Nature, take a bow………

The other day I was in the Dolgellau area with some time to spend on photography during the late afternoon. It was a very showery day and I thought there might be chance of a rainbow or two. There are several easily accessible  elevated locations around the Mawddach estuary, and to give my self the best chance of some good images I decided on the New Precipice Walk on the north side of the valley. A rainbow would appear roughly opposite the sun, backlit rain showers would be at 180 degrees to this, and a polariser would work at its best at 90 degrees to both, with the bulk of Cadiar Idris in the background. To cap it all, it was a very short walk from the viewpoint to the car park and I could make tea while I waited!

The first couple of hours were frustrating. I sheltered in a ruined building while one heavy shower passed over. Later a second big shower moved past to the south and a rainbow began to form. From altitude it was noticeable how much more of the rainbow’s arc was visible than is normally the case. I tried to remain calm, despite the camera beginning to malfunction. It really was touch and go here, but I took a series of images as the shower moved inland. There was a brilliantly clear outer bow as well, with the colour order reversed. Then, out of nowhere, cloud began to form below me in the valley. On it was projected a faint, but definite, Brocken spectre (or glory) , and I managed to photograph it within the rainbow just before the sun disappeared. Has this ever been seen before?  Whatever….. it was a scene of primeval magnificence and I just hope I  was able to do it justice. See what you think!

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Highly Commended image, 2012 British Wildlife Photography Awards

Now that the embargo has been lifted, I can announce that one of my images has been Highly Commended in the 2012 BWP awards, and as such appears in the exhibition and book published by the AA.


While my interest in wildlife is as enduring as my interest in photography, it is only relatively recently that I have begun to combine the two. To have been Highly Commended is therefore very encouraging, even if the image is more “landscape with birds” than birds in themselves. In fact all my wildlife close-ups were rejected! Perhaps there’s a lesson there somewhere……

Every year from October to March starlings roost under the pier at Aberystwyth; under the right conditions the sky can be a swirling mass of them. On a sunny evening there can be quite a group of photographers there. Being a fairly solitary breed it is one of the few times we get together for a chat! Local people and visitors also gather to witness one of nature’s great spectacles. The starlings put on their most amazing displays just before they leave for their breeding quarters. The image was taken in March.

Interestingly I note that the winner of the BWPA Urban Wildlife category also features starlings on Aberystwyth pier, this time in an image by Phil Jones. What a co-incidence that the Aberystwyth starlings have won recognition twice in the same competition. Maybe it was a pity Janet Baxter didn’t enter as well – a threesome would have been a distinct possibility!

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UPDATE   :   A picture run over a double page in the Guardian on 6th February was very similar…… They do say imitation is the best form of flattery, but I’d rather have the recognition (and the money……).