A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in The Beacons.

Here’s a great blog about the beauty of the Brecon Beacons in the Autumn, by photographer Simon Powell, the artist behind Black Mountains Photography:

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With the height of summer behind us and the nights slowly drawing in, a distinctive chill can be felt in the dawn by many on their way to work and some people start to feel a sense of melancholy.

But for me these delicate signs awake a sleeping passion as I’m filled with the desire to grab my camera and head for the hills as our countryside really comes into its own. With the onset of autumn, the reds, yellows and golden browns sweep across the countryside, a feast for eyes grown tired of the endless green of the summer months.

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The end of August brings the spectacle of the Persied meteor shower and signals the stunning display of heather which flushes over the moorland of the Black Mountains like a vivid neon sign drawing wanderers to the area.

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August is also the season of the Whimberry! Ripe for the picking, these berries can only be found in secretive places high up in the hills where the clouds brush the ground.

With the Autumnal shortening of the day, the sun rises much later and this is a blessing for the photographer keen to capture the golden hour of the sun rise. In the right conditions, the valleys of the River Usk and River Wye are filled with dawn mist, locally known as The Dragon’s Breath which absorbs the pastel glow of the rising sun and creates a sense of other worldly magic.

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Sunsets too can be a spectacular event. As warm, moist air rushes across the hills, the bellowing clouds reflect the vivid reds and oranges of the setting sun…an awe inspiring sight that lasts only minutes, but leaves an impression that will stay with you for a very long time. 

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The gloomy, dark days of Autumn should by no means be wasted inside. It is the perfect time for photographing waterfalls, as the sunlight filtering through the clouds gives a diffused lighting effect, the perfect circumstances in which to capture the magical, silky, smooth waters as the rivers flow with a fresh vibrancy, energised by rainfall and scattered with the confetti of Autumn leaves. 

With so much to explore and photograph over the next couple of months time soon runs away with you as you fleet from sunrise to sunset, from open moorland to deep deciduous woodland, so I have put together a short checklist to guide you through the un-missable sights of the Autumn months.

  • Heather flushed moorland

The Blorenge mountain always has as good display of heather and a drive up to Keeper’s Pond in the late afternoon will provide stunning lighting and a magnificent backdrop for your shots.

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  •  The Dragons Breath

This can be a difficult phenomenon to capture, as the conditions need to be perfect. Warm westerly rain in the night followed by high pressure clear cold skies at dawn are the signs to look out for. One of the best locations to capture this is, once again, the Blorenge Mountain; you might need to make several trips before you capture the spot where the dragon spent the night, and the Blorenge is easily accessible.

  •  Waterfalls

There is no finer place to explore the technique of long exposure photography than the Waterfall above the Talybont Reservoir. The geography of the valley produces stunning waterfalls of varying height, flow and shape, flanked by vividly coloured deciduous trees or deep in coniferous forest.

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My recommended landscape photography gear:

  • Any brand DSLR camera: They are all very good, its just a question of personal taste and budget.
  • Ideally two lenses a wide angle 15-65mm and a telephoto 50-300mm
  • Tripod – the best you can afford as you want stability for a long exposure image.
  • Square Neutral Density Graduated filter – the square type for sunsets/sunrise!
  • Circular polarizing filter (really makes clouds pop and captures reflections in the water).
  • Remote shutter button (helps avoid camera shake!)
  • Spare battery and memory card.

My website is a great place to find out what’s going on in the hills and countryside of the Black Mounatins and Brecon Beacons.

Above all please remember we are only visitors to the countryside please take only photos and leave only footprints.

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