Castel Dinas Bran

I took a quick trip down to Llangollen the other day to shoot Dinas Bran castle, a terrific location just 45 minutes’ drive from my house.  With sunrise at ten to eight it is easy enough to make the run there as I can get up at normal time and still be plenty early for the best light.  I arrived when it was still dark and tried to identify a more distant viewpoint than I usually use so I could include a bit more foreground which seems to work well here.  I eventually found somewhere to park the car on the narrow road making full use of the rear camera to make sure I didn’t hit any rocks. I waited for the light to improve a little before venturing out and started recording snippets for the vlog.  

With half an hour until sunrise I made my way up the hillside which was thick with ferns and reminded me a lot of Delamere forest which I often shoot.  My legs got a bit wet wading through the undergrowth to find a vantage point but I’d worn the thicker insulated trousers so this had no effect on my comfort at all.  Once I’d found a suitable spot I setup the lightweight Velbon tripod and explored possible compositions with the Bronica and a couple of lenses.  I’d decided to use the medium format camera on this outing as I like the way film captures the autumn colours. I preferred the angle of view given by the standard 80mm but it was a little tight so I had to accept a compromise whereby I cropped out some of the foreground tree.  If I had packed the 65mm (35mm equivalent) lens I would have had the perfect angle but each lens is pretty heavy so I have to be careful what I carry.

Using a polarizer and 1 stop hard grad to bring the brightening sky down slightly I made a few early frames using Fuji Provia 100 and Kodak Portra 400.  The light improved a bit and eventually the sun hit the castle and hillside by which time I had reloaded with more Portra and some old Velvia 50.  I took a few more shots but after 30 minutes or so decided the show was over and packed up for the short walk back to the car.  I also made a short vlog of the trip which you can see here

Dinas Bran from the panorama walk – Fuji Velvia.  Bronica SQAi 8omm Zenzanon, 1/8 sec @f/16, 1 stop grad and polarizer. 


The video equipment comprised a GoPro Hero4 silver and Panasonic FZ1000 but my external Zoom H1 mic played up (again) so I ended up putting my Samsung S5 to work as an external mic using a Rode lav mic with little dead cat (kitten?) to reduce wind noise.

Back towards the car I noticed that the light was favorable for an infrared picture and luckily I had packed my little Canon G15 that I’d had converted to shoot IR over 3 years ago.  This is a compact but very solid device with a built in 28-140 lens and 720nm IR filter.  It is a joy to use but given the choice I would prefer to shoot with a film such as Rollei IR 400.  I snapped away for 5 minutes and felt most pleased with the image shown here.

Dinas Bran – Canon G15 infrared


The light by now was too harsh for my liking so I chose to drive home but kept looking out for suitable images as I passed through the more scenic areas of the route.  There was nothing that captured my interest and typically I find that once your interest wanes there is little that can be done to get it back.  I had only managed a couple of worthwhile images out of the trip but was pleased to have found a new vantage point which I plan to revisit should we get any of those wonderful autumnal mists!

Steve O'Nions

Steve O'Nions is an amateur landscape photographer specialising in film cameras and living in the North West of England.

One thought on “Castel Dinas Bran

  • May 11, 2018 at 21:34

    Hi Steve
    As most folk do I stumbled across your name and video post via you tube, very good! I’m not really a landscape photographer more people really working full time during the week gives me little time for weekends to plan light location etc, I do go on business to the Wirral once a quarter, I was wandering about the mud flats on the Wirral, would you be kind enough to share a location on this please? Also are they subject to regular tide changes please? I love the idea of the picture you created of the dried out clay, I’ve seen this type of thing in Utah? On tele unfortunately not in person! Is there a ideal time to see this please?
    If it’s ok I would love to keep in touch with you?

    Rgds paul


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