One place I have wanted to visit has been the Anglesey Barracks at Dinorwig Quary in Snowdonia National Park. I’ve seen plenty of other photographers popping in there to take some amazing photos and decided to tick it off my to do list, so armed with plenty of water, snacks and layering up because the weather couldn’t make up its mind, we headed off late in the day in the hope of catching a sunset. We have tried this before but chickened out at the climb but this time we were determined to go, had even google earth’d it to check out the trail but oh my dear gosh, going UP to the barracks is torture!
Both of us have dodgy knees and I have hips that don’t want to play so it took us an age to struggle up the steps and there were parts that had us on our knees but we did it. I’m not sure how long it took but it seemed to be forever, however that first view as you follow the path round was magical. I just sat on a rock for half an hour and took it all in, the light was amazing but created deep shadows so I decided to try creating black and white images first and then when I found a composition I liked changed over to colour. We stayed there for a couple of hours waiting for the non existent sunset, chatted to a couple of fellow photogs and decided to venture back down and I can categorically say it was far easier to go down than it was to go up!
Finally the day arrived and I received my camera back from Nikon fixed and with several new parts and after jumping up and down with joy I set to organising our next trip out to Wales. I had hoped that we would be able to get out before the snow melted and mid March saw us off to Dyffryn Ogwen, the Ogwen Valley, the scene of the crime (the dropped camera), for a chilly day out.
When we arrived at the Ogwen Valley visitors center there were quite a number of intrepid hikers including young people completing their Duke of Edinbrough Gold Award so we decided to walk around Llyn Idwal, a new route for us. It was so pretty with it’s dusting of snow and the other hikers were so friendly it actually took far longer than it should to walk round as we kept stopping to talk to people.
I was on a mission to find a composition I was happy with and took my time finding it, I also wanted to make sure my settings were correct and that my focus was in the right place because I had actually been without my camera for over three months and I had kind of forgotten how to use it, all my settings had been reset too. I can’t say that I didn’t struggle because I did and while the images looked okay on the back of the camera I didn’t think they were all that good when viewed on my computer which was disappointing.
The walk around Cwm Idwal was designated moderate, people of all ages and abilities were walking it on this day and we found it to be a challenge because of dodgy knees and hips but we took our time and stuck to the shorter walk around the edge of the lake but I have to admit to having jelly legs by the time we got back to the car. The last part of the walk was walked in a flurry of fresh snow to our great delight and we, big kids that we are, did not want to go home!
After our last visit to Llanberis and the Lonely tree our sights turned towards other areas of Wales that we hadn’t visited before and this time we chose the Ogwen valley as there seemed to be a lot of interesting photographs coming from that area, it was also half an hour closer to home so we didn’t have to get up so early. Initially when we woke up at stupid o’clock I looked out of the window and saw the rain and just got back into bed but as the morning went on it was decided that ‘why the hell not’ and off we went with hope in our hearts that the weather would be kind and give us a break. Little did we know………
The Ogwen Valley, or Dyffryn Ogwen in Welsh, blew our minds! Part of the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales, this wide glacial valley is surrounded by the most amazing mountains and tucked away are these little lakes with waterfalls, in the rain anyway, as well as historic towns and massive quarries where Slate, Copper, Lead, Zinc and other minerals were mined. We drove through the valley with so many wonderful views but no stopping points and in its autumnal colours, well it was just breathtaking, the colours were rich and saturated and the light was diffuse through the rain, perfect.
When we arrived at the visitors center and youth hostel it was raining, nothing wrong there it had been raining all day off and on, so we had lunch in the car and this is where it was starting to go down hill to one of the worst days ever. To start with the lining of our big flask exploded when it was being filled, so no coffee, that’s number 1. We waited for about half an hour for the rain to go off but it didn’t so struggling into our waterproofs we decided to head out and explore which is where my idea of a walk and Chris’s idea kind of diverged. I wanted the easy route around the lake, he thought I meant the lake to our right not left and took us off that way, it was stunning!
