Snapshots #12: Welsh Riviera

I love and hate having friends across the world, some closer to home than others, but always there to visit and talk to. North Wales is no exception to this rule, seeing as recently I’ve almost hopped over the border to England. This trip took me right onto the North Coast to Rhyl and Llandudno.

To say I had a Rhylly good time would be an understatement as betwixt the majority of elderly and unruly youths, the Welsh Riviera really is a great place to visit. Luckily, We had the warm weather, mediterranean blue skies and beautiful sea. The couple of days were filled with window shopping, retail therapy and just aimless walking and chatting, the kind of thing you need with good friends and a pretty looking place.

However how lovely Llandudno is, it isn’t for those who have a fast pace of life. For one, the speed of the place and the people is around 2mph. The place is catered to this speed, and the accompanying age of life, so is not necessarily a place that is “up and coming” for the young adult, graduate or anyone with ambition. To be trapped in this Purgatory, much like my time serving at Aberystwyth University, would be ideal during the summer season with plenty of work being offered, to save for the inevitable escape, but throughout the winter and colder months, to be trapped in the icy grip of this place would be a total disaster.



So many opportune photo moments here from taking symmetrical images to please my aesthetic eye, to getting the long seascapes that I’ve grown to love and hate with my time living on the coast. Another thing about Llandudno is that it boasts colour. All the details of the town seem somewhat French, with iron railings, weird parking habits and the flow of rooftop to rooftop. The pier is a remarkable blue and white, blending perfectly with the mediterranean sky, sultry sea and airy clouds so even on an overcast day, the two punctual colours stand out.



Down the coast is the town of Rhyl, currently under a lot of rebuilding, the potential seen in this place is remarkable. The flats of the sands reach out to the handful of wind turbines on the sea that make a remarkable sight. Unlike the usual reaction of “wind turbines ruin the landscape” they add to the flat seascape in a way I’m not sure I understand. The roads are lined with terraces, all the same yet unique with the odd change of colour of doors, windows and windowsills, throwing a sense of colour to the beige. The promenade in Rhyl is a great walk, really showing off the Northern coastline of Wales and perfect to do on a sunny or rainy day.


After my negativity towards the place, I do encourage people to visit this coast line for a few days. It shows the vast beauty and contrast Wales can offer from the Old Victorian holiday resorts to the green and blue rolling hills and seas, castle ruins and winding roads in a small area. As well as doing good crepes at Fortes, damn they were good.

Have a great day and thanks for the read!


Links to my sites:




Snapshots #11: Escape

It’s a common theme, my adventurous trips to get away from it all. Yet, I can not stress the importance of taking a step back from intense work life to enjoy the world and life we are given. As the last couple of months has been a series of heavy deadlines mixed with a series of unfortunate events, getting away from it all was needed.

Although this time we didn’t exactly travel far, where we did go was a completely different world, yet being a small meandering drive up the coast.


I don’t know if there are many others like me, but I am definitely an over-thinker and immerse myself so deeply in my head that I need to have a break to just take a step back from me and hit the refresh button.
Luckily for me, Wales have these little pockets of gold that take you to an entirely different world, that makes you think; wow, I live in this world.

Anyway onto where we went…. Tucked up on the North West coast are a number of small beach towns and honey pots including Barmouth, Harlech, Criccieth and Portmeirion. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, Portmeirion is the real life Welsh Rivendell. Winding paths take you up down around and through the cliffside and down the coast, across small gardens and around ornate towers and buildings. What really makes this place unique however is the vibrancy and contrast of colours, detailed frescoes and intricate architecture.


Even on an overcast day the colours lift dampened spirits. The town also boasts a wealth of flora, from palms and ferns, to colourful rhododendron bordering the stairs snaking around the cliffs.
What made this day exceptionally nice was the ability to just sit and watch the world go by. No need to do anything or think of anything just sit and enjoy what is in front of you.


I hope you can all afford an hour or two to just sit and not worry.

Thanks for reading and have an amazing Summer!

Photography Tips #11: 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:





Archery Series #2: Vegas Baby!

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.

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.


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!

Snapshots #9: 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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:








Photography Tips #9: American Football

Being an unconventionally British sport, American Football is steadily growing in popularity in the U.K. Mainly based at universities and community teams, the sport combines the best bits of speed, hard hits and strategy.

