Abbey Dore Court

This weekend we were lucky enough to stay at Abbey Dore Court in Herefordshire with of our friends and children. It was a brilliant weekend, great company with lots of laughter in an awesome setting. The house was the perfect place for us all to stay and a top find by Jonno who organised the trip.

It’s the first time I’ve ever stayed in Herefordshire. I’ve visited Abergavenny, Hereford and the surrounding areas many times but never explored rural Herefordshire.

Abbey Dore Court is built on the banks of the Dore River. The countryside here is beautiful with lush green rolling fields. Plenty of lambs filled the fields around the village of Abbey Dore with daffodils lining the country lanes, a sign that spring is well and truly here at last.

Nature trails along the banks of the River Dore and across nearby fields, provided a great opportunity to get out and explore.

Abbey Dore Court is a grand house, rich in history. The owner’s website details its past with links to the village’s Abbey dating from 1167. The house as it is seen today dates from 1837 with a background as a local inn. Modifications from 1861 onwards and its conversion to a house include a Jacobean staircase and a fireplace from 1621. It also has a 8 acre garden which you can visit from April to September, Thursday to Sunday for £5 entrance fee.

The features of the house were great for photos. From the head carved out of wood on the staircase bannister, to the feature bay windows in the ballroom, to the chandeliers and moulded ceilings throughout.

Here’s a few images of the house and it’s surroundings. It’s an amazing place and if you ever get the chance to stay here, do it! There were 7 children in our group and they loved their home for the weekend, loads of space to play and plenty of hiding places for hide and seek.

On the way to the house of Friday I made a quick stop at the famous Skirrid Inn just outside of Abergavenny. I’ve included a picture in the gallery below. Notorious for its history as a court, hangings and being one of the oldest pubs in Wales, it is well known by ghost hunters for it’s spooky goings on. The pub’s website has more info if you ever plan on visiting.

As always more of my images of the British countryside can be seen on my website: http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com

 

 

 

Valley of Fire

In 2013 my wife Claire and I set off on our honeymoon for 2 weeks to sin city – Las Vegas. Now many people would say 2 weeks in Vegas is crazy, but it was amazing!

To break the weeks up, we researched a list of places we wanted to visit away from Vegas.

Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon….Valley of Fire State Park.

Valley of Fire is found just 50 miles outside of Las Vegas. It is the oldest and largest state park in Nevada.

The landscape here is dramatic. Millions of years of erosion has shaped the rocks into radical shapes. Everywhere you look here your imagination can run wild, maybe a shape of a face, an animal, or even a spaceship carved in to the rocks over time by the elements.

The park gets it name from the breathtaking colour of the rocks, reflecting the sun like fire.

The heat is also fierce, 43 degrees when we visited, 40 in the shade! Plenty of water was needed.

The park is rich in history, throughout the park you can see ancient petroglyphs some estimated to date from anywhere between 300 BC to 1150 AD. The park was inhabited during this time by the Anasazi. The conditions here are almost perfect for preserving the rock art. In some locations, you leave wondering how they ever got into the positions where the art has been drawn, high on inaccessible rocks or where a staircase is now needed to get a view of their work.

Another great location for photographs are the 1930’s stone cabins. These were built for people to use when travelling through the park. They act as a great historic marker for a photo with the red rock bricks making them look unique.

We walked the trail to Mouse’s Tank. This was where the heat really took its toll but it was worth it. The trail is scattered with rock art, petroglyphs lining the canyon walls. Mouse’s tank is a natural filling well in the rocks which collects rain water and holds it. Mouse was a renegade Native American who used the valley as a hideout when he was wanted by the authorities. It is said that he used the tank to replenish his water supplies, hence the name. By this point we were both needing to replenish our water supplies!

The landscape here has been used for multiple science fiction films, providing a suitable terrain to double as the surface of Mars or other far off planets.

The way the roads cut through the park and through the red rock, make for great America road trip images. This place is a photographers dream!