But it was still raining and it was a struggle to walk along the path because who knew there would be so many idiotic people like us walking out in the rain! Hikers, dog walkers, kids on a school trip, all soaking wet and smiling. We were unsure of the path and there was so much to look at, rushing water over rocks, mountains, waterfalls everywhere and we just wanted to stop and drink it all in, in the rain. This is where it gets tricky because here I am big waterproof pants that I had forgotten reached up to my chest and were now pooling around my ankles, new waterproof coat, remember that, camera bag, tripod and new Nikon Z7 mounted on said tripod and I am looking like I don’t know what with a head on a swivel trying to take in the views all at once so I could get the best photos and my new Nikon Z7 flew through the air and crashed onto the stones at my feet, it had detached from the tripod! That’s number two!
Yes my lovely and very expensive camera was on the floor in a puddle, the whole world stood still!
We had made it approximately 400 meters up the damn mountain and I’d broken my lens, the glass was ok but the lens its self looked bent and the focusing ring had a gap on one side, noooooooo! We decided to press on but the shine was gone from the day, I wonder why and yes it was still raining, anyway we made it up to Llyn Idwal and that is where I stalled, emotionally spent and overwhelmed by the view I’d had enough! I took my best photo of the day at the lake but I wanted to go home and cry in the privacy of my own home, in my p’jays, with coffee, warm and dry and as we turned back the sky lightened and the rain started to thin out and the views down the valley stunned my mind. We made it back to the car in one piece, struggled out of our very wet weather gear and to cap off the day found ourselves wet through.
Yes our coats had done a great job but mine in particular had leaked through the arms and the zip and the shoulders and the back, ok it failed spectacularly and it was not a cheap coat, my old waterproof trousers had done a better job of keeping me dry, that’s number three. And it stopped raining as soon as we got into the car! How I wished we had stayed home and I’d had a p’jay day. Anyway, our waterproofs and boots took three days to dry out and my camera was packed up and sent to Nikon for repair all that was left was to look through the photos I had taken and to process the ones I liked the best and here they are for your delectation, I hope you enjoy them.
The summer has come and gone, blue skies are filling with clouds and autumn is bringing with it the hint of a chill and those colours photographers dream of. Autumn or Fall has to be one of the best times of year, golden, red, yellow colours in the trees as they prepare to drop their leaves, fog and mist, maybe a bit of frost, you cant beat it. This is the time when my blood stirs and I have an over powering need to be out in nature with my camera. Bearing in mind my husband and I are well into our fifty’s, so totally not fit and with several full on health conditions between us that doesn’t bode well for walking any kind of distance, so anywhere we do go has to be well researched and not too long a walk. We decided that our first trip out would be to Llanberis in north Wales with an approximate drive of two hours each way and the decision was to go for sunrise.
I usually shoot sunset photos because to put it bluntly I hate getting up early and wasting all that lovely time in my warm bed but I was so excited to be driving off the Wirral that this time I didn’t mind. Picnic lunch and flask of coffee packed, goodbyes said, we drove off into the night chasing the sunrise, our destination, Llyn Padarn, Llanberis which is a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia and is an example of a moraine dammed lake and one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. It is also home to the ‘Lonely Tree’.
As per usual we were late setting off and we literally chased the sunrise arriving at Llyn Padarn just as the best of the colour left the sky. I jumped out of the car and walked as quickly as possible to set up my camera and tripod on the shore, the sky still lingered with beautiful golden light and I managed to take several photographs of the tree backed by the lovely light, then it was gone. We hung around talking to the other photographers for a while, traded some landmarks then over coffee decided where to go next. This trip we visited the lake and found an easy way to the Dinorwic quarry and I have to say that the light streaming down the valley was magnificent! Golden, diffuse light that gave me some spectacular images.
