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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNRzFbm-ZvA
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.
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!