Saturday morning and I’m up ready for some waterfall shooting, have arranged with my son a trip to the Brecons to capture some waterfalls along the river Neath, or to give it it’s Welsh name, Nedd Fechan. The Nedd Fechan flows from below Fan Nedd out to the sea just west of Port Talbot, but the bit I’m interested in lies above the small village of Pontneddfechan. The place where we normally park the car is named Pont Melin-fach, a smallish car park with room for 15 cars, beside the car park is a picnic area, which in summer can be a bit busy, especially at weekends, Sat Nav address, Heol Calch, Neath, SA11 5US.
We set off about 10 oclock, Tom, myself and the two doggies, the weather was to be overcast and a bit windy, the overcast bit of the forecast was fine, if the sun keeps going in and out behind clouds the long exposures that I shoot for waterfalls are tricky because of the changing light. The windy bit was bothering me a bit, too much wind would blur the leaves in a long exposure, maybe because we were to be in valley it wouldn’t be too bad.
Driving over the second Severn crossing the traffic seemed heavy, and upon reaching the toll booths the queues were quite bad, i’m normally a lot earlier when visiting Wales and there isn’t much queuing. 12 minutes of queuing later we’re off again, anyone who has ever watched the Wackyraces cartoon will understand the exit of the toll booths, 15 booths into 3 lanes of motorway, everyone trying to get to the 3 lanes as quick as they can!! As we near Newport and the Brynglas tunnels, traffic seems really heavy, we’re down to 10 mph, the smart motorway signs are saying 40, very optimistic today, then the penny drops, There is an rugby international on today with the Welsh entertaining the Jocks at the Principality Stadium, overall the traffic delays cost us about an extra 45 minutes.
Finally we arrive at the Pont Melin-fach car park, luckily for us the 50 or so hikers on a guided waterfall walk have just passed us at the car park, meeting those hikers on the narrow trail with two dogs could have been interesting or chaotic. On opening the car boot the dogs are straight out and into the river, they both love water, boots on and we’re off, it’s an out and back walk today. Now we’ve both been here before and shot the falls, todays plan is simple walk down the trail for about a mile then work our way back up stopping to capture the falls. The trail isn’t too muddy today, some days it can be a bit wet, its not a difficult walk not very steep but quite rocky with some loose rocks that you have to be careful of. Walking down there is a bit of water on the river the falls are thunderous in the noise that the water going over them is making, unfortunately the leaves are on the deck not the trees, again i’m too late for autumn colours! Upon reaching my favourite horseshoe shaped fall I’m disappointed to see 3 rather large trees wedged across it, won’t be shooting that fall for a while, I haven’t been here for a couple of years so I don’t know how long these trees have been here, they’ve been In the river a while as the bark is missing from them!
First ‘fall’ we shoot is only a small one, I kinda like the fallen tree lying across the river, it gives sense of scale to this small fall, you can see by the leaves on the rocks, that they had turned and fallen early, one consolation today is that there is very little wind in the valley. The image is a 3 image focus stack with an exposure time of 1.5 seconds for each image, by focus stacking the image I can achieve sharpness throughout the image with out risking diffraction by using a smaller aperture.
The above image is another small fall, the river is made up of small falls like this, rapids, some slower glides, pools and proper falls. In this image you can see that the water has polished the bedrock, there is a deposit of iron in the rock and this can be seen in the image as an iron oxide, the red coloured rock, the shallower water over the polished rock has eroded away the iron oxide.
In the above image the fall is about 5 feet tall its at the end of a rapid which can be seen near the top of the right hand side of the image, the fall drops into a shallow pool before heading off down river.
This fall is 30 metres above the fall in the last image, The fall is between 15 -18 feet tall and sits in a horseshoe of carved out rock, being this close to the fall is quite noisy, it really does sound thunderous as the noise bounces off the walls around you, would be quite interesting to see this in flood, but obviously from the top!
This is the last fall I shot and it one of the few falls to have a name on the Nedd, its name is Scwd Ddwli, the fall is about 20 feet tall, its a nice curtain fall, it would have been a really nice image if the tree to the left still had its autumn colours, ah well maybe next year i’ll get up here when the trees still have leaves. All in all a pleasant day on the edge of the Brecon’s, now the 85 mile drive home to look forward too and the prospect of shooting some fireworks in the evening.
The weather is looking iffy, drizzle is falling, not really weather for shooting fireworks, pointing a lens upwards into the night sky with drizzle falling is going to produce very soft images! After much deliberation Tom and I decide to go to the fireworks and if we can’t shoot them we’ll enjoy watching them. When we get to the fireworks the drizzle has stopped, great we can break out the gear and set up, bugger, I've forgotten my glasses, tonight it could be spray and pray photography! After the fireworks started it became clear that we were too close for some of the fireworks, some were filling up and even going beyond the frame, we had to settle on capturing the ones that were going off at a lower level. My standard go to setting for shooting fireworks are ISO 100, f8 and 2 seconds shutter speed, so the following images are shot at those settings.
I was quite tired come the end of the display, it had been a fun day shooting the waterfalls and fireworks, planning the next photo trip which will probably be next Friday, the 9th of November.