Autumn 2008 part 2 - Winter arrives early in Mid-Wales!


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Well, I suppose season's greetings are in order, although you'll forgive me for not jumping into that feet-first as I am grounded by the worst cold I have had for several years. So is half of Machynlleth by all accounts! At least it gives me chance to get this long-overdue update done. I didn't get around to sending a series of films off until fairly recently, hence the delay.

One excellent thing that happened to me this Autumn was that I was privileged to be invited to give a talk at the Royal Meteorological Society's meeting in South Kensington on my weather photography. It was great to meet other photographers, many with way more years of experience than myself, see examples of their work and listen to their thoughts and approaches. It turned out that we had some things in common but it was interesting to see where thoughts differed, too: everyone has their own, personally unique approach it seems. I hadn't been to London for years and the scrum getting onto a Piccadilly Line train on the way out in the evening was quite an experience: one I'd rather not have too often!

Onto the weather. October's floods gave way to a cold end-of-month, a frosty November and a noticeably cold start to December, which had me glad to have cut so much firewood. Autumn colours were vivid this year but days with the right light when I was free were few and far between. But the main theme of this page has to be the early snow, which I'll get onto after a few more "seasonal" shots....

Larches in Autumn

I visited a larch-wood near Glaspwll one sunny afternoon and had a play with my ultra-wide 19mm lens in the dappled sunshine. Quite liked this one!

 Bird Rock near Llanegryn

Meanwhile here's a telephoto of Bird Rock in the Dysinni Valley near Llanegryn, where there are some exciting rock-climbs - as a consequence of the looseness of the rock in places. The name - Craig yr Aderyn in Welsh - refers to its usage as a cormorant roost/nesting area since time immemorial, despite being several miles inland - harking back to a period shortly after the last ice-age ended, when sea-levels were for a time a fair bit higher than they have been over the last few hundred years.

Sunset at Dyfi Bridge

Good sunsets were not abundant. This one had real potential, ruined by the low ragged cloud that was drifting through. Mammatus had developed on the base of a stratocumulus sheet, reminiscent of the stunning sunrise I caught in late November 2006, but nowhere near as impressive this time....

Lenticular clouds at Borth

One evening a nice group of lenticular clouds formed in a NE wind in the lee of the Cambrian Mountains. However, they drifted away by sunset-time - pity!

Rough dusk at Borth

This one I did like though - a Westerly gale and shower-clouds moving through at Borth. One for the slide-library I think!

Precipitation shafts and crepuscular rays

And this one - crepuscular rays going through shafts of rain, with a lone gull adding interest

Sunrise over the Dyfi Valley

One morning on the way to Aberdaron (fishing-mission): sunrise at Dyfi Bridge. Get those cables buried!

Sundog over Bardsey

On this particular fishing-trip an impressive sundog developed right above Bardsey Island, formed by sunlight refracting through high clouds made of ice-crystals.

The mackerel left early this year - was it a sign of colder conditions to come?

The fishing was slow but I did reel in this beastie tangled up in my line. A quick unravelling and he was soon crawling back down to the sea-bed (too small anyway in terms of the legal minimum size)...

Lobster from Bardsey Sound

The clarity of the air suggested Ireland might be visible so I walked to the top of Cardiac Hill at sunset to see - and it was! Can you see the mountains?

Ireland from Cardiac Hill

On now to the over-riding theme from late October onwards: this (on my car roof)....


....,and this!


Frost has been frequent and the first snow fell on October 28th as one of several Arctic airmasses urged southwards over the UK. This is up on the Machynlleth-Llanidloes mountain road at ca. 450m ASL as rain turned to sleet and then, in the image, heavy and at times driving snow....

Top of Dylife Mountain Road


...this is the same area a couple of days later. Not a huge fall but it had drifted about a bit....

Top of Dylife Mountain Road can be seen here. I decided to have a run over to Dinas Mawddwy to have a look at the lower mountains (Cadair Idris and Aran Fawddwy were shrouded in cloud in their upper parts)....


...but hills topping out at just over 620m were cloud-free, such as Maesglase (above), although here the light was a bit insipid....


...on nearby Cribyn it was a bit better but the snow-covered rockface that dominated the view made this one work quite well!

The Bwlch

The Bwlch - the famous low-flying aircraft photography venue, with a different view eastwards of the steep, plunging ridges of Maesglase.

old snowdrift on Dylife road

By the third of November the snow was rapidly shrinking away to nothing on the lower hills - but on the high tops a good cover had built up. Shots of that are on another film, however, so that's all for now!

2008 has not been the most productive year in terms of extreme weather, despite the good early start with the Aberystwyth waterspout, lightning "superbolts" and several impressive coastal storms. The summer was a non-event unless you like incessant rain, and the autumn was notable for its lack of photogenic convection, although the early October floods offered some interesting photographic opportunities and the early start to winter was a change from recent years.

The market for photographs has been hit hard by the recession and the outlook for the next year or two is not encouraging: however, the weather won't go into recession, so I'll be quietly getting on with my photography and building up the slide library regardless. Things will turn around at some point!

It's Boxing Day morning, with a keen Easterly now blowing down the Dyfi Valley and temperatures of just 3-4C. Hopefully (as locals often say) the colder weather will kill off the cold-germs! I can honestly say I'm already looking forward to Spring! So here's to 2009 and whatever spectacular goings-on in the skies that may turn up!


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