The Vue Cinema, Cardiff

Just to the south of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (and, I believe, built at the same time) is this cinema complex, currently part of the Vue chain.

It’s a difficult subject to shoot from the same side of the river (I’m stood with my back to the River Taff); I’ll probably go back some sunny day and shoot it again from the other side of the river.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).


If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

Be the first to leave a comment »


Download the full-size picture (3604 x 2412) to use as your desktop wallpaper.

My desktop wallpaper today is one of my favourite shots. Although I like my feet firmly planted on dry land, I love walking beside rivers just as much as my wife enjoys walking under trees. Rivers are normally deep and calming, or like this … fast-flowing and bursting with energy and excitement.

Taken on the River Taff in Hawthorn.

Be the first to leave a comment »

The Pontypridd Sculpture

After the Brown Lennox site was cleared in 2009, this bright red sculpture appeared opposite, just outside the southern end of the Ynysangharad Park. It incorporates the Titanic (the chains for the Titanic were made at Brown Lennox), the old bridge that gives Pontypridd its name (which still stands today), and the flywheel from a mine lift (none of the mines have survived through to today).

It’s nice to see the much-maligned RCT making an effort in Pontypridd for a change, but like so much of what they do it just misses the mark. Why? Because if you’re coming north from Cardiff on the A470, this sculpture is mostly hidden from view by the turnoff into Pontypridd itself. Contrast that to other roadside art installations around the UK, such as the Angel of the North, which are sited specifically to be seen by approaching drivers.

I’m sure this thing must have an official name πŸ™‚ If anyone knows what it is, please leave a comment below.

It sits close to the now-lost route of the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport Railway, and opposite the site where the Brown Lennox factory used to stand. In the background runs the line of the old Taff Vale Railway (TVR), today the main passenger line up and down the valleys. The road curving up and to the right crosses the River Taff.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).


The Rain At Night

A handheld shot of rain falling, made possible with my new Nikon 50mm f/1.4D lens. Shot under a spotlight down at the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

Mrs H and I had gone down to the Barrage to practice some night photography, but unfortunately the weather was against us. We hung around for a bit, hoping for a break in the rain, but it wasn’t to be.

But as Mrs H was packing up her gear, I noticed how a spotlight was picking up and highlighting the falling rain. I managed to find an angle where I could shoot upwards towards the light without getting the lens wet, and fired off several frames. This one was the best.

I kinda like it. It’s definitely a different shot to what I normally do πŸ™‚

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

Be the first to leave a comment »

Morning Across The Taff

Of all the bridges over the River Taff in the Pontypridd district, this one remains my favourite to photograph. I don’t actually know anything about this bridge, other than it once carried road traffic but today it’s a footbridge.

If you enjoyed this shot, you might also enjoy Bridging The Rivers At Pontypridd.

Be the first to leave a comment »

Brewing The Beer At Brains

This is a view across the River Taff that I get to enjoy several mornings a week; steam rising from the Brains Brewery just outside Cardiff Central railway station.

A non-HDR shot for a change πŸ™‚

Be the first to leave a comment »

Disused TVR Bridge

Pontypridd stands on the banks of the River Taff and the River Rhondda as the gateway to the valleys beyond – and the mineral and coal riches that were exploited between the late 1700’s and the 1980’s. From its first bridge in 1750, built to allow travel to market without crossing a deadly river ford, via what is possibly the world’s oldest surviving railway bridge, to the modern road bridges of today, it has always been necessary to bridge the rivers at Pontypridd in order to get from A to B.

Thoughts On The Day

I was taking a week off between jobs to get my annoyance with my former boss’s behaviour out of my system, and it was a real relief to get out and about with the camera. The weather was lovely, and what could be better than a walk through Pontypridd taking shots of the different bridges that have sprung up in this market town?

I’m always surprised at how Pontypridd has failed to capitalise on Cardiff’s growth. Why hasn’t it become a booming commuter town for everyone who can’t afford the house prices down in Cardiff itself? Sitting at the very northern end of the Taff Vale, the old TVR railway splits north of Ponty to take travellers up the Rhondda Valley to Treherbert, up the Cynon Valley to Aberdare, and up the Taff Valley to Merthyr Tydfil. That gives Ponty three times the amount of trains passing through each day.

Today, Pontypridd feels more important to the folks who travel down from those valleys than anyone else, marking as it does the half-way point in the journey from the tops of the valleys down to Cardiff. I guess the history of its bridges shows that Pontypridd has always been a place people travel through rather than a destination in its own right.

The Photos

Disused TVR Bridge

I believe that this bridge is probably all that remains of the Llancaiach TVR branch that ran from just north of Pontypridd up to the Albion Collery.

