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.

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Brave or Mad Sea Fishermen?

Ogmore-on-sea sea fishermen-8322The sea was crashing into the coast, smashing against the rocks and sending spray high up into the sky and yet the sea fishermen appeared oblivious to it all.  February stormy weather had hit the South Wales coast and my wife and I were out walking along a coastal path by Ogmore-by-Sea.  Heavy mean looking clouds were rushing across the sky and the sun was constantly fighting to bite through and light up the glorious coastline.  It was exhilarating!

Then I saw the first pair of fishermen.  They were positioned on the edge of a rock face just metres away from where the sea was pounding against the rocks.  Despite spray showering them, they stood and simply chatted, although they must have had to shout as the noise from the waves was deafening.  Out came the 300mm zoom lens and I took a few shots to try and capture what I was seeing.

Further on there was further evidence of fishing madness.  These keen but crazy sportsmen precariously perched themselves on rocks close to where the waves thundered into land.  I wondered how, in the stormy seas, they would have a chance of catching any fish, but maybe that wasn’t the point.  I was excited watching them and so the adrenalin must have been pumping through their veins as they defied the elements in pursuit of catching that special fish.  Was this a classic example of the thrill of the chase?

As we walked back, the fishermen were packing up and walking home and I managed to get one final shot of a fisherman from Bargoed Sea Anglers all packed up and just gazing out across the sea.  He appeared content, although maybe not with his catch of fish, but after winning his battle with the coastal elements.Ogmore-on-sea sea fishermen-6

Photographs of the sea anglers and sea fisherman can be seen on my website.

Surfing in Stormy Seas

Striding into the bitterly cold sea to search for that special wave.

It is January and the temperature is around 4 degrees C with a wind-chill that takes it below freezing.  I am wrapped up in around 4 layers of clothing, including thick socks and gloves and I am still cold.  Not only is it cold, but there is a strong wind that whips up the waves that are pounding onto the beach at Porthcawl in South Wales, UK.  And yet, I watch and take photographs as surfers brave the elements, striding out into the crashing froth is search of a wave to ride.

Rest Bay in Porthcawl is one of the best beaches for surfing in the area and on Saturday 17th January 2015 the weather was stormy and perfect for surfing.  I couldn’t believe how many surfers were braving the elements and wondered how good those wetsuits were in keeping them warm.  I doubted whether they were that effective.

The photographs I took hopefully tell the story and I particularly like the one with the surfer striding out into sea carrying his surfboard.  The collection can be seen on the Paul Fears Photography website.

The Crowds in Cardiff When Wales Played the All Blacks

Crowds in Cardiff for Wales vs All Blacks-7932-2There is something truly magical about the city of Cardiff when Wales are playing a rugby union test match.  You can almost taste the buzz of excitement and anticipation.  The streets are full of colour, with supporters wearing bright red jerseys and red scarves around their necks.  The dragon on the Welsh flag flutters on every street corner as street traders try to sell their stock of scarves, hats and flags.  People suddenly find themselves compelled to purchase ridiculous hats in the shape of a daffodil or dragon.  There is a tremendous feeling of national pride and even people who don’t speak a word of Welsh find themselves singing Sosban Fach or Calon Lan with tears in their eyes.  Beer flows like rain sodden rivers and we are thankful that Cardiff’s most famous brewery, SA Brain, is busy brewing just minutes away from the city centre.

One reason why there is such an amazing atmosphere in Cardiff is because the stadium, the magnificent Millennium Stadium, is in the heart of the city.  Most international stadiums are located outside of any major city, but the Millennium Stadium proudly sits on the banks of the River Taff.  Many players have openly stated that this is their favourite stadium as the atmosphere and noise if like anywhere else.

Crowds in Cardiff for Wales vs All Blacks-7965-2One of the most treasured test matches is when Wales play New Zealand, otherwise known as the All Blacks.  On match day, God must be inundated with prayers from Welsh fans asking for that miracle.  As of 2014, it has been 61 years since Wales beat the All Blacks, an embarrassingly long time.  And in recent years, every time the All Blacks arrive, there is always a just a glimmer of hope.  But each time this glimmer has quickly been distinguished by the formidable All Blacks.

