Search the site

Entries in Wales (9)


04/06/13 Part 1: An Eagle in the Elan Valley

A new job means a lot less days off so days out have become few and far between. Fortunately a good friend had set up a small, early morning aerobatic display in a remote yet beautiful part of mid-Wales known as the Elan Valley. The aircraft was a Christen Eagle II aerobatic plane capable of high "g' manoeuvre, smoke trails and barrel rolls. 

The display was due to start at 7:30 in the morning above one of the huge dams and reservoirs that hold Birmingham's water supply. The mid-morning silence was interrupted by the sound of the single propeller bi-plane G-KLAW making an appearence at 2000ft and descending into the valley for a sighting pass.




After some already great passes, the smoke system came into life with white smoke billowing out the back of the aircraft as he performed roll after roll. The white smoke against the deep blue water of the reservoir provided great contrast.




After some awesome "water-locked" passes we were treated with a couple of head on flyby's before G-KLAW departed the area for a refuel at Shobdon before returning to her base in the Midlands and what a couple of flyby's they were!




09/01/13 Snowdonia 

A friend asked me to show him how to use his filters and where better to go than North Wales on a crystal clear Winters day. Arriving just before sunrise in Snowdonia at Llynnau Mymbyr. This is quite a famous shot but not one either of us had done before. On a windless day you can get the Snowdon Horseshoe reflected in the lake and today was one of those days. Filters used in this shot were a LEE 0.6 hard grad to retain the detail in the sky and LEE 0.6 neutral density filter to smooth out any ripples on the surface. The light was soft so the image lacks any contrast but below is the end result.



The next location was to be Llyn Gwynant just at the foot of Snowdon but as we travelled along the road, there was a huge inversion layer of cloud covering the valley which made it extremely dark and it wasn't shifting either. So a drive back in the other direction and along the A5 through the Ogwen valley presented a reflection I have never even seen on this lake. I've driven past Llyn Ogwen many times and always found it one of the most lack lustre lakes to photograph in North Wales. Being surrounded by a road, the inaccessibility of getting to the other side, little option for foreground interest or there's been a breeze in the valley but this the scene that greeted us as soon as we rove round Tryfan. The lake was that still I didn't need to use a neutral density filter. All that was used was the LEE 0.6 Grad to hold back the sky and cloud detail.



Following a brief walk around Cwm Idwal and forgetting the light never really gets into the corrie we headed for Anglesey and rocked up to Penmon Point Lighthouse just out of Beaumaris. The light was still quite harsh but very quickly it turned soft and with a tide that was well out it forced us to look for some new angles and compositions. I had never shot it from the pebbled beach that lies to the West of the lighthouse and a low angle provided a great viewpoint and still allowed for all the elements of the location to be included such as the pebbles, waves, the lighthouse and Puffin Island which is situated half a mile off the shore. I used the neutral densitiy LEE 0.6 to allow be to slow the shutter speed right down to get some movement in the small waves that were incomming and the LEE 0.6 grad held back the detail in the sky and more importantly in the whites of the lighthouse where detail would have been lost.



So after a long day photograhing North Wales and Anglesey it was time for the 3 hour drive back in the fog but a great day was had by the pair of us. These are just my 3 favourite shots that I got from the locations we visited and I think we both came away having learnt something. 



04/12/12 Southerndown

Realising aircraft were taking over my photography I headed out in search of some landscapes and I've wanted to go back to this place as I've never had much time to photograph it when I have been here. The sun has either disappeared or the heavens have opened. Upon arrival the sun was out, there were some low clouds in the sky which gave it a great the images great detail and interest. The cliffs that run either side of the beach are built up like brickwork at a quick glance.



Unfortunately, as fast as the sun was setting, the clouds were coming in. You can actually see the North coast of Devon from Southerndown and you could see how hard it was raining over there. Was I going to get a full evenings photography in here? Sadly it wasn't to be and I made a dash for the car as the light went completely flat and horizontal rain arrived. Before that though there was just time to capture the suns last appearance between the parted clouds.



15/10/12 The Hunter Becomes The Hunted

A public heads-up by the pilot, Jonathan Whaley, that he was brining the brightly coloured Hawker Hunter low level through Wales en-route back to it's home base of St Athan from Duxford. The colour scheme has divided opinion from many enthusiasts and maybe doesn't suit the aircraft down low in the Welsh landscape but in a clear blue sky at an airshow it looks superb. Watching a Hunter flown down low made a change from the usual Tornados and Typhoons and hopefully it won't be long before Miss Demeanour seen down in the weeds again! Many thanks to Jonathan for the heads-up and for the spectacular flying.




06/09/12 A Special Day In The Hills

A better forecast than the previous trip and more friends out than before? Well I had to go! Wall to wall sunshine mean a trip to the Bwlch Exit, a location situated at the end of the valley of the location below. This location offers the best backdrop in my view and can give shots that "air to air" look about them with the distant background of Dolgellau in the shots if they turn left at the end of the valley. With 180 degree views of Snowdonia where you can see, the Mawddach Estuary, Dolgellau, Trawsfynydd Power Station and Cader Idris even Snowdon itself. First up was an early Hawk doing two passes and pulling out of low level in style!



Then an hour later it was almost a case of "whatever the trainees can do, we can do better". A 31 Squadron Tornado from RAF Marham came through with it's wing swept in the 67° position and then came back 4 minutes later with a truly spectacular pull out of low level before diving back in over Bala!



The next movement was a 100 Squadron Hawk from RAF Leeming which pulled up a bit too early and then two F-15 Strike Eagles of the US Air Force using the callsigns Casino21 and 22 called up for some low flying and after watching them come down from Bala some 3 miles away they went into the valley behind us hoping they'd reappear a few mminutes later... They did!



Next up was the boss of 31 Squadron from Marham using his callsign Marham31 who gave a nice side-on pass before pulling out of low level.



Towards the end of the day, when the light was perfect, an 11 Squadron Typhoon popped up in the valley but it was nothing compared to what was coming at the end of the day. Nightmare31 and 32 called up for 20 minutes of low fly before heading back to base. You could see the contrails as they dropped in over Welshpool some 30 miles away. After much anticipated they hurtled low around the spurs of the hills before 3 Squadrons anniversary Typhoon came into view followed by another Typhoon.



They didn't even bother doing the next valley, they just pulled up and out before dropping back in a few miles away for another run, both jets turning early making for a great shot!




It's moments and passes like that above which is what this hobby is all about, watching the best pilots, fly the best jets in stunning scenery.