Wanderings with Chris……..The Ogwen Valley and a Tale of Woe.

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.

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.

The Smells That Take You Back to Your Childhood

Storm

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?

Wanderings with Chris…… a mad dash down to the beach

Driving back from Birkenhead on Tuesday evening i turned to my husband, my partner in crime and coo’d over another beautiful sunset. With a weary sigh i wished i had the energy to get my camera and go down to West Kirby and take photos of the beautiful sunset that was in front of us.
I haven’t taken any sunset photographs in over 12 months, we live in a delightful coastal town and the sunsets are glorious so you can get a bit sunset’ed out and i had made the decision not to take anymore pictures for at least a year.
We have had some lovely weather over Easter and i had watched some glorious colours in the evening sky’s and this evening i finally gave in and made my mind up to drag my camera down to the beach.
We got home, i grabbed my bag and we dashed off to West Kirby beach, a mere 3 minutes away and as i had an idea for my photographs we set off at a trot or as much of a trot that you can manage with a leg that doesn’t work properly, to where i wanted to be. Have you noticed how quickly the sun sets when you have a sore leg, are walking on sand and have to walk far enough to get your shot? I didn’t think i was going to be in time but i was! I collapsed onto the sand, luckily in the correct direction to make the shot and as happens sometimes my first shot was the best.

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I wanted something different from the usual ball of colour and scarlet sky so i concentrated on the spartina grass and kept the colour well in the background, i think it works really well and out of the five photos i thought the best i just love the very first i took. What do you think?

Wanderings with Chris……. down the road to the nature reserve

I think this is the first wanderings with Chris post of the year, we haven’t been out very much because of ill health and commitments but it was a beautiful spring day, the sun was shining and we just had to get out of the house and go for a walk. For the past few years i have been battling with Fibromyalgia and arthritis in my hip and knee so walking is very painful and slow and Chris has had problems with his legs too so our walk down to the nature reserve was slow! Just before we went in through the gate we stopped for a look out over the fields towards Greasby and there posing majestically in the pond was a Grey Heron. Major excitement! I managed to get 20 or so shots before it flew off to the other side of the pond, i’m not convinced that they are totally in focus as i didn’t have time to use my tripod but what a beautiful bird!
The nature reserve is actually reclaimed land, back in the distant past when i was a child it was actually the local refuse tip and over time a dip developed which filled with water. I can remember during one winter taking our dog down and walking out onto the ice that had formed on the pond, looking back we are really lucky the ice didn’t break under us. When the council decided that the refuse tip was ‘full’ they landscaped and a group of local families asked the council if they could turn it into a Nature reserve. After a great deal of time and hard work they dug out the pond, planted trees and rushes, added an island in the middle and soon after the wildlife flocked to it. It’s even stocked with fish.
We had a slow walk around the pond and i managed to take quite a few photos, there was lots of blossom and spring flowers and ducks, geese etc, i can’t wait for the babies to appear, cute little chicks to photograph and be chased away from 🙂 We have a couple of buzzards which i would love to photograph but i don’t know where they roost and they fly way to high for me to successfully photograph. We had a lovely walk and on the way home bumped into a lovely lady called Diane and her horse Aztec, Diane let me take some photos of her with Aztec, i hope she likes them. Hopefully with the nice weather over the coming weeks we will get out more, with or without children, i cant wait to see where our adventures take us next.

last nights storm

We had a storm a few nights back, well quite a few now and i dragged Chris out to New Brighton because i thought it would be a good idea to photograph the lighthouse during the storm. I wanted to try a night time/twilight photograph with a slow shutter speed to get the smooth action of the waves around the lighthouse. It rained and the wind howled and i found it very difficult keeping the camera, which was on a tripod, still. I only got a few shots in before it became too wild and we retreated back to the car. This is the best of the lot.perch lighthouse in last nights storm
I also had a few mistakes and this is the one i liked the best.
DSC_4632

Can’t sleep………………………………………………..

I can’t sleep.  Not quite an unusual occurrence as it may seem. My daughter brought it on tonight, she is 11 years old and has hit puberty with a wallop, i don’t like her at the moment sad to say, she is nasty, foul mouthed, contrary, if i say it’s black she say’s it’s white, parents every where will understand. She also has problems sleeping, it all stems from her having to sleep in our room until she was 6, our house is on the small side, 3 adults and 3 kids and only 3 bedrooms, until we went up into the loft. The boys are up there and she now has the box room, read ‘cant swing a cat room’ and she has tried! I think she misses the company, tonight she went to bed at 9pm and was still not settled at 11.30 so now i can’t sleep because of worrying about her, it’s school next week, big school, that doesn’t help. I worry she is going to be sleep deprived in senior school like she was all through year 6, it affects her work and now she is going into serious study she needs her whits about her, it’s not time to be messing up, so i worry and i cant sleep. I have fibromyalgia and one of the awful components to it, for me, is not having the greatest sleep patterns, so i have to be careful of stress at bedtime, so tonight i cant sleep. I am stressed because my mum has cancer, my aunt has just passed away, my husband is not well, my kids are, well kids, so i cant sleep. Grrrrrrr it’s 3.40am and i cant sleep! So, i write. ………….. I went for a ‘wander with Chris’ on Tuesday evening, we went down to the beach and had a walk around the marine lake, well a bit of it as i got cold. We went so i could take some photo’s of the sunset, we have great sunset’s here, legendary, and Tuesday’s was golden!

