Varsity 2017

As with most other universities across the U.K. Aberystwyth engages with their rivals Bangor in annual sports-day-esque event known as Varsity. Each Uni bi-annually hosts the competition, seeing the likes of sports and societies alike to put forward their best and brightest to win the beloved silverware. This year Aberystwyth hosted the competition inviting around 50 sports clubs to the Aberystwyth area to compete over a week.
As an avid sports photographer of course I wouldn’t miss this opportunity to run about, or in my case walk briskly, with my camera to get all the sports on my cards.

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Saturday I managed to get solid pictures of American Football, Lacrosse, Rugby and Football. A good mix and an enjoyable selection. This is my personal experience.

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What irritates me most however about Varsity is the the sideline “Banter.” There is a line between a joke and a couple of jeers on the other side and then full out discrimination. Last year Aber was faced with Bangor students throwing carrots and bananas at a rugby player and reports of many racial and homophobic slurs also agitated the Aber sides. This year after being told relentlessly to keep it civil, the banter from Aber has been a lot more tame than last year with British insults like “Bangor uses tea bags twice” replacing the more aggressive attacks.
However the retaliation from Bangor on the sidelines especially from their ladies lacrosse was vile towards the players and spectators, especially shouted through a megaphone.

Personally I heard someone from the other uni telling Aber students to “go kill yourselves” as we are at a sh*t university. A little harsh and non-understanding when the sole cause of our and their varsity kits is to a foundation Stephan Socks after a student who unfortunately did not have the support in mental health issues and tragically took his own life last year. This type of behaviour is more than despicable and personally I expected better than that from Students who are supposedly adults aged 18+. This kind of behaviour I expect from teenagers in high school or online. Disgusted. Not only this but fights broke out both on and off the rugby pitch, to be expected in the sport, but the blood was definitely boiling between the Universities.

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This is why I didn’t compete myself in Archery, as in previous years I’ve felt intimidated in the wrong way. Intimidation in sports is a usual concept, the side is larger than you, better than you; its all the norm in competitions, it’s a normal feeling. Being intimidated by aggression is not. I’d much rather blackout away from the world with my camera to get action shots than be apart of an aggressive crowd or be engaging in an uneasy match.

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All this being said I did enjoy my time at Varsity, as amongst the idiots in the crowd there are still humans that are there for their team, there to watch a good game,console with the losing side and celebrate with the victors. This was apparent in both Aber and Bangor sides alike, and I must say that I’m not saying all the spectators from Bangor were out to hurl insults and discriminate. Bangors overall victory in sports is disheartening for Aber, but our victories in Rugby makes us a proud Welsh University.

Shout out to Aber mens LAX and Tarannau for being superstar teams this last season. It’s been a pleasure taking pics for you!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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My Golden Rule: Capturing a Performance

There is nothing I like more than lying on the floor not having to worry about things. Maybe my nihilist approach to life does have its benefits as the angle from the floor under theatre lights does something magical for me. Living by the 45 degree rule in photography and by application the rest of my life, finding that the 45 degree rule is 3D just opens up to a new corridor of opportunity.

I’ve written a lot about the golden 45 degree rule, having the mid point between profile and portrait that gives the depth of 3D. In show jumping I love using this angle as it gets the height of the jump, the folding of the horse and rider as well as the length of the horse in it’s leap. This applied in non-sport photography in my opinion isn’t as great. Portrait photos you want portrait, or profile traditionally. Most people I’ve worked with prefer the traditional shots I’ve taken. Maybe this is due to them being within my comfort zone and therefore I excel at it. Again I need to listen to my own advice here of practice makes perfect.

Working with the university sports teams opened the door to working with the university societies. Last week I had the pleasure of working with the Nomadic Players, a drama and theatre society. Their choice of performance was A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Being an adaptation from a book, and being a famous cult film directed by Stanley Kubrick, there is alot of room for interpretation of the ‘Ultra Violence.’ The story line consists of alot of violence that was tastefully portrayed and implied by the Nomadic players, pulling the comedic roles and lines in an absurd contrast to the serious.

