A few days in Snowdonia National Park, Wales… Landscape photography, Aerial 360’s and Pano’s

After a chaotic start to the year I have been lucky enough to take a few days out in Wales with my sister…

Located in the south of Snowdonia National Park there is plenty of scenery in the local vicinity and a good excuse to spend some time chilling out, outdoors with camera in hand or the Inspire One in the sky and to spend some time with my sister who i hardly see…

We stayed in a beautiful apartment located just outside of Aberdovy, the view from the balcony was a beautiful start to the 4 nights away and the weather wasn’t completely terrible either!

Day 1 – The journey…

We drove from East Hertfordshire, a Journey time of roughly 4.5 hours, stopping for some food and a refuel pitstop just on the far side of Birmingham before carrying on the rest of the way to the apartment…

We arrived at the apartment just before darkness so made ourselves at home and had already planned a food delivery to arrive shortly after we did, thanks Asda!

Here are some photos of the apartment which i have borrowed from TripAdvisor where you can rent this apartment – HERE

The Old Stables, Play Panteidal, Aberdovy - Apartment 6
The Old Stables, Play Panteidal, Aberdovy - Apartment 6
The Old Stables, Play Panteidal, Aberdovy - Apartment 6
The Old Stables, Play Panteidal, Aberdovy - Apartment 6
The Old Stables, Play Panteidal, Aberdovy - Apartment 6

DAY 2 – Taking in the surroundings…

Day 2, our first full day in Wales and the weather and view from the balcony was amazing!

River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Canon 24-105mm @ 28mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/60s – 2 Stop HDR
River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Canon 24-105mm @ 24mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/250s – 2 Stop HDR – 5 Portrait Shot Pano

And it was more than warm enough to sit out and admire the views while eating breakfast…

Breakfast overlooking River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The plan for the day was to go for a drive and check out the local town, Aberdovey, and maybe a drive a bit further afield…

Aberdovey (Aberdyfi) is a beautiful small town on the east coast of wales where the sea leads inland via the estuary which is over looked by our apartment, being February and out of season Aberdovey was very quiet with a few dog walkers and most businesses closed so we took a walk from one end to the other stopping at the east end of the town to capture a couple of images…

Aberdovey town, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Canon 24-105mm @ 24mm – ISO100 – f11 – 25s through a 10 Stop ND Filter
River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 16mm – ISO100 – f11 – 15s through a 10 Stop ND Filter

We then walked back through town and under the railway bridge and out on to the beach…

Aberdovey Beach
Canon EOS 60D – Canon 24-105mm @ 24mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/125s – 4 Shot Pano

…before getting in the car and venturing a bit further around the coast where we ended up in the next town, called Twywn, more specifically by the Afon Dysynni inlet which is a very picturesque spot with a new foot bridge across the inlet which is part of the Wales Costal Walk…

Afon Dysynni inlet, Twywn, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Canon 24-105mm @ 47mm – ISO100 – f7.1 – 30s through a 10 Stop ND Filter
Afon Dysynni inlet, Twywn, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 15mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/30s – 5 Shot Pano

From here we drove out of Twywn heading towards Cadair Idris, the day was getting on and light starting to fall so more of a location scouting round trip than one of any purpose, we stopped at Dolgoch Falls, drove past Llyn Mywngil, briefly pulled in to the car park at the base of Cadair Idris and then completed the loop back to the apartment for the evening, dinner, planned the next day depending on weather, photo editing, watched a film and then sleep…

Day 3 – “I am not fit enough for this!”…

So, with day 3 upon us, the weather looked favourable, and a decision had been made the evening before to climb up to Llyn Cau, a mountain top lake with a climb of 480m, we must be insane!

Now, i just need to clarify, i am unfit, very! My idea of going for a walk is one which takes me to the car so that I can drive to my destination of choice, and if the path up the mountain was wide enough then sure enough I would have driven up that too! But no such luck, it was travel by foot, we almost looked excited before we began…

At the base of Cadair Idris, Wales
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – Selfie Camera

We had both agreed that it was a no ego hike, bailing out at any point WAS in fact an option if required!

Loaded up with with walking boots and bad weather clothing, snacks and hydration, some ‘sensible’ and minimal safety equipment, camera equipment including what i have now decided is a ridiculously heavy tripod and my fully charged mobile with ViewRanger loaded and 1:25,000 maps of the area we set off up a mountain! With me making an early decision to get up and then take pictures on the way back, this will allow me to choose my shots on the way up and also buy some time by cancelling photo stops on the way back if required.

