Tue, 11 Apr 2017 21:36:20 +0000Places to visit over Easter
With the Easter holidays upon us I thought I’d share some of my easy to get to, favourite places in Wales, that are well worth a visit for a day out.
1. Rhossili, The Gower
If going to the coast is your thing over the holidays why not visit one of the best beaches anywhere in the UK. Whether it be endless sand to enjoy games on the beach, shipwrecks to explore or a walk along the coast path towards Worm’s Head. Rhossili has it all, the views are breathtaking. If you’ve never visited, why not?The shipwreck of the Helvetia on Rhossili beach
2. Gigrin Farm, Rhayader
If you love wildlife and birds of prey then Gigrin Farm in Rhayader is a must. Not far from the beautiful Elan Valley, the farm is home to the Red Kite feeding centre. Feeding is 3:00 every afternoon (after the clocks change in March) and takes place every day of the year. The spectacle of seeing so many Red Kites, which once faced extinction in Wales, is a sight to behold.Red Kite at Gigrin Farm
3. Big Pit National Coal Museum
Learn about the heritage of mining in Wales. See and hear how coal was king and how Welsh coal powered the world. Underground tours give you the real experience of the conditions miners faced every day. There is plenty more to see in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Blaenavon as well, the Ironworks, the steam railway and beautiful scenery looking out over the Sugarloaf from the Keepers Pond.Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4. Raglan Castle
If you love history and grand buildings then Raglan Castle is a great place to visit. A late castle by Welsh standards with work beginning in the 1430s. It played host to one of the last sieges of the Civil War, when it held off parliamentarian forces for thirteen weeks. If you are good with heights check out the view from the Great Tower over the rolling Welsh countryside.Raglan castle
5. Ogmore Castle
Another beautiful ruin of a castle. Ogmore Castle dates from around 1100. The castle is open daily from 10:00 – 4:00. If the water level is low try out the famous stepping stones. If you’re looking for a walk why not explore Merthyr Mawr, which you can walk to along the path from the castle.
6. Newport Wetlands
A great place to visit for a stroll or for spotting wildlife. There are a number of different routes around the reserve that you can take, bird watching hides are available looking out over the reed beds, there is also a visitors centre where you can grab some refreshments while watching the birds. Why not check out the East Nash Lighthouse, one of the smallest lighthouses on the Wales Coast Path.Views from the Newport Wetlands reserve
7. Llanthony Priory
The ruins of the priory date from around 1100 and are found a short drive outside of Abergavenny. Set within the Brecon Beacons National Park the priory is backed by the beautiful Black Mountains. Not far from here is the world famous Skirrid Inn, why not stop here too, one of the oldest inns in Wales.The ruin of Llanthony Priory
These are just a few suggestions, but there’s loads of amazing places in Wales to visit. So get out exploring.
All the images used in this blog are the copyrighted property of Nathanael Jones.
Sat, 25 Mar 2017 22:31:38 +0000Friday roadtrip
Yesterday my wife Claire, my son Noah and I headed off on a roadtrip through Mid Wales to the edge of the Snowdonia National Park and then back down the coast through Ceredigion before heading home via Lampeter and Llandovery.
The journey in total was just over 260 miles. We left at 8ish in the morning and got home at 17:30, not bad for a day out.
We got to take in some of the most beautiful scenery in Wales. And visit some new places that we hadn’t been to before.
For Noah who is nearly 3 the journey was very exciting. From the tractor shop at Builth Wells to the cows, sheep, horses and red kites throughout the trip. The highlight for him though was two passes by an American special forces MC-130J (Hercules), once just outside Machynlleth and then again straight over the town at somewhere near 600-700ft. There was a very big “Wow” from the back seat. Another highlight was the choo choo train crossing the level crossing in front of us just outside Borth.
