From the Sea to the Mountains - the Mid-Wales image-library
Photography by John Mason of Machynlleth

About John Mason's Photography

About John Mason

John Mason took up landscape photography in the late 1980s using what was to be the first of several secondhand Canon A-1s. Today he uses Nikon D300 DSLRs with a range of lenses between 12 and 500mm. His interest in severe weather developed in the late 1990s after viewing some storm-chasing websites from the USA and wondering if such things were possible over here in Mid-Wales. It turned out that they were indeed. Since then, he has recorded pretty much any type of weather you could imagine, all in this local area, although he has yet to bag a tornado on the ground - though he's seen the breathtaking damage that they can do - he investigates damage-tracks for TORRO - the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation.

His work has featured regularly on BBC Wales, at the National Museum of Wales, in Countryside Council for Wales and Forestry Commission Wales publications, in advertising and in newspapers such as the Guardian. He also runs a popular online weather-diary which has several hundred genuine visits a week. This collection, taken from the best of his work since the early 2000s, has been selected to represent the area in as many different ways as possible. It largely avoids the "nice day" images found on many postcards and in general there's usually some interesting weather going on in every shot, from snow to floods to thunderstorms and even the mysterious noctilucent clouds that exist at the edge of space - 80 kilometres up in the Mesosphere and only visible in the hours of darkness on summer nights.

July 2011 Major Upgrade

The image-library has been online since 2008 and was well overdue for a makeover: the key feature that has changed in the July 2011 upgrade is that the enlarged images now display at 800 pixels wide (as opposed to 550 in the old version), making it easier to study detail. Individual image captions are likewise expanded to offer viewers more detailed information. The emphasis has changed a little too: in the old Library, the Geology section was generating little interest but it can be brought back in an expanded form at some point if demand for it becomes apparent.

Using this website

The images have been arranged in a practical manner into six categories (on six gallery-pages of thumbnail images). Click on any thumbnail of interest and you are taken to a big 800 pixel-width enlargement for a more detailed look.

The six galleries are as follows:


* The Cardigan Bay Coast from Aberystwyth to Barmouth (including the estuaries) - anything tidal in other words.
* The Valleys and their scenery, flora and wildlife.
* The Mountains: Cadair Idris, the Tarennau, the Arans and the Plynlimon massif

Sorted by weather-types:

* Storms: stormclouds, floods and damage. This is where the thunderstorms lurk!
* Winter: snow, ice, fog and frost - including extensive coverage of the recent severe winters.
* Light: rainbows, sundogs, sunsets, noctilucent clouds: Nature's psychedelia in other words.

All images on this website are of course low-resolution JPEGS. Master images from the camera (or in some cases older, scanned transparencies) are archived in TIFF format at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.

If you find an image that you want to purchase, for any commercial use (supplied in digital format) or to put on your wall as a Fine Art print, every enlargement page has an email link which is set up so that when you send the email, the filename comes straight through in the Subject line. Images will enlarge to 24 x 16 and in some cases 36 x 24 inches but smaller prints can be ordered - not everyone has that much spare wall-space! Prints can be produced on Giclee Fine Art papers or as stretched canvases.

About the Area

The area comprises North Ceredigion, North-west Powys and South-west Gwynedd, and is bounded to the west by the Cardigan Bay Coast. A key feature is the Dyfi Valley: the Dyfi is one of a number of small river-catchments that flow down the western slopes of the Welsh mountains. Only about 30 miles from its source at Creiglyn Dyfi in the Arans to its mouth at Aberdyfi, the river passes through a remarkably diverse range of habitats in its course, from high mountain through valley floodplain to saltmarsh and estuary. The last road-crossing before the sea is Dyfi Bridge at Machynlleth, historic market town and home of Owain Glyndwr's Welsh Parliament in 1404.

Area map - Mid-Wales
                                      image-libraryAbove Machynlleth, low wooded hills, dissected by the numerous tributories of the Dyfi, give way to higher hill-pastures and moorlands rising towards the mountains that define the watershed of Wales. These rise to 907m above sea-level at their highest point, Aran Fawddwy. Cadair Idris at 893m comes a close second. These high rocky areas with their Arctic flora contrast with the more rolling landscape of the Tarennau and the Plynlimon massif, which lie to the south.

The climate is mostly mild with high rainfall - typical for the western Uplands of the UK, though blocking high pressure can lead to summer heatwaves and winter freeze-ups. Often, to the weather-photographer, the transition between these two weather-patterns can provide the most interesting conditions of all.

The area is well-known for its biodiversity and the Dyfi Catchment is Wales' first new style world class UNESCO Biosphere - a special place where conservation and sustainable development go hand in hand.