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Cue my lying on the floor. Luckily, I was able to attend the dress rehearsal and the final performance, the dress rehearsal giving me free reign on where I could go to interact with the actors with my camera and the performance giving the actors free reign of the stage, props and their abilities.

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Although I was still working on the best settings for the constant changing light, you can see the lower angle, it gets the whole body and action as well as the intimidating effect the actors are imposing.

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The lower angle works nicely in the theatre to get the lights behind the actors and create dramatic scenes recapitulating the theatre in a still image.

Lighting is one of the essential components of the arts. Photography has to work around this art platform and utilise what it is given to produce incredible results. The contrast the theatre gives to lighting with the background, ceiling and floor being mainly black, is incredible.

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Onto the photography nitty gritty, tips and tricks and what I’ve learnt from my thespian photography immersion.

Be prepared for sudden light changes from low light to bright light without a seconds notice.

Theatre lights make the scene. So the scene’s will change in lighting rapidly to add effect. In this case there is alot of change of lighting up at the back and low light at the front. Or spot lights on certain points of the stage. To combat this I kept my camera on the Tv (shutter) priority function with an auto ISO setting running up to 6400 and an aperture range of f/1.8-4.0. This allowed me to focus on the shutter speed to change it quickly in these low light/high light situation.

It’s a constantly moving machine. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of shots.

Even when it is quiet, don’t worry about the noise your shutter makes. You’re there to take photos, so take them! Also don’t be afraid of using a continuous shutter in the scenes that get a bit rowdy.

It’s a full body experience.

Theatre is all about body language. Actors exude characters out of every pore. Don’t just focus on their face, as gestures add to the performance and a headshot may lose this vital aspect.

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Theatre is an experiment of emotions. Don’t be afraid to experiment along the way with dynamic edits including high contrast black and white. Although black and white can either make or break an image, and ideally it is the consumer’s opinion that matters the most.

As always, enjoy yourself and don’t get stressed if it isn’t working out. Just take a breather, look over what you’re doing and start again. It’s not the end of the world. You got this.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

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Worcester, Double Worcester

Being back with relatively frequent practises and competitions in archery, brings me to doing all sorts of rounds, not just the standard portsmouth we all grow to have a love/hate relationship with. This weekend gave me the opportunity to shoot one of my favourite barebow rounds, but this time with my trusty compound. The Worcester round.

Differing from a usual indoor round of 3 arrows per end for 10-20 ends, the Worcester round uses 5 arrows per end for 12 ends with the total being out of 300. The scoring is different too, with the highest central value being 5 and working it’s way out to 1 (above left). What makes it more exciting for compound is instead of a central target face, the compound is given a 5-spot, offering the score of X, 5 and 4 (above right).

To be completely honest all my practises have been at pins recently trying to focus on correcting my form and getting into the back tension, string, nose, release game, so the thought of a 5 spot I have never shot at before became a little daunting. Even with this aspect however I really enjoyed the shoot. I enjoyed it so much I did the morning and afternoon session making the single Worcester into a double Worcester. (Double means two consecutive shoots of the same round, it goes for other rounds as well such as Portsmouth.)

In this competition, the Worcester is split into 2 ends of 6, the first 6 ends being shot at the top target (Details A and C) and the latter 6 ends shot at the bottom target. (Visa Versa for details B and D). This aspect is a little more challenging but certainly heats up the competition as the sighters only allow you to shoot at the first target with no secondary sighters to shoot at the lower (or higher) target.

The Morning shoot (Top) I gained the score of 267, placing me second overall, only 5 points behind the leader! (If I hadn’t missed!).
The Afternoon shoot (Bottom) I was starting to tire and got the overall score of 259, not fantastic but giving me the overall double score of 526. This score is good enough to give me the Dyfed County record as well as my Club Record for both Double and Single Worcester!