First stop was Machynlleth. The Powys town is full of history with the Clock Tower at the centre of the town instantly recognisable. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to visit, to photograph this beautiful places with its backdrop of mountains. Machynlleth was also the location of Owain Glyndwr’s parliament in 1404. Glyndwr was a legendary Welsh ruler and the last native Welsh man to hold the title Prince of Wales.The building on the site where the parliament once stood now houses historic artefacts related to him.
Another photo stop was the Museum of Modern Art near the Clock Tower before heading to the Pont-ar-Ddyfi bridge over the River Dyfi which sits on the edge of the town on the A487.
From here we headed to the RSPB Nature Reserve at Ynys Hir, famous for its Osprey visitors every spring. It’s one of the only places in Wales to see Ospreys.
The next section took us down the Ceredigion coast. First stop was Borth, somewhere neither me or Claire had been before. We all enjoyed a good walk along the pebbles even finding some perfectly shaped shells.
We then made the short trip to Clarach Bay another new location for us. Here we parked up over looking the beach and again had a nice walk in the fresh air. It was picnic time, taking in the sea views with hardly a cloud in the sky. The Welsh coast at its mesmerising best.
After lunch we travelled through Aberystwyth and on to Llanon. The views from the coast road just outside Llanon are spectacular. Our stop here coincided with a farmer feeding his sheep and lambs which were grazing in a field over looking the coast. They were perfectly placed to be in the foreground of an image with the coast behind them.
From Aberaeron we started to head home, via Lampeter, Llandovery, Brecon and Abergavenny.
Wales at its finest with spring well and truly in the air.
You can see more of my images here: www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com
With Ceredigion images here: www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/Ceredigion
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:10:34 +0000Photography Show 17
I headed off to the UK Photography Show today with my brother Matthew and our mate Damo. The three amigos!
The Photography Show is held at Birmingham National Exhibition Centre every March. This is the third year in the row that I have attended.
If you’re in to photography, video and gadgets this is the place to be.
All the major brands are present Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Epson, Sigma and Fuji to name a few.
There are also lots of traders, catering for everything from cameras and equipment to photography holidays, studio props and photography courses.
There are a host of photographers on hand throughout the 4 days giving loads of hints, tips and advice on how to improve your images and techniques. There are various stands throughout the hall where you can catch insightful talks by well known photographers such as Lara Jade and Andy Rouse.
Some of the technology on display is breathtaking. Drones are developing rapidly each year, some of the demonstrations of the latest models were brilliant. Random point but I never realised how much down draft the rotors on a drone made! The gimbals that keep the drone cameras upright despite the movement of the drone up and down and side to side are superb.
Video equipment is also developing rapidly with 4k and 4k+ cameras available throughout the show to try out. The clarity from these cameras is outstanding. Zooming into a sign which was situated a long way away and being able to pick out minute details was easy.
As the 3 of us are Canon users, we spent a lot of time discussing options with the experts on the Canon stand. These guys are great, friendly, happy to help and provide loads of advice. They have virtually every Canon body and lens so you can try out potential combinations before you make a purchase.
Canon also let you print one of your photos off on their immense printers, Damo had his memory card with him, so printed one of his images. Note for next year remember to bring some images with me!
We also had a good chat with the guys at Lee Filters who are always happy to help and discuss their latest products.
For me the best part about the show is the inspiration. Seeing other photographers work, listening to them talk is fascinating. I could listen to these guys talk about their experiences all day. The way they talk about their work inspires me and makes me want to do better. I come away from the show every year buzzing with all sorts of ideas, things I want to try and do next.
It’s apparent from the numbers queuing to get in to the show this morning that photography is as popular as ever. All age groups were represented. All types of photographer from pro to amateur, portrait to landscape.
Let the countdown begin to the Photography Show 2018!!
More of my images from around Britain can be viewed here: www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com
Tue, 14 Mar 2017 21:38:31 +0000A life less ordinary
As mentioned in my first blog post I used to cover motorsport events with my brother Matthew.
We had always loved motorbike racing, an interest we inherited from our dad. In 2009 we started regularly going to motorbike races across the UK. We both enjoyed taking photos so we setup a Facebook page and started adding our images of the races there.
