The Crib Goch Alternative

Since I was acutely aware that my fitness level was supremely substandard, I had a plan:  I’d arrive at Snowdon an hour or two before the rest of the guys, slowly make my way to the summit of Crib Goch ahead of them, take some photographs and some drone footage – and of course vlog the whole event.  So I got all my gear ready the night before, and was on my way at 05:15.

Crib Goch, Snowdon, North Wales

About 2 hours into my journey, I stopped to take a photograph of the sunrise.  It was at this point I realised my hiking boots were still on the rug in the living room waiting for me to put them in the car.  I’d come too far to turn around for my boots, so I took the decision to buy a pair of winter boots ready for the coming season, and my Salomon GTX could go into storage until next spring.  After a telephone call with my good friend, I re-tasked my sat nav for Betws-y-Coed where I’d wait until 09:00 for Cotswold Outdoor to open.

At the entrance to Cotswold Outdoor, there was a small crowd waiting for the doors to open, and it turned out I was wasn’t the only person who’d made a lengthy journey only to realise the all important boots were still at home!

The very pleasant staff helped me to choose a pair of Scarpa Pro GTX which looked great, and performed amazingly.  A fairly rigid (B2) boot worn on day of purchase for 8 hours’ walking and no blisters – I’m impressed.  Also got a 15% discount for my RSPB membership – result!

Llyn Llydaw, Snowdon

Arriving at Snowdon much later than planned, parking wasn’t available so I ended up parking in Llanberis.  My tardiness also meant I’d lost my head start on the rest of the guys, so we all set off together along the Pyg Track, and then took the trail up towards the Crib Goch ascent.

Sunburst, corpuscular rays, Crib Goch, Snowdon

We were making inroads into the ascent when I started to come unstuck – my poor level of fitness, fear of heights and to a degree the weight of camera gear I was hauling got the better of me and I started to flag.  I didn’t feel secure or nimble in the scrambles, and despite the support of the group I decided it was best for all that I descend and take the Pyg Track instead.  This decision made, I picked my way along the Pyg Track with the hordes taking photos of the amazing surroundings as I went.

With the walk over, we camped at the base of Tryfan and had a great evening of food and lots of drinks around the campfire, bundled up against the cold of the autumn night.

I didn’t get the vlog content, or make the journey I’d planned – but in the end I still had a great day in beautiful surroundings and spent a lot of time with some lovely people.  A vlog of the Crib Goch traverse is merely postponed until I return fitter and more confident – maybe next spring?


Lunch-break Photography

I like to get out of the office at lunchtime (who doesn’t need a break from the screen by then eh?), and often take my camera with me as I go for a stroll. I’m incredibly lucky in having a few great options within lunch-break distance.

This week was particularly bountiful in terms of wildlife photography with wagtails, a heron and dragonflies in abundance. Plus evidence of otters; their fishy spraint laying around crayfish remains. I think I’ll be getting a blind up before sunrise soon to try and get some pictures of the otters!


These dragonflies were sat around in the midday sunshine, and I’m so pleased with the performance of the Canon 100-400 L IS II – you can practically get macro shots from a fair distance, and they are beautifully sharp.


This wagtail was enjoying a lunchtime bath, and didn’t seem too bothered by me as I crept low and slow for some shots.  Once again the combination of the Canon 100-400 L IS II and my trusty 7D was just awesome.




Check out the vlog to go with this post:

I recently visited a local mountainside to spend an evening with a pair of kestrels I’ve noticed there.  I did get some nice shots, but I also learnt some valuable lessons and had a surprise visitor to my raptor party!


These birds are so beautiful, I love watching them in their distinctive hover in the evening light.  I was using my Canon 7D and a Canon EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6 IS which gave me an effective focal length of 640mm at full reach.  I’d previously used my 5D MkIII with a Canon 1.4x MkII extender, but I think the extender in combination with the relatively poor aperture of the 100-400 was inferior to the 7D/100-400 configuration.


Only one of the kestrels seemed to be hunting, but he was really tolerant of me; running around in the short heather nearby before returning to his vole vigil.


Just as I was packing up, this guy appeared – seemingly very interested in my drone which I got out of his way in short order.


The red kite was also quite obliging and photogenic.  Unfortunately I’d left my ISO in auto and I ended up with very noisy shots once I’d recovered the underexposed birds.  Passable for Instagram and blogs, not so good for saleable prints!  Lesson learned.

Star Photography 1st Attempt


Check out the vlog to go with this post:

A beautiful hike with my son in the Brecon Beacons to a small glacial lake was the perfect opportunity to make my first attempt at astrophotography.  The Brecon Beacons National Park has a Dark-Sky reserve making it the perfect area for making pictures of the night sky.

Once camp was set up, a quick scout of the area turned up the obvious location for my night sky shoot to include both Pen y Fan, Corn Ddu and the Llywn Cwm Llwch lake.  The lake, I hoped would provide a mirror for the stars and the silhouettes of the peaks.

I also have to mention the lovely couple I met (I’m absolutely awful at remembering names, but I’m pretty sure it was Peter and Helen).  I hope your trek to Bangor Brecon was fruitful guys!  Speaking with you was a pleasure, and an education.


Back to business – it was time to replenish the reserves for the evening.

Brecon at Night.jpg

Then time to relax, watch the sun go down and wait for the stars to start peeking out at us from around the mountains.

This being my first attempt at night sky photography, I’d done a bit of research and dusted off my 14mm F2.8 Rokinon lens; also read up on the 500 rule for astrophotography.  The rule, in a nutshell is (if you want static pinpoint stars instead of trails) you take 500 and divide it by the focal length you’ll be using.  In the case of the Rokinon, that’s 500/14 = 35.7.  This means I could make a 35 second exposure without the stars turning to trails.  I’d also want to keep it at F2.8 to maximise the light coming in, so the only variable to play with was the ISO.  I experimented with this over the course of the shoot, and ended up going as high as 1000, which didn’t bother the low noise output on the outstanding 5D Mk III.

Enough waffle – on to the results:

Llywn Cwm Cwch.jpg
Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu.jpg

I was so pleased, that I added a new Night Sky section to my online gallery.

Of course, the camera and the photography were a great excuse and motivator to get up into the mountains and take in all this celestial beauty, but can I think of a better way to spend a few hours with my son than sitting together looking at this?

Milky Way.jpg

Summer Bees


This weekend saw me at a family barbecue near Chepstow.  It was great to catch up and see the children playing together in the warm summer sunshine.  Of course, I took a camera – and when I spotted the honey bees doing their thing amongst the oregano and marjoram I just had to get in amongst it!


The photos were taken with my Canon EOS 7D and a Canon EF 100 mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens.


The cropped sensor on the 7D effectively made the 100mm a 160mm macro, and although I suspect that my 7D is back focusing slightly at the moment (which is really noticeable at macro focal lengths) I got lucky and I’m pleased with some of the shots.


I really must get around to doing some calibration…

Happy hunting!

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