Taking photos of this sport is no different to other pitch sports, but note that it is more a of stop start game so there is more opportunity to follow the game along the sidelines and get alongside the action.

With the turning of the season and the sun setting earlier and earlier, most games end with the sun starting to set. For this you need to have a camera with a good ISO capability so not to compromise the shutter speed which is the priority setting in this type of photography. Personally I avoid using flash in any sport situations, but some places allow flash set ups to help in night coverage but try and work around not having a flash.

This week I made a sound investment in the form of a monopod. Mainly due to having tendinitis in my elbow currently and my camera gear weighing over 2kg, having it constantly raised on my arm was not going to be a sensible option. Having a monopod not only saves the arms but also makes it easily to get to a consistent level and angle on the pitch as well as having a smooth rotation to follow plays. The only downside is the limitation of movement when the plays come very close to the sidelines.


To really get good football photos you will need to be aware of the following:

  • The game itself, the rules, the plays, this is so you can anticipate them and then from there, get the best shots.
  • Watch the game while taking photos as usually the plays are repeated – making it easier for you to follow.
  • The atmosphere – know your sidelines, speak to the players if you’re in their box, speak to the spectators, get a feel of the game.
  • Watch for key plays like kicks, punts, and throws – prefocus on the player with the ball.
  • Remember there is a lot of players on the team.


Settings to remember on your camera when approaching this sport:

  • ISO as low as you can unless it is dark (check your camera’s capabilities) set up an auto ISO
  • Shutter – nothing lower than 1/500 to avoid blur
  • Aperture, ideally you want something around f/5.0 but its nice to have shots with a very wide aperture as well – (especially if you have a 70-200m f/2.8 lens)
  • AI Servo setting (This is a personal preference but if you have a good autofocus system on your camera, you should really know whats best for your equipment… if not google is a great friend.)
  • Trial and error always try out before the game!


As always, thanks for reading and have another fantastic day and night!

Links to my sites:










Snapshots #6: Fire and Magic

In the U.K. it has become a strange tradition to remember the 5th of November. As Brits, we are accustomed to the turn over of November with the smokey haze of bonfires, fireworks and sparklers. Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire night or Firework night commemorates that time some disgruntled catholic joined a plot to blow up Parliament (to put it in loose terms). Usually an effigy of Guy Fawkes known as the Guy is put atop of large fires across the country to symbolise his failure in the gunpowder plot. Nothing screams the British colonial past more than encouraging our children to set alight mannequins and the unfortunate hedgehog in support of our government in this day and age. This coupled with a firework display, sparklers and the gleefully disposition that government did not go up in flames makes the 5th of November a popular tradition celebrated throughout the U.K. by all generations.

As far assassination plots in British history go, the gun powder plot tops it all. If you want to kill a king, you might as well do it in style by blowing up the whole of parliament with all the kings men (but not the horses) in it. The plot has been the inspiration for a series of popular adaptations in the forms of comics, books and dystopian films exploring the what if and what a gun powder plot would do to today’s society. However this dystopian belief is widely skeptical amongst today’s community which is fairly hypocritical due to the manner of which we celebrate our 400 year old tradition.


Moving onto something lighter – literally – the wonders of Sparklers. Turning any grown adult back into a child, sparklers encapsulate a certain magic we’ve only seen on tv or read about in books. With the introduction of the Wizarding World, courtesy of the illustrious J.K. Rowling my childhood along with most others in my generation find magic truly magical.  Every year I remember waiting for the sparklers to be brought out, whispering “lumos” as it ignites and as it dies down swishing the sparkler round uttering “nox” walking around outside imagining the Hogwarts grounds around you in the dark.

With age comes education, yet I still refuse to believe that sparklers are a chemical creation explained by science, I merely acknowledge and appreciate it’s involvement. They have and always will be pure magic.


Onto fireworks. Who doesn’t like fireworks? (except of course the loud noises, the smoke pollution the impending doom of them not going off, or going off at you…) They temporarily paint the night sky with colour and wonder, making the darkest and coldest of nights that little bit better.

This year I didn’t go out to watch any firework displays, mainly as I was transfixed by sparklers and also watching the Ireland New Zealand rugby match. But there is always New Years!