Morning Results
Very questionable maths by me
Afternoon session
Again, questionable maths

All in all I am super happy with my result as I know I can shoot better, giving me the target of getting over 275 next time I compete at Worcester.

Next weekend brings the BUCS finals in Bristol with a FITA 18 and a head to head. I am a little nervous!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

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String, Nose…

Again with the Archery! To be fair, it is a sport that I am improving in readily, and learning more and more as I go along. When I first picked up a bow I didn’t see myself being intrigued in archery forums and articles in sports magazines, but now I am a true archery nut.

I am a compound archer now, so the more technical the equipment I have, the more I have been reading into technique and different types of form, anchor, the importance of a draw length and draw weight. One thing that really sticks to me as a compound archer is back tension.

Back tension release is supposedly a method that minimises the anticipation of the arrow release. For myself I tense and hope that I don’t clip my ear with the trigger. I realise this is mainly due to the hand trigger I have and my draw length. In many forums and articles I’ve noticed the correlation of shortening the draw length to get a more successful back tension release. This is not always the case. For my bow, draw length can be adjusted inch by inch. Currently I’m happily sat at 26″ with my anchor point being on the side of my face, thumb under my chin.

 

My anchor point as you can see already squishes my nose and does allow me to roll back into a back tension release. However, with back tension release you keep pulling your back muscles and hope the release will trigger at the same point each time like its supposed to. I unfortunately feel this is chancery and I am always shocked when the arrow finally flies at the target. This usually ends up with me clipping my hair or ear making me jump even more than usual.

 

At 20 yards my back tension release is sort of showing some improvement but at the same time it’s not the grouping I’ve been getting with using the release as a usual trigger with a small amount of back pressure.It is something to work on over time, and hopefully with several hours of practise a week I’ll improve and get less scared of my back muscles.

On another note: I made it to BUCS finals!!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

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website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Up North (Again)

A weekend away with no internet and good friends is something everyone should do throughout the year. Last time I was in the foggy Lake District with good friends and a rabbit. This time the escape took up right to the top of Northumberland in the seaside town of Seahouses. Being only a stone’s throw away from the main road that would take one up even further north to Scotland, the location is quiet yet surprisingly accessible.

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February never seems to be consistent in the weather it keeps, with my memories being an entwined spectrum of  luke warm, clear skied february’s on one end, and frozen snowy february’s at the other. This year February has shown us a gentle ease into spring time with generic grey skies, frequented by blue patches and the occasional storm off the Atlantic. To me, there is no better weather than just before the turn of spring with the ominous black, blue and purple clouds hanging in suspense in a windless sky. Our weekend away emanated this perfection.

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The North is a lot like Wales, but without the proud Welsh mountains and rolling hills. This means that is has the natural beauty Wales possesses and a view on the flat to see for miles. For driving its nice to see where you are trying to get to, for example you can see the Holy Island, Lindisfarne off the A1 just past Belford. This is also true for viewing the coast line from the beach. There aren’t many cliffs hiding the coves, just the ebbing and waning of the sand against the sea.

Unlike the Lakes, we didn’t walk up a hill. Instead joining the general touristic love of visiting old houses and castles.

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Being Privately owned, Bamburgh castle is a little more pricey than English Heritage and National Trust places. Nonetheless it is still almost worth the extortionate price to get in for the elaborate well kempt state rooms, museums and array of interesting historical objects. The views from the battlements with the many cannons is also a sight not to miss giving it a clear vantage point from oncoming seabound marauders and from either coastal direction.

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It also boasts a fantastic view of the Farne Islands. A place that is on my adventure list on a day where the sea is my friend, not my anamae.
The Castle is pleasant to walk around and very informative on the former inhabitants. Definitely worth a trip up north just to look at.

