IT'S THE WEEKEND: Autumn is the time for great pictures
Waterfall: Using the long exposure technique to capture the movement of running waterCredit: Simon Powell
ABERGAVENNY-based photographer’s gillie Simon Powell, 35, can regularly be found taking photographers to the best locations for them to capture the Welsh Countryside.
The self-employed furniture maker and part-time photographer for Black Mountains Photography has been using his knowledge to assist keen photographers for more than three years.
The father-of-three is sharing his tips, advice on equipment and how to photograph waterfalls, sunsets and mountains with' It’s The Weekend' readers.
With so much to explore and photograph over the next couple of months time soon runs away with you as you fleet from sunrise to sunset from open moorland to deep deciduous woodland in search of hidden waterfalls and streams it pays to have a bit of a tick list so I have put together a list of ideas.
The gloomy dark days are perfect for photographing waterfalls as sunlight through cloud give a diffused light helping avoid deep contrasting shadows and allowing the photographer to use an long exposure time to produce the magical silky smooth water as the rivers flow with a fresh vibrancy energised by rainfall and sprinkled with the confetti of the autumnal leaves.
The end of August brings the spectacle of the persied meteor shower and signals the stunning display of heather which flushes over the moorland of the black mountains in the Brecon Beacons like a giant neon sign advertising the fact that the winberries are in fruit and for those who have a keen eye a totally unique treat is waiting for the picking. so unique are the winberries that many attempt to cultivate this robust little plant have failed therefore they can only be found in secretive places high up in the hills where the clouds brush the ground.
September 22 used to be a very significant date in the cycle of our ancestors as this date is the autumnal equinox a day when night and day is the same length which triggers the rush of many trees and plants to fruit before the winter bites birds will flock to fruit bearing tress and mammals will start to hoard goodies for leaner times. The change in the length of day light is a blessing for the photographer as the sun rises at an almost sociable time and a photography session to capture the golden hour is very possible before being drawn away for work and can be very rewarding as the valleys of the river Usk and Wye if condition are perfect will be full of dawn mist locally know as “the dragons breath” which absorbs the pastel glow of the rising sun giving the scene an other worldly magic.
Sunsets can be spectacular event as westerly fronts heavy with warm moist air race across the hills with bellowing fluffy clouds reflecting the vivid reds and oranges of the setting sun only lasting minuets but moments which will stay with you a very long-time. These conditions are by no means common so a keen eye must be kept on the weather forecast looking for the conditions to be just so as each day can bring different possibilities and opportunities.
Heather flushed moorland
The Blorenge Mountain always has as good display of heather a drive up to keepers pond at late afternoon early evening will give great light and the black mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the image. For thoes who can mange a dawn session the back of the sugar loaf at dawn also produces a good display of heather put due to the direction of the light can only be photographed at sunrise if you desire the black mountains as a back drop.
The Dragons Breath
This can be a difficult phenomenon to capture as the condition need to be perfect ideally night you will want to be looking for warm westerly rain in the night followed by high pressure clear cold skies at dawn. One of the best locations to capture this is once again the Blorenge Mountains as it gives quick access as you might make several trips before you capture where the dragon spent the night. Once you understand the conditions needed and with a bit more time on your side I can highly recommend a trip up through gosple pass as from there you can see the majestic river Wye wind its way around the Black mountains with Pen-Y-Fan in the backdrop. Head for Llantony up through Capel y fin and keep driving to the top of the hill before it drops down into Hay on Wye.
There is no finer place to explore the technique of long exposure photography than the Waterfall above the Talybont Reservoir the geography of the valley gives stunning waterfalls of varying height flow and shape both flanked by deciduous trees and deep in coniferous forest due to there altitude they are the first waterfalls to freeze.
Landscape photography gear
Any brand dslr camera they are all very good its just a question of personal taste budget
Ideally two lenses a wide angle 15-65mm and a telephoto 50-300mm
Tripod the best you can afford as you want stability for a long exposure image
Square Neutral Density Graduated filter the square type for sunsets/sunrise
Circular polarizing filter (really makes clouds pop and take reflection of water
Remote shutter button (helps avoid camera shake)
Spare battery spare memory card
Compass- its good to know where the sun is going to appear from or go to.
A note pad always pays to keep a sort of diary possible locations ect
Ordinance survey map its surprising what you discover studying a map whilst waiting for weather to break or the sun to go down
All of the optional gear can be replaced by a smart phone and apps for sunrise sunset moonrise, maps, weather, voice and memos. They take great pictures HDR panorama video and you can get little tripods for them.
For more information visit www.blackmountainsphotography.co.uk
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