I had an email a few weeks ago form a guy named Phil who lives in Florida. Now Phil does this whole bike and camera thing properly, none of these 3 or 4 hour trips, no he goes for 3 or 4 months at a time, to Canada or South America! Anyway, with that in mind I headed out of merry old England to Wales, I admit there was no need for a passport and it's only an hour from home to the "Bridge", but it is at least another country!
The object was to shoot some landscapes because Wales is a rather beautiful country, typically that didn't quite work out as I expected. I was aiming for the Brecon Beacons National Park. First thing we have to do is to cross the River Severn from England to Wales; There are two Bridges, I chose the original "Severn Bridge", also available is the larger and newer "Severn Crossing", a £7 toll applies to use either of them, no charge for motorcycles however which is always good news!
Once your over the bridge road signs are in both languages thankfully, English and the impossible to understand Welsh. As every schoolboy knows the longest place name can be found in Wales, a small village with a railway station - the sign on the platform, which must be as long as the platform itself, reads -
As you can see the Welsh language presents somewhat of a challenge, the scenery however speaks for itself!
I don't really do "Landscapes". I need to have someone in a photo to get my interest and have no patience for Long Exposures, Tripods, setting up etc. I just grab shots when my eye catches something, to me 1/60 is a slow a shutter speed. Stopping, getting off the bike, removing helmet and gloves is a real pain and ruins what is otherwise a brilliant ride; The roads are fantastic, the scenery breathtaking through the mountains. This place is littered with Reservoirs and Waterfalls, a "landscapers" heaven, if you're prepared for a hike and I wasn't, not with all that bike gear on. The Welsh coal mining towns whizz by; of course, the pits closed many years ago leaving a big hole in more ways than one! The economy of the area was hit hard, replacement jobs scarce, I have to say though for the most part they were over all that and flourishing. I didn't want to stop, simply ride, enjoy those long winding roads, the twisty's and take in the beauty of it all. No speeding though, there's a zero tolerance policy with the Welsh police, in any case who'd want to speed through that majestic country.
My route took me on a kind of a loop from the Severn Bridge -Newport - Abergavenny - Brecon - Hirwaun - Merthyr Tydfil - then back home to "Blighty". A wonderful trip that took me about 5 hours in total. I did stop on a few occasions and so time for more photos. Merthyr gave me some much needed coffee at the end of the loop and although I decided not to include any people on this journey, I just couldn't resist. As I've said before, I am just documenting my journey not suggesting that there's any incredible photography happening, don't judge too harshly-
Back to photography, allthough we never really left it I suppose. All of the photos so far were taken with the Summicron 35mm, accept one with the Noctilux 50mm "Pitstop". They're also in Black & White which I'll be returning to soon. I've enjoyed the flirtation with colour, a brief affair perhaps. Though, I will continue with the criteria set out in the "Shopfront" project. I go round and round with my favoured choice, Summicron 35mm or Noctilux 50mm, colour maybe or black and white. Reminds me of "Windmills of your mind" that song from the sixties sung by Noel Harrison -
"Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel"!
Mostly I prefer my 35mm, after all, shouldn't Street Photography be totally in focus and in black & white, it is the multi purpose all-round lens. Then I take Sam out for lunch and click a few on my way through Bath with the Noctilux wide open -
That Noctilux has something to offer after all, maybe black & white is the way forward -
Who knows? I think the answer is to go with what you feel and the mood dictates. I used to go out with the prime objective of finding scenes that would best suit black & white, that changed with my project because I'm now searching for colour too - This could be a good thing, time will tell.
Anyway, enough of all that, it's making my head spin, or is that the Rioja! This will be the last blog for a few weeks because on Sunday we're all off to Abu Dhabi (another country) for a family break. I'll take one lens, probably, perhaps, maybe...
A few final points to make;
Comments should work now, thanks for your patience. I've asked the provider to look into the problem, apparently it is at their end.
Don't forget that each photo will enlarge if you click on it (Patrick!).
Here's a link to Phil from Florida's blog - http://gogogecko.com
Lastly my huge appreciation to anyone reading this blog, thank you very much, see you soon.