The first part was the hardest by far, a steep climb up through the trees, the path is well defined and is completely ‘stepped’ all the way up through this section with some beautiful views across the valley below and several sections of waterfalls on the way up and i have no shame in saying we stopped multiple times on the way up, it was hard going… But always good opportunity to take on fluids and sugar if required…

After approx 1 hour (my climb rate) of time the climb levels off, still gaining altitude but at a much more sedate pace as you walk round admiring Nant Cadiar below and to your right. you get to enjoy this slightly easier pace for approx half an hour before you are back on steeper ground, at this point you have approx half hour left before reaching Cau Llyn, at this point the path is still being renovated, there is still a clearly defined path to get you to where you want to be but it’s not quite as ‘easy’ as walking up a set of steps anymore, there are a large couple of ‘step-ups’ where you will need to use your hands but it’s not so much as a ‘climb’ but using hands for stability…

Once you reach Cau Llyn the views are spectacular, the effort was completely worth it!

Cau Llyn, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm – ISO200 – f11 – 1/10s – 2 stop HDR
Cau Llyn, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm – ISO200 – f11 – 1/10s – 2 stop HDR – 3 Shot Pano

We sat here by the lake, sheltering from the freezing cold wind behind a big rock and ate our sandwiches and took on some more fluids before making our descent back to the car, the descent was mostly uneventful, stopping several times to capture a couple of images on the way down…

A small waterfall on Nant Cadiar, Cadair Idris, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Canon 24-105mm @ 105mm – ISO200 – f11 – 1/10s

A small waterfall on Nant Cadiar…

A small waterfall on Nant Cadiar, Cadair Idris, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 13mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/4s

And another before the steep steps to descend the final stretch down to the car park…

We both made it up and down without any real drama, both feeling very accomplished, and both knowing we are going to ache badly the next day!

Made a quick brew in the car park using my little stove and then back to the apartment for the evening via Co-Op to buy dinner, ate dinner, planned the next day depending on weather, photo editing, watched a film and then to sleep while thinking i will definately return to complete the hike to the summit of Cadair Irdris at some point….

Day 4 – Our last full day in Aberdovey…

Well, the plan for today was that there is no plan! We both knew we would be suffering from the adventures of the day before, so a lie-in was in order, then maybe a lazy afternoon out somewhere…

Once I was up it was apparent that the weather was reasonable, and on checking that today was the first day that there wasn’t a NOTAM (Notice To All Airmen) stopping me from getting the Inspire One up in the air, so a plan was hatched… and the DJI Inspire Batteries topped off…

My Inspire is a V1 with the twist lock props, Dual Control and I have 1 x TB48 battery and 3 x TB47 batteries, according to the DJI Go app it has flown over 45km and all problem free, i’m more than happy with it, apart from the bulk sometimes…

DJI Inspire One on charge
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The balcony of the apartment was just wide enough to be used as a landing/take off point, I had permission to be there and the rest of the building was empty with nothing else within 30m for takeoff/landing, and the plan was to go straight up and out, over the estuary, take some aerial shots, take shots for a 360, then return…

DJI Inspire One ready for take off
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

1st shot off the card being one of the apartment block we were staying in…

I then powered up Litchi App, backed away from the property and well in to the estuary and set about collecting the images required for a 360 pano…

Packed the Inspire in to the car with a plan to head back to Twywn, by the Afon Dysynni inlet again, but on the way just before getting to Aberdovey spotted a random little bridge off the road and grabbed the DSLR to investigate… Turned out to be one of those random stops where i’m glad i did…

River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 12mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/125s – 2 stop HDR
River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 12mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/125s – 2 stop HDR
River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/125s – 2 stop HDR

Back in the car and on to Twywn… We took a stroll down the beach then headed down to the inlet so i could get the Inspire One up in the air for another 360…

Llyn Mwyngil was the next port of call, having driven past it a couple of days ago and watched the sunset I knew there was a great picture opportunity there, I had wanted to stop on that day and use the DSLR to capture an image from a raised road that passed through the mountains but there was nowhere safe to do so, firstly I parked next to it to capture this image…

Llyn Mwyngil, Cadair Idris, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Canon 24-105mm @ 105mm – ISO200 – f13 – 2s