Our images were noticed by Arai UK who asked us to cover major sporting events for them. This led to us being media accredited photographers at the Isle of Man TT, Motorcycle Live (the motorbike equivalent of the motorshow) and the Festival of 1000 Bikes (similar to the Goodwood Festival of Speed). Covering the Isle of Man TT was very special for us. We both visited there for the first time in 1989 with our father. To now be the other side of the fence taking photographs, which would go on to feature in the Arai advert for TT 2012 and in the Isle of Man TT 2012 programme is one of my proudest achievements as a photographer.
I can remember taking photos on the inside of St Ninians Crossroads in 2011, just at the end of the start and finish straight. It’s a very fast 170mph-180mph part of the TT course. I was advised by the marshall to use a small electricity box on the pavement as my protection. I can still vividly remember the crowd whispers from behind the fence, over my shoulder “I wouldn’t like to be where he is”, “He’s brave”, “Anything happens here and he’s a goner”. Seeing a motorbike go past you at 180mph within arms reach is one of the most amazing experiences, the draft moving your clothes and the noise rattling through your bones. I loved getting in spots where only media access got you. The closer the better.
During this time we were lucky to meet many of our heroes, people I thought I would never meet. To name a few: Mick Doohan (5 times world motorcycle champion), Freddie Spencer (2 times world motorcycle champion), Giacomo Agostini (15 times world motorcycle champion), Kenny Roberts (3 times world motorcycle champion) and Eddie Lawson, who I had a model of on my shelf when I was 8 years old (4 times world motorcycle champion).
Sitting in the press room at the Isle of Man TT in 2011 chatting with Murray Walker on one side and Mick Doohan on the other is a memory that will live with me forever.
Having a Macdonalds with Keith Amor the Scottish Superbike racer and Jonathan Rea the now multiple World Superbike Champion from Northern Ireland, chatting about all sorts, now seems slightly surreal. Keith was great, always chatting to us and having a laugh, even letting us go testing with him at Jurby Airfield.
Other surreal experiences included watching the Red Arrows from within the Monster Energy VIP zone on Douglas Promenade during TT week. Looking out over a huge crowd lining the sea front.
We made good friends too, Jamie Robinson the former Motogp rider who now makes documentaries about motorcycles was the Alpinestars photographer and video maker at the time. We all had great nights out together. We still keep in touch over Facebook with Jamie living in California. The guys at Arai really looked after us and looked out for us we still keep in touch and some came to my wedding in 2013.
When Arai changed UK distributors for 2012, the new company brought their own photographers with them. We decided to have a break from motorsport photography and have both concentrated on landscapes since.
From 2009 through 2011 nearly every weekend was spent photographing racing. Finish work early on the Friday and hit the road. Our bbq’s were legendary, we even hosted Sam Lowes (now one of the leading British stars in Motogp) for a burger at our motorhome.
Writing this blog has brought back loads of fun memories, amazing times. I have 1000’s of photos from those years. Most of which have never seen the light of day.
No doubt we’ll do it again one day! But for now here’s a few images from way back when.
I’ve always loved the pictures where you can see the intensity of the riders eyes through the visor, so there’s a few of them included here.
As always you can see more of my images on www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com
If you want to see more of our motorsport images, head here: https://www.facebook.com/mnj.photography.uk/
All the images here are the copyrighted property of Nathanael Jones.
Mon, 13 Mar 2017 22:30:06 +0000Abbey Dore Court
This weekend we were lucky enough to stay at Abbey Dore Court in Herefordshire with of our friends and children. It was a brilliant weekend, great company with lots of laughter in an awesome setting. The house was the perfect place for us all to stay and a top find by Jonno who organised the trip.
It’s the first time I’ve ever stayed in Herefordshire. I’ve visited Abergavenny, Hereford and the surrounding areas many times but never explored rural Herefordshire.
Abbey Dore Court is built on the banks of the Dore River. The countryside here is beautiful with lush green rolling fields. Plenty of lambs filled the fields around the village of Abbey Dore with daffodils lining the country lanes, a sign that spring is well and truly here at last.
