Photographing Historical Sites in Wales Tintern Abbey

Photographing Tintern Abbey in South Wales always presents a different challenge and opportunity.  The first stones were laid in 1131 and the sheer scale of the abbey remnants is breathtaking. Tintern Abbey-35

When taking photographs in November, the main challenge faced by any photographer is the light.  The tree-covered mountains either side of the River Wye rise up steeply and shade is cast upon the whole area pretty early in the afternoon.  For this particular photoshoot, I didn’t arrive until around 1pm and the sun was already quite low in the sky.  One whole side of the building was shielded in shadows cast by the sun sitting in the cloudless sky.  With the help of a little bit of post photoshoot processing I was able to use this difficult light to try and produce something slightly different.

Tintern Abbey, managed by Cadw, is one of the best-known monastic sites in the British Isles.  Even though many parts of the original building have disappeared, the remaining arches, windows and pillars are exceptionally well preserved.

The Abbey is in the shape of a cross and the main walls on all four ends remain and stretch high up into the sky.  The detail is phenomenal and I would have loved to have seen those windows filled with stained glass.Tintern Abbey-6346

Despite the blue sky, the temperature was really cold and you could only imagine how life would have been for the monks living and worshiping at the Abbey.  There is much still unknown.  Tintern Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery to be established in Wales, only abandoning the abbey 400 years later in 1536 during their suppression by Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell.

The photographs can be seen on my website and were all taken using my Canon 6D.  There was enough light to use F22 and these were all taken handheld.  In Lightroom I have made some adjustments to enhance the brickwork and reduce shadow.

Whether you are a photographer or not, I highly recommend visiting Tintern Abbey.  It is one of the most amazing historical buildings in the UK and just gives a little insight into our religious past.

Paul Fears is a commercial and industrial photographer based in South Wales.  All photographs of Tintern Abbey and other historical sites are available as downloads, prints, posters, canvas or framed.  For further information either visit the website or contact Paul on paul@paulfearsphoto.co.uk

Abstract Photographs from St Fagans Museum

It is so easy just to take those same old photographs when visiting a Museum like St Fagan’s just outside Cardiff in South Wales UK.  The historical buildings are wonderful and reflect the amazing history of the United Kingdom and the temptation would be just to stand back and take those all encompassing photographs that show everything.  I wanted to do something different.

St Fagan’s St Fagans Buildings-9710in South Wales is a natural history museum and has rebuilt buildings that were going to be demolished.  They include farm house, institutes, police stations, shops and terraced houses and the aim is to show how people used to live.  It is incredible to see how people were living only 100 years ago and I can only wonder at what the next century will bring.

It was a gorgeous day with a deep blue sky that was a perfect backdrop for some of the white buildings.  Also, the sun created wonderful shadows over the textures of the buildings.  I did not have a great deal of time, but constantly looked for interesting angles, textures and perspectives.  There was the silhouette of the dog fighting pit with the sun behind, the chimney of an old terraced house, shadows on a weathered wooden door and an old man reading a newspaper sitting outside an old farm house.  I tried to keep the compositions simple, whilst stimulating some intrigue.  I came away with photographs that were just a little bit different.

Paul Fears is a Commercial and Industrial Photographer in South Wales and can be contacted on:

Email:  paul@paulfearsphoto.co.uk

Tel: 07909 103789

Via his website

Photographs of Castles in Wales Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil

Merthyr Tydil is one of the most important industrial towns in the world.  Today the town may have lost it’s industrial heritage, but in the late 1740s the first iron was smelted in the town and that sparked a growth that dwarfed anywhere in the world at that time.

Castle, Cyfarthfa, Merthyr

Richard Crawshay, a Yorkshireman, was one of the men who founded Merthyr’s greatest industrial dynasty.  In 1786, he purchased the iron works at Cyfarthfa when Anthony Bacon died.  His empire grew and between 1824 and 1825, he spent £30,000 building Cyfarthfa Castle on a hill to overlook the town and his iron works.  The building is more of a fortified building than a castle and the imposing grandeur of the decor both internally and externally is worth seeing.

Cyfarthfa Castle is situated in beautiful grounds and gardens to the North of the main Merthyr Tydfil town.  As you drive up along the main arterial road (A470) it is impossible not to see the castle poised on the hillside, looking out over the town.

My father’s side of my family is from Merthyr and, as a child, I can remember playing in the local park and looking at this amazing castle in the distance.  For those workers in the iron works of the 1700s, the castle must have been a continual reminder of the power of the owners of the iron works.

I was at Cyfarthfa Castle to take some pre-wedding photographs of a lovely couple as part of Double Take Photography.  The couple were from Merthyr and we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful gardens.  With any pre-wedding photoshoot, the aim is to get to know the couple and produce a photograph that can then be mounted and displayed at their wedding reception, which guests then sign.

After we finished the photoshoot, I just wandered around the gardens and took photographs of the castle, a band playing in the park and the views looking over Merthyr.

