Being a commercial and industrial photographer invariably means that my cameras are with me most of the time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that I can stop and take photographs at every opportunity as I am usually racing from one photoshoot to the next.
However, on a glorious morning in late April 2015, I was on my way to a 7am morning meeting on the seafront at Barry Island, driving through the winding lanes of the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, UK. The sun had just started to peak out from behind the rolling hills and golden light was spreading across the land. Just before I reached the small village of Pendoylan, I turned another corner and the view of the rising sun and mist filled valleys was just too much and I pulled over next to a gate to a large field. As soon as I got out of the car I noticed how cold it was, but remained undeterred. Opening the boot and my large equipment rucksack, I got out my Canon 5D, quickly chose the settings I wanted with a large aperture and rested on the ice covered gate to steady myself.
Looking across the landscape towards the rising sun, I could see that the far-off tree filled fields were covered with low lying mist. Trees just poked their heads up through the grey. In the field before me were some sheep and the orange glowing sun was illuminating them from behind. It looked beautiful and my job was to try and capture the scene in a photograph.
On my travels, I often get asked by keen photographers for tips. The number one tip is always to have your camera with you as you just never know what opportunities you may see. Taking the photographs of that wonderful sunrise took around 15 minutes and I still made my 7am meeting on time. You never know when you will see something that will ignite your imagination and, even if you don’t have your special camera, use a mobile phone. Photographs are all about capturing moments in time that will never be repeated. There will be plenty more sunrises, but none exactly the same as that morning just outside Pendoylan in the Vale of Glamorgan and I have that captured in a photograph for ever.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
The sight and sound of the rushing flow of water cascading over a waterfall is one of nature’s wonders. Jackie and I had walked up to the waterfalls on the Elidir Trail in Waterfall Country near Pontneddfechan in South Wales, UK the previous week. At that time it was raining and although I had took some photographs, they were simply snapshots.
A week later, the sky was forecast to be perfectly overcast and so I decided that the time was right to take spend some time getting the best images possible. I left the house whilst everyone was still in bed and drove the 45 minutes or so north. After parking, and now laden down with a bag of kit and a heavy tripod, it took me another 45 minutes to walk up along the winding and muddy path alongside the Afon Nedd Fechan river to the first waterfall, before I doubled back on myself to spend time at another three locations. Sgwd Gwladus was the last waterfall of the four.
All the images I took (for more images go to the website – http://www.paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Waterfalls&sub_album=Sgwd Gwaldus) were on a Canon 5D, tripod mounted for the long exposure with the highest F stop possible. I also use a graduated filter on some of the images, especially as the daylight increased and started breaking through the clouds. I love the way that the long exposure captures the energy of the water, turning the water milky white.
In Waterfall Country there are several fantastic waterfalls and I intend to photograph all of them and repeat the photographs as the seasons change. What a great way to spend a Sunday morning!
Earlier today I had the good fortune to spend a couple of hours with John Satherley of Pontypridd Golf Club. John was showing me around the course prior to a photoshoot that I hope to take over the weekend. Even though it was pretty overcast, there were quite a few players on the course and the fairways and greens looked perfect. Many years ago I played golf regularly, but nowadays I’m lucky if I play once a year and have never played the Pontypridd course. The course overlooks Pontypridd and the views are truly spectacular. Never mind the golf, just gazing out down the valley towards the Brecon Beacons is enough to take your breath away. On some of the holes you are literally striking the ball into the mouth of the valley. The photograph is taken on the 2nd tee, looking back over Pontypridd, but is by no means the most spectacular. As to the question in the title, I can only say that the golf simply enhances the experience.
The alarm clock had burst into life at 6:30am and I had dragged myself out of bed. Without really opening my eyes, I made my way downstairs to the kitchen, only pausing to turn off the house alarm and open the front door to let in Jessie, our cat. Into the kitchen I trudged and I found myself looking through the window at a beautiful sunrise. My eyes were now wide open and I watched as the sky slowly changed colour as the sun rose up from behind the mountains in the distance. My camera was still in my bag after last night’s photoshoot of a band and so I grabbed it, changed the lens to my 70-200mm zoom, opened the window and took some shots. Now I was awake. Taken in Church Village, South Wales, UK.