Behind the Camera: ‘Sunrays Across Snowdon’ – Snowdonia, Wales


“Looks like a good place for a shot,” says Kat. I’ve learned to ignore her advice at my peril because she has a good eye for the changing landscape, and can spot subtleties that I miss.

There’s no one behind us so I slam on the brakes and come to a rapid stop in a small pull-in on the side of the road. I’m probably no supposed to park there, but I’m not in anyone’s way, and there’s a chance of a good shot, so I park up and pull out the camera.

Somewhere off in the distance I hear the distinctive two-toned call of a cuckoo, a sound that fills me with conflicting feelings. It’s a beautiful, unique sound, but as a kid I was bought up with the idea that cuckoos are evil things that chuck out the eggs of other birds. This clashed with my childhood Disneyesque views of how nature was supposed to be, but now I just see it as part of a whole.

I get the camera and tripod set up and then I notice that the sun has dipped behind the mountains and is splashing golden rays across Snowdon, the tallest of the Welsh peaks. Each second sees the scene change, as the sun continues towards the horizon and the clouds move across the sky.

I shoot and shoot and shoot, catching the rapidly changing vista before me. I know I’m going to have a lot of work ahead of me in Lightroom just finding the best shots, but I’d rather overshoot and catch some good stuff than be stingy and miss a good shot. I’m also bracketing shots too, causing the files to grow geometrically.

I remind myself to remind me of this later when I’m sorting through hundreds of shots looking for “the one.”

Mama Nature is pulling out all the stops. The light is perfect, the cuckoo is cuckooing away, and the clouds are adding just the right amount of drama to the shot.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

As I get ready to leave a splinter group from the herd of cows in the field have climbed up the steep hill to see what I’m doing, and in the process they’re snapping branches off the nearby trees. Hey cows, you’re destroying foreground interest there!

And I’m here catching this because Kat said it would be a good place to pull over.

So, what’s the moral of this tale? To be honest, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s listen to others, or perhaps it is that sometimes you can catch awesome shots from the roadside without having to travel to foreign parts or hike for miles, or maybe it’s that we shouldn’t base nature on Disney films.

Nah, scratch that last one.

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