We stopped for some lunch and coffee and a teacake at the lovely Tu Hwnt i’r Bont tea house, we were welcomed very warmly and were soon sat in front of the fire with locally made tea cake and Bara Brith. We went outside to appreciate the red creeper covered house, we had missed the best of the colour by about two weeks i think and had a short walk along the river before heading home.
It was exhausting work driving and mentally exhausting with the emotions that run through me when I am in the situations where there is great light and amazing landscapes, which there were plenty of, it reminded me why I do what I do, the buzz stayed with me for days and editing my photos just kept that buzz going. Posting my work on to social media and seeing it along with the work from other photographers of the same area gave me a quiet glow, so much so that I quietly started researching our next adventure.
Well I didn’t realise that my whole summer would be taken up with a grandchild, how was yours? I had great plans to spend the whole of the summer with my daughter, she is starting university next week and the plan was to do some collaborative art together, however I ended up looking after a five year old full time. I think it is these frustrations that can shake your belief in your creative talent, they certainly do for me. Someone upstairs (God) is throwing things in my way, stopping me from creating and making me be the person I don’t want to be anymore, which is utter bull shit I know but I just can’t help thinking it. Is this impostor syndrome? Is it a mark of my mental state? Who knows. I would imagine many artists feel this way at one time or another, its how you get around these thoughts that i’m interested in.
I’ve recently had extensive counseling for grief and anger, when I say counseling well it was more her listening to me waffle on about how angry I am with one of my children and can you please give me a way to cope with the loss of my mum. But in there was some very informative ideas on how I could cope with these feelings and they have come in handy over the summer as I have put my life on hold for a different child. Love yourself was one thing I tried to keep in the front of my mind, its easier to deal with others if you at least like yourself, take yourself away from your situation to recharge yourself, if you can. I tried having a date with my husband and that worked wonders, just doing small things for yourself, even if it is just playing games on your phone, taking a deep breath and then carrying on works for me. the ultimate tip is allowing yourself to be creative, i’m not sure if anyone else feels this but sometimes it feels like I don’t allow my creativity as a way of punishing myself for something that had happened be it my fault or not.
Anyway, a summer of no creativity, what can I do about that. Well not a lot as summer is nearly over but I can use the autumn to create new work and I’ve started already with multiple trips out locally and I’ve started several new Polaroid soaks and i’m collating ideas for more Polaroid experiments (breath), all that remains is for me to allow myself my creativity as you should. We are allowed to take time out of our lives to feed that part of our soul that is creative, if we dont we are doing ourselves a disservice. So how was your summer? Were you super creative or not so much, leave a comment and share the secret of your creativity.
Walking my dog Storm this morning along our usual route, (up the hill through the cemetery and down the hill back home) walking through the cemetery the sun was shining, it was a bit too warm when the sun shone, Storms an Alaskan Malamute after all, just think of that lovely fur coat it surely gets very warm and the breeze blew the scent of the mown grass at us and I was immediately engulfed and taken right back to summer time when I was a school. As it happens my school is actually just across the road from where we walk and I was whisked back to sports day, laying on the field watching my friends race and waiting for my turn, the scent of fruit juice and ice lollies, the roar of little voices and parents shouting on their kids, it was a good memory. My Mum came to mind, coming to sports day in a white pants suit and leaving with small smudgy handprints all over her legs, (white to a sports day, she was looking for trouble!) We stopped for a short time and just breathed in the scent and I took the time to just bathe in the remembering of a good childhood. Is there a scent that takes you back to a happy time?
Building my own PC, who would have thought! With my Lenovo ideacentre not pulling its weight anymore and not finding any prebuilds that had everything I wanted kind of forced me down this route. I’m not averse to a challenge and usually if someone says ‘ I bet you..’ then it just has to be done. That is how I found myself staring into the black depths of Hell or a terrifying and very expensive mistake!
The reasons behind a new computer land solely on buying a new camera, a Nikon Z7 who’s file sizes my Lenovo just couldn’t handle and if your taking the photos you at least want to see them and it just wasn’t happening. In my previous post there is a list of everything I bought, this is how I built it.
