It’s been a few months since I returned from a brief “holiday” to North Wales with fellow semi-northern photographers Andrew Atkinson, Ian Burton and Damien Taylor. The same fine fellas I did Scotland with for a week in 2015. With other commitments taking over my time, it’s taken me a while to work through all the images I captured.
This post will be dedicated to my abstract landscape ICM images I made using intentional camera movement techniques and blending multiple exposures together. Another will follow in due course with some of the “straight” images I made on the trip. The next blog should give you more of an idea of where we went etc and give more of a story of the trip in general, this one will be less wordy. Actually they might both be short on words as my memory is terrible, and already many details have been lost in the mire that is my mind.
A second 3am alarm to drive down to Andrew’s house inside a week having been down to Calverton with him for the extremely enjoyable #Connected2016 exhibition the previous Saturday. Before 7am all four of us were collected and on board our transport – somehow all the gear fitted (just), even my box of cornflakes!
Being someone that doesn’t travel much, the length of the journey to North Wales surprised me. It felt like bloody miles away! Must be having to go past those big cities in the West, all the traffic associated with Manchester, Liverpool etc just felt like a wall you have to break through before life returned back to a more normal pace. For all that, we were still making our first images before before 12pm.
The beach at Talacre with its lighthouse was the first destination. A strong haze/mist seemed like it may help my techniques to do something with the lighthouse itself with ICM, but actually the light was too bright to work, so I concentrated on the beach itself and those people on it …and their dogs!
After more driving and finding our digs somewhere outside of Bangor (thankfully we had SatNav for this trip!) we headed out for spots for the evening shoot. A view of the Menai Bridge was the desire but we weren’t satisfied with what was on offer from our vantage point. Me being me though, I got some data to play with anyway.
We ended up on Garth Pier until it was locked up making images of and from the late 19th century pier.
A shit of a day. We might be only two trips in all together, but dodgy weather has plagued us and we are yet to see (or even bother getting up for) a sunrise. This day we were heading for Cwmorthin slate quarry, a beautiful drive winding through the countryside surrounded by the beautiful fresh greens of spring from the many birch, beech and other breeds of tree. Annoyingly we weren’t stopping (these guys don’t do drive-by photography like I do) and as we arrived at the grim looking quarry area, it all got so much grey-er. Maybe it was the severe back trouble I had developed midweek, but I wasn’t enthused about walking for 20 mins up what felt like a near vertical track to get into the quarry valley. In the end for all the misery, pain and rain, photographically it was the best day of the trip. My hit rate was highest in the quarry and I thoroughly enjoyed spending near 5 hours making a range of images in the gloom. My few years making images with these techniques, I’ve found that grey dull days are to me, best for getting good camera data.
Having escaped the valley, the sun appeared, and after food we headed to the coast for the evening – we found ourselves in Llandudno, and I found myself on another pier! The Victorian facades of the Llandudno seafront reminded me of those Canaletto paintings of London and the Thames, so I set out to make this image. With the tide out though, it wasn’t quite what I’d intended.
With sunset approaching we crossed to the other side of the peninsula to take in the lowering sun on this balmy evening.
This day we were heading for the hills again, the Ogwen valley area (I’m not good with place names, them being Welsh helps less) and another lengthy walk, this time up to Llyn Idwal. My back was killing me the whole weekend so I was far from happy about the thoughts of the walk, but I was very happy to find the path was excellent and it barely felt like we were rising steeply. After pausing for rain to pass we set off on our own routes at our own shooting pace (I like to work fast) working our way all the way around the lake. By the time we circled the lake we’d gone from heavy rain to blistering May sunshine and down to t-shirts. Of course this meant that the earlier images I captured were better than the later ones.
With bright skies ICM photography took a back seat. After a pub lunch (in the late afternoon) and a very welcome ice cream in Betws-y-Coed we ended up on the coast for sunset again – this time at Dinas Dinlle.
The return journey. Before we sat in our Volkswagen Touran for several hours going home with faces contorted from the effects of G forces (Damien’s driving), we actually went over to Anglesey for a couple of hours specifically to see the tidal Cwyfan Church. We even nailed the timing as we got there bang on high tide, so we got the full effect of this wondrous place. A great subject for long exposure photography but not so great for ICM photography, I gave it a go though!
Once back on the mainland we set off to see the TSS Duke of Lancaster having been denied when we first arrived by a tidal flooded access. With a need to get on the road it was a quick blast here then an extended blast of the accelerator pedal as Damien got us past the bedlam of the North West traffic.
Again it was a great trip away with the guys, full of laughs, great photo opportunities, and challenges to overcome (along with lots of painkillers and liberal use of DeepHeat). I might have not been in the best of fettle’s over the weekend but at times I could barely move with being in agony. All that being said, I came away with some good data and have subsequently made some very pleasing imagery in post processing.
Thanks to the guys for putting up with me, though I did entertain them constantly and had all three of them crying with laughter on the first day with an unintentionally funny comment. It seems I’m an accidental comedy genius!
Do check out their websites… Especially Andrew’s series of blogs on the trip!
Now where do we go next and do we add other photographers? Watch this space!
Also watch this space for a blog of “normal” photography from the trip.