Welsh Waterfall Walk

Part of the attraction of landscape photography for me is exploring new places and discovering the amazing locations that are all around us. One of my childhood haunts were the Breacon Beacons, not that I was fond of them at the time.

Growing up in South East London my school had an outward bounds activity centre in Abergavenny the 'Gateway to Wales' and so for several half terms we were bundled into a mini bus and driven down the M4. Upon arrival we would dig out our waterproofs before being marched across the surrounding hills until blisters burst and knees creaked.

Returning in January the situation was slightly different. I was there by choice, not Abergavenny this time but Neath and the charming B+B Sgwd Gwladys, named after the waterfall I was there to photograph.

This part of the Beacons is known as waterfall country and it's easy to see why. From the small village of Pontneddfechan you can head north along the banks of the River Neath and within 30 minutes be at 2 stunning waterfalls, Sgwd Gwladus and Sgwd Dwili Uchaf. It is fair to say that the weather in Wales can be somewhat changeable and that week was no exception. The paths were muddy, the River Neath somewhat swollen and the falls themselves a little fuller than I wanted. But you deal with the conditions as you find them. So where to begin?

For me there is some thing mystical about waterfalls and combined with a fast running river the sounds, smells and colours on the river bank always seem to soothe the soul. I strive to capture that feeling in the images I create. I want the water to have movement, the banks to show texture and life. The image to evoke feeling of tranquillity, mystery, the location of so many childhood adventures.

I use a variety of techniques to achieve this. Slightly longer exposures help to smooth the water as it cascades over the fall. You'll probably want a tripod to keep things stable and still whilst the shot is taken. A polarising filter can assist in dealing with any glare from the sunlight on the water. Avoiding the sky helps to deal with the the problem of over exposing it. Fortunately in Wales there are an abundance of clouds so mother nature helps with this.

I was happy with the results. Despite the conditions I was able to capture the beauty and mystery of the falls and show the rugged quality of this part of the Brecon Beacons. I look forward to a return visit soon.

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