Another beautiful place that needs to be talked about is Lindisfarne. An Island that does not necessarily need a vessel to visit it, Lindisfarne also named the Holy Island, is situated on a causeway. Being one of the pilgrimage places of St. Cuthbert, the Northern Saint, the Island has the structural ruins of his priory as well as a later dating castle on the higher point of the Island.

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Beautiful. Even with scaffolding.

All these photos were taken on my mum’s camera as my 6d went for repair. This proves that any DSLR is capable of greatness with commitment and work! (Trust me this 550d needed a lot of patient and minute changes on settings to get this far)

With a 550d the iso maxes out at 6400. Personally I would set the max to 3200 so not to tempt distortion and graining. With my 24-105mm lens the aperture balances out okay but with the lower capabilities of the 550d, it has made me very aware and conscious of settings I should be paying more attention to and not being reliant on auto brackets.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

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website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

Vegas Baby! (Yet Another Archery Post)

Yes I have finally decided to go straight back at it, right into the deep end of Archery. So not just starting off with a WAA18 a couple weeks ago but also with the events of last weekend. We travelled up to Sheffield to compete in the Northern Qualifier for BUCS and the following day shoot at Castle Archers again, this time with a Vegas round.

BUCS as always consists of a Portsmouth round. This is a typical round of 60 arrows shot at 20m at a 60cm face, or a trispot if you shoot compound. I have shot a fair number of Portsmouth in my time as an archery across a range of bow styles, settling with compound as a firm favourite. Over the last 3 years I have competed 3 times in BUCS, with this year and the year previous being under the ladies compound category and each time getting no where near my Personal Best.

This event usually brings the best university archers from across the country so the usual competition of a mix of novices and experienced is replaced with a high competitive air. However, as archery is such an individual sport, there is no ill will or space for obnoxiousness. There is always at least one person who does have the unagreeable pretentious attitude, but that it submerged by the amount of good sportsman and kindness shown by the rest of the competitors.  Unfortunately for me this year I suffered an equipment failure which saw my arrow rest lose its spring and breaking causing me to miss a couple of ends in my efforts to fix it. Luckily I was rushed with people to help me out which sped up processes as well as calming me down.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to the rest of the people on my target who put up with my stress of equipment failure as well as my stress of shooting my missing arrows on the line and being helpful and friendly.

After the 3 hours of the shoot the scores were in and unfortunately I shot overall inconsistently with the pitiful score of 503/600. However this gives me another thing to work on and a score to beat next time I shoot a portsmouth.

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Photo courtesy of Malcom Rees

The following day after a long adventure back to Aberystwyth, We ventured south to Newcastle Emlyn for a Vegas round.

Being more of a novelty round a Vegas usually consists of a triangular 40cm trispot labelled 1, 2, 3. The aim is to shoot the corresponding arrow into the target so arrow 1 in target 1 etc. With a sighted bow so compound or recurve it is relatively easy as you have the ease of a sight or scope. Barebow it is a lot harder and takes a higher skill.

Last Vegas round I shot barebow I came away of an incredible score of 54/600. I was so pleased whenever my arrows got on the paper at this point so even more amazed when that score gave me 3rd place in that particular competition!

This Vegas round however I was shooting compound with the aim of beating a score of 450 but ideally breaking the 500 mark. Unlike the day before my shooting was relatively consistent with more than 2 10s being scored. The shoot ended badly however with my last 6 arrows being below 8 meaning that my aim to break 500 fell only 2 points short!

I enjoyed the shoot and intend to get my eye back into trispot shooting, especially after coming away with another gold medal.

 

I Walked Up a Hill

Fortunately I got the opportunity to visit a couple of friends up in the Lake District and Lancashire Area. Hill walking has never been a main ambition of mine with the idea of walking up the hill means the inevitable walk back down. But I did it.