Unboxing was so traumatic as I have never even seen the inside of a computer before, starting with the motherboard and you dont want static when your touching this or its toast. How interesting, all of the connection points and stuff, I took a really hard look at it and in its own way it is a thing of beauty. I chose AMD Ryzen 7 for my CPU and that was a trauma to fit, dont touch the pins, fit it in the right way or else, find the triangles, which are SO small you need a magnifying glass to see! Next i fitted the Corsair SSD and there were NO additional screws in the box, the case anywhere, thank heavens for computer geeks who live near by. The Ryzen & comes with an RGB cooling fan so that went on next which was so fiddly trying to get the arms locked in place without pulling anything off or bumping anything but this was my first achievement, go me! The second was getting the motherboard into the case.
Several YouTube videos later, a replacement part and several days I managed the 16GB memory, which was 2 x 8GB Corsair DDR4 memory, which was a snap to fit, as long as they are in the correct slots! Cooling was something I had to research as the kids always say their computers are running hot when they game and I wanted to avoid this if I could so I chose Corsairs Elite performance triple fan pack and put two on the front and one above the CPU, with an integrated fan at the back of the case, one on the CPU, two on the Graphics card and one on the power supply, I think there is enough. I then fitted the Nvidea Geforce RTX3050 graphics card, the hardest part to that was screwing the plate back in at the side, three hands needed! Seagate Barracuda HDD and a 750W MSI power supply went in, I turned it on and ….. nothing. Say what! Confusion, I’m sat there scratching my head wondering and hoping i’d not just blown £1.500 when my daughter came in and saw me and my puzzled face, SHE was the one to figure out that just because its turned on at the back doesn’t mean you don’t have to turn it on in the front too! BINGO, it worked!!!! Definitely a sweaty palms moment and it is soooo pretty.
I had a moment as I couldn’t get the PC to recognise the monitor but hey kids don’t know everything, my son had plugged it into the wrong port and when plugged in properly opened up the Bios, a scary place if you get it wrong, I then tried to install Windows 11. So let me tell you a story, when purchasing your PC operating system bare in mind whether you want to install it from a CD or as a download, I bought a CD! It has no CD player! Off to buy a 32GB memory stick so I can use a kids PC to download it and put it on my computer. Windows 11 is brand new, so new that my computer kept telling me that it was not compatible, pull hair out in big clumps, so Windows 10 it had to be which I downloaded off the internet where I should have got Windows 11 from anyway. The install went so fast and after installing a few driver updates I was finally able to install Windows 11 and Adobe Cloud and Lightroom and PhotoShop and the photos that had caused the trauma in the first place! Opening LR was such a SHOCK, seconds instead of minutes, have you seen the Sky advert for internet with the minions, they open the laptop and all of a sudden are airborne because of the speed? That was me!
Apart from one or two hiccups I now have a lovely new computer, I’m not too sure about the monitor as I’m used to the glass screen on my Lenovo, I may add it as a second monitor just to check picture quality though I have been reassured I will get used to it, there are several persons who would gladly take the monitor off my hands if I don’t. I purchased a wifi keyboard and mouse too, the keyboard is fine but the mouse is rubbish so I will once again head over to Amazon and see what I can find/afford, I’m not paying stupid money if I can help it.
So that’s it, I’ve built my own computer and it works! GO ME!
Have you seen the photos on my website? They are beautiful, colourful, moody, photos of the Wirral in all of its glory. I’ve processed them in Adobe PS and LR on my Lenovo ideacentre, Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6400T CPU with 8GB of RAM with a beautiful glass touchscreen and it has served me well. Until I bought a Nikon Z7 (cough) and now, well to say that it just doesn’t like the size of the files is an understatement. Luckily I’ve had enough money put by to buy myself a new computer and after arguing with my children, who seem to know everything about computers and what I need (lol) trying to tell me an all in one computer isn’t worth my time and I should get a tower and having looked at SO many on the internet, ‘I decided to build my own!’ 😲 Yeah I had a brain fart and decided I was perfectly capable to do it myself.
