With love from North Wales ♥

It seems the *shall I/shall I not* renew my domain registration dilemma has found a natural solution….I totally forgot about it!? Looks like we’re back on the vanplusfour.wordpress.com tag but that’s cool.

So yes. Thanks for all your lovely messages & suggestions. It’s been busy in North Wales! I am now more obsessed than ever with my camera and am hoping to upgrade to a Nikon D800 any time soon. It probably means bread & water for the rest of our lives but so be it ;)

Here’s something we’ve not seen in a little while….

Lake Bala, North Wales, UK

….and here is what we’ve been seeing instead: glorious Welsh mountains, talented Paralympic hopefuls, quite a bit of sun (!), some sheep (of course!) and a lot of nature :)

Excalibur-7Excalibur-15Excalibur-21Erddig search ex-7Erddig search ex-9crag training Panorama-202014_06_18 crag trg-92014_06_18 crag trg-8Snowdonia Sevens-1Horseshoe Pass-1Nonie_Chester Melton Mowbray-4Snowdonia-3
sheep-1Snowdonia-1Snowdonia-5Nags Head-3
dogs-2Nonie_Chester website-1

I feel very humbled & proud to have been given the opportunity to be the NEWSAR (North East Wales Search & Rescue) Team’s official photographer (whoop whoop!) and have been to most of their training sessions & fundraising events since April. Many of you will know that my husband Rich is a team member; it’s a totally awesome team and if you’re feeling generous today quickly hop on over to their website and donate; it costs approximately £25,000 a year to run the Team – this covers fuel and repairs for the vehicles, protective equipment for team members, training courses, team equipment such as ropes, stretchers etc.

13training-11North Wales Police Open Day-1classroom training-42014_04_16 training exercise-62014_04_16 training exercise-19Excalibur-12Erddig search ex-5Queens Baton Relay Moel Famau-1Llandegla-6Loggfest-9crag training Panorama-32014_06_18 crag trg-12014_06_18 crag trg-4SRT LLan-1SRT Llan-88

And last, but certainly not least – am also dabbing in pet photography. Was only a matter of time really, with 3 BCs in tow ;) The twins, incidentally, are now one year old. Can you believe it!!!??? I certainly can’t. They’re more man dogs than puppies nowadays, ha! If pet photography rocks your boat you could also follow me on Facebook (here) or hire me. Simples ;)

dogs-1Moel Morfydd-1Moel Morfydd-2Bryn-2Snowdonia-2Bryn-7

Chillin’ out in the Cotswolds

Cotswolds, VW, T5

Maisie, Cotswolds, England, UK

AJ, Cotswolds, England, UK

Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, UK

T5, VW, Cotswolds, sunset, Gloucestershire, UK, England

T5, VW, Cotswolds, sunset, Gloucestershire, UK, England

T5, VW, Cotswolds, sunset, Gloucestershire, UK, England

T5, VW, Cotswolds, sunset, Gloucestershire, UK, England

Sheepscombe, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England, UK

Sheepscombe, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England, UK

Sheepscombe, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England, UK

Sheepscombe, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England, UK

Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England, UK

Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England, UK

Man – doesn’t time fly!? With so many different things going on (exciting!) I haven’t had time to give this blog some love. If I’m honest – I’m not quite sure how to carry on with it either – we’ve bought a new camper (the *put it on your pick-up* type) and the van will have to go this summer. Bit of a bad start to demountable life though as the pick-up broke down the day we collected the new camper and ended up needing a new cylinder (booooh!), a new alternator and a new oil pipe. We now have to somehow run it in for the first 1,000 miles without having to break down again & might still be seen out & about in the van for a bit.

What started out as van plus four is now essentially demountable plus five though which is an absolutely ridiculous name for a blog!?

vanplusfour on Wild About Scotland ♥

1.8 lens-7

Make sure you head on over to Wildaboutscotland.com today where Ewan is running a series of posts featuring camper vans and their owners. We’re proud to be members of the WildaboutScotland community and you can read our little feature here. And while you’re there, have a good look around Ewan’s blog. We like it – a lot :)

Happy campers ^_^

Snowdonia ♥

I feel a change coming on. Exciting!

