Fairy Tale – 350/365

Today we went on a classic “Gav adventure”. Too short on time and too full of enthusiasm, thats the way I seem to do everything these days!

I say we, becasue today I took Izzy and my Mum over to Lake Vyrnwy in Powys.


Time was short because today was Izzys Christmas Carol singing with her pre-school, and she needed to be there for 1pm to prepare. So I arranged with my mum to pick her up at 7am, which is about 40mins drive away, meaning I had to get Izzy up at 6am, bless her. She didn’t complain though, she very rarely does.

We woke, we got our gear together and we set off, if all went to plan we’d be there just in time for sunrise.

All was going great, until I stopped for fuel and put £20 of unleaded into my car, which is a diesel. Not ideal, but not to be stopped I filled it up with Diesel to thin out the unleaded, and trucked on. We did arrive at my mums a little late though due to the extended stop, and we collected her at 7:15am; not too far off track and with about an hour and a half journey left to go over to Powys, we might still make sun rise!


We did just about make sunrise, after navigating the single track lanes over the snow covered mountains and past Bala, but I really wanted to photograph the little building on the lake, and we’d arrived on the opposite side!

Not to worry, we have until 11am before we need to dart back home, so we had a bite to eat and a brew, and I took some shots to get the juices flowing.


The further round we went, the better and better the building looked (which is actually a Straining Tower), as the light caught it. However, the clear blue skys weren’t what I wanted, and I prayed for a bit of mood and cloud cover.


Further on round still, and we came to the dam wall, and my goodness is it impresive! not only the view and magnificence of it, but the sound is awe inspiring! I had hoped it would be in full flow due to the wet weather, and I wasn’t dissapointed.


I framed the dam up with the moon in shot too, and the little bit of cloud that was around to the left, and used a long exposure, exposure bracketing, and all sorts of things to be honest, just to capture it in all its glory with various techniques.

Above, the shot is with a faster shutter, below 30 seconds. I used slightly different white balance too, to just take the edge of the highlights in the long exposure.


I took loads of shots of the dam, too many to share here so if you want to see more have a look at this gallery; https://www.flickr.com/gp/16561566@N02/kLNyo5

Onwards we went, the mission was to photograph the Straining tower, so thats what we were doing, no matter how awesome the dam was!

Finally, we rounded the corner and came upon the tower, and it was all I magined it to be. Solid stone built, overgrown with gnarly old trees covered in moss and lichen around its base. It stood defiantly in the water as if to say, “this is my lake, tread carefully human”……..


I did tread carefully too, though I did scramble down the embankment too, in order to get a clean photograph through the trees and undergrowth…….

The sky was starting to develop a mood now too, and shooting straight into the sun the tower looked mesmerising backlit, genuinely like a fairy tale tower.


My mum and Izzy stopped in the car for a bit at this point, having another bacon sandwich and a brew, whilst I explored a little more of this wonderful building.


The photographs aren’t particualrly a “set” so to speak, the edits are clearly very different, as are the means of capturing them. As I mentioned, I used all the techniques I possibly could to capture the mood of the tower, and the shot abouve taken with my polarising filter on demonstrates that, with the extra colour coming through in the blue sky. I have to admit, I pulled a little too much through again, but I needed to add something to give some interest to the sky, I felt.

The backlit view was a different challenge, that was more about protecting the highlights, and perched precariously half way down a very steep embankment dangling above the water, didn’t make for easy photography; but I have to say the shots from that angle are my favourites.


With that, we went for one last look from the high vantage point at the hotel, and then started to make our way back home. The drama hadn’t finished though, and though my car hadn’t missed a beat despite its big slug of unleaded, we had no phone signal, and so no sat-nav, so it would have to be a case of follwing our noses to get back on the home trail.

We did eventually get back on track, back over the snow covered hills and mountains, through the valleys and into mobile phone coverage. We made it back in time for Izzys singing too, and she was nothing short of awesome!

She’d been woken up at 6am, been dragged all around mid Wales for six hours in the freezing cold, and yet her little lungs still had the energy to belt out Twinkle Twinkle little star. What an abolute legend she is!


What a thoroughly enjoyable morning that was, I’ve rattled on a little bit in this post, because again I only just got it out in time (11:37 to be precise!! imagine missing a day now…….) but I hope I’ve portrayed just how brilliant this morning was. It was full throttle all the way, and I’m so glad we made the effort.

As I mentioned, I took loads more photographs than what you see here, and if you want to see them, have a look on this link, but for now it’s time I hit the hay; I hope your monday morning was as exhilerating as mine was!


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