Wonderings with Chris……Llanberis

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.

Wanderings with Chris …….. To LLanberis

Haven’t done one of these posts in a long while!

Wanderings with Chris to LLanberis which is a village in Gwynedd, northwest Wales, on the southern bank of the lake Llyn Padarn and at the foot of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Google it and you will see lots and lots of posts featuring a tree, a lake and mountains. Some are fantastic others are samey samey but they are all unique as there is only one Lonely Tree on the sore of LLyn Padarn. I have seen this tree plastered all over instagram, sunrise, sunset, night, moody, you name it it’s been done and when we came out of lockdown it was the first place we headed to because I wanted to photograph it too. So armed with my new Nikon Z7 we headed out to Wales at stupid o’clock in the morning to get there for sunrise, only there wasn’t one.

Wikipedia says; Llyn Padarn is a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia, Gwynedd, north Wales, and is an example of a moraine dammed lake. The lake is approximately 2 miles long and at its deepest point is 94 feet deep, and is one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. At its south-eastern end it is linked to the neighbouring Llyn Peris. The busy village of Llanberis lies on the southern banks of the lake. The outflow of Llyn Padarn is on the northern shore and is called Afon Rhythallt, which passes by the village of Brynrefail, Gwynedd and becomes Afon Seiont below Pont Rhythallt, near Llanrug. It reaches the sea at Caernarfon. Padarn Country Park is located on the northern flank of the lake, including Coed Allt Wen, a rare and ancient sessile oak woodland. Both the woodland and Llyn Padarn are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.’ Wikipedia

We drove for about two hours in the dark, up before any sane person, I was excited to get there as it was the first hint of freedom we’d had for so long. I was expecting hoards of photographers crowding around the lakeside as it is such a popular place, there was Chris, me and two other guys and a few wild swimmers. We politely shared the best views, I was even encouraged by one guy to lend one of his lenses, we had the same camera, we waited for the sky to show colour, it didn’t, they left and we hung around with me taking photos from as many view points as possible in the off chance I could get something different, you can’t really.

Back home and to my horror I discovered my computers graphics card couldn’t handle the images from my new camera, queue new computer, it opened them in Adobe lightroom but took far too long to do anything with them. I have some great shots, the raw files are around 70MB each and are sitting on my hard drive until I get my new computer, those I have managed to process to some extent are below. I’m going back to try again for a sunrise.

Nikon Z7 Review

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.