There’s been a lot going on at home, what with having the garden re-landscaped, organising a new kitchen and the children on their half term holiday. Consequently photography has taken a back seat which is highly unusual, but I simply haven’t had the time. Anyway, we took a break and I thought I’d show you a few photos from our recent trip to Low Light Central - otherwise known as Pembrokeshire in West Wales. It truly is a beautiful area, the beaches are to die for and we got to drive through the stunningly gorgeous Preseli Hills or Mountains as they’re sometimes referred too. As is the case with most of the western side of Britain those Atlantic weather fronts hit here first. When it rains it pours and the light as we all know becomes Low, perhaps that’s why they call them ‘Atlantic Lows’!
Just a minute, I hear you say, what was all that about how you couldn’t take a shot without a person in it, you wrote that only last week? Look, firstly don’t take too much notice of what I say and secondly unless some Californian Tech Company were testing driverless vehicles up there on the mountains then there’s your person in one of those cars!
Once on a weeks holiday in the Lake District (also in the west of Britain) and after six days of nonstop rain somebody said to me “Does it ever stop raining in the Lake District?”, I replied “ I think you might find the clue’s in the name, all these Lakes are here for a reason!”. In fairness it does occasionally slacken off to torrential and sometimes the sun makes an appearance. Actually I’m giving Pembrokeshire some bad press, I don’t mean to and can confirm that many years ago I spent a late September week here enjoying those gorgeous beaches with wall to wall sunshine all at a constant 27C.
We usually rent a cottage, this time it was near Cardigan (you needed one!) in the North of Pembrokeshire. It was a small farm complex and each morning the children would feed the animals and collect eggs from the hens which we would have for breakfast. Despite all I’ve said the first day was sunny… I know, I ought to just show some photos and scrap the writing altogether, I just tie myself in knots;
Here’s a couple more. Amélie loved those pigs and Mrs H managing to look glamorous even on the farm, why she insists on taking photos of me is anyone’s guess;
‘Make hay whilst the sun shines’ is what they say. That day we drove to Tenby in the south of the county to visit my eldest daughter and grandsons who were also on holiday. Beautiful scenery all the way and guess what, I didn’t get the camera out at all because I decided that photography could resume the next day. Here we are then on the next morning and Amélie waiting for the rain to stop. Another photographer commented that it was a shame this shot was ruined by that rain gutter, well it was just a grab shot and besides that gutter is sort of ironic, that’s my excuse;
We ventured out eventually. On this visit we somehow avoided the beaches, I’m a big fan of the beach in the Winter, especially the ones in Pembrokeshire, but we had no particular need especially as the dogs weren’t with us and more importantly Mrs H has family down there so we spent time with them. So, after Amélie’s rain watch we took a trip to Fishguard, great I thought, a chance for some Street Photography. There’s a harbour that we didn’t stop at because the rain was so heavy and further on a small town centre where we and the rain did stop and so time for a coffee and slice of cake. A quick shot and we moved on…
…to St Davids which is the smallest city in the UK. In order to receive status as a city I believe you need to have a Cathedral, which St Davids has and one dating back to 519 AD, that burnt down due to those pesky Vikings in 1087 AD. A new one was built soon after by the Normans, includes relics that the Vikings forgot to steal and still stands there today. It’s a small city because the population is just over 1,800. You’re expecting to see some shots now, unfortunately you’re going to be disappointed. Here’s three to give you a rough idea of the place; Remember how I often say that’s why some are posted and not because I think they’re actually any good? The same applies here;
The weather was horrid and I couldn’t get up the energy to lift the camera. I did grab a quick one before we left and I think here you can see what we were up against;
That dog looked stoic in his approach to the weather, his owner showed how we all felt and that dog under the arch was thinking ‘I’m not going out there, you’re having a laugh mate, not flipping likely”!
Luckily we had an indoor swimming pool to use and a hot tub the children insisted on us getting into and freezing to death getting out of. The people of Pembrokeshire have thought all this through and therefore provide lots of indoor entertainment. One such place is Folly Farm. Which includes a small zoo outside and under cover there’s farm related fun for the children together with an indoor Funfair. We met some of Mrs H’s family there, my father-in-law, his wife, my brother and sister in law and their children our nieces. Mrs H adores those girls and I can see why, but sometimes I fear she may kidnap them! You can tell by now that Low Light Photography is the theme here, apart from those couple of shots where the sun was shining. Grey and overcast outside, indoors there was little natural light and in any case that natural light was Low. I had my work cut out for me;
Yes, yes, I know, no people in that shot, but it reminded me of Banksy’s installation at Weston-Super-Mare, namely ‘Dismaland - Bemusement Park”. Look it up on Google, it was very clever of Banksy…back to reality with ‘Harpsy’ and a shot of a penguin winking…I’m an artist and so, so, deep! One from the zoo;
On our way back and via the GoKarts we walked through a tunnel and these type of shots are really hard to resist. I’d say it’s all the Street Photography I’ve done that’s influencing me, but actually I’m not sure people in the light at the end of a tunnel is really very good Street Photography, the second shot is better as far as that’s concerned.
Inside and we found various farming related activities for the children to enjoy, Sam enjoyed even more leading them all around;
Finally we got to the Funfair. I knew this would be tricky because not only do we have very little light, but things are also moving. It has to be said that my Leica isn’t great with Low Light, I don’t like pushing it much above ISO 1600, I was at ISO 2,500 and above for these next images. Couple that with needing to open the 35mm lens up to f/2 and of course we’re on manual focus…give me a Canon DSLR with autofocus and ISO 3 Zillion for this kind of work. Still I tried;
Tricky, however if they’re stood still of course it’s fine because we don’t need quite such a high shutter speed. To obtain that, by the way, requires a practically unusable High ISO. Here’s my Father-in-Law doing his ‘Carny’ impression and Louis with his unfaltering fascination of the macabre, he actually came out from the Ghost Train smiling!
Of course I could have attached the Noctilux f/0.95, but that rarely comes out to play. Nowadays I have a Street Photography mentality; 35mm, f/11, 1/1000, ISO 800. In the end I thought a compromise would be best and so lowered the ISO, reduced the shutter speed whist staying at f/2. Manually focused on Louis and got some movement as those horses went past. More difficult than it might sound, the viewfinder that you’re using to focus with is also functioning by letting in light. All those horses have names, the one next to him was called Beryl, his was called ‘Freddy’, presumably after ‘Freddy Krueger’. I wonder why he chose that one ;-)
As always my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read this blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with Summicron 35mm Lens fitted.
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