If you’re heading to Vegas and have time on your hands, head out to Valley of Fire. It’s well worth it. Many companies do tours from Vegas to Valley of Fire, your hotel will be able to help you book your adventure. We used Pink Jeep Tours, who were brilliant, not only did they provide a great trip but also unlimited water and a nice lunch.

You can see more of my Valley of Fire images here: http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/Valley-of-Fire

You can see more of my landscape and wildlife images here: http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/browse

Follow me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/nathanaeljones

All images used in this blog are the copyrighted property of Nathanael Jones.

Port Eynon

Port Eynon on the Gower Peninsula has special memories for me, it’s where the majority of our family holidays were spent when I was young, at Highfields caravan park over looking Port Eynon bay.

Port Eynon is the most southernly point on the Gower Peninsula and has a beautiful sandy beach, it’s a great place for making cool images. As well as the beautiful bay, there are also plenty of historical features to explore and incorporate into images.

The ruin of the Salt House on the sea front is perfect for adding some drama to a landscape. It has been extensively excavated and is a listed historic building. Stories say that the Salt House was linked by an underground tunnel to Culver Hole for smuggling and piracy.

Culver Hole is another historic location. Follow the Wales Coast Path up on to Port Eynon point and walk along the headland. The Culver Hole is found on a narrow steep path that drops down from the cliff top and Overtone Mere. The Culver Hole will not be visible until you get to the bottom of the path. It’s tall thin structure stretching up into the cliff side.

Every time I visit here I still find it amazing how it was ever built into the cliff face. The coast here is daunting, with jagged unforgiven rocks. At high tide the sea fills this area, so be aware. Stories tell of smugglers and pirates waving lanterns from the Culver Hole to draw ships onto the rocks and then take their cargo. It’s a location that still causes debate, smugglers hideout or elaborate dove cot?

The coastline at Port Eynon is notoriously hazardous and there are many shipwrecks that highlight its reputation.

One shipwreck that can still be seen is that of the SS Blue Bell, which floundered on the rocks here on February 15th 1913. All 12 crew survived and made it to shore.

At low tide you can walk to the remains of Blue Bell from Culverhole. Walking over the jagged rocks is hard going though, so you should take care. Always monitor the tide times, the tide comes-in fast here. Tide Times is a useful mobile app which I always use when I’m at the coast.

From Port Eynon Point the wreck can clearly be seen in the rocks below at low tide.

Another historic monument is found in the village at St Cattwgs churchyard. The marble statue of a lifeboat crewman remembers the Port Eynon lifeboat disaster of New Years Day 1916. Lifeboat Janet responded to distress signals from S.S. Dunvegan. Whilst trying to get to the stricken ship Janet capsized multiple times, with 3 crew men being lost.

The RNLI still have a lifeboat station at Port Eynon, it is situated close to the beach at Horton if you want to visit it.

Another wreck which cannot be seen is that of the Prince Ivanhoe which sank here in 1981. Everyone was rescued but sadly one person later died of a heart attack. For years the wreck was marked in the bay with 2 large marker buoys, it was a favourite spot for divers. The buoys have been removed now and it’s unclear how much of the ship actually remains.

You can see more of my Port Eynon and Gower images at www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/Gower

and on my Instagram www.instagram.com/nathanaeljones

Oh Canada

In 2007 I visited Canada for the second time, having spent 6 weeks there in 1995. This time I set out to do it all on my own. I would cover over 4500km and reach a maximum altitude of 7500ft.

The trip would take me through the coastal climates of British Columbia, its rainforests and coastal mountains, through the Canadian Rockies, to Banff and Lake Louise. I then travelled further north than I’ve ever been before to the border with Alaska.

This was the time when I really started to enjoy photography. My sister is a good artist so there was always sibling rivalry over who could take the best artistic landscape photo.  I hadn’t discovered DSLR cameras at this point so I was shooting on a compact camera I’d got in the sale from Asda. At the time I thought it was amazing!

I flew into Vancouver International Airport, one of the nicest airports in the world. Vancouver is an amazing city, situated on the coast with a backdrop of majestic coastal mountains.

