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

Castell Coch Photographed through the Eye of a Fish

The Castell Coch (Red Castle) is, undoubtedly, one of the most photographed castles in South Wales.  The fairy-tale dream of William Burges and the 3rd marquess of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, is perched on the hillside just behind Tongwynlais looking down the River Taff towards Cardiff.  It is as beautiful as it is strange and has many features that are similar to those seen in Cardiff Castle, another project worked on by Burgess and the 3rd marquess of Bute.  The architecture is quite stunning and evolved as the project unfolded.  There was a focus on maintaining historical accuracy, although this is disputed by many experts who simply say that this was borne from the minds of two dreamers who were in love with medieval times.  Castell Coch is managed by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service working for an accessible and well-protected historic environment for Wales.Castell Coch-10

I have photographed the Castell Coch castle many times, but on this occasion I wanted to try something different.  It was November and the weather was pretty miserable, which isn’t unusual for Wales, and so my wife, Jackie, and I were going to spend most of our time inside.  Despite its appearance, Castell Coch is not that big and the rooms and spaces inside can be quite compact.  With that in mind, I decided to only shoot with my 8-15mm Canon wide-angle fish-eye lens to see what I could capture.

The lens made me consider compositions in a very different way, looking for framing and also to capture the glorious splendor of some of the rooms.  In fact, I think the fish-eye effect adds something to the image, filling the frame with colour and texture rather than focusing on one small feature.

Castell Coch Bedroom

 

I even managed to get a photograph with a little splash of blue sky as we were walking in between rooms.  The photograph uses the walkway on the 1st floor as a frame, whilst focusing on one of the pointed roof of one of the towers.  Down below, the circular courtyard can be seen in all it’s glory.

A selection of photographs taken at Castell Coch, both with and without the fish-eye, can be seen in the ‘Castles‘ section on my website.

Many of the castle photographs shown in the collection are framed or put on canvas for supply to customers all over the world and are only available through Paul Fears Photography.  For further details or to enquire about purchased a castle photograph mounted in a frame or on a canvas, please contact Paul by email on paul@paulfearsphoto.co.uk or send an enquiry via the website.

Castles In Wales – Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle is one of my favourite castles, positioned on top of cliffs overlooking the River Wye in Monmouthshire, South Wales.  Being located on the edge of the river, means that the castle has a very unusual shape, being more long and thin than castles located in basins such as Caerphilly.  The castle dates back to 1067,  when William the Conqueror understood the strategic importance of Chepstow with road links to Monmouth and Hereford, and was expanded and modified through to at least 1300.  The castle was still being used in a military capacity in the English Civil War (1642-1651) and maintained as an artillery fort and barracks until 1685.  Since 1984, the castle has been in the care of Cadw.  It has also been used in a number of major films and television series including the Doctor Who 50th anniversary broadcast.

When you enter Chepstow Castle you end up walking uphill as the castle is built on a slope along the cliff top.  The views from the castle across the River Wye are stunning and we watched as dark clouds gathered in the sky and rushed towards us.  Inside, the castle boasts the oldest castle doors in Europe (approximately 800 years old), which are quite amazing.

I was looking to try to photograph the textures, colours and shapes of the castle like inside the Great Hall where they are still the remnants of ornate arches.  We were able to walk along some of the ramparts, looking across in the nearby Chepstow town.  Marten’s Tower is particularly impressive, but for me looking out over the walls next to the River Wye was the highlight.  Building Chepstow Castle on the cliffs was a fantastic feat of engineering and the buildings twist and turn along the cliff top.

Just before leaving Chepstow, cross the river and gaze at the castle from across the other side of the water.  For any enemy, this must have been a very imposing and frightening sight.

Photographs of Chepstow Castle can be seen on my website.  Also, photographs of castles are available as downloaded images or framed photographs.  For further details please contact me on paul@paulfearsphoto.co.uk.

 

 

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