Nature trails along the banks of the River Dore and across nearby fields, provided a great opportunity to get out and explore.
Abbey Dore Court is a grand house, rich in history. The owner’s website details its past with links to the village’s Abbey dating from 1167. The house as it is seen today dates from 1837 with a background as a local inn. Modifications from 1861 onwards and its conversion to a house include a Jacobean staircase and a fireplace from 1621. It also has a 8 acre garden which you can visit from April to September, Thursday to Sunday for £5 entrance fee.
The features of the house were great for photos. From the head carved out of wood on the staircase bannister, to the feature bay windows in the ballroom, to the chandeliers and moulded ceilings throughout.
Here’s a few images of the house and it’s surroundings. It’s an amazing place and if you ever get the chance to stay here, do it! There were 7 children in our group and they loved their home for the weekend, loads of space to play and plenty of hiding places for hide and seek.
On the way to the house of Friday I made a quick stop at the famous Skirrid Inn just outside of Abergavenny. I’ve included a picture in the gallery below. Notorious for its history as a court, hangings and being one of the oldest pubs in Wales, it is well known by ghost hunters for it’s spooky goings on. The pub’s website has more info if you ever plan on visiting.
As always more of my images of the British countryside can be seen on my website: http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com
Wed, 08 Mar 2017 21:07:22 +0000Valley of Fire
In 2013 my wife Claire and I set off on our honeymoon for 2 weeks to sin city – Las Vegas. Now many people would say 2 weeks in Vegas is crazy, but it was amazing!
To break the weeks up, we researched a list of places we wanted to visit away from Vegas.
Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon….Valley of Fire State Park.
Valley of Fire is found just 50 miles outside of Las Vegas. It is the oldest and largest state park in Nevada.
The landscape here is dramatic. Millions of years of erosion has shaped the rocks into radical shapes. Everywhere you look here your imagination can run wild, maybe a shape of a face, an animal, or even a spaceship carved in to the rocks over time by the elements.
The park gets it name from the breathtaking colour of the rocks, reflecting the sun like fire.
The heat is also fierce, 43 degrees when we visited, 40 in the shade! Plenty of water was needed.
The park is rich in history, throughout the park you can see ancient petroglyphs some estimated to date from anywhere between 300 BC to 1150 AD. The park was inhabited during this time by the Anasazi. The conditions here are almost perfect for preserving the rock art. In some locations, you leave wondering how they ever got into the positions where the art has been drawn, high on inaccessible rocks or where a staircase is now needed to get a view of their work.
Another great location for photographs are the 1930’s stone cabins. These were built for people to use when travelling through the park. They act as a great historic marker for a photo with the red rock bricks making them look unique.
We walked the trail to Mouse’s Tank. This was where the heat really took its toll but it was worth it. The trail is scattered with rock art, petroglyphs lining the canyon walls. Mouse’s tank is a natural filling well in the rocks which collects rain water and holds it. Mouse was a renegade Native American who used the valley as a hideout when he was wanted by the authorities. It is said that he used the tank to replenish his water supplies, hence the name. By this point we were both needing to replenish our water supplies!
The landscape here has been used for multiple science fiction films, providing a suitable terrain to double as the surface of Mars or other far off planets.
The way the roads cut through the park and through the red rock, make for great America road trip images. This place is a photographers dream!
If you’re heading to Vegas and have time on your hands, head out to Valley of Fire. It’s well worth it. Many companies do tours from Vegas to Valley of Fire, your hotel will be able to help you book your adventure. We used Pink Jeep Tours, who were brilliant, not only did they provide a great trip but also unlimited water and a nice lunch.
You can see more of my Valley of Fire images here: http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/Valley-of-Fire
You can see more of my landscape and wildlife images here: http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/browse
Follow me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/nathanaeljones
All images used in this blog are the copyrighted property of Nathanael Jones.
