Landscape Photography from the Brecon Beacons 2

June 09, 2014  •  1 Comment

Landscape of the Brecon BeaconsAfternoon Clouds Building Black & WhiteCumulus clouds grow in the warmth of the afternoon over the Black Mountain region of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The view looking south-southwest from Bannau Sir Gaer.


It is a wet Monday morning back in the Yorkshire Dales, the rain is pitter pattering on the windows in the study. What better thing to do than to have a look through some of the landscape images from our week in Wales and process a few for the Blog.

We've had some spectacular walks, both high  and low level, some easy, some requiring a bit more effort. The one thing that remained constant was the spectacular nature of the landscape of the Brecon Beacons National Park. High mountains, bare of trees, cut through in places by narrow, wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers tumbling over rocky steps. 

One of our first walks took us along the ridge line of Bannau Sir Gaer with spectacular views out over Llyn y Fan Fach.



The day had started cloudy initially, a little hazy, but then brightened for a while before becoming more cloudy again late in the afternoon. It made for variable light conditions for photographing, with the hazy conditions sucking the colour from the landscape. For me, in hazy and cloudy conditions with dull colours, black and white images better convey the scene than colour and as we walked upwards this is what I had in my minds eye, especially for those images with views to the limit of visibility.

Brecon Becons Landscape photographyPortrait of Sun Through CloudsFrom Bannau Sir Gaer looking west across the landscape of the Brecon Beacons towards Carreg Cennan Castle. Rays of sunlight pierce dense clouds, a study in black and white.


Haze is a funny thing, made up of tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere that have a propensity to scatter blue and white light, it restricts our visibility. This why haze lends that blue cast to our colour photographs. It lowers contrast, its light scattering properties reduce the intensity and vibrance of colour of objects which are further away from the camera.

Yet, in doing so, it adds a third dimension to our images, one of depth. It is know as aerial perspective and we all use it instinctively to as a means to judge distances

We are all used to seeing colours and contrast of those things further away diminishing, becoming pale and washed out in comparison to the colour and contrast of those things close up.

Haze, it seems like other weather related effects on the light, can therefore be said to be a compositional tool which we can exploit.

Rather than have the problem of colours 'muddied' by the scattered blue light of the haze, by converting the images to black and white one removes the distraction of colour and is left with just tones of light and dark.

Haze also has one other effect. It can pick out the source of a hidden light. Breaks in the clouds allow sunlight to illuminate the particles creating crepuscular rays. These radiating rays of light are actually parallel, it is only perspective that makes them appear to converge, like looking down the tracks of a receding railway line. 

Approaching from the north the gradient slowly becomes steeper and steeper until we crested the ridge line and reached the the summit of Fan Foel. The views were superb and with the clouds lifting and breaking, the haze thinned and the visibility improved. Following the well trodden path of the Beacons Way, we dropped down again to Bwlch Blaen Twrch, a mountain pass with another path climbing steeply up the fans from below. Back up hill again until we finally reach the next highpoint on the route at Picws Du. 

Old Red Sandstone rock exposed a long Bannau Sir GaerOld red sandstone rock, probably laid down on some ancient continent 300-400 million years ago now lays lifted and exposed along the ridge line of Bannau Sir Gaer

Ancient pink rocks of red sandstone lie exposed in places. Their colour contrasts with the green grass and acid yellow lichens.

The guide book states they date from the Devonian period and are circa 400 million years old. It is difficult to comprehend the journey that these rocks have taken to arrive in this spot where I now stand.

A group of similar rocks lie close to the edge, like small boys lying down to look over the edge of a precipice. 

A multi shot panoramic image places them into the context of their surroundings, looking out over the mid Wales countryside that lies beyond to the north. The cloud layer had broken to give the sunniest part of the day and the air was at its clearest.

View from Bannau Sir GaerView from Bannau Sir GaerA cluster of old red sandstone rocks lay as though looking over the precipice above Llyn y Fan Fach. Multi shot panoramic image taken looking north from Bannau Sir Gaer, Brecon Beacons National Park. But as we followed the path onwards and downwards towards Llyn Y Fan Fach the clouds and haze thickened once again.

Wales landscapes in Black and WhiteAfternoon Light in Black & WhiteShafts of sunlight penetrate thick afternoon clouds. The view from Bannau Sir Gaer looking westwards towards Carreg Cennan Castle.

Reviewing the pictures it's back to black and white again.

I like that dark moody feel that heavy clouds can bring to a scene and deliberately under exposed the images slightly.  The haze is catching rays of sunlight once again and the hills recede, ever paler shades of grey, into the distance.


Reaching the lake we continued down the access road. Beside it runs a small stream which, according to the map is called Afon Sawddle. It tumbles and swirls down hill and contains rocks carpeted in moss the most vibrant of green.


I have to stop and take a photo. The overcast light is soft and the reddish brown of the rocks beneath the water contrast nicely with  soft green  cushions of moss. The mountains rise behind, layers of stratified rocks laid bare by the action of ice. It made a fitting last photograph to end our first day walking in the Brecon Beacons.

Landscapes of the Brecon BeaconsMossy Boulders, Afon SawddleVibrant green moss carpets rocks in the headwaters of the Afon Sawddle which drains Llyn y Fan Fach. Stratified layers leading up to Cwar-du-mawr beyond. As always any mistakes are mine, please feel free to offer correction by leaving a comment. Names of geographical features have been sourced from the Ordnance Survey maps of the area.

I wish I was able to translate some of the Welsh place names, even with an online Welsh to English dictionary I can only find the meanings of some words in isolation and not full phrases which may have a different meaning. Any help with Welsh translation would be greatly appreciated.

More photos from Wales to come........




Sharon Millar(non-registered)
Wow - your photos are fantastic - really convey the atmosphere of our countryside. I'll get my daughter to have a look at the translations - she is taught through the medium of Welsh!! Do you have a Twitter account? I'd be interested to follow you from mine - @OldSundayschool. Cheers
Sharon Millar
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