Snowdonia yet again…

Finding a suitable place to camp on the top of Glyder Fach was tricky as it’s just one mass of shattered, weathered rocks each way too big to move.  But after some searching I found a spot just large enough for my little tent on the South-Western side beyond the the summit.  It was a reasonably sheltered spot and had a great view across the valley to the Snowdon massif.

Click on the images to see a larger version…But they really have to be seen full-size to appreciate the detail. 

It had been a long, warm, sunny day and the stable weather continued through the night.  With little wind the night was eerily quiet, the only sound being the occasional rustle of the tent.  There were a handful of hardy sheep roaming the summit, picking at what grass was bold enough to poke through the rocks at sundown but they seemed to vanish with nightfall perhaps off in search of somewhere lower and warmer.  Without cloud-cover the temperature dropped significantly and I knew by morning it would be chilly.

A lesson I learnt years ago in Antarctica is that cold batteries just don’t work.  My sleeping bag has a little pocket on its inside and I popped the battery from the camera into the pocket just to ensure it stayed nice and warm overnight.  But having a lump of hard plastic inside your bag does get a bit uncomfortable if it gets underneath you during the night!

Starting the day on-location was just great!  No worrying about travel delays, parking, getting to the venue in time etc.  All I had to do was gather-up my old duvet jacket, camera, tripod and walk a few hundred metres.  Simple!

Standing outside the tent in the early morning was wonderful.  It felt so good stood there on the top of Glyder Fach with no-one else around drinking a cup of hot coffee 🙂  By the time I left the tent it was already pretty bright.  The sun was still below the horizon but it wouldn’t be long.  The sky was already a light blue and filled with contrails from aircraft presumably inbound from the US to airports across Europe.

I strolled back to where I’d been the previous evening in search of a composition.   I could see there would be little colour on the ground and knew that any colour in the sky would be fleeting.   In the end I went with the photograph at the top of this post as I didn’t find a composition from the South or Eastern sides that seemed pleasing.

Once the sun had risen the light quickly changed and everything became very bright.  Fortunately, with the sun still low in the sky there was some contrast between what was sunlit and what was in shadow.  As I walked back across the summit towards the West, the sun was just catching the top of Castell y Gwynt and the Snowdon massif beyond.

Finding a composition took some time.  The sun rose higher with every passing moment and with it the shadows lessened and the haze grew.  I would have loved a composition of Castell y Gwynt with a clean background and a simple foreground but, despite searching for some time, I didn’t find one.  Perhaps it’s on the Western side.  The rocks seemed scattered randomly across the foreground apart from where the feet of countless walkers had formed a track, but the track didn’t seem to fit any composition and the Snowdon massif was very prominent in the background!

After the sun rose too high I headed back to the tent, had a little breakfast and descended back to the valley.  At that time the only photograph I thought may have worked was the colour one at the top of this post.  Several days later though and back in the office I processed the two monochrome photographs above.  When viewed at full-size they are nice;  there is a huge amount of detail in the foreground rocks and in the more distant features.

To save weight I chose to carry only a 50mm lens.  The thinking was that 21mm would be too wide and the 70-200 too long and heavy.  With hindsight, I was happy with that choice.  There was too much haze to make use of a longer lens and as panoramic formats always seem better with a little magnification the wide-angle lens would have been a poorer choice.

All-in, I’m pretty happy with the photographs from this trip.  Next time I’ll avoid going when the weather is so good!  A winter, snowy trip would be fantastic 🙂  Anyone one mad enough to join me? 🙂


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