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.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

Castles In Wales – Margam Castle

Castle, Margam

In Margam Country Park, near Port Talbot in South Wales, is a 19th century Tudor gothic mansion that many people would not even class as a castle.  Margam Castle was built 1830 and 1840 by Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803-1890) in a style that would compliment Margam’s illustrious history and his own family’s lineage.  The original mansion house had been demolished in 1787 and replaced by the Orangery, that still remains in the gardens today.  Margam Castle was passed through inheritance to several owners unto it was requisitioned by the Government in 1939.  In 1941, the trustees of the Margam estate then decided to sell the greater part of the property ultimately leaving an empty mansion and even though the estate was sold to Sir David Evans-Bevan in 1942, he never lived there and it fell into decline.  Glamorgan County Council acquired the state in 1973 and, despite a terrible fire in 1977 that gutted the interior, restoration of the mansion continues today.

Architecturally it is quite splendid and the imposing structure dominants the surrounding park areas.  The octagonal tower is particularly striking and sits in the centre of the mansion.  When my children were young we would come into Margam Park and spend hours in the grounds, taking advantage of the wide open grassy areas for a picnic and to play rugby.  I can remember sitting and looking across the expanse of grass at the dominant and imposing building silhouetted by the trees of the wooded hillside behind.

During our latest visit, we took the opportunity to walk to the magnificent Orangery, before following a path up a series of ornate steps up to the mansion.  Despite the clouds overhead, the beautiful trees and flowers lit up the gardens and I can only imagine the splendour when the mansion was in its prime.  From the grounds you can look towards the coast and see steam plumbing up into the sky from the vast Port Talbot steel works and it always makes me appreciate the industrial heritage of South Wales.

If you haven’t been to Margam Park before, I recommend that you visit.  It is a great place to go with young families with expansive grounds to play in or if you have an interest in history and architecture.

The photographs are all shot with a Canon 5D, all handheld with a little adjustment in Photoshop where needed to enhance certain features. More photographs can be seen on my website.

Castles In Wales – Caldicot Castle

The gatehouse of Caldicot Castle in Monmouthshire, South Wales

The gatehouse of Caldicot Castle in Monmouthshire, South Wales

This blog on Caldicot Castle is the first in a series on photographing Castles in Wales.  Photographing castles is one of my passions and being located just outside Pontypridd in South Wales means that many of them are not that far away.

Caldicot Castle is a wonderfully preserved example of a medieval castle located just outside Caldicot in Monmouthshire, UK.  The castle dates back to 1158 when Humphrey de Bohun III, Earl of Hereford was passed the manor of Caldicot and built the stone keep and curtain walls of the present-day castle.  Further details on the castle can be found on the Caldicot Castle website.

The castle is great to photograph, especially as you can walk around the entire perimeter.  Walking up to the front gatehouse through the trees is a treat, especially with the colours of Autumn.

The photographs in this collection just focuses on external views of the Castle and can be seen on the Paul Fears Photography 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.

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.

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!