I recently posted about how 2019 had been a fantastic year for my photography and I also shared my top ten images from 2019. 2020 is not only the beginning of a new decade but also the start of a new chapter in my photography journey. In this blog post I share with you my first adventure of 2020 including how I shot the Wepre Park waterfall in North Wales.
My first photography adventure of 2020
My first photography adventure of 2020 is set at at the 160 acre country park called Wepre Park. The park is located near Connah’s Quay in Flintshire, North Wales and is the home to Ewloe Castle. The park grounds contain the usual facilities of a family park including a children’s playground, outdoor gym, football playing fields, visitor centre and cafe.
Wepre Brook meanders through the park as it makes its way downstream to feed into the River Dee. There are several small cascades throughout the park as well as todays subject the “Wepre Park Waterfall”
The story behind the shot
I would love to tell you how I spent hours researching the location and planning the shot but I can’t. Not that I don’t want to, I just didn’t do any research and I certainly didn’t have a plan.
I have family who live in North Wales and from time to time they invite me to stay. My family understand I have a passion for photography and are always on the lookout for opportunities for when I visit. My aunt invited us to stay with her the first weekend of January. This was a perfect opportunity for a last minute break, just before returning to our regular jobs following the festive period.
We arrived in North Wales around 19:30 on Friday 3rd Jan. The evening filled with various conversations including a discussion into various places we could go and shoot over the weekend. We decided that we would visit Wepre Park the next morning and have a look at the waterfall.
My dad had visited Wepre Park previously and had commented there was a waterfall that may make a good picture. He did send me an image previously that he took on his phone and I agreed at the time it may be worth a visit at some point.
I had a brief browse on Instagram at compositions others had made however most I found were of selfies in-front of the waterfall or what I would consider snapshots. (I’ve nothing against snapshots and often take my own to make a record of a moment in time)
A spectacular sunrise
We set off for Wepre Park just as it was getting light. Knowing you don’t really need a great sunrise to shoot a waterfall I wasn’t really too concerned that there wasn’t much sign of any colour in the sky.
As the sun rose I noticed light starting to reflect within the clouds and the sky began to fill with colour. I took a quick snap on my iPhone whilst we were driving. The thought of pulling over for a better shot had crossed my mind but we didn’t stop and after a short drive we reached our destination.
We parked the car and made our way on foot to the waterfall. Its a fairly easy walk and not too far, however it is down quite a bit of a hill so be prepared for when you return as whichever way you go back to the carpark there’s a hill to climb.
looking for something different
I always have a scout around before taking my camera out of my bag. I find if I take out the camera too soon I stop looking for compositions and easily miss the better shots. That said I do often take out my iPhone and see how things look on the screen.
It immediately struck me that most images I had seen were taken from the nearby bridge spanning Wepre Brook. Standing on the bridge provided a great view of the waterfall. The composition was okay but a bit messy. Tree branches overhung into the top of the frame and the sky in the background was very bright and lacked interest. I quickly made up my mind the sky wasn’t going to be a feature in todays image.
For maximum impact the shot needed to me made from water level. I clung onto a nearby tree as I descended down around 4 feet to the bottom of the bank. The water here was only a couple of inches deep, thats around 50mm for the metric folk amongst us. A few large stones made it quite easy for me to stand mid stream without getting my feet wet. Obviously the further into the brook you go the deeper it gets so I couldn’t go too far.
I should have gone a little further into the brook however I didn’t want to risk water coming over the top of my walking shoes and getting my feet wet. I set up my tripod and found some small and medium sized rocks to create foreground interest. The live view function on my Nikon allowed me to refine my composition and ensure I had omitted the bright sky above.
Should you shoot the Wepre Park waterfall in portrait or landscape orientation?
I always find it difficult to decide if I should be shooting in a portrait or landscape format. When in doubt I find best to follow your instincts and go with your gut, and then shoot both! In my mind I was first drawn to shoot a vertical image. I wanted to try and replicate the shape of the waterfall and help to lead the eye through the photo.
I shot the above composition at various shutter speeds ranging from 1 second to 6 seconds. I settled on the 6 second exposure, I felt it captured the swirling water at the base of the fall quite well and didn’t make the the falling water too much like overexposed cotton wool.
Happy with my captures I rotated my camera to a landscape orientation, re-alligned the composition and pressed the shutter.
Run along: Situational awareness and self consciousness
I was pretty happy with the images on the back of the camera and had a sense of accomplishment. Whilst I was taking the images I had noticed a couple of dog walkers passing by but it wasn’t too busy and noting that really bothered me too much.
So here I am standing in the middle of Wepre Brook, having just taken my first images of 2020. I notice it’s getting quite noisy and I start to hear people talking. As I turn around I notice a group of people standing by the bridge. There must have been around 50 people and quite a few of them looking in my direction. Most were probably thinking look at this idiot standing in the middle of the brook. I quickly packed up my gear and made my way back up the bank.
Unbeknown to me Wepre Park is host to a Park Run every Saturday morning. The meeting place for groups appeared to be next to the waterfall. I wasn’t bothered, I had my images and I doubt I will ever see these people again. If I had arrived an hour later and not been one of the first there I doubt I would have been brave enough to get the shots. Who knows….
A walk along the brook
I captured my final image a short walk downstream from the Wepre Park waterfall. This little wooden bridge crosses the brook and leads to what appears to be a beautiful woodland walk. I will be returning at some point in the future hopefully during autumn when there will be plenty of colour amongst the trees.