This year, 2022, has been all about things I can do for myself, that stretch me, take me out of my comfort zone and I think everyone should try it at least once. Anyway, everyone knows by now how computers work, what they need in them to work and there is so much on the internet these days that you can find out whats necessary at the click of a few buttons. So me being me I just jumped in and after a few conversations with those in the know ( the kids) and went onto the corsair website. It has its own build your pc page, you choose what you need and buy it, my first effort came to nearly £5000 😂 Yeah, so I went back and chose some different stuff, ordered it and when it arrived, well, there was only half of the things I’d ordered, then I realised, I’d only bought the Corsair stuff, no Windows etc 😢 for £1.400, erm NO. So I sent it all back and went onto Amazon. Three weeks later and a few phone calls to America I had my refund.
Part 2. After that disaster of a start and the feeling that certain young people were laughing at me I tried again only this time I googled EVERYTHING. 🤓 ‘Best Graphics Card for photography,’ ‘best cpu’ etc and in the end and not too painfully came up with the following; an AMD Ryzen 7 Processor , AMD as it is slightly faster than Intel, a Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 graphics card, I weighed up between the 3050 and the 3090 and found there wasn’t a significant difference for my needs apart from cost, an MSI MPG B550 motherboard, a Seagate Barracuda 4 TB internal Hard Drive HDD, 16 gig of memory, 1TB SSD, an MSI MPG A750GF power supply, Corsair RGB triple fan kit, an MSI Vampiric 010 tower, Windows 11. I chose a BenQ monitor as I have had several in the past and know they have a good build quality and they have a great image quality too. Wireless keyboard and mouse but I have to say I am disappointing in the mouse and will be replacing it. Phew, then it all has to be put together!
So I Googled it! 😉 and watched MANY YT videos and when Amazon had finished delivering all of the parts I set out to begin the build. There is a video of Henry Cavill on instagram showing him building his monster computer, it took him several days to get everything installed and running and I kind of thought that he took too long, I thought it could be built in a day and that I would be zooming around Adobe LR like no ones business, oh how wrong I was!
Time is very important when your doing something like this and to get time when there are no expectations of yourself was difficult. I think in all it took me a week, maybe more as I had to return a part I’d ordered by mistake, swap it out for what I really wanted then had a part that was broken and had to be replaced but all in all, I did it with a little help from the kids. I haven’t named it yet and wish I had been recording myself when I opened Adobe LR for the first time because that was a moment, it was so fast! Now I have a shiny, super fast computer, bring on the editing!
My dear, you have been one of the constants in my life for many years, i’m not really sure exactly how long ago we met but it was, on my side, love at first, no make that second, sight. There was another but they were out of my league, then I saw you.
You fulfilled me, empowered me, gave me a reason to be the best me. I can remember the first day we met, the excitement of taking you home to meet my family, of being alone with you and learning everything about you. We had fun times you and I, things went so fast between us, memories were filled, replaced and filled again, I could do things with you i’d never done before and there was no one to judge. I felt so enabled, you helped me produce some of my best work, you were my muse.
I know you remember the trips that were taken to the beautiful countryside and the city’s, to the mountains and the stately homes, you store them in your memory better than I, that’s why I rely on you so much to remember but I have come to realise how much you struggle now. It hurts to see you slowing down, I wait for you to catch me up and its taking longer each passing day but I wait and hope.
Your end of life diagnosis was such a shock to us both and I have nursed you through, I have removed as much of the outside interference as I dare but no one can live without a heart and yours has just about given up on me now. There will be no more laughing at silly youtube cat videos together, no more reminiscing over holidays and days out, the best we can do together is read and write the odd blog post. I will miss you when you have gone, you gave me the taste for a better life, you were there whenever I needed you and you worked hard to ensure I had what I needed when I needed it the most.
