Anglesey Adventure - Part 1 - Planning landscape photography / by Neil Alexander

House on the cliffs above Trearddur Bay, Anglesey

 A couple of weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity of some time on my hands over a weekend. I knew it was coming but deliberately didn't make any plans right up until the Thursday. My first step was to check the proposed Met Office information for the three areas that I could make it to in the time window I had; the Lake District, the Peak District and North Wales. After careful deliberation, I concluded that Wales looked most promising, though not ideal.

It was then a case of narrowing down specific locations. Lately I've been rekindling a long lost relationship with Anglesey, so what to shoot there exactly? I fired up the Flickr Studio iPad app which has great search functionality aided immensely by people kindly not removing the GeoTagging information from their images.  I stumbled across a bunch of images of South Stack lighthouse which brought back some childhood memories, and an interesting jetty in Beaumaris on the opposite corner of the island.

Once I had ballpark locations, it was then a case of working out the best times to shoot there. Using The Photographers Ephemeris app I plotted sun angles, though to be honest I could probably tell you off the top of my head where and when the sun sets at most times of the year, analysed the forecast and concluded that South Stack was a sunset shot, and then over to Beaumaris for dawn the next day.

My time was limited, so I decided quite early on that I was going to focus on landscapes only. It would have been nice to incorporate some travel / environmental photography too, but I decided not to dilute my efforts.

I chucked all my camping gear, along with a recently sourced inflatable mattress (I discovered to my detriment that the ground can actually be sleep deprivingly hard, and really is nothing whatsoever like a memory foam king sized mattress) into the car and headed off with a very loose plan. A thoroughly enjoyable 2 hour drive ensued listening to Bill Bryson's "A Short History Of Nearly Everything" - very interesting indeed.

Once crossing over the feet of engineering that is the old Menai suspension bridge, designed and completed in 1826 by Thomas Telford, it's only a short drive through to Beaumaris. I drove through the town, passed the castle and found my little jetty. Concluding that this could well be a worthwhile location for some great photography, in the right light - dawn / early morning, I continued on to recce the South Stack lighthouse.

Waves crashing onto the cliffs by Trearddur Bay, Anglesey

Anglesey really is a very pleasant little part of the country. It's not heavily populated and other than 1 or 2 main arterial routes that criss-cross the island, the large proportion is made up of single track roads which are lovely to drive on a good day. Until that is you come across a blockage. At one point I came across a pick-up stopped on a blind bend facing the same direction I was. The driver (a farmer I presumed) reached out the window and gestured. This I thought was to get me to squeeze passed. I slowly edged along side and dropped my passenger window. Leaning over I asked him if everything was alright. In an outburst of expletives he pointed down the road to a woman in an Audi pointing in our direction pulled over at the next bend and informed me that they'd been stopped there for about 15 minutes, neither able to get passed and neither prepared to back up to allow the other the room to do so. He was adamant, and he was right that she could just about squeeze through next to him, but there was no way whatsoever he could get passed where she was. Complete and utter stalemate. The farmer was furious to the point he looked like he was going to burst, and I dread to think what the atmosphere was like in the Audi. Weighing up my options, I quickly decided to drop into reverse and backup for about a mile to the previous intersection and bypass the whole ugly situation. I bet they're still sitting there now!

Part Two next week.....