Snowdonia National Park contains some of the most spectacular sights Britain has to offer. It is a magnet for photographers and adventurers alike. It's an outdoor playground, with beautiful mountains, stunning coastline and endless opportunities for action. There is something for everyone to enjoy.
I recently headed out into the mountains to photograph some of those incredible landscapes. Here are some highlights from the trip and some behind the scenes insight about how I capture my images. I've included composition details for each image to help you shoot something similar.
Cadair Idris is an absolute gem of a mountain. With so many different routes to climb it suites all abilities. The summit gives breathtaking views of Snowdonia and the Welsh coast from the southern edge of the park.
Starting at 4am to reach the summit for sunrise, we opted to take the Minffordd Path. This takes you all the way around the ridge you see in the image below. As the sun rose light flooded onto Llyn Cau (the lake) and the surrounding peaks.
The photo composition works best just south-west of the summit with the sunlight hitting the side of the image. Although this was shot at 24mm a little wider would probably do the job better. The walls around the lake are huge, so I added a person to the shot just to convey the scale.
Make sure to finish the circular walk back down for more beautiful views. The whole circuit probably took around 4/5 hours to finish with ample time for photos along the way.
The next day we parked at the Pen y Pass ready to tackle Crib Goch. This famous Grade 1 scramble offers unparalleled views, but it's considered the hardest route up Snowdon: Crib Goch. It shouldn't be attempted without at least some scrambling experience. Parking is extremely limited as well, so you should arrive early to grab a space.
After wondering along the PYG track for around 45 minutes the path breaks off towards Crib Goch which is visible in the distance. From here it climbs steeply until you reach the ridge. Take a few snaps before you start, and once you’ve traversed Crib Goch pull out your camera again for views of Snowdon and Glaslyn.
Whenever I’m shooting handheld I try to keep the shutter speed at a minimum of 1/60s, but generally 1/125s to avoid any shake ruining the image, especially just after I’ve been hiking for a few hours and may be a little weary.
Conditions started to get serious in the afternoon as low cloud rolled in. Until now the day had been almost entirely blue sky, so the weather added some welcome atmosphere to my photographs.
I always like to travel with a telephoto lens, like a 70-200mm, when I’m hiking in the mountains. Sometimes the landscape you are trying to capture is too cluttered and a telephoto allows you to isolate certain parts of the vista, refining your composition and making it more precise. It also adds scale to your images, making mountains seem larger
After finishing the climb and summiting Carnedd Ugain we setup camp for the night. We got busy re-fueling, ready for the hike up Snowdon the next morning.
We set off at 5am to reach the summit of Snowdon and watch the sunrise. The composition from the top of Snowdon over Llyn Llydaw is quite a difficult one, so I opted to keep it wide and try and control the sky as much as possible without filters.
Our final mission for this trip was a venture up Glyder Fach for sunset. Specifically, I wanted to capture the sun setting over Castell y Gwynt. We set off at 4pm to reach the top about an hour before the sunset; plenty of time to find a composition and make a cup of tea!
It was extremely windy, as it so often is in the mountains. I set up my tripod up low to the ground to stop any shake. I setup a composition with the sun perfectly sidelighting the scene.
However, the lighting was still a little harsh, so I waited for the sun to drop below the horizon. I couldn’t believe my luck when for a second time some low cloud rolled in and was backlit by the setting sun, allowing me to capture this.
And that’s it!
I hope you enjoyed my little photography journey in Snowdonia. It is a beautiful place with such diverse landscapes for a photographer to shoot, whether you are a novice or a seasoned pro. I'd recommend you start planning right away.