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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Christmas Themed Trumpet Photographs

Trumpets for Christmas Music For You-6670As a Commercial and Industrial Photographer, I am always looking at different ways to photograph products and create something that is a little different.  Leading up to Christmas this year, I have had the pleasure of working with Andrew Jones of Music For You and we spent a couple of hours in my studio taking photographs of his trumpets.  The trumpet is a beautiful instrument and the three that Andrew brought along for the shoot were so different in colour and even shape.  We wanted to do something for Christmas and so after rummaging around in the loft I managed to find some Christmas decorations and the fun then began.

We aimed for simplicity and producing clean, sharp and uncluttered images that he could use leading up to Christmas.  The trumpet remained the focal point in every photograph, but I think we created something that is just a little different.

The Christmas set of photographs are on my website and you can also see some posted on Andrew’s Music For You Facebook site.

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!

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.

All The Fun of the Fair – Funfair Photographs

Cardiff, Cardiff Bay, Funfair

Spinning around in Cardiff Bay

Funfairs have a mystical feeling that takes me back to my childhood.  The funfair would come to town and park itself on an open area of ground somewhere and metamorphosis from a stream of trucks into a plethora of bright coloured, noisy, stands, booths and rides that made me feel warm and excited inside.  Often, the open ground would be transformed into a mud within a couple of days, but that still did not deter the visitors.  There were chances to win a cuddly toy or terrorise yourself in the Ghost Train.  And throughout I would walk around with my eyes wide open, often carrying a pink candy floss or chocolate ice-cream.

The funfair in Cardiff Bay didn’t have the rough edges of a travelling group, but even though I am now nearing 50, I still felt that tingle of magic inside.  Out came the camera and I tried to capture some of that magic, using the amazing bright colours and exciting movement of the rides.  I walked away happy to have experienced the magic of the  funfair, just in a very different way to when I was a child.

The photographs of the funfair can be seen by clicking this link.

SLaM Rehearsing at the Green Rooms

Drums of a Heavy Metal Band

The cracked cymbal of the Heavy Metal band SLaM

Armed with ear plugs and my camera, I was invited by SLaM to get some photographs of them rehearsing in The Green Rooms studios in Treforest, South Wales.  Riff Clitchard had told me that they were a heavy metal band, which wasn’t my usual musical preference, but I do like a little rock.  The studio was quite compact, with awful lighting that wasn’t conducive to the best photography, but you have to work with what you’ve got.  I didn’t want to use a flash as I wanted to be as inconspicuous as I could be.  Well, as a photographer can ever be pointing a lens at people.

Rif and his two fellow bands mates, Mave Dustaine and Whorley Chatts were great.  They’ve got experience in the music industry and have a plan.  I hope to help them with that plan.

After a little warmup, SLaM slammed into some heavy guitar riffs with the drums thrashing out the rhythm.  It was awesome.  The energy is the room was buzzing and you could tell that Riff, Mave and Whorley just loved playing.  I clicked away with my Canon 5D, changing the lens to a fisheye at one stage to get some ‘different’ shots and hopefully captured some of the character of the band.  Several times I had to force myself to stop tapping my foot to the music.  For someone who was brought up on Ska and Mod music, I was enjoying this far too much.  But, then again, this was good stuff.

A great way to spend a Saturday evening and I can’t wait to work with the band again.  Despite the earplugs, my ears are still ringing!

Click here to see more photographs of the session.

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.

3 Views When Walking Through Cardiff

Fisheye lens view in CardiffI was in Coffee Barker, a fantastic café in one of the arcades in the centre of Cardiff in South Wales, and had just finished the 2nd of two meetings. It was time to wander back to the car and so I clicked my fisheyes lens onto my Canon 5D, ready to take some unconventional images of the beautiful city. Firstly, there was the arcade and the tables lined up outside Coffee Barker. The arcades in Cardiff are amazing and I reminded myself to return and spend an afternoon photographing the arcades. I then ventured out into St Mary’s Street and took a photo looking down away from the castle. After crossing the road, I headed up towards The City Parish of St John the Baptist, where the blue skies and gorgeous clouds framed the church perfectly.

Although only the church photo is on this blog, the others can be seen on my website (although with other urban photos of Cardiff)

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

Inspired Architecture from Nature

For the past month or so I have watched as the pot of lilies in our back garden have gradually awoken from their winter’s hibernation. The long stems have stretched upwards, as if trying to push their gradually opening buds up into the sky. Over the past few days, those buds have blossomed and now I am looking at some of the most beautiful architecture that Mother Nature has ever designed. The sweet curves of the white leaves, curl around the bright yellow heart. As the sunlight filters through the wispy thin petal, you can see the slightly darker veins. Then, on the tip of the flower is a little curling twist that just adds yet another dimension to this beautiful plant. I could sit and gaze at them for hours.

There are more photographs of our gorgeous lilies on my website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Flowers-and-Trees. Any of the photographs shown can be purchased as a print, canvas or framed photograph and please contact us on paul@paulfearsphoto.co.uk if this is of interest.

Lilly