This is one of several blogs about castles in Wales and the others are:

Chepstow Castle

Margam Castle

Caldicot Castle

Monmouthshire’s Three Castles

Castell Coch

Why are Global Plastics Recycling Rates Falling?

A concerning report which highlights the need for governments to engage with industry and determine the best economical way forward.

News & Blogs

Research from Worldwatch Institute featured online by PRW.com reported that plastics recycling rates are falling despite a growth in production.  Political parties from across the world and especially in Western Europe continually advocate the importance of environmental policy and the need to reclaim, recycle and reuse.  However, this rhetoric is often without substance or knowledge.

So what is the issue with the recycling of plastic?  As as been recently reported in the press (eg letsrecycle.com), in December 2014 one of the UK biggest plastics recyclers, ECO Plastics, was placed into pre-pack administration prior to its business and assets being acquired by investor Aurelius.  Is there a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed at government level?

Plastics recycling has always been challenging and the advent of pre-sorted refuse plants in Germany in the 1990s resulted in warehouses stacked to the roof with recovered plastic that was of no use to anyone…

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Photographs of the Colours of Late Autumn Leaves

Autumn Coloured Leaves-9981-2I am a sucker for the colour of late Autumn leaves and could spend hours poised with a camera taking photographs.  The best time to capture the colours is when the sun is low in the sky and you get that rich golden light, which just illuminates the gorgeous leaves both on the tree and coating the ground.  This set of photographs was actually taken at the end of my drive, just emphasising that you don’t have to drive miles to get photographs of fauna.  In fact, I had broken away from cleaning the car, leaving my protesting daughter in charge as I knelt down on the wet, dirty ground to try and capture the colours that I was seeing.

And, if you like this there are some more of the photos on my website.

 

 

Spare a thought for the Bugler performing the “Last Post” on Remembrance Sunday

Listening to the Last Post always sends tingles down my spine and just brings some deep seated emotions to the surface. It must be so emotional for the Buglers as well. I also wish to salute all you Buglers!

Music for You

Last Post - 5RW Memorial

This Sunday will once again see many of us commemorating Remembrance Day at Parades and Memorial Services up and down the country.

One of the integral parts of that Service, will be the playing of the Last Post preceding the 2 minute Silence. For many, this is the most poignant part of the proceedings, bringing all sorts of emotions to the surface, from even the most robust and stiff-upper-lipped of characters, as memories of loved ones and fallen Comrades, as well as thoughts of current serving personnel in the Armed Forces are given heightened awareness.

I have been honoured and privileged to have been asked to play the Last Post at numerous Parades, Memorial Services and Funerals during the last 30+ years and since joining the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh, have a heightened awareness of its relevance and meaning to members of the Armed Forces and civilians alike.

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Music for You Project

I know that Andrew was thrilled with the outcome. Great work!

Tom Fears

Music for You – Andrew Jones

I was recently involved in a project which enabled me to re-vamp a YouTube site with new videos and links to various forms of social media. The project entailed of 30 videos that needed to be edited using photographs given to me. I worked alongside bethangharad.wordpress.com and constructed a successful YouTube site for our client. Check it out!

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 21.55.58

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Photographs showing the Elegance of the National Museum of Wales

National Museum of Wales-1983-2The National Museum of Wales is not only houses one of the World’s premier art collections, including Monet, Van Gough and Rodin to name but a few, but is a stunning example of the wonderful Portland stone architecture in the Cathays Park area of Cardiff.  Construction of a the building began in 1912, but with the onset of the First World War it did not open to the public until 1922, with the official opening taking place in 1927. The architects were Arnold Dunbar Smith and Cecil Brewer, although the building as it now stands is a heavily truncated version of their design.

The domed ceiling of the main foyer area is particularly photogenic, especially if you persuade the staff to allow you to lie on your back exactly under the centre of the dome to take the shot.

A selection of the photographs can be seen on the Paul Fears Photography website.

The High Crosses of Duiske Abbey

Love the image. Looks a great place to be really creative.

Ed Mooney Photography

Duiske High Crosses (1)

Im really excited about this post as it is the beginning for me of exploring a new county. Duiske Abbey, also sometimes known as Graiguenamanagh Abbey rests in the middle of the nice little town of Graiguenamanagh at the foot of Brandon hill in Kilkenny. Now a National Monument, The Abbey originated in the 13th century as the church of a Cistercian monastery that was founded by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke in 1204AD. It was said to have been one of the finest Cistercian monasteries in medieval Ireland. The Abbey gets its name from the Douskey River, (An Dubhuisce meaning Black Water in Gaelic). It was not until three years later that monks began to arrive here from Stanley in Wiltshire.

Entrance to the Graveyard Entrance to the Graveyard

Duiske High Crosses (3) Ballyogan High Cross

As was the case with many religious sites across Ireland the Abbey was suppressed by Henry in 1535 and…

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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!”