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Witches Pool

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Deepest Wales
Trying to find new and wonderful places to photograph can be difficult. The usual places are photographed endlessly but to find somewhere that is relatively unknown is quite unusual.

Back in 2007 I had purchased a book called "Developing Vision and Style - A Landscape Photography Masterclass"
Within the pages of this book was a place that captured my imagination, a place I wanted to visit and took a further 3 years to actually get there!

Google Maps
During the Autumn of 2010 I planned my trip to deepest Wales, Brecknockshire to be exact. Another 2-3 hour journey each way beckoned. I set the sat nav to the nearest village and used the virtual view in google maps to find the nearest parking area. The place I was visiting? Pwll-Y-Wrach, or 'Witches Pool' Waterfall.....

As I drove into the nearest village it was obvious it was not sign posted and that it might need some help from a friendly local, so I stopped and asked. Luckily I was within a mile or so of the falls. I drove to the parking location that I had highlighted the day before on Google maps.

I unloaded my equipment from the car after a nice flask of hot coffee and a banana and set off down the autumnal path. It was indeed a beautiful secluded place. I walked for perhaps 20 minutes before I came to the falls. They fell from quite a height in two separate drops. My trip coincided with some heavy rainfall in the days before making the paths and surrounding areas muddy - but providing a wonderful head of water to the falls.

Slippery when wet.....
To get the shot I wanted I had to climb down a very muddy almost shear bank about 4-5ft high. I was confident in getting down but not so confident on getting back up!!! Luckily there were tree branches nearby to grab hold of if need be! A couple stopped and watched as I slipped my way down to the falls below. I made sure my sturdy Manfrotto tripod was placed securely before placing my camera bag on the bank so I could get the camera out. I set up with the water gushing around my ankles. Good job I had come prepared with walking boots and waterproof trousers.

I spent the next few hours setting up the camera and tripod in different compositions, shooting with and without the Polarising filter and different levels of Neutral Density filter. I took images in both portrait and landscape formats.

When shooting flowing water or waves my preferred shutter speed is around 1/3 second. This gives a lovely velvety flow to the water without going to the point of losing all definition.

Fading Light
Although I was shooting in daylight, the light was fading fast during the shoot and the place was fairly dark with high sided rocks and plenty of trees. The exposure was a little tricky as to expose the rock correctly left the water over exposed in the foreground due to the high water flow. In the end I used my Lee Neutral density graduated filters from both the top and bottom of the shot to best balance the exposure. Blending images with movement is not good and I prefer to do as much of the work in camera as possible.

No copying in class....
When you see somebody else's photograph it is quite easy to copy that shot. In many cases the most common image of a place is one of the best compositions....that is why it is so popular! Although I exposed a frame or two in a similar composition to the photograph I had seen, I also took great care and effort to create my own interpretation of the scene. I ended up with two really pleasing images, one in portrait and one in landscape orientation.

Getting home...
You will be glad to know as it was getting dark that I did manage to scramble back up the muddy bank..just as well as it was getting dark, there was not a soul around and my phone had no reception!

I trudged back to the car in the dim light happy that I had found and captured a new location that was special to photograph. The red colours of the rock being particularly photogenic.

Now all that remained was the long drive home...after loading the car with my kit, another warm drink of coffee and removal of some of my outer layers now I was back in the car.

Note: The image at the top of this blog was taken with my Samsung camera phone, hence the blown highlights and inferior colour rendition!

Witches Pool

Stiperstones Dawn
Heart of England Landscape Photography....