Llanberis Slate Mines

Llanberis Slate Quarries

The welsh tourist town of Llanberis, at the foot of Mount Snowdon, is not dominated by the highest mountain in Wales and England, nor by the other impressive peaks lining the Llanberis Pass, but by a vast slate mine and its spoil heaps.

The mine was one of the largest in the world. Its heyday was the 19th century but it didn’t stop working until the 1960s. If I were to be critical I’d say I couldn’t decide whether the natural mountain scenery would be improved more by the removal of the slate mine or the removal of Llanberis. However the mine is undoubtedly eye-catching and worth photographing.

 

A Grey Christmas

Grey Christmas
Grey Christmas

We spent the Christmas week this year in Cumbria, in a rented cottage in a little village called Brigsteer. This is near Kendal but outside the national park boundary so much quieter than the honeypots. Apart from Christmas Eve the whole week was very grey and misty. We counted ourselves lucky. Cumbria in December could quite easily bucket with rain all week. As it was we were able to walk every day. The greyness, not surprisingly, made me think of black and white.

Acquisition or Submission

I read a quote yesterday attributed to Michael Kenna to the effect that photographers think of their work as acquisition when they should think of it as submission. I tend to agree and I’m definitely prone to this myself. You plan a day’s shooting. You look at the map and visualise the location. You’re already imagining the kind of pictures you want to come home with, regardless of what you find when you arrive. I find I get better results when I walk slowly and allow myself to see what’s really there in front of me, visualising it in two dimensions. Submitting to what is there instead of trying to acquire something pre-selected.

The same goes when selecting and editing from a shoot. I look for the shots I expected instead of allowing the quality of each shot to speak for itself. I also can’t help thinking of the intended audience and whether they will “get” the shot. If you think a shot is good then it is, regardless of what others might or might not think.

I sometimes like to go back through the catalogue to find shots I haven’t yet processed. The passing of time allows me to forget the preconceptions I had of the shoot and just find the quality of each shot. This is how I found the three black and white shots I posted yesterday, which I really like.

Despite knowing all of this it’s still a difficult thing to let go and submit to what’s really there.

Three monochrome shots

Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf
Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf

I was going to title this post “Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf” but that would look like I’d just dropped a book on the keyboard. That’s the name of this small lake at the northern end of the Rhinog range of hills in the southern half of Snowdonia.

Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf
Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf

I’d been on an overnight trip the night before and came up to do some scouting for future locations. I found this idyllic lake with almost no-one about. That was back in May. I never fully processed the shots but got back to them today and found that these three were rather nice. I hope you like them.

Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf
Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf

Shining Tor

 

Sunset and Moonrise from Shining Tor looking east.
Sunset and Moonrise from Shining Tor looking east.

Shining Tor is the highest hill in Cheshire, just to the east of Macclesfield. Looking west you see the long miles of the Cheshire plain. Not surprisingly it’s a good spot for sunset shots, as long as you can stand up against the ever-present wind that seems to rear up from the plain and accelerate as it encounters the first hills since Wales.

These shots were from mid-November. I was doing christmas markets every week through November and December so didn’t manage to get out shooting much but now it’s new year (happy new year!) hopefully I’ll be able to get out and experience the hills again.