Castell Coch

Perched high up on the hillside overlooking Tongwylais, the River Taff and the roads that lead into Cardiff is one of the most beautiful castles in the UK. Despite it’s prominent position, this is a relatively modern castle and one that was never used in battle. The pointed turrets are reminiscent of castles in Germany and the ornate fixtures give it that fairy-tale feeling. Castell Coch (or Red Castle in English) is a favourite wedding venue, located up a steep hill from the small town of Tongwynlais and surrounded by native trees and fauna. These photographs were taken using my Canon 5D in April, when the air was still quite clear. I found a location across the River Taff in a the car park of some offices and used my 70-200mm zoom to get in close. The clouds did their job and gave the sky some life. I then relocated up the hill in front of the castle and, as it was relatively early, was able to set up my tripod and take some photographs without the scene being filled with visitors. The photograph in this blog is taken at that location.

The full set of images can be seen on my website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Castles&sub_album=Castell-Coch,-Tongwynlais,-Cardiff

Castell Coch

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The Rose

My wife is the gardener in our house and it is her loving care and attention that has enabled our roses to bloom. The colours are stunning and the texture of the petals is like satin. I love taking photographs of the flowers, but still want to do something that is a little more creative that just photographing a flower. On this shot I’ve used a low F stop to blur out the flower in the background and shot it handheld. Luckily the wind wasn’t blowing too much and so it is pretty sharp. In Photoshop, I then dropped out the background into black and white just to enhance the beautiful colour. Hopefully it just makes the image a little more interesting, especially to those who don’t particularly like photos of flowers!

There are more photos on my website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Flowers-and-Trees

The Essence of a Rose

Stormy Seas

Storms in PorthcawlStormy weather hit the UK again in early May 2014.  Jackie and headed down to Porthcawl, for a walk along the beach and the sea front.  The wind was so strong that it was difficult to walk and you were constantly being sand-blasted as the small grains of silica were whipped into the air and into your face.  I had sand everywhere.  It was exhilarating!

After the beach, we walked across to the sea front and watched the waves crash in against the lighthouse.  I didn’t have the right lens, but I wasn’t going to change it in the awful wind and so I took what shots I could.

Some other photographs of the sea crashing against the coast at Porthcawl can be seen on my website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Storms

We Are The Mods!

Mods & Scooters in CardiffThe Mod culture from the 1960s is still alive and well in the streets of Cardiff.  The Mods may be a little older and the coffee shops, like Coffee Nero, may be a little grander, but the fashion and image is still as distinctive as ever.

I was born in the 60s and so missed the birth of the Mod.  However, in the late 70s and early 80s, when the music scene was full of youth and anger as they protested against Thatcher’s unpopular policies, there was a revival in the Mod culture.  Suddenly the streets were full of youth dressed in their Parkers, drainpipe trousers and Fred Perry shirts riding Lambrettas.  It was amazing.  The late 70s and 80s also saw an explosion of other fashion trends, with Punks, Ska Boys and Rockers suddenly emerging from the undergrowth preaching the glory of their favourite bands.  I was into Ska, loving The Specials, Madness, Bad Manners and The Selector to name but a few.  And then my best mate, Tim, introduced me to one of the Mod groups of the time, The Jam.  I was and remain hooked.

Now I had a decision to make.  Mod or Ska?  Mods were hated (who knows why?) but I loved the way they dressed and their style.  I evolved, although never made that complete transition to being a Mod, but not far off.

So, I am now in my late forties and I am walking through Cardiff on a lovely Spring day and outside Coffee Nero near the castle in Cardiff, South Wales, there are three beautiful scooters.  There are long mirrors, loads of lights, high backrests, blue/red/white target stickers and flags.  The Mods are back.  Sitting at a table sipping on their espressos are three Mods.  None of them were as young as they once were, but the style was still there.  We chatted for a while and they kindly allowed me to take a load of photographs, which can be seen on my website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Urban-Culture&sub_album=Mods-and-Scooters

As I walked away, something deep inside stirred and I found myself desiring a Parker and some drain pipe trousers.  And then I thought of Quadrophenia, the magical album by The Who that was made into a film.  Quietly, as I walked back towards the castle, I mumbled those memorable words from the film.  “We are the Mods! We are the Mods!  We Are!  We Are!  We Are the Mods!”

The Sgwd Gwladus Waterfall

Sgwd Gwladus WaterfallThe sight and sound of the rushing flow of water cascading over a waterfall is one of nature’s wonders.  Jackie and I had walked up to the waterfalls on the Elidir Trail in Waterfall Country near Pontneddfechan in South Wales, UK the previous week.  At that time it was raining and although I had took some photographs, they were simply snapshots.

A week later, the sky was forecast to be perfectly overcast and so I decided that the time was right to take spend some time getting the best images possible.  I left the house whilst everyone was still in bed and drove the 45 minutes or so north. After parking, and now laden down with a bag of kit and a heavy tripod, it took me another 45 minutes to walk up along the winding and muddy path alongside the Afon Nedd Fechan river to the first waterfall, before I doubled back on myself to spend time at another three locations.  Sgwd Gwladus was the last waterfall of the four.

All the images I took (for more images go to the website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Waterfalls&sub_album=Sgwd Gwaldus) were on a Canon 5D, tripod mounted for the long exposure with the highest F stop possible.  I also use a graduated filter on some of the images, especially as the daylight increased and started breaking through the clouds.  I love the way that the long exposure captures the energy of the water, turning the water milky white.

In Waterfall Country there are several fantastic waterfalls and I intend to photograph all of them and repeat the photographs as the seasons change.  What a great way to spend a Sunday morning!