Boring Responsible Warning: Just remember to stay safe round fireworks as they are fire and can be unpredictable! (Also be aware of your surroundings and be considerate of others)

As always, thanks for reading and have another fantastic day and night!

Links to my sites:




Photography Tips #8: LAX to the MAX

After an action packed first week of lectures, matches, cheer and editing I can finally take a little extra time to reflect on my new experiences. The University has many many sports teams from sports I’ve never heard of like Korfball to the more common sports such as Football and also sports which I didn’t think were sports, like Korfball.* Having only played a handful of sports at High School and having little understanding of male dominated sports, Lacrosse has been one of those sports that I have always associated with all girls schools and didn’t really think it was a sport that was popular for men. I had the privilege to go along to a couple of home games, first watching the ladies then the men play Swansea’s respective teams and get my eye in on lax photography.


The rules between mens and womens lacrosse vary quite distinctively, with mens being a lot more physical and aggressive than the ladies. If you do have any spare time to watch a game I would strongly advise it as it is an action-packed high paced pitch sport, perfect for anyone who enjoys watching rugby, American football or normal football.

Onto the Photography bit! I am so glad I have the 70-200mm lens. The f/2.8 aperture really is my new love in sporting images, like the one above. With the canon 6d being a full frame camera and therefore being a little bit slower with focus and shutter speed it isn’t always fantastic to have such a wide aperture so I find it better for the camera to sit between f/5.0 and f/8.0 at the very max. Again as its sports its full of action and movement so I try not to drop below 1/250 shutter, especially if it is a beautifully sunny day like the last couple weeks have been for me in Aberystwyth.

Not much else I can say settings wise so I’ll talk about the sport itself… Unlike other sports I’ve been taking pictures of, I have a very basic knowledge of lacrosse, my preconceptions coming from the aforementioned high school days and seeing small clips off popular TV and films. Like most sports its good to get the hits, the catches and the throws as well as the goals and saves. With lacrosse there is a lot of running with the ball, a lot of throwing and occasional catching as its a large pitch with tiny goals. Key aspects of the match that can be really good to capture are the face offs at the start and tackles, just keep your finger on the shutter release to get a good 4-7 shots to go through and get the main part of the action in post production.


Another thing I’ve learnt that I’ll pass on, don’t be scared to talk to people there. Personally I feel awkward around people I don’t know but after doing different matches with new people and sport it gets a lot easier and also they can tell you what they are looking for in the photos as well as what to look out for. Its a great confidence boost!

As always, thanks for reading and have another fantastic day!

Links to my sites:





*(I jest, I just don’t understand it as a sport).

Photography Tips #6: Sheep and Showmanship

When I first got a bit more serious about equine and show photography, admittedly I brushed off the idea of photographing sheep and cattle showing. I put this mainly down to my ignorance of not exactly understanding the showing of these animals, and definitely not understanding how one sheep is better than other sheep that looks identical to me. Regardless, it is a lot more tricky than it seems. Especially with sheep.
Again, I had the pleasure on Wednesday to work with Storm Equine Photography, this time to focus on the show itself than that of the horse rings. Sticking with their equipment of a Nikon D4 and the option of a sigma 70-200mm lens and a Tamron 24-70mm lens, I was equipped for the general show ground as well as getting the close ups of the smaller animals. In this case, Sheep.

IMG_4915-32Different people will tell you different things when taking pictures of sheep. Mainly they want pictures of their winning sheep with their rosettes looking all proud and sheep like. You could compare it to showing in hand with horses with rosette shots with the aspects of having the animal standing square, so when horizontally flush to the camera the animal will look like it has two legs, one at the front, one at the back. Depending on the breed, you’ll either want the ears “tidy” – this being straight to the side, forward, or back. With the majority of medium to large breeds such as Texels and Bluefaced Leicesters, breeders are looking for ears forward in my experience. However, unlike horses, sheep are tricky and don’t respond well to wavy arms, interesting noises or the general waving and shenanigans to get their attention for them to move their ears forward.

The best advice I can give for this type of photography is ask the owner/breeder/handler what they want and go from there. Get down to the same level of the sheep and make sure you shoot a burst incase the sheep twitches.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites: