South Wales is blessed with some of the most peaceful places around, partly thanks to the River Taff that flows down from Merthyr Tydfil to the old docks at Cardiff Bay. Perhaps the most tranquil of all of this route is the Taff Trail stretch running north out of Pontypridd. Just moments away from the busy market town, the river wanders through a wide (and largely unspoilt) flood plain. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all and to take time out to wind down a bit.
Thoughts On The Day
In between running the cats to the vets for their annual booster jabs, and the gas board turning up for the annual service of the boiler, I had a couple of hours spare to wander along the Taff Trail north of Pontypridd. With the light holding the promise of some excellent colours in the cold November air, it was an invitation that I couldn’t turn down 🙂
I’m going to come back when I’ve more time and do a more comprehensive photoshoot of this stretch of the Taff Trail, and to discover more about the history of this particular area. For this outing, my aim was to try and snag the best shot or two I could of the river and hills beyond. I’ve tried this before – most notably back in 2003 when I first got my Nikon D100 – but with four more years experience, a fantastic 10 megapixel camera, and the benefit of HDR, I was hoping to do quite a bit better this time around!
For a change, I remembered to bring the tripod, because I wanted to try improving the sharpness of my photos by using the mirror up feature of the D200 (big thanks to my friend and work colleague Gareth Newns for showing me how that works). I’ve been having more and more success with the HDR shots, but if you zoom in on them, they don’t look anywhere near as good as they should – because I’ve been combining 5 separate shots that were all taken handheld. By using the tripod to ensure the camera stays in the same spot for each frame, and then using the mirror up feature to further reduce camera vibration, the result should be five frames that are exactly the same view.
There’s been a lot of interest in the office in how I create HDR shots. I’m thinking of creating a ‘5 steps for HDR photos’-type post about it soon. Let me know if you’re interested in reading such an article by leaving a comment below.
Here are the photos from today’s shoot.
All of today’s final photos have been built by combining five separate frames into a single shot. Each of the five frames was taken with a different exposure, so that the range of shots together cover a wider range of light and shadow than the Nikon D200’s sensor can cope with in a single shot. It takes a few goes to find the right settings for each of photos, to preserve the right level of contrast whilst still bringing through the rich colour and detail that HDR photography is great for.
After generating each photo using Photomatix, the JPEG is imported back into Aperture, where I do the final adjustments of brightness, contrast, and sharpening. Although it’s sold as a professional photography tool, Aperture is perfect for novice and amateur photographers like myself. It provides adjustment tools rather than editing tools, so it feels more like photography and a lot less like the fantasy work that sometimes comes from Photoshop.
The final step before uploading the photos to Flickr is to decide which photos to upload. My wife is always reminding me to try and publish less quantity and more quality! That’s easier on shoots like this – where I’ve gone out to get the best photos I can – but I still find it difficult on the more photo-journalism-type shoots 🙂
Found On Flickr
It looks like there aren’t many folks posting photos of this stretch of the Taff Trail to Flickr, but one chap who has is Areopagus. His photo of the Taff Trail in Late March shows the stretch where I took most of today’s photos from, and his shot of the footbridge gives you a good idea of the northern-most spot that I went to today. Look out for more information about this stretch of the Taff Trail in a later article in my Merthyr Road series 🙂