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

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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.

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

Photographing the Sun Rise

Sunrise, Vale of Glamorgan, Mist, Sheep

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.

A selection of the photographs of the sunrise just outside Pendoylan and other sunrises and sunsets can be seen on my 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.

 

 

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!

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

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

The Malt House

Now and again you stumble across somewhere that is special.  This weekend, my wife and I found that special somewhere.  Located in the Brecon Beacons, just East of the town of Brecon on the way to Abergavenny in Mid Wales, UK, is a wonderful village called Talybont-on-Usk.  It is only a small town, but it is blessed with lovely people, a friendly village shop, great atmospheric pubs and plenty of places to eat.  For a small place it is quite incredible.  We stayed at The Malt House, booking bed and breakfast, although there is also a self-catering accommodation cottage.  We arrived early evening, having travelled up from Cardiff, where I was working on a photoshoot at a hospitality event organised by Legends Hospitality with the wonderful Phil Bennett, and immediately wandered across to the White Hart Inn to watch the final game of the 2014 Six Nations where Ireland was playing France.  Whilst drinking a few pints of the wonderful Rev James ale, cold white wine and eating some hearty food, we watched Ireland beat the French and secure the title in a nail-biting finish to the season.  The next day, we got up early and walked along the nearby canal, before having a freshly cooked full English breakfast whilst chatting to some lovely people.  What more can you ask for?  This photo of the back of The Malt House and a small part of their gardens was taken in the morning before breakfast, with the sun shining and the daffodils in full bloom.  The perfect Welsh retreat.  Some more photographs can be seen on my website along with a link to the website of The Malt House.

The Malt Househttp://paulfearsphoto.co.uk/index.php?cat=photographs&id=16&album=Places-To-Stay