Sat, 04 Mar 2017 09:26:02 +0000Port Eynon
Port Eynon on the Gower Peninsula has special memories for me, it’s where the majority of our family holidays were spent when I was young, at Highfields caravan park over looking Port Eynon bay.
Port Eynon is the most southernly point on the Gower Peninsula and has a beautiful sandy beach, it’s a great place for making cool images. As well as the beautiful bay, there are also plenty of historical features to explore and incorporate into images.
The ruin of the Salt House on the sea front is perfect for adding some drama to a landscape. It has been extensively excavated and is a listed historic building. Stories say that the Salt House was linked by an underground tunnel to Culver Hole for smuggling and piracy.
Culver Hole is another historic location. Follow the Wales Coast Path up on to Port Eynon point and walk along the headland. The Culver Hole is found on a narrow steep path that drops down from the cliff top and Overtone Mere. The Culver Hole will not be visible until you get to the bottom of the path. It’s tall thin structure stretching up into the cliff side.
Every time I visit here I still find it amazing how it was ever built into the cliff face. The coast here is daunting, with jagged unforgiven rocks. At high tide the sea fills this area, so be aware. Stories tell of smugglers and pirates waving lanterns from the Culver Hole to draw ships onto the rocks and then take their cargo. It’s a location that still causes debate, smugglers hideout or elaborate dove cot?
The coastline at Port Eynon is notoriously hazardous and there are many shipwrecks that highlight its reputation.
One shipwreck that can still be seen is that of the SS Blue Bell, which floundered on the rocks here on February 15th 1913. All 12 crew survived and made it to shore.
At low tide you can walk to the remains of Blue Bell from Culverhole. Walking over the jagged rocks is hard going though, so you should take care. Always monitor the tide times, the tide comes-in fast here. Tide Times is a useful mobile app which I always use when I’m at the coast.
From Port Eynon Point the wreck can clearly be seen in the rocks below at low tide.
Another historic monument is found in the village at St Cattwgs churchyard. The marble statue of a lifeboat crewman remembers the Port Eynon lifeboat disaster of New Years Day 1916. Lifeboat Janet responded to distress signals from S.S. Dunvegan. Whilst trying to get to the stricken ship Janet capsized multiple times, with 3 crew men being lost.
The RNLI still have a lifeboat station at Port Eynon, it is situated close to the beach at Horton if you want to visit it.
Another wreck which cannot be seen is that of the Prince Ivanhoe which sank here in 1981. Everyone was rescued but sadly one person later died of a heart attack. For years the wreck was marked in the bay with 2 large marker buoys, it was a favourite spot for divers. The buoys have been removed now and it’s unclear how much of the ship actually remains.
You can see more of my Port Eynon and Gower images at www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/Gower
and on my Instagram www.instagram.com/nathanaeljones
Wed, 01 Mar 2017 20:18:24 +0000St David’s Day mission
About 10 days ago I was contacted by Visit Wales and asked if I would submit images to be used by them on St David’s Day.
The brief was that the images had to be easily identifiable as Wales and if possible have references to St David’s Day, so beautiful daffodils in bloom. Images of spring were also wanted, lambs and their mothers and flowers.
I jumped at the opportunity and over the last 2 weekends set about getting possible images.
Locations I visited included:
- Caerphilly Castle
- Castell Coch (twice)
- Abergavenny Castle
- Big Pit National Coal Museum
12 images were submitted and 2 were used on the Wales Facebook page, which you can view on the link.
It was a magical mystery tour of places I hadn’t been to in years. My son Noah loved it too, especially the castles, Abergavenny seemed a particular favourite of his with room to run around and explore.
I went to Castell Coch twice, the first time it was veiled in heavy mist and looked very eerie. The daffodils had only just started to open. So I returned a week later when the skies were lighter and a few more dafs had opened.
The search for lambs took me to Abergavenny, Talgarth and Brecon without a single lamb being spotted. I then tried Usk, Chainbridge and Goytre with more success.
Here are a selection of the images I made over those 2 weekends.