My friend and I went to an exhibition at the Aberystwyth Art’s Centre that was about a man’s experience with the hills in Wales, and his search for what Wales really meant within the vast and changing landscape. Certainly an entertaining exhibition with the thoughts of the artist betwixt the beautiful graphite drawings of the mountains and hills of the different areas of Wales. This came as a warm welcome to our trip to the Lake District the following week and an inspiration almost to really look and enjoy the landscape we had around us.

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The day of our hill walk however did not behold the clear blue sky and brisk wind we were expecting but instead were given a thick layer of white fog and complete stillness. This was very eerie but at the same time highlighted the usually hidden beauty of the winter struck landscape. After driving through Windermere and Ambleside we settled on the hill on which we would walk.

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With the hill above us rising out into the unknown mists, the climb revealed the brown bracken, musty greens of the moss and grass and the mud trodden paths up and across it’s face. With the fog it was something out of a horror film with distant figures being silent and just within eyesight muffled by the heavy fog and dense foliage.
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Once at the summit, our weather luck had changed and a break in the clouds meant you could see a snippet of the hills opposite and the towns and lakes below.

I don’t normally commit to black and white photography straight off, but there was something about this day which drew me to sticking to the monochrome monotony which I associate with the usual black and white photograph. The gradients created by the fog just seemed to work a lot better with less colour and also increase the darker winter mood we were all feeling.

I can’t wait to come back in the Summer.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

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Bad Life Decisions: Vegan January

After just a couple of weeks into the vegan January experience I’ve had to call it off. The diet change has made me particularly ill and unfortunately means I can’t continue as I planned.

However in my time of vegan meals I’ve discovered a few things that has made me come to respect the vegan community a bit more.

  • 1 – It’s very difficult in today’s society

So looking round Tesco for affordable vegan meals took twice the time as a usual shop. The things you don’t usually think about containing animal produce somehow does contain it as a preservative or as a flavouring. Flapjacks for instance, that’s just oats and syrup right? Wrong. It has condensed milk and milk based flavouring. It doesn’t need to be that convoluted!

  • 2 – It’s not cheap

As a student on an exceedingly tight budget I like to try and make the pennies go as far as possible. The budget stuff however contains again the unnecessarily animal ingredients that are under 1%. You can’t get away from it unless you make everything yourself from scratch. This again means buying separate fresh ingredients that are perishable and usually more expensive. True it is healthier for you but costly on a tight student budget.

  • 3 – It’s a lot more effort

Due to the nature of buying separate food this leads on nicely to my next point. Preparation and Effort for meals is extended. Instant food is for the carnivore and now the vegetarian, but vegans are still in the dark with a selection of cheap microwave meals or oven easy meals. Quorn have come out with a new Vegan range, but again this still leads to extra prep.

  • 4 – Restaurants

Being a Vegetarian gives you limitations at restaurants. Being Vegan leaves you with maybe one choice of salad, but then that can’t be guaranteed as vegan as it doesn’t have the V approval. Or the Chef can’t guarantee the lack of animal ingredients. But go to a Vegan friendly restaurant and the prices shoot up. It’s either a lettuce leaf for an okay price or a meal for a month of rent.


Some bad things I noticed with the Vegan Diet

  • Taking Vitamins and Minerals

If you aren’t doing the diet properly properly and not measuring out the proteins, carbs and fibre properly vitamin and mineral tablets won’t help you. Without the right intake of all these your body is going to start to disagree with you. I’m sure there are many people out there who are okay with this diet but my body disagrees completely.

  • Drastic weight loss

I’m not the skinniest or the fattest of people, but I noticed a deterioration after a week. I feel less energised and less motivated. I have definitely noticed weight loss even without weighing myself as my once right fitting jeans are too big.

  • More snacking

I am not a snacking person but with this diet I am not satisfied with my meals and find myself eating more snack food throughout the day. I’m not okay with this.


Health Benefits?

Personally i didn’t notice any. If anything it’s made my RA a bit worse, I feel less motivated and good about myself and constantly drained. I think it’s time to get back to the chicken stock soup and get my health back up to speed.

