksey Monastery,Leh. – GalleryofScape
Ponderosa Trees – Listening For Thunder
My Wild Australia WP Weekly Photo Challenge – Details
Pink Tulip Orchids – Steve Grundy Photography
A Certain Slant of Light Photography Feathered Glory
Spirit of Dragonflies WPC – Details
DAVID OAKES -IMAGES. Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Detail (2)
WPC- Details – gottatakemorepix

A Visit To The Mach Loop LFA7

A lot has been said elsewhere about the Mach Loop so I’ll keep this short. It’s an area in Wales where military aircraft practice low-level flying through several valleys. So if you can get high enough you will be at the same height or maybe even higher than the aircraft transiting through the loop. Of course, being military, there’s no public schedule of when an aircraft is likely to go through, so it’s a case of get there early, stay late, be prepared for hours of inactivity and then sudden bursts of activity. . This means you have to carry enough food and water to sustain yourself while you wait. Of course being Wales, you must also be prepared for changing weather conditions as well.

The Valley
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/1250s at f4.2, ISO 200

Our plan for the two days we would be in this area was to photograph from CAD West, the right hand side of this photograph and the following day use CAD East on the opposite side of the valley. CAD West allows you to photograph the cockpit side of the aircraft as they fly through, but during the morning you are shooting into the sun which can cause problems with shadows. From CAD East you will see the underside of the aircraft but you don’t have the same problems with the sun until late afternoon.

Right, let’s get the aircraft in…if only it were that easy. We waited from 8:30 until about 12 before the first aircraft, a Tornado from the Royal Air Force, came through. Not unusual, to wait that time and then you have to be quick with the camera. These aircraft fly fast and from seeing them enter until they fly away, you’ve probably got about 10 seconds but cut that in half for the real close-ups.

Tornado
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/1600s at f5.6, ISO 200

However if you are lucky enough to get a “Fat Albert”, Hercules C130 you’ve got all the time in the world.

Fat Albert
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/800s at f4.4, ISO 200

Yep! We’re higher than he is. Oh! I love these, they’re so easy to photograph.

Our next low flyer was this juvenile bird. I think it’s a Wheatear but regular readers will know my bird identification skills have never been that great. Anyway this little guy kept flying close to all the photographers. He was looking for any scraps of food we would drop. Quick dash, scoop it up and then fly back to the fence to wait for the next titbit.

Wheatear
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/640s at f5.6, ISO 200

Did I mention we were on the side of that hill on the hottest day of the year so far. Temperatures soared to 30C – 90F which meant we had to carry more water and make sure we were well covered in sunscreen. Factor 50 for me, I’m a “peely wally” Scot.  This phrase is often used to describe the Scottish complexion but alabaster or ivory might be more complimentary. In other words I burn when exposed to the sun. And another thing from the car-park to our location is a climb of approximately 100m – 328ft. Doesn’t seem much but the last part is a steep climb at about a 45 degree angle, even early in the morning it was hot work.

Anyway I digress, back to the aircraft…

Hawk T2
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/800s at f5.6, ISO 200

Next to come through was a Hawk from RAF Valley, it’s the two-seater version and I caught this one just as he banked to come through the gap.

CAD East
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/640s at f5.6, ISO 200

I wonder if the guys up on CAD East got that one. That’s there we’re going the next day. Looks hot up there as well.

After that little flurry of activity it all went quiet and we sat on the hill baking in the sun. Some took to their tents, others just waited it out listening to their scanners for any signs of activity

Waiting
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/2500s at f4, ISO 200

After a couple of hours of waiting, news spread that a Tornado was inbound.

Tornado Swept Wing
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/1000s at F5.6, ISO 200

This boy’s in a hurry, swept wing, he’s not hanging about, that’s for sure. I managed to get this one photograph of him…and the noise. There’s nothing like the sound of a military jet engine in a semi confined space. Sheer joy! After that we decided it was time to get off the hill. We’d run out of water and really needed to re-hydrate, fortunately there was plenty in the car, even if it was going to be warm.

Rather than go home I’d booked a night’s stay at Plas Gwyn a fantastic B+B in he nearby village of Dolgellau. Julie and Jan made us really welcome and if you’re ever in this part of the world I can highly recommend a stay here.

Overnight the expected thunderstorms rolled in, here was heavy rain but our next day started clear and certainly a lot cooler. So after a hearty breakfast at Plas Gwyn we set of for CAD East. Less of a climb today. You can drive up a farm track which will get you near the top of the hill, leaving just a short walk up to a good vantage point overlooking CAD West and the valley. There’s limited parking though and if you go up this route don’t forget to shut the gates and keep the speed low as the sheep and cows roam freely here. Once on the top the view is magnificent.

CAD East
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/500s at F8, ISO 200

There was a lot of low cloud further down the valley but it shouldn’t stop any low-level flying as the aircraft turn as they get over the lake. So it’s just a case of waiting now. There were a few guys up there already and they’re a friendly bunch so while we wait, we chat and listen to the scanners for air activity. But we could see a problem developing, those level clouds were approaching fast and they were starting to look really thick.

The Clouds
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/6400s at f4, ISO 200

Pretty soon we were sitting in the clouds, the temperature had dropped dramatically, but worst of all we could hear aircraft flying above us, for F15’s but they wouldn’t fly low-level through this muck. Even if they had we wouldn’t see them.

Low Cloud
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, 1/380s at f2, ISO 100

Anyway by 2pm it was obvious that this cloud wasn’t going to clear fast, so it was time to call it a day and get off the hill. But when you have no visual landmarks it’s all too easy to get disoriented and go the wrong way. Fortunately, because of continuous use there’s a reasonably well-marked track and a fence line to follow which will get you back to the car park.

I hope you enjoyed this short visit to the Mach Loop with me, Maybe we’ll do it again soon, but not in such hot weather.