Snowdonia autumn shoot – part 3

If you have read parts 1 & 2 of this blog you will know by now that I had been out shooting in Snowdonia and come away with a few decent images from three separate locations.  I don’t usually rush around this much but the weather conditions so far had been excellent and it might prove to be my last chance to get some autumn colour in North Wales this year.  Mindful that I needed to be home by late afternoon I couldn’t afford to spend much time tracking down distant locations in the car so I opted to find and shoot the old roman bridge near Penmachno which would only be 15 minutes away.  Now I must confess that I had twice before tried to find this bridge but followed vague instructions and ended up drawing a blank.  This time I had marked the location with Google maps based on images found on Flickr so there was to be no repeat for a third time.

With technology guiding  me I landed right on the spot first time and after backing the car into a tight spot nearby (thanks rear view camera) I was stood looking at the bridge.  There are actually two bridges very close together but the old one is the star of the show despite (because of) being run down, unused and covered in vegetation.  Most of the good shots I had seen used a low composition which included both spans and had the river leading through the overpowering greenery that frames the shot.  I had heard mention that the setting could be precarious and this proved to be correct with dense undergrowth and slippery rocks abounding.  I soon realised that the classic position would not work thanks to a small tree having fallen along the side of the riverbank and blocking part of the bridge.  Edging around the rocks I tried to make it work but couldn’t overcome this limitation so beat a retreat to the top of the new bridge.  From here I settled for a simpler and frankly less effective composition but at least it was safe and worked well in both colour and infrared using the wideangle 50mm Zenzanon.


Penmachno Bridge – Rollei IR 400


With a couple of frames in the bag I tried to locate another viewpoint but everything involved a precarious scramble down the steep slippery rocks and as I was working alone I did a quick risk calculation and decided to play safe.  It was a shame but if I am alive I will get another chance someday.


Penmachno Bridge – Ektar 100


Now I can be bad when it comes to losing enthusiasm and if conditions aren’t delivering the results I want my shoulders can drop. This is what started to happen now. The once brilliant skies suddenly closed over and the life drained or of the landscape light someone had turned off a switch. Not wanting to call it a day I headed in the direction of home with the intention of stopping off in the remote Clocaenog forest near cerrigydrudion.  For some reason I suddenly thought the upper reaches of this huge woodland area near llyn Brenig might work well and spent the next hour fruitlessly chasing nothing whilst navigating roads fit only for rallying.   I say this in all truth as there were signs everywhere informing of road closures in the coming days due to a major rally event.

After a couple of abortive compositions I set myself back on the narrow road to a small clearing I know in the middle of the forest.  In here there is a small lake lined by trees which usually looks good in autumn and so it was to be today.   The sun still hid itself away but soft light suited the tranquil scene and I made two or three shots on the 120 back holding the Kodak Ektar.  


Clocaenog Forest - Kodak Ektar
Clocaenog Forest – Kodak Ektar

The day was over for me and I drove home satisfied that I’d made the most of the day’s opportunities.  Typically as I approached my house the sun burst through and warm light illuminated the local trees.   A couple of hours later I saw the sunset over the clwydian hills from my bedroom window vantage point. I already have a few ideas of what I want to shoot on the next outing.  

Steve O'Nions

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

4 thoughts on “Snowdonia autumn shoot – part 3

  • January 23, 2017 at 15:31

    Thank you Steve. The trials and tribulations of a Landscape photographer.My how I envy you.You see at the age of 81,and having some health issues,I can no longer try anything remotely like you,but I take great joy in reading of your escapades,trying to achieve the images you know are there ,if only the weather was not so cussed.These days I have to content myself with macro photography,its okay ,but not a patch on Landscape.I look forward to you next venture.

  • January 24, 2017 at 13:13

    Thanks Peter, I love to get outdoors as much as possible which is important when you are stuck in an office all week looking at a screen. I don’t even mind if the weather is bad these days as many of the more interesting shots come on less than perfect days.
    Shooting the landscape is always a challenge but that’s what I like about it and often as not I don’t think the images are very good until I look at them weeks, months or even years later and then I appreciate how lucky I was to get the opportunity to be there.

    All the best


  • February 17, 2017 at 08:15

    I love reading your blogs and watching your Youtube videos,having spent most of my life living on the Wirral within in easy reach of so many of your locations its great to see so many familiar places.I’ve lived for the past six years in South Africa so seeing your videos takes me back to many happy walks.Thank you Steve.

    • February 17, 2017 at 18:32

      Thank you Neil, I’ve come to appreciate the local landscape a lot more since making these little movies.


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