White Bridge, Pontypridd

The Old Bridge, Pontypridd

The bridge that Pontypridd takes its name from. Built in 1750 by William Edwards, at the time it was the longest single-span bridge in the world. Today, it is used as a footbridge.

Telephone Box Beside The Old Bridge, Pontypridd

There aren’t many red telephone boxes left these days. This one stands at the western end of the Old Bridge, Pontypridd. You can see from this shot just how steep the Old Bridge actually is!

Towards The Bridge To The Park

From the top of the old bridge, you can look down the River Taff, past the sadly run-down Taff Vale Precinct on the right to the foot bridge that links Ynysangharad Park with the main shopping area of Taff Street.

TVR Branch Line Up The Rhondda

This bridge carries the Rhondda branch line up to Treherbert. The line was opened in 1841, not long after the main TVR route was opened. At the time of writing, I don’t know whether this is a Brunel bridge like its sister bridge is to the east.

The Steps To The Signal Box

The Pontypridd Signal Box stands between the TVR branch line up to Rhondda and the main TVR line up to Abercynon and beyond. These steps appear to be the main route up to the signal box. The signal box itself appears to be disused today.

The Lost Rail Bridge, Pontypridd

Today, it’s a road bridge carrying traffic from the A470 up to the north end of Broadway and past Pontypridd station. But before this was built, there was once a railway bridge somewhere in the same area, carrying trains from the TVR over the Taff and onto the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport railway.

Like the bridge, the PCN railway is long gone, but its trackbed survives as part of the Taff Trail cycle network between Pontypridd and Nantgarw.

The Abercynon Iron Works Bridge, Pontypridd

This is without doubt my personal favourite bridge in Pontypridd. Built in 1850, this bridge allowed the small iron works on the western bank of the Taff (which today has been lost under a housing estate and a popular local park) with the Glamorganshire Canal. I believe this bridge used to carry a light railway or very short tram road.

Today, it’s a wooden-floored footbridge, and I often cross it after visiting the Yummy Kitchen on the way home from work.

The Iron Works Bridge Again :)

I like the Abercynon Iron Works bridge so much, here’s a second shot of the bridge from down below.

I’ve been over the Abercynon Iron Works bridge hundreds of times, but it was only when I went to photograph it that I discovered that it goes over more than just the River Taff.

I’ve never seen or read about any sort of tram road running along the western shore of the River Taff, so today I am at a lost to say what went under the bridge here. Maybe this is simply a modern addition to enable access to the river bank from the park?

Towards The Machine Bridge

You can just about make out the arches of the old Machine Bridge at Glyntaff. According to GaAC, this bridge was built to carry the Doctor’s Tramroad across the Taff to the Doctor’s Canal, where goods from the Rhondda were transferred onto canal barges and shipped downstream and into the Glamorganshire Canal proper.

GaAC speculates that this might be the oldest surviving railway bridge in the world, predating all of the bridges that carried the Penydarren Tramroad down from Merthyr to Navigation. This view has also been expressed in a local news article about a threat in 2003 to demolish the bridge.

Fancy that, and yet there’s no sort of plaque or anything information-like on the bridge itself that I’ve ever seen.

The Metal Lattice At The Machine Bridge

Unfortunately, I took no notice at all of the old Machine Bridge at Glyntaff when it was still in use by cars, so I have idea what this lattice framework is for, or where it originally fitted into the bridge’s construction.

The New Road Bridge Beside The Machine Bridge

For many years, the Machine Bridge was the main road link between the A470 and Treforrest. The fabric of the bridge couldn’t withstand the traffic, and the bridge was for a time threatened with demolition. Thankfully, common sense seems to have prevailed, with a new road bridge having been built immediately south of the Machine Bridge.

Today, the Machine Bridge is a footbridge, closed to traffic, but popular as a car park with council workmen or their contractors.

The Bridge Opposite Castle Street

Isn’t this a beautiful bridge to look at? I’m afraid that, atm, I don’t know anything about it, but I certainly would love to.

Favourite Photo From The Shoot

The Bridge Opposite Castle Street

It wasn’t easy to pick just one photo from this group, but this is the one that I like the most. I just think it does a great job of showing off a very beautiful bridge πŸ™‚

Post Production

This set of photos marks the start of the next evolution in my photographic style. I’ve been using HDR for several months now, but this time I was determined to put together a workflow that brings the HDR images closer in initial appearance to regular, single-frame photos. Before HDR, my favourite style had been the slightly desaturated look of the Taff Vale Eastern Ridge Walk set. What I wanted was that look, but with the added detail that HDR brings. Too many HDR photos just lack a certain subtlety – as do too many single exposure shots, it has to be said!

