A few weeks in planning culminated in a 4 day trip to Pembrokeshire via the Brecon Beacons, two areas I have not photographed before. Why did I chose these? Two areas vastly different in geography, Pembrokeshire is famed for its rocky coastline and gently undulating countryside whilst the Brecon Beacons are rugged and remote, in fact south of Snowdonia they form the highest parts of England and Wales. The plan was to spend a few hours in the Beacons on my way to and from Pembrokeshire.
Due to the forecast gales I delayed my trip for a week having consulted the weather forecast I reckoned that the weather would suit what I had planned. The only doubt was day 2; rain overnight clearing around daybreak. I could live with that.
Leaving home at 0600 on a Sunday morning I had not expected to encounter any hold-ups especially so early on a clear and bright morning. Wrong! An hour in to my journey a collision on M25 had closed a couple of lanes adding 30 minutes to the journey.
Reaching the south of the Beacons mid-morning I headed for Sennybridge by way of a minor road across the Beacons through an area called Fforest Fawr. At the top of this road I had a spectacular view north along the valley of Afon Senni. I was intrigued by the road below snaking in to the distance and made use of my 70 - 200mm lens to compress the perspective. Duly impressed with my first sight of the Brecon Beacons I continued on my way to Pembrokeshire.
By the time I arrived the day was slipping away so I headed towards Dale, south of Haverfordwest. My only other visit to the area had been in 1970 for a Geology Field Course based at Dale Fort which I note still exists today and hosts a variety of field courses. The late afternoon light was good and I wanted to make the most of it so I plodded through a rather mucky field of sheep and took up a position overlooking Short Point near the hamlet of Kete. I like the effect of long exposures (LE) and took the opportunity to create the image below. Not a moment in time but the passing of time, 91 seconds to be exact.
A fairly satisfactory start to the trip.
The rain beating against my window during the night was a foretaste of what was to come. Never one to be detered I set off for the south coast at 0600 still believing that the forecast for a clearance around daybreak would hold good. How wrong could I be, in fact it was 2 - 3 hours later that it dawned on me that the rain, accompanied by a very strong wind would last for most of the day. I did feel rather forlorn for a time before I reacted to the situation and began replanning what was left of the day as well as rearrange shooting plans for Day 3, for which the forecast was much better.
I spent some time on the cliff tops on the southern end of the military ranges at Castlemartin. From here Elegug Stacks and Green Bridge of Wales can be viewed and photographed. The wind was so strong and the rain so heavy that any thoughts of photography were banished from my mind. I did though make a point of identifying exactly where I would shoot from the next day. During my recce it became apparent just how strong the wind was, even blowing me around. Goodness knows what it must have been like the previous week during the gales. On my drive out of the ranges I noticed an isolated building, Flimston Chapel.
Although it was still raining I was away from the coast and the wind was less severe so I took the opportunity to create the image below. It was not difficult to isolate it as isolated it was!
Towards the end of the afternoon the weather started to relent and furthering my replanning I walked to Marloes Beach which I remembered as a gorgeous stretch of cliff-backed golden sands. Alas the strong tides had made rather a mess of it and had dumped a thick layer of neither sand nor shingle on the area of the beach I was able to access. Still it created an opportunity for an almost unworldly image.
My original plan had been to shoot in the south on Day 2 to make use of the rising sun and on the north and west on the third day for evening sun. Now I had to combine both in to one day with some shooting for stock in between. Revising the plan did mean me dropping out some locations but better to adapt that try and accomplish too much and end up with unsatisfactory work
I got to Castlemartin just after sunrise and was relieved there was access to the ranges. I captured a really strong picture of Green Bridge of Wales, aided by an interesting sky and beams of sun hitting the sea, altogether a great composition. I then moved on to the Stacks.
Although the sun was bright there was a haze rising off the sea at the foot of the cliffs, whether this was fine spray I could not be sure so I had to accept that this may unduly affect the image. Having visualised what I wanted to create I chose to take a LE with a view to a mono conversion. The image below is the outcome.
A drive and a hike to Stackpole Quay & Barafundle Bay followed before I set off to the north of the county, my next destination was St. Davids RNLI Station at St.Justinians. Running a tight schedule the last thing I needed was a hold up. Just my luck, the only road to St.Justinians blocked my a HGV carrying a large mobile home. I thought it had to be a sat-nav error but after waiting for 30 minutes as the driver cut off large branches and scraped walls he turned off down a farm track where I noticed other such mobile homes.
My area research had discovered the lifeboat station, wonderful location with an attractive red corrugated roof. The light was just perfect for what I had in mind. Worth the wait I think.
I ended the day on the beach at Broad Haven, making the most of what I hoped would be some nice evening light coinciding with a flow tide. The light was OK, just. Hoped for reds and pinks and mauves never materialised. The light about 30 minutes after the sun had set was a very blue steely grey colour and I was able to use this to good effect.
The day was over and I had achieved everything I had hoped for, 10 hours out and about, making the most of the conditions available. It was better to have come up with a Plan B rather than chase around with no set objectives, I even managed stock shooting at some of the locations which did not offer a creative opportunity.
The long journey home. Hoping to spend some time in the Beacons. All started well with some gorgeous light at the top of the Senni valley but just a short drop down the other side plunged me in to heavy rain and an end to my shooting. Before then I had the good fortune to be able to photograph a really strong and vibrant rainbow stretching across the valley. I made good use of this heaven-sent scene. It was only in my waking hours the next morning that I realised that perhaps these images may have an editorial interest so I got up, processed them and got them up on Alamy News Feed in the hope they may have a topical interest for a picture editor. The following day my belief was justified as I read The Times, there was one of my pictures. The only annoyance was that I did not receive any credit. I have asked why and am awaiting an answer. Anyway the publication of one of my images has already started to justify the cost of my trip.
A very busy 4 days, 955 miles, but very worthwhile. Now I look forward to my first event of the year, namely Spitalfileds Arts Market, 13th - 16th March, 1000 - 1700 daily. I hope some of my recent work will be on sale. More of my work can be seen in my Galleries on this web site.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed having an insight into what I do when out and about.