 

Thanks for reading and have a good day!

Border Castle Adventure

As a farewell to 2016, and a premier adventure of the Welsh Borders, Tom and myself took the a470 and a479 along the borders down to Chepstow to check out the historic sights.
Being December, a lot of places aren’t open to the public but are still able to be viewed from a distance.

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First stop is the Castle Keep that remains of Bronllys Castle just outside of the village of Bronllys on the a479 towards Abergavenny. The keep is open to the public for free all year round with stairs taking you up to it as well as to the top of the ruin giving marvellous 360 degree views of the Brecons.

The Castle was initially a Norman build after 1066, as a motte and bailey and later rebuilt and rebuilt, first from wood to stone, and then reinforced accordingly. However by the 15th century it was only seen fit to be a prison. There are alot of steep stairs and narrow ledges but the view is totally worth it, even if it isn’t too clear of a day.

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Next stop on the tour saw us going past TreTower and Court. This Cadw owned property is only open in the spring/summer months but regardless is pretty nice to view. The Tower is viewable from the road as are the castle walls which integrate into the village itself. Even though we didn’t get to look around the tower, court and walls it was still nice to get a bit closer, get a few snaps and find an excuse to come back in 2017.

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Onwards and forward to make it down to Chepstow for 3pmish, we continued on the road towards Abergavenny. The Market town boasts ruins of a castle in the centre, another norman build, and like most welsh border castles laying in ruin after being ordered to be slighted in the english civil war. Cromwell just ruined everyones fun it seemed.

The next stop was going to be Raglan Castle being the midpoint of Abergavenny and Monmouth, but, I may have missed the turning for it off the dual carriageway and then realised how big Raglan castle still is. This castle is unlike most other castles in Wales, being of Tudor design, much alike to Caernarfon in North Wales. Originally being built in the 15th century with Tudor additions and fortifications, it was never primarily designed for defense purposes yet still manage to hold sieges during the civil war. Again Cromwell made sure the castle was slighted and left in ruin. Damn Cromwell.

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Our Next stop, Tintern Abbey. This has to be one of my favourite places. The only thing missing from this great building are windows and a roof, the grandeur of the walls and detail in windows and doors are still visible.  Another Cadw owned property, the Abbey hosts a wealth of history with the White Monks and the lavish church refurbishments.

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I’m not going to say much about Tintern Abbey as I strongly encourage everyone to go visit it’s tranquil beauty and absorb the atmosphere.

After a picnic ploughmans, a cheeky hot beverage it was time to finish the day at our most southerly point of Chepstow.
Due to the estuary and coastal factor of Chepstow’s location, frets of the sea made the weather a little bit more dense than that of our earlier viewings.

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Again I underestimated the size of this Castle. This was a another Castle that had many rebuilds and additions creating it’s long rectangular apparel on the edge of the Wye Estuary. This is a castle you’ll need to spend a good 2-3hours at to enjoy it fully and on a clear day as there is alot of castle and alot of view which unfortunately we didn’t get to see fully!

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The Fog was so bad you could hardly see the river below, let alone the full extent of the castle’s buildings and walls, another castle on the list of 2017 adventures.

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On a brighter note, the pigeons that scattered the walls and crevasses are extremly pretty and friendly and that’s always nice.

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By the time we finished at Chepstow the Sun was setting and it was time to get on down to Bristol before the long trek back to Aberystwyth.

Onto the camera stuff!
So days like this bring alot of challenges, the lighting factors, the colour of the sky and of course the trouble with fog.
Landscape shots, such as from the top of the castle I aim for a minimum of f/8.0 aperture.
For Castle shots minimum of f/4.0.
It’s all personal preference really but it’s nice to have a guideline to work from before you find what works best for you.
Today I was using just a 24-105mm L series canon lens with my canon 6d with a capped iso of 6400 and a shutter around 1/320 minimum.