Mon, 27 Feb 2017 22:47:18 +0000Oh Canada
In 2007 I visited Canada for the second time, having spent 6 weeks there in 1995. This time I set out to do it all on my own. I would cover over 4500km and reach a maximum altitude of 7500ft.
The trip would take me through the coastal climates of British Columbia, its rainforests and coastal mountains, through the Canadian Rockies, to Banff and Lake Louise. I then travelled further north than I’ve ever been before to the border with Alaska.
This was the time when I really started to enjoy photography. My sister is a good artist so there was always sibling rivalry over who could take the best artistic landscape photo. I hadn’t discovered DSLR cameras at this point so I was shooting on a compact camera I’d got in the sale from Asda. At the time I thought it was amazing!
I flew into Vancouver International Airport, one of the nicest airports in the world. Vancouver is an amazing city, situated on the coast with a backdrop of majestic coastal mountains.
From Vancouver I travelled by coach through the Okanagan valley to Kelowna. Okanagan county is famous for its vineyards and orchards due to its dry climate. There are many lakeside communities with huge properties at the lake shore. Here I got my first bit of advice regarding grizzly bears, from a Canadian cowboy
“If you come across a Grizzly Bear, just make sure you can run faster than anyone who’s with you” sound advice!
Crossing through to Alberta and Banff in the heart of the Rockies. Bears were plentiful, no Grizzlys though just Black bears. When I came to Canada in 1995 I hadn’t seen any species of bear so this was a big improvement.
From the Banff my travels took me to Jasper and some of Jasper National Park’s amazing lakes. Medicine Lake and a boat ride on Maligne Lake taking its name from”Wicked” in French, named by Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801–1873) to describe the turbulent river that flows from the lake after washing away some of his belongings.
Maligne Lake is world famous for one of its features, Spirit Island. Nearly all imagery of the Canadian Rockies will feature this little piece of land with fir trees on. I couldn’t leave here without photographing it.
Next I did some whitewater rafting on the Athabasca river. After that I visited the raging Athabasca Falls. good job our raft didn’t go down there! Final stop was up on the Athabasca glacier, the melting water so rich in mineral cloud that you would hardly believe the colour blue.
From here I travelled further north, catching the Via Rail train from Prince George to Prince Rupert. At Prince George I got my second piece of bear advice, from a woman in the train station:
“If you meet a Grizzly bear on a trail he will be outright aggressive, up on his back legs, angry. Where as a Black bear will be your friend, come up to you all nice and shy and then bite you. If you climb a tree to escape, a Grizzly will knock that tree down to get you, while a Black bear will come up the tree and pull you down” comforting.
The train ride takes you through mountain passes and over high bridges. Grain trains leave behind scattered offerings of food, bears seeking an easy meal come searching for it. Bear sightings now went up ten fold, the train had a viewing carriage with upper deck. The train horn would signal something on the line. Multiple bear sightings happened every few miles, including mothers with cubs, sheltering by trees. Elk and Moose were also everywhere, crossing rivers or in fields. If you want to see wildlife go by rail.
Prince Rupert is probably the most remote place I have ever visited and I absolutely loved it. Just underneath the Alaskan pan handle Prince Rupert has a very wet climate. The clouds lie low here over the coastal mountains and giant fir trees. Precipitation is high. Salmon cannerys are plentiful and an experience to visit. Seeing all the British brands Sainsburys, Marks and Spencers and Tesco having their salmon canned by the same company. We all have our favourite which tastes best though right?!
I have many special memories of Prince Rupert. It has one of the largest concentrations of Bald Eagles anywhere in the continent of North America. Of the sub species of Bald Eagle these are also the biggest, with a wingspan unto 7 feet. On the train ride into the station the Bald Eagles flew out of the trees in the same numbers as garden birds in the UK. In the harbour Bald Eagles walked down the sidewalk like Seagulls would on the UK coast. Seeing it was believing.
