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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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

Views From Garth Hill Pentyrch South Wales

Views from Garth Hill Panoramic Taffs Well1

Christmas had come and gone and the New Year loomed and so it was time to get some fresh air in the wonderful countryside around South Wales.  Not far from where we live is Garth Hill, made famous by the story and film entitled ‘An Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain’.  The Garth Hill dominates the western skyline as you leave Cardiff and drive up the valley towards Pontypridd on the A470.  From the top it is possible to see the mountains in the Brecon Beacons to the north and Cardiff and across the Bristol Channel to Weston-Super-Mare in the south.  Dotted around the top of the hill are a number of tumuli or burial sites dating back from the early to middle Bronze Age, around 2000 BC.Views from Garth Hill and Tumuli

On this particular day, the sky was blue and the rain had stopped and, like so many others, we walked up to the trig point on the top and then across to the nearly shear drop down into the A470 valley and the Gwaelod-y-Garth village and Taffs Well town.  The views were amazing.  It was a little hazy, but you could still see for miles and we could pick out the Millennium Stadium, the Wales Millennium Centre and Cardiff Bay.

I hadn’t taken my tripod, but I still tried some panoramic views of Pontypridd to the north and Taffs Well and the A470 to the east.  If you live in South Wales and want to enjoy a pleasant walk with amazing views, then I strongly recommend you visiting Garth Hill.  More photographs can be seen on my 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!

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.

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.

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)

5 Sights To See When Walking Around Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay

The walk around Cardiff Bay starts and ends at the Wales Millennium Centre and takes around 1 1/2 hours. So, what are the five sights to see?

1.  Walk away from the Millennium Centre, past Techniquest and onto the bridge (A4232). From here the views both towards Cardiff (where you can see the Millennium Stadium) and Penarth are breathtaking. Get the camera out;

2.  After dropping down and under the bridge, you follow the path along past Cardiff International White Water Centre until you reach a footbridge. From here you can see the small and large boats moored on the river;

3.  Head towards Penarth and the barrage, taking the path back towards Cardiff Bay and gaze across the water. In the summer, the water is full of boats and activity;

4.  Around half way along the path is a small exhibition about Captain Scott and two huge sails. Prefect photo opportunity;

5.  Walk on past the Doctor Who Experience and back to Cardiff Bay. Now it is time to gaze at the wonderful Wales Millennium Centre. And don’t forget to get a few photos!

Photographs of all the above sights and more can be seen by following the links below.

The Cardiff Bay Walk – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Urban-Scenes&sub_album=Cardiff-Bay-Walk-South-Wales-UK

The Wales Millennium Centre – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Architecture&sub_album=Wales-Millennium-Centre-Cardiff-Bay

Urban Architecture in Cardiff

I might be slightly biased, but I think that Cardiff is one of the most wonderful cities in the World. Having had the good fortune to travel extensively over the past 25 years, I have seen and experienced many cities. Still, Cardiff comes out on top. The capital of Wales is extremely cosmopolitan and the additional of buildings such as John Lewis are architectural wonders and have brought a new dimension to the city. Sitting next to the City Library at the end of the St David’s 2 shopping precinct, the building has sharp tight angled corners with smoked windows from which tired shoppers gaze as they drink their afternoon tea in the John Lewis café. And I should know as I’ve sat there often.

More photographs of Cardiff, showing the diversity of the architecture, can be seen on my website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Urban-Scenes

John Lewis