…then we parked a bit further away and I took the Inspire up…

…firstly for a still…

Llyn Mwyngil, Cadair Idris, Wales

…Then also while up there shot a 360…

3 Batteries down, 1 to go, but no more planned shots so started to head back the apartment with 1 in reserve which didn’t get used in the end but i did capture one more image from the car park when we got back…

River Dyfi, Aberdovey, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 16mm – ISO100 – f11 – 1/30s – 2 stop HDR

With day 4 drawing to an end, it was time to have some dinner, edit the days images and pack as much as possible, leaving time of 10am in the morning and a plan for on the way home…

After posting the 360 on Social Media there has been quite a debate about wether a drone flight should be conducted in an area known for low flying jet aircraft, and i’m not sure why but felt the need to justify my flight which was conducted completely within regs, I checked the weather and NOTAM’s before flight, and all flights were conducted Line Of Sight and not even at very high altitude (well under 400ft/120m), I had concerns that evening after it had been brought to my attention, but have since been able to do further research and am still unable to find notice of flight restrictions for any kind of aircraft in this area due to the low flying jets, obviously all flights are to be conducted with caution anyway, but it was an interesting point that had been raised and I had not thought that there may be further restrictions due to the jet operations, but as it turns out I can’t find any restrictions anyway…

Day 5 – The long way round…

Up early, well, holiday early, half 8… Time to get some breakfast in us, finish packing and vacate the apartment…

All went smoothly, everything in to the car and then hit the road about 20 past ten…

I wanted to visit a campsite near Snowdon for a trip later in the year and a Castle visit had been planned on route, so off we set heading north instead of east for home and after just over an hour we arrived at our first stop Harlech Castle…

Harlech Castle, Wales
Canon EOS 60D – Tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm – ISO200 – f13 – 1/60s – 6 images stitched 3 over 3

And a full 360 from standing in the courtyard, this castle is in very good condition and well worth a visit, there was sleet on the wind though today and it was freezing!

I do have to admit to being completely baffled by how many places of business were just closed, we wanted tea and food, the only immediately obvious place open was the visitor centre for the castle, everywhere else we looked was closed, as a ‘Townie’ with access to 24 hour shopping I found this very strange!

We left here heading even further north for Snowdon, another 40 minutes on the road and we arrived at Llyn Gwynant Campsite which is to the south east of Snowdon on Llyn Gwynant lake, the weather by now was far from best, so i jumped out of the car to take a quick pano to share with others that may be joining me later on in the year…

Llyn Gwynant Campsite, Wales
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

We then set the sat nav for home and headed on our way, we were both hungry and on the way out find a nice cafe, great food and tea, large maps available for all to view and maps for sale, a good walkers cafe, the food is highly recommended…

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The rest of the journey home was uneventful, a stop for fuel and some more food but otherwise plain sailing all the way, a great few days away, nice to be out in nature with a DSLR in hand hunting for images…

What have I learnt…?

  • I really enjoy landscape photography, and from posts on social media other people have enjoyed the images I have produced, I will definitely be doing more.
  • I am extremely unfit, I enjoyed the hike and found it frustrating that I struggled so much, I definitely need to do something about that.
  • I need a lighter weight tripod, the tripod I have is fully metal in construction and made up the bulk of the weight in my pack, I carried it down by hand using it as a walking stick on the way down, it didn’t cope too well.
  • The Inspire One, amazing as it is, is far from portable, having a drone for arial pictures at the top of the hike would have been great, something to consider.
  • The longest focal length I had with me was 105mm, I think a 70-200mm F4 will be going on the shopping list as sometimes a little extra reach would have been useful.
  • Better outdoors equipment, a larger backpack for kit and one that fits (i’m taller than average at 6’2″) which can also make carrying more on tough/longer walks a possibility.
  • The 60D is a very capable camera, but i would like a camera where AEB for HDR shots is available on or assignable to a button.
  • Higher quality filters, maybe a LEE type system with square filters.

The equipment I have is all function v’s budget as with most people, it is adequate enough to produce nice images, but higher specification/newer/more expensive options could help achieve it quicker, but i guess thats life…

I have vowed to return in the not to distant future and manage to reach the summit of Cadair Idris, even if it takes me a 12 hour day to do it…

Untill next time…

Paul

If you would like any of these images in canvas or print, please contact me…

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