How will I ever replace you, you were so smart, you look amazing, you can still get into positions I can’t dream of but I cant replace your heart, so my dear, I am replacing you! It will be so very hard to let you go as I have loved working and playing with you over so many years but it really is over between us, I must move on. I cant turn back time to when we first met but someone else can and I believe you will live on in another life giving enjoyment to another person and I will have another love a love that is faster, remembers more and has so many capabilities, my dear you are being replaced by a Ryzen 9 heart with a Nvidea Geforce RTX 3050 graphics card and an MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk motherboard with so much power that we will soar high!
Goodbye my dear, I hope you will live a fulfilling life with another, maybe I will remember you but you know how bad my memory is ………………
Nikon Z7 review. I’ve always owned Nikon cameras and lenses and decided to upgrade my D7000 to the Z7, oh boy what a difference! I had become increasingly dissatisfied with my D7000, the images were not as sharp as they could be, the camera was second hand when I bought it roughly 8-10 years ago and as I shoot to sell I knew that it was time to upgrade. Research is very important and I read as much about the various mirrorless cameras as I could, I tried out the Sony a7 but found it too heavy and far too expensive and really in my opinion that only left Nikon, so putting faith in the brand I found a great deal with Park Cameras and bought the Z7.
Don’t you just love the excitement of opening the big black box and finding a pristine camera and lens waiting for you? It sends shivers down my spine! Switching it on and taking the first photo, even if it is of just the cat, diving into the menu’s and sub menus, oh divine! Now, I’m not going to give you one of those reviews, you know the kind that you get from the guys who do techy stuff, I’m going to tell you the stuff that I feel is important.
First and probably after cost, the most important thing for me was the weight of the camera and any lenses I may buy and at 675g for the body with battery and memory card I find it a very reasonable weight, add in the kit lens, the 24-70mm which weighs in at 900g and I find this to be more than manageable. The size of the grip is smaller than the D7000 but I’ve small hands so I dont find It a problem holding the camera comfortably, if you have large hands adding the battery grip gives that extra bit to hold onto. ( Which is important because those cameras dont bounce which I found out the first time I used mine! ) I love that you can switch between the eye piece and the monitor just by putting the camera to your eye, that the monitor extends out but unfortunately not to the extent needed in portrait mode. The screen is touch sensitive and you can take photos just by touching the screen which I like, you can also adjust your settings on the screen, zoom in and out using your fingers, if you touch the bottom of the screen a scroll bar appears allowing you to scroll quickly through your images. The i menu can be customised bringing all of your favorite options under one button. The little joystick takes some getting used to, I keep forgetting its there when im moving the focal point around the screen but its a bonus as it moves fast. At 45.7 megapixels you get great detail to your images. Nikon says I quote “The back-illuminated 45.7 MP full-frame CMOS sensor with focal-plane phase-detection AF captures razor-sharp images.” And it does! Stunning images, I cant wait to print and compare, its going to be amazing. The menu is similar to the D7000, some extra stuff in there because its a full frame camera but its easy to navigate. I love that it is weatherproof, I’m constantly taking photos in the rain so now I dont have to be too worried about getting wet. One thing that is a complete let down though is that at the moment you cant upload your photos to a PC by WiFi, it just doesn’t work which is a shame. There are loads of other things to review but only having taken the camera out a few times I dont feel I can comment on them yet, so at this point I can say, yes I love the camera, Yes I’m glad I upgraded, am I a trifle nervous about the cost of lenses, yes but I’ve the converter so I can still use some of my older lenses. Oh and one other thing that is totally annoying, once the files have uploaded to your computer they are NEF files and you have no preview image so they have to go through Adobe Lightroom before you can see the results, if you know of a way to have a preview image with a NEF file let me know.
These images are straight out of the camera, I haven’t had chance to process any yet but I am really pleased with their quality, what do you think? Please comment below.