Since taking these photos a year ago now, I’ve refined the HDR workflow over and over before finally coming back to these photos and re-processing them for publication at last. I promise that I’ll do a full article on the workflow in the near future, but the main points are to avoid over-saturating the original HDR image, and then using Aperture 2’s new Saturation and Definition tools to bring out the best of the HDR detail whilst toning down its exuberance at the same time.

Sadly, I’ve been too short of time to thoroughly research each of the bridges in this set. There’s also one bridge missing – Brunel’s bridge that carries the Taff Vale Railway north from Pontypridd station over the River Rhondda towards Abercynon. I only noticed that whilst doing the write-up. Doh!


River Taff In November

View all the photos from this shoot as part of my Merthyr Road project on Flickr.

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 πŸ™‚

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.

The Photos

Here are the photos from today’s shoot.

River Taff In November Quarry and River Quarry and River #2 The Reflections In The River The Darkening Skies South Towards Pontypridd Uprooted Tree Interesting Tree Trees And Graigwen Interesting Tree #2 Rock, Trees, and Graigwen Trees And Quarry

Post Processing

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

1 comment »

Pontypridd Bridge

When I’m discussing my Merthyr Road project with friends and colleagues who share an interest in local history, I’m often heard to remark that I’d love to be able to take my Nikon D200 with me back in time to take shots of what these places looked like in their heyday. Alas, we don’t yet have a time machine (and current thinking is that, when we do have one, we’ll only be able to go back in time to the day the machine was first switched on), but we do have Photoshop.

Fellow Flickr user Capt’ Gorgeous has been busy with Photoshop, creating a tantalising shot of what the old bridge at Pontypridd might have looked like when it was first built, before the more modern (and flat) road bridge was built alongside it. I think it’s a fantastic piece of imagination, and a great piece of work.

Here’s hoping that someone does build a time machine, so that we can go back and capture shots like this for real one day πŸ™‚


The Taff Through The Trees

View all the photos from this shoot as part of my Merthyr Road series on Flickr.

Needing to get out of the house after a stressful week for us both, my wife and I jumped in the car and headed up the road to the Pontygwaith Nature Reserve. I’ve been here before, but this was the first time that my wife has enjoyed a walk in this beautiful place beside the River Taff.

Thoughts On The Day

The last time I came up the old tramroad, the path from the south to the overbridge at Pontygwaith was somewhat overgrown. Since then, the path has been completely cleared, and fresh gravel laid. It looks much better now, although I can’t help but wonder how many cyclists head north under the overbridge without realising that the Taff Trail actually cuts left at this point to go over Pontygwaith itself.

We were very lucky with the weather, especially towards the end of the walk when the skies really cleared. Every year, we normally get a couple of weeks of excellent light in October, and I fear Sunday was the tail end of this year’s band. But I have to say that I can’t think of a more beautiful spot along the Methyr Road to enjoy such rich and golden colours. I’m always amazed at how few people I see enjoying this local treasure, but at the same time I’m secretly pleased to have the place to myself πŸ™‚

The Photos

Here are the photos from Sunday’s walk. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of the photo that interests you.

The Bridge Over The Tramroad at Pontygwaith The Cleared Path We Need Roots Buried Treasure Salmon and Tree Welcoming Tree GWR Viaduct Snake And Frog Sculpture The Colours of Autumn The Colours of Autumn Yellow Plants Otter Sculpture Beside The GWR Viaduct Rich Colour Tree and Tramroad Rickerty Old Fence Water And Leaves The Railway Embankment Dead Tree and Tramroad The Taff Through The Trees

Post Production

I toyed with the idea of desaturating the colours from this shoot (to match the style I used in the Unofficial Taff Vale Eastern Ridge Walk), but to be honest I’m so pleased with the colours captured by the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 that I decided to limit my adjustments to edge sharpening. I’m not completely convinced by the FX33’s colours in dull light (such as the colours captured in this shot), but in brighter light, the camera did very well.

Page 3 of 41234

Latest Photos

The Tap In The Farmhouse
Rusting Machinery
Fence Wire Beside The Path
The Gate Beside The Former Railway Line
The Wooden Gate
Banner On The March: Brexshit
Banner On The March: We Know We Were Lied To ... So Time For A NEW VOTE!
Banner On The March: We ARE The People
Banner On The March: Honk For Our NHS
Banner On The March: Where's Nigel? Trump Says Your March Is Bigger Than Ours!



August 2020
« Aug