I wish all my readers the best for 2017 and that you triumph in all you pursue!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

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website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

 

 

 

Café Culture and the Continent

What warms a cold winters day than that of the promise of a hot beverage?
If you’re more comfortable at home with your tea, out and about with your coffee on the go or taking a break from it all in your favourite café, hot drinks are a pinnacle of our culture and we can’t escape it.

The liberalisation of the workplace with more and more jobs becoming work from home, and the increased amount of students, café’s have arisen in great numbers to accommodate this new phenomenon. Only a few decades ago, coffee and tea were classified as exotic drinks, with only the higher tier of society having them as a normal day-to-day beverage. Snap to 2016 and the global brands of Starbucks, Lavazza and Costa dominating the international coffee scene, and the newer chains branching across the UK it’s easy to see that today, coffee and tea are a staple to our culture.

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Café Allongé

As an avid tea and coffee drinker myself I can not complain with the new expansion of hot drinks with new and exciting flavourings and creations appearing almost weekly. Yet i can’t help notice how tea and coffee are no longer valued for their original tastes and pleasures. It’s only when I go back to France I realise how commercialised our British Coffee and Tea tastes have become. Along with the “normalities” of italian coffee, the lattes, cappuccino and americanos, we seem to forget the humble filter coffee and builder’s tea that our projected culture roots us Brits as.

We are now swamped with the choices of extra syrups to cover the coffee flavour, caramel macchiatos, vanilla cappuccinos and various toppings of cinnamon, vanilla and chopped nuts, whipped cream and sauces. Let’s not forget the whole, semi skimmed, skimmed, soya, almond milk that gives “Freedom” to the coffee drinker. Do not get me wrong, I do love a vanilla cappuccino every so often, but the recent years has taken coffee to new extremes, drowning it in hot milk and sugar, taking anything good of the coffee away and replace it with sweet fatness that appeals to everyone and not the real coffee enthusiast.

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Usual French Hot Chocolate

Cafés in Britain are open to everyone in society, with a self-service feel. One forms an orderly line and queues at the counter to request the desired beverage, pays and either stays or leaves. The slow shuffle and wait of these lines is almost chore like, laborious for a once luxury occasion. You receive a cup of the drink and that is that.

On the continent, cafés operate differently. In France particularly you rarely find a chain coffee store as the streets are dotted with bars that function as cafés. It’s easy to compare the two cultures, the French still traditional on waiting tables, bringing over your order usually with a couple of sugars and a sweet treat and then on request “l’addition.” There is no need for queue, it’s instantaneous finding a seating area and being served by the waiter. In most of my café – bar experiences it’s been quicker than any lumbering British Queue.

The coffee culture is different in France, the usual order being coffee at its best as an espresso. Theses are usually quick pick me ups throughout the busy morning. On the opposite end, orders of a grand café or allongé, means that the coffee will last for almost hours on end, an excuse to stay in residence of the café and have a catch up.
At home there is more focus on coffee than tea, with supermarkets stocking more coffee and coffee products than that of tea. Regardless of this, French supermarkets have a remarkable selection of tea, much larger in size and variety than any British supermarkets. Shame on the tea drinking nation we are!

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Espresso

Tea has become increasingly popular over the last few years as well with the demand for flavoured and herbal teas on the rise putting companies like PG tips and typhoo under pressure for more than just black tea. Green tea has been proven to be good for your health, but so has black tea and coffee, but the green tea fad is the one that health bloggers and writers favour.

Tea and coffee as a social lubricant means the demand for all things hot drinks has increased hence the rapid expansion of flavours and establishment for teas and coffees. Both have become a staple personalities, with being a tea drinker a point almost worth writing on your CV.

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Whatever the world of Café’s throws at us next, I’ll be waiting, but for now I think it’s time for us to revisit the basics and get back knowing the proper tea and coffee and appreciating them for what they’ve become. And definitely throw more tea parties. As who doesn’t like a good party?!

Thanks for reading and have a great Holiday Season!

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