I last visited Snowdonia 2 years ago and although I was happy with the images captured, I just didn’t have enough time to explore the area as much as I wanted to as I was only there for a couple of days. Unfortunately, living in London means that most of these wonderful locations around the UK are quite a distance. Snowdonia is around six hours drive from my home in London and as I get older the driving seems to be more of a chore. The weather forecast looked good compared to the rain we had recently so I decided to have another visit to an outstanding area of beauty.
I have 2 camera bodies, the Canon 5D Mk3 and the Canon 6D Mk1, both which I’ve had for a few years. I also use them for all my wedding work and they have never let me down. The image quality is amazing on both but slightly better on the 6D. My decision on which camera I take depends on what I expect the weather to do and Snowdonia is very unpredictable when it comes to the weather. The 5D has superior weather-sealing hence this is the body I’ll be taking with me although it is a heavier body.
The lens I’ll be taking is my Canon 16-35mm F4 IS, which is my lens of choice when it comes to landscape photography, however, the lens is only 35mm at the long end so I do need another lens to get a bit closer to my subject. The choice is between my Canon 24-70mm F2.8 mk2 or the 70-200mm F2.8 mk2, although I love the 70-200mm unfortunately, I'm finding that I am more often leaving at home due to the weight of the lens and the 24-70mm will be the 2nd lens in the bag. I use the Lee filter system and a few filters, the big and little stopper and two 3 stop ND Grads hard and medium and the one that is essential the circular polariser.
Snowdonia National Park is situated in the north of Wales and is the third designated national park after The Peak District and The Lake District. It was also the 1st of the three other National parks in Wales. My journey was to the north of the park to the Ogwen Valley and Llanberis, which is the most visited in the region. My first location was at the shores of Llyn Padarn to get a sunrise image of probably the most photographed tree in the UK, The Lone Tree.
I had photographed this tree before but in many different conditions. My last visit to the area very strange to say the least, the whole area was covered in fog! Visibility was at a minimum and the locals told me it was very unlike anything they had seen for many a year. This time the weather was supposed to be clear and I headed out an hour before sunrise, I had been to the location before so I knew there were only a few compositions to shoot and also most importantly to get a good spot. This location is so popular that at times there have been up to 30 other photographers present so getting there early was a must. I arrived and to my surprise, there was only one other photographer present!
This first image of the tree before sunrise and the composition is to position the tree slightly to the left of the image to show more of the lake rather than shooting in the most common composition which is to have the tree in the centre of the image. With the second image below I did, however, go with placing the tree in the centre of the frame as the sun came up over the lake. When you place the tree in the centre there is not a lot of space to shoot the tree and get more of the lake in the foreground as the tree is very close to the shore.
I was very lucky on the day to have almost perfect conditions with some colour before sunrise and beautiful light just after the sunrise. The lake had mist on the surface and some in the mountains in the distance as well .
My Second destination was towards the Ogwen Valley and Llyn Idwal. The conditions had changed as the sun came up, the light was very harsh but luckily there was some cloud cover in the sky which helped in balancing the images. I headed on the path so I could elevate myself to have a vantage point to see the lake and the valley below.
This first image is the of the path leading to the mountains behind me. There s a beautiful reflection which you will notice in most of the following images of the valley as I climb to the vantage point, which is a small bridge looking down the valley.
I really appreciate the view from this vantage point, you can see the path to the right of the image from the previous image. This is a classic view of the valley and has been taken many times but its always great to capture your own unique view.
I could almost touch the clouds, it was a breathtaking experience getting to this point as the previous occasion I was here there was a lot of fog and there was zero visibility of any of the peaks.
This is one of my favourite images of the trip. I framed the composition with the tree and the mountain as the focal point and used the rocks and plants in the foreground as a leading line to the lake and mountains. Having zero wind was extremely lucky as you can see the stillness in the lake providing an amazing reflection. You can more of the details of the reflection in the image below. I like the way the light and shadows work in the image as the passing clouds casts the light across the mountain.
I decided to head over to Llyn Ogwen and capture an image of the old boathouse, which sits on the south shore of the lake. Its another classic view shooting straight down the lake with the boathouse and tree in the frame. The conditions were very harsh but its always nice to capture the same locations in different weather conditions and times of the year.
My sunset image was going to be of Tryfan with Llyn Ogwen in the foreground. To get the view I had to climb the opposite mountain until I could get to a vantage point where I could compose my image, the climb itself took around 45 minutes. When I got to my desired viewpoint I was struggling with the light as the sun was in the image as shooting down the valley. I decided to wait for the sun to set behind the mountains before I took the image. The composition was straight forward I wanted to have Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen as my subject and I used the small stream in the foreground as a leading line to the view, a classic shot! I also couldn't resist a quick selfie which was the first image of the blog.
This is an area which I stumbled across as I was leaving the area the next day and heading to the Pembrokeshire coast. I was heading down the A4086 from Capel Curig when I spotted the 2 lakes from the distance, at first I didn't take much notice as I passed along the side of the lake and there didn't seem to be to much interest in the scene. However, as I passed the lake and looked in my rearview mirror I almost crashed, the view was spectacular!
The image of the lake is of a classic view, with the stones as foreground interest which leads you to the trees on the left and finally the Snowdon Horseshoe in the distance. The lake was completely still with zero wind which also gave the opportunity to capture the reflection in the lake of the mountain range. This is a handheld shot with just a polariser to add some contrast. I wanted to also get a closer look at the Snowdon Horseshoe so I zoomed in to capture the shot below. I also couldn't resist another selfie at this stunning location.
Snowdonia is one of my favourite locations in the UK for photography and I cant wait to get back there again. My travels continued on to the Pembrokeshire Coast and the Elan Valley, which will feature in my next blog post, so please do keep in touch via my social media links on Facebook or Instagram for the latest updates and thank you for visiting my site.