I love the art work and history of the Native Canadians. Here I visited the Tsimshian Museum. The Tsimshian are indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. They performed stories from their history about their sacred birds Raven and Eagle. I was made an honorary chief of the Eagle tribe. I still cherish this memory. Even now it makes me emotional. I bought a sterling silver Tsimshian eagle engraved ring that evening from the museum.
From here I sailed 15 hours to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island with BC Ferries, through the treacherous Inside Passage and out into the Pacific Ocean. Sightings of migrating Grey Whales running the gauntlet of Orcas were a sight to behold. I also videoed Salmon moving in shoals and jumping through the waves. An Orca breaching alongside the ferry was a highlight. Passing beautiful places such as Bella Bella Lighthouse. It was during this part of the trip that the story about the Women’s Institute in my first post happened.
Victoria on Vancouver Island was base for the next few days, I went whale watching and found myself in the company of wildlife photographer Paul Tixier. Paul was studying Orcas for National Geographic. He printed one of his images from our whale watching trip for me which I still have. He left France at 16(!) to pursue his dream of being a wildlife photographer. He is now a qualified marine biologist usually found in Antarctica or the Southern Ocean. His images have been used throughout the world and even in movies. A truly inspiring story. If you have a dream follow it!
Back full circle sailing from Vancouver Island back to Vancouver with Dolphins swimming alongside the ferry.
The pictures in this blog I’ve never shared before. I hope you enjoy them. All taken on my 4 megapixel, casio compact camera.
Canada is the only place other than Wales I have ever imagined living. I can’t wait to return soon with my family and show my son the wonders of this amazing country.
You can see more of my landscape images at http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com
All the images used in this blog are the copyrighted property of Nathanael Jones, all rights reserved.
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:04:50 +0000Guardian
I visited Six Bells this afternoon near Abertillery in South Wales.
The reason I went to Six Bells was to photograph Guardian. The incredible giant sculpture of a miner which looks towards the former colliery town with outstretched arms “a Welsh answer to Antony Gormley‘s Angel of the North.”
What is the significance of the sculpture? On June 28 1960, an underground explosion killed 45 miners at the Six Bells colliery. For the 50th anniversary of the disaster in 2010, the sculpture designed and created by artist Sebastien Boyesen, was unveiled on the site where the pit used to be.
This was my first visit to see Guardian. The landscaped park where he stands was quiet and I found the experience very moving. Information is displayed which tells the story of that terrible day in 1960 and the statue is engraved with the names of those that lost their lives.
Mining and Wales go hand in hand. Throughout the South Wales Coalfield reminders of the mining heritage are still clear to see. Pit head wheels act as markers as to where the mines once were. Growing up in a valleys town everyone had relatives or friends who had worked in a pit.
Everyone in Wales grows up knowing about the terrible tragedies. The Aberfan disaster in 1966, killed 144, 116 children and 28 adults. The true events of what had caused the disaster were shamefully covered up by the then government and only exposed years later. The Hillsborough of its day.
The Senghenydd disaster in 1913 near Caerphilly, killed 439 workers and one rescuer, and remains the worst mining disaster in British history.
Everyone knows about the struggles too, the miners strikes of the 1980s and the decline of the coal industry that followed.
The working pits are all gone now but some remain as educational facilities. In the UNESCO world heritage town of Blaenavon, is the Big Pit National Coal museum. Here you can tour the mine, going underground just like the miners did. You can see how cramped the mining conditions were, feel the heat of working underground, and see the underground stables where the pit ponies were kept. You can even turn your hat light off and experience the dark like you’ve never experienced it before. To say it is an eye opener is an understatement.
Mining has shaped the land and the people of South Wales. Communities still feel the strong bond and spirit that was built with the pits.
For me the reminders of the pits dotted around the valleys are vitally important to preserving our history and educating people. As a photographer they provide emotions which I try to capture in my images.
The struggles and loss which continue today, of the people who worked and lived in these communities, always needs to be told.
From the final sentence on the Guardian memorial:
“for coal mining communities everywhere.”