 

Early this month (November 2014), I was in Cardiff covering a pre-match hospitality event, but took some time to photograph the atmosphere at the bottom of St Mary’s Street.  With my Canon 1000D and a 70-300mm lens I discreetly leaned against lampposts and shop doorways and watched the world go by.  This selection (and there are more on my website) was taken in the free 30 minutes I had before going onto the hospitality event and over 4 hours before kick off.  By then Cardiff was bouncing!  And by 7pm the inevitable had happened.  The All Blacks had won again!

Driving Home Towards The Sunset

Sunset North of Merthyr-8010I was driving along the heads of the valleys road on my way back home from Ebbw Vale, just north of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, when I saw this amazing sky.  I pulled over at the first opportunity and with my Canon 1000D took some photos.  I wanted some long exposures for the car lights and balanced the camera first on the car roof and then on a nearby post.  However, this photo, with the light reflecting on the side of the car, was taken hand held.  It isn’t perfect, but I wanted the reflection and didn’t have a tripod.  It was cold and I was late, but sometimes you need to just grab the opportunity to take the photograph.  On my website are a collection of photographs of sunrises and sunsets.

Autumn Colours in Bute Park, Cardiff, South Wales

Autumn Colours in Bute Park-6756The colours of Autumn have always fascinated me and trying to capture them on a camera is always challenging.  You need good light, which in Wales can be absent at the best of times.  I like blue skies as they offer a perfect contrast to the brown, yellow and orange leaves, and you can use the direct sunlight to illuminate the edges of the leaves.  Also, there is a time limit when the colours change and the leaves drop, often shortened when there is a major storm.

This particular set of photographs was taken in Bute Park, Cardiff, South Wales at the back of Cardiff Castle.  It is a beautiful park all year round, but in the Autumn the diverse mix of fauna seem to ignite in Autumnal colour.  One side of the park runs alongside the River Taff and is a popular location for walking, cycling and sports.  On the opposite side you will find the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama leading down to the Castle walls on the edge of the shopping area.  The fact that it is in the centre of Cardiff makes it that little bit extra special.

Melincourt Waterfall

Melincourt Waterfalls

80ft waterfall

On the Melin Court Brook, a left bank tributary of the Neath River, 1 mile south of Resolven in the county borough of Neath Port Talbot in South Wales is an awesome 80ft (24m) waterfall. The walk up from the car park is pretty straight forward and you can hear the noise of the water crashing down on the rocks as you get closer. The path opens up and then you are faced with these magnificent falls. Spray from the cascading water showers the whole area making the rocks slippery and you need to take care. However, there is an opportunity for some great photographs.On this occasion I just used my Canon 1000D balanced on rocks with a beanbag attached to the balance for support. Not ideal, but it allowed me to take some long exposures to capture that wonderful white flow. Luckily the weather was overcast and quite gloomy, which was perfect for the long exposure. I could have stayed there for hours.

More photographs of the Melincourt Falls can be seen by clicking on this link.

Photographs of Monmouthshire’s Three Castles

There are three wonderful castles to visit in Monmouthshire, Wales; Grosmont, Skenfrith and White Castle. Grosmont and Skenfrith are positioned near the River Wye, whilst White Castle is further to the west. All have origins that date back to the 1200’s although they were modified and extended extensively over time.Grosmont Castle

Grosmont is located up a short hill behind the town of Grosmont. It has a spectacular chimney, which stands proud at the back of the castle. When we were there, there was a boy and his father playing football in the grounds, which was lovely. The views from the upper levels are amazing.

Skenfrith is dominated by the central tower, which stands proud in the centre of the castle. As you stand in the grounds, you look up to see the tall hills and I could only wonder what it must have felt like to see your enemies approaching from afar.

Skenfrith CastleWhite Castle is the biggest of the three, with quite extensive grounds. The inner ward is protected by a twin-towered gatehouse and is surrounded by a small moat.

All three are well worth a visit. I have posted my photographs on http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Castles and this weekend I will be displaying framed and mounted copies at a big event outside and inside Caerphilly Castle called The Big Cheese.White Castle

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