From Vancouver I travelled by coach through the Okanagan valley to Kelowna. Okanagan county is famous for its vineyards and orchards due to its dry climate. There are many lakeside communities with huge properties at the lake shore. Here I got my first bit of advice regarding grizzly bears, from a Canadian cowboy

If you come across a Grizzly Bear, just make sure you can run faster than anyone who’s with you” sound advice!

Crossing through to Alberta and Banff in the heart of the Rockies. Bears were plentiful, no Grizzlys though just Black bears. When I came to Canada in 1995 I hadn’t seen any species of bear so this was a big improvement.

From the Banff my travels took me to Jasper and some of Jasper National Park’s amazing lakes. Medicine Lake and a boat ride on Maligne Lake taking its name from”Wicked” in French, named by Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801–1873) to describe the turbulent river that flows from the lake after washing away some of his belongings.

Maligne Lake is world famous for one of its features, Spirit Island. Nearly all imagery of the Canadian Rockies will feature this little piece of land with fir trees on. I couldn’t leave here without photographing it.

Next I did some whitewater rafting on the Athabasca river. After that I visited the raging Athabasca Falls. good job our raft didn’t go down there! Final stop was up on the Athabasca glacier, the melting water so rich in mineral cloud that you would hardly believe the colour blue.

From here I travelled further north, catching the Via Rail train from Prince George to Prince Rupert. At Prince George I got my second piece of bear advice, from a woman in the train station:

“If you meet a Grizzly bear on a trail he will be outright aggressive, up on his back legs, angry.  Where as a Black bear will be your friend, come up to you all nice and shy and then bite you. If you climb a tree to escape, a Grizzly will knock that tree down to get you, while a Black bear will come up the tree and pull you down” comforting.

The train ride takes you through mountain passes and over high bridges. Grain trains leave behind scattered offerings of food, bears seeking an easy meal come searching for it. Bear sightings now went up ten fold, the train had a viewing carriage with upper deck. The train horn would signal something on the line. Multiple bear sightings happened every few miles, including mothers with cubs, sheltering by trees. Elk and Moose were also everywhere, crossing rivers or in fields. If you want to see wildlife go by rail.

Prince Rupert is probably the most remote place I have ever visited and I absolutely loved it. Just underneath the Alaskan pan handle Prince Rupert has a very wet climate. The clouds lie low here over the coastal mountains and giant fir trees. Precipitation is high. Salmon cannerys are plentiful and an experience to visit. Seeing all the British brands Sainsburys, Marks and Spencers and Tesco having their salmon canned by the same company. We all have our favourite which tastes best though right?!

I have many special memories of Prince Rupert. It has one of the largest concentrations of Bald Eagles anywhere in the continent of North America. Of the sub species of Bald Eagle these are also the biggest, with a wingspan unto 7 feet. On the train ride into the station the Bald Eagles flew out of the trees in the same numbers as garden birds in the UK. In the harbour Bald Eagles walked down the sidewalk like Seagulls would on the UK coast. Seeing it was believing.

I love the art work and history of the Native Canadians. Here I visited the Tsimshian Museum. The Tsimshian are indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. They performed stories from their history about their sacred birds Raven and Eagle. I was made an honorary chief of the Eagle tribe. I still cherish this memory. Even now it makes me emotional. I bought a sterling silver Tsimshian eagle engraved ring that evening from the museum.

From here I sailed 15 hours to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island with BC Ferries, through the treacherous Inside Passage and out into the Pacific Ocean. Sightings of migrating Grey Whales running the gauntlet of Orcas were a sight to behold. I also videoed Salmon moving in shoals and jumping through the waves. An Orca breaching alongside the ferry was a highlight. Passing beautiful places such as Bella Bella Lighthouse. It was during this part of the trip that the story about the Women’s Institute in my first post happened.

Victoria on Vancouver Island was base for the next few days, I went whale watching and found myself in the company of wildlife photographer Paul Tixier. Paul was studying Orcas for National Geographic. He printed one of his images from our whale watching trip for me which I still have. He left France at 16(!) to pursue his dream of being a wildlife photographer. He is now a qualified marine biologist usually found in Antarctica or the Southern Ocean. His images have been used throughout the world and even in movies. A truly inspiring story. If you have a dream follow it!

