Harlech Castle and Beach

Posted by Stuart Herbert on September 14th, 2007 in Shoot.

Harlech Castle

View all the photos from this shoot on Flickr.

Harlech Castle is a World Heritage Site here in Wales. Built by King Edward I (Edward the Longshanks) as part of his Iron Ring of castles to keep the Welsh locked up in the mountains of Snowdonia, the castle sits atop of rocky outcrop completely dominating the surrounding land. But there’s more to Harlech than just the castle. It also boasts one of the best sandy beaches in all of Wales, backdropped by the beautiful mountains of the Snowdonia National Park.
Thoughts On The Day

Damn, it feels good to be out and about once more with my camera. This is the first time I’ve gone out on a shoot since getting back from Scotland; it’s been too long!

The weather forecast yesterday promised clear skies, but unfortunately no-one told the weather gods about it. With thick and heavy cloud overhead, it’s not just grey, it’s really dull too. Even bracketing with five shots to combine into a single HDR image, I’m going to have to work really hard to get anything at all out of this trip to upload to Flickr.

We started off at Harlech Castle. Amazingly, this has been my first trip to the castle, and I must say it’s a fantastic place. It was almost my last visit too – I gave Kristi a bit of a heart attack when I leaned out from the top of the walls to snag a shot 🙂 The castle has a good display explaining its history (like most castles in Wales, Harlech is an English castle built to suppress the local population), and plenty of places to explore, including a mysterious tunnel that runs between the walls on the north side of the castle.

It’s worth visiting the castle just for the views from the walls and the towers. Sat on the western coast with Snowdonia dominating to the east, Harlech is a beautiful place. I’m going to have to come back here one year for a few days to snag some dawn and dusk shots.

From the castle, we headed down to the beach so that Kristi could enjoy a good swim in the sea. The beach wasn’t quite as deserted as those on Harris, but there weren’t many people there. After a few hours of swimming and Tai Chi, we headed back to the car and home, snagging a few shots of the sand dunes on the way.

After the good results from Scotland, I’d decided to bracket each shot with a total of five exposures. Back home, these will be combined into a single HDR (high dynamic range) image, before being converted into a final image for uploading to Flickr. This meant that I went around Harlech knowing that I could only take a maximum of twenty different images, and that was an oddly liberating experience. Every shot counted, and it made me much more focused than I often am when out and about with the camera.

I recommend trying it sometime for yourself.

Favourite Photo From The Shoot

Cadw Shop, Harlech Castle

This shot of the Cadw shop at Harlech Castle is my favourite shot from the shoot. It just makes me stop and think “mmm, what a beautiful place Harlech is.”

Post Production

I’m always blown away by the colour that folks like Sean Bolton achieve in their shots of Wales. It always seems to be dull and grey when I head out with the camera, alas, and this day was no exception 🙁

As usual, I’ve ended up converting the shots into black and white, because there just wasn’t enough colour in the original shots. One of the nice things about HDR images is that even black and white images are much richer in depth and detail than a single exposure, at least to my eyes.

The question is – can you tell which shots from this shoot are HDR images, and which ones aren’t? That’s the real test of whether black and white HDR is worth the effort 🙂

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