On the outskirts of Brecon during a recent trip to the manmade reservoirs in the Elan Valley, Mid Wales, my fellow photography companion and I noticed a couple of fields with late August straw bales.
‘Perhaps we’ll be able to grab a few golden hour shots on the return journey’, I remarked as we flew by.
On our return the original field I had in mind was no longer a possibility as the bales had already been taken. There was only one field left with an open gate as the fast sinking sun hastened our approach loaded with backpacks and tripods. I might have preferred more time to consider the stronger compositions, but I was as excited as a child in a sweet shop and my eyes were distracted by a particular backdrop. So many mistakes have been made by doing this, unaware of the potential behind my back. I experimented with shots one way with a sky devoid of cloud before facing the direction you see in the featured image. For me, the series of images recorded from this location represented late summer and were totally unexpected. Sometimes, in photography, it is the unexpected opportunities that provide the most satisfying memories of the day.
I have always preferred natural lakes to man-made reservoirs for photography, however, they are dominant features of the Welsh landscape – a landscape blessed by rain as much as its sheep. Some of the larger dams located in Powys and further north have served as poignant reminders of villages sacrificed to store and channel water beyond Welsh borders into large English cities but, apart from newsworthy anniversaries of protest and ‘hiraeth’ (Welsh), the reservoirs of Wales now attract hordes of visitors to spend their summer holidays.
Lake Vyrnwy (Llyn Efyrnwy) is a reservoir in Powys, built in the 1880s to supply the city of Liverpool with fresh water. The main image (mono) features the straining tower ‘…which is where the water leaves the lake at the start of a journey along an aqueduct and pipeline to Liverpool, around 70 miles away. It is called a straining tower because the water first passes through a fine metal mesh to filter or strain out material in the water. The tower stands in over 15m (50ft) deep water and is over 48m (160ft) high.’
The head of the Vyrnwy valley was flooded to supply the city of Liverpool with fresh water. Remnants of the small village of Llanwddyn can be seen when the water level is very low.
Beyond ‘Solitude’, lies the small monastic island of Caldey, home to its chief inhabitants and owners, the Cistercian monks. It is no wonder that Caldey is known as one of the Holy Islands in Great Britain with a recorded history that goes back over 1500 years.
The island is reachable by a short boat trip from Tenby harbour or the beach, depending on the tide. One of the tourist attractions on Caldey includes the restored 13th-c church of St Illtyd and priory.
I was fortunate on my first visit to enjoy a fine day without too many visitors and poor weather to prevent exploration of most of the popular pathways, however, I could have spent longer enjoying the peace and serenity which this island appeared to offer.
I have looked upon this small tidal island (St Catherine’s Island/Rock) so many times over the years – in different seasons come rain and shine, high and low tides. However, despite countless visits, I don’t think I have ever spent so much time viewing it so intimately in a photographic sense. Perhaps the most familiar sights are those that become almost invisible with the camera as the personal search beckons exploration of locations further afield. It is as though the most familiar become the most ordinary and why, why would I want to take the time here when there is bound to be more elsewhere? But, this time I was content to stay long enough to observe the tide, the motion of cloud and the solitary island free of people and children climbing its rock.
Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (Welsh) is also known as Upper Gushing Falls. It is a beautiful curtain waterfalls along the waterfalls walk in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, UK.
The Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf is located on the Nedd Fechan and is one of three waterfalls along this section of the river. The falls has a drop of about 15 feet.
This image was captured as part of a series of waterfalls images along the route, during an early morning in May 2017.
I photographed the subject with a variety of shutter speeds with the aid of polariser and neutral density filters to extend the exposure time to personal taste. This capture is a blended version of two images – one captured for movement of the falls and the other, for smoothing out the river.