Back full circle sailing from Vancouver Island back to Vancouver with Dolphins swimming alongside the ferry.

The pictures in this blog I’ve never shared before. I hope you enjoy them. All taken on my 4 megapixel, casio compact camera.

Canada is the only place other than Wales I have ever imagined living. I can’t wait to return soon with my family and show my son the wonders of this amazing country.

You can see more of my landscape images at http://www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com

All the images used in this blog are the copyrighted property of Nathanael Jones, all rights reserved.

 

Here we go

It starts

For as long as I remember I’ve loved the outdoors. As a child most weekends were spent exploring. My dad had a motto that if you took kids to shops on weekends it made them unhappy, as all they wanted was stuff they couldn’t have, so getting in to the wide outdoors was the perfect solution. Endless fun that didn’t make us grumpy and it didn’t cost anything either.

Most weekends found us either in the mountains of South Wales or having a bonfire on the beach and cooking a tin of beans.

As the grandson of a Cornish man on my mums side and Pembroke man on my dads side, I guess I was destined to love the sea and the coast. The sound of the waves breaking on the shore, even the sand blasting me in the face when the wind is blowing, I love it!

Photography

In 2007 I went to Canada to explore the wild outdoors with my trusty compact Casio camera, which was about 2 mega pixel and ancient by today’s standard. One day sailing between Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island on the BC Ferry, a bizarre incident took place where a British woman approached me as she had been told I was a professional from England. She asked to see my photos of Canada and asked if I would give a presentation of my images to the Women’s Institute in Kent. Ever seen a pro photographer use a compact camera? me neither! I don’t know who told her that but I owe you a thanks, I didn’t do the presentation but it did make me think maybe I should do more photography.

Fast Forward…I decide to buy a digital SLR. teaching myself shutter speeds, iso and composition.

Motorsport

By 2010 I was photographing motorsport events with my brother. We had both always loved motorbike racing, so why not, it was fun for us. Our images got noticed and in a short space of time we had just under 3000 followers on Facebook. We covered major events, the UK motorcycle show at the NEC, the Isle of Man TT. We met celebrities like Murray Walker and Guy Martin, we got given food, hospitality it was a blast.

It all cost serious money though, every weekend up and down the country non stop. Weirdness too, people copied our shots, copied our captions, followed us to stand in the same spot, copied everything. You couldn’t make it up! It was all a bit cut throat. It was one big learning curve.

My Ford Fiesta was soon starting to disintegrate and generally shedding parts in various places around the UK, just from the miles we were covering. The inside of the passenger door would fill up with water every time it rained and then freeze as a solid block of ice on cold days. This was a rock n roll lifestyle. When I was dating my wife, she would always ask what’s that water sloshing around in the door…my water feature!

Remember the motto from earlier…..why do something that costs you if you can do something better for free.

Landscape

So I started taking pictures of Wales instead and people seemed to like them.

Waterfalls, coast, wildlife and nature.

Then I started to use filters, getting creative and making different shots.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it” – Ansel Adams

Landscape is everywhere and it’s different everywhere. So many options of how you can take a photo. I became like the robot in Short Circuit…need more input, constantly reading and researching finding new places to go.

Why do I love it?

It means I’m out in the fresh air. My wife and our son who is 2 come with me.

In Wales, where I live I can be in the Brecon Beacons National Park in under an hour walking in the mountains or in an hour and a half walking on Rhossili Beach in the Gower, Newport Wetlands and marshes are 15 minutes away. All these places are different, have unique features. I could visit each one, every day for years and capture different things.

If it’s raining and I get drenched, so what it adds something to the photo.

And it’s not just Wales either it could be Cornwall, Yorkshire Dales, Lake District etc. the same applies.

This is why I love it.

Finally

I’ll end this post with one of my favourite quotes

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams

Every photo I make has me in it, hopefully as you join me on this adventure you’ll find you in each photo too.

I’ll be posting about places I go, images I capture and all sorts, it’s going to be fun!