Funny how a good sunset bring’s out the photographer’s, i want to consider myself a promising and talented photographer, i think i am right in saying it, I’ve sold stuff, been in magazines etc and i have put together quite a good kit and know how to use it 🙂 and when i go out, camera slung around my neck, i laugh like a loon inside as i walk around, past other camera slung people and we are all trying hard not to scope each others kit out, is their’s better than mine, look mine is more sophisticated, wish my lens was that big and you can see them out of the corner of your eye doing the same to you as they walk nonchalantly past you. I’d love to see what their photo’s look like, are they better or worse? Who know’s because no one ever stop’s to chat, they just scuttle on past with a quick glance to make sure their camera is better than your’s. sigh………………… Wednesday Chris and i wandered over to Hilbre Island, i haven’t been there in year’s, it was a killer walk it really hurt but it was worth the pain,

i am processing the photo’s and i think i have some good one’s, one’s that please me, finger’s crossed. So really i should be able to sleep, now i can guarantee i will loose half the day catching up, vicious is this circle.

A walk in the mist with Chris

Opening the curtains to a lovely misty day i decided that i would drag my poor husband out for a walk and a photographic expedition but where to go? I don’t know why but i usually head down to the nearest body of water, must be my fishing family roots, though this day i didn’t want water, i wanted landscape, trees, anything as long as it was land based. So i decided to drag Chris and his sore leg to Thurstaston Hill. It is  a dog walkers heaven so you have to be careful where you walk and there are always people there and we were not disappointed. We only realised later that the children we encountered legitimately had the day off for the voting and not because they were skipping school. Chris is a great writer, very talented and he also likes to take the odd photo, so he wandered around snapping away with the camera on his phone and spouting soppy nonsense as usual. I wandered around looking and i must admit, moaning about the lack of inspiration.  It took a while but eventually i started to ‘see’ and i think i managed to get some nice images. The mist hung around nearly all morning and being so high up when we looked out over the Wirral it was wreathed in mist.

Thurstaston has its own ‘Rock’ in Thors Rock. We had a wander around there, through the trees and heather and wondered at the beautiful vista of ‘The Wirral’. I think i am pleased with my photographs, i like the views over the trees. Its actually looking over to Wales but you cant see past the mist. I hope you like looking at where i live, it really is a beautiful place.

Autumn appeared in some unexpected places but nowhere nice to photograph

So we have had the longest day and it is getting darker earlier as we head into winter. Did i get my ultimate autumnal photograph? Well in a word NO! I have looked and looked, there have been some beautiful trees here on the Wirral but they were in totally the wrong places. I would drive along the road and see lovely colour, yellow, gold, brown, red but at the side of a boring road or in someones front garden where it made an uninspiring image. So i will have to be content with the images i have managed to get and wait 12 months for next autumn. I gave it a good shot and tried different places and these are what i think are my best.

 

 

 

 

There are others i could choose but i like these, especially the leaves. I am now going to turn my camera lens towards Winter images, so bring on the cold, frosty mornings, oh yes and the snow!

What makes an image?

A good question. Does it mean, what is in the image, who took it, what did they take the image with, how did they process the image or how did they ‘see’ the image?

My secret, ‘shhh’ is that i ‘see’ the image i want to create, only in my head. I think it stems from art college and being told to ‘see’ the image i wanted to either draw or paint. So this means i have to travel around the Wirral, where i live, trying to ‘find’ my image. Once it is ‘found’ i then set about recreating the image from my mind and i may do this by ‘bracketing’ my exposures and using photomatix to merge the images or waiting for the ‘right’ kind of weather conditions. There may be a bit of post production using photoshop, or not. I use a Nikon D3100, so i manually bracket the exposures, occasionally i may get a good image with my phone camera, they do go through photoshop as they are generally either over or under exposed.

I feel sometimes that unless you are a ‘name’ then it doesn’t matter how good your images are and its a kind of snobbery, if you haven’t had the exposure and your name isn’t known then no one will take a chance and say ‘ well hey, actually this image is pretty good!’ This is a shame as there are plenty of unknown’s out there waiting to make their ‘name,’ its such a slow process.

Here are two images of the same lighthouse, can you tell which is the bracketed image and which not?

Image

Image

I want to be able to recreate the image my eye see’s rather than just a flat replica of what is in front of me, so i have been experimenting with what makes an image and i have decided that i ‘like’ the end result of ‘bracketing’ exposure’s and combining the images. The images seem more alive, they have more depth, so for me, at the moment, what makes an image? is best answered as ‘being able to see the image, using exposure bracketing and then combining the images together with photomatix and a little bit of photoshop too.’  It’s a bit more complicated than just point and shoot but i think it is so worth my while. I just wish people would buy my work!

If you are interested in bracketing exposures and how it works, this is a great article.                       http://www.thephotoargus.com/101/how-to-use-bracketing-in-your-photography/