For now – pictures of the twins’ first ever camping trip back in early March for our anniversary which we spent in Snowdonia. Where else ♥

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range –> North Wales

Mid March we start venturing out in the van. Until then we’ll keep exploring the gorgeousness that is our home: North Wales ♥ Last Sunday we hung out on Moel Arthur in the Clwydian Range. It leads directly on to Moel Famau and is an AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty).

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Next up: Wales’ very own chicken dance champions: [Disclaimer: No puppies were traumatised in the making of this disturbing routine! Not sure how Rich will feel about it in the long run though....]

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

We came across 4 or 5 gliders that day. I’m not entirely sure what the puppy etiquette is when it comes to chasing planes but as *the little idiots* (quote from the video) seemed to be enjoying themselves we let them run with it for a short while. Mr. Plane Man loved us. He must have flown back and forth about 10 times. We didn’t mind. Pooches were quiet that night ;) [Oh. And I have nooooo idea what happened to my pronounciation of the word *planes* but I figured if Rich can dance like an idiot then I might as well sound like one ^_^]

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

glider, Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range, North Wales, UK

With love on Valentines day; World’s End –> North Wales

My husband is the best!

Inspired by this gorgeous picture, I’ve been dreaming about a van night shot for quite some time now. I wanted: mountains! romance! candles! and stars! of course. But I didn’t know where. Or when. Then suddenly it dawned on me: what better time for darkness, candles, romance & stars than Valentines Day ♥

night shoot, Worlds End, Llangollen, North Wales, UK

Of course not everything went exactly according to plan. The mountains I were after lie behind the van…..there was some snow on the ground and even the spot we chose for parking the van was already a little precarious, to say the least. Candles. Welllllll. As anyone in the UK will know, the recent weather has been, errrrrrr, a *little* awful. And although I thought I knew best I simply couldn’t get them to stay lit.

Following some severe weather during the week and more bad weather forecast for the remainder of the week, I decided to bring my shoot forward and so Valentines Day at Van HQ happened yesterday ♥

night shoot, Worlds End, Llangollen, North Wales, UK

And would you look at that moon!? Who would have thought it has rays like the sun??? Absolutely beautiful!

By the way. I say *my* shoot but all of these pictures were actually taken by Rich, with a little edit from me. Here’s one of the original pics:

night shoot, Worlds End, Llangollen, North Wales, UK

And here’s some edits:

night shoot, Worlds End, Llangollen, North Wales, UK

night shoot, Worlds End, Llangollen, North Wales, UK

So there we have it. Happy Valentines Day from North Wales ♥

January 2014 roundup

Introducing: dodgy videos ^_^

With the weather being absolutely awful we’ve not managed to shoot a lot of pictures and AT LAST I have discovered videos ^_^ Don’t be expecting anything fancy, edited or with music any time soon but at least you can see a little bit more of what we see on a daily basis: home ♥

January then. The boys were finally big enough to leave the local National Trust park behind and venture out into North Wales’ finest (albeit small) mountains.

I have a feeling Hollywood ain’t come knocking on my door any time soon but you get the jist of what things look like around here.

I’ve not managed to take the new lens out as much as I’d wanted to (one word: weather) but we were out every single weekend and I really cannot remember a wetter or windier month. Ever?

Panorama, North Wales, UK
sunset chasing on Foel Fenli, North Wales, UK
Point of Ayr, Talacre Beach, Flintshire, North Wales, UK
World's End, North Wales, UK

Experiencing thunder & lightning on top of the Berwyns was a first for both of us and something we hopefully won’t have to endure again very soon. You know something serious is up when Maisie comes running back looking for you to protect her ;) And protect we did; can’t remember my butt being so severely pelleted by hail stones EVER so after another outdoor lesson learnt we promptly got ourselves a bright orange storm shelter. And hope we can put it to the test one of these days. But than again – hopefully not!?

So here’s a picture round-up of January: it was a wet’n windy one with real highs (new lens. sunsets. chinese food) and real lows (hail thunder & lightning storm on the Berwyns):

January roundup

Point of Ayr, Lighthouse on Talacre Beach –> Flintshire, North Wales

Having seen an advert in the paper for free chipping in a pet shop in Flint, we decided to go & make the most of the hour long trip by hanging out on Talacre Beach for a while.

Talacre Beach, Flintshire, North Wales, UK

Back in 2004 [old age alert!?] I used to live in this area and spent a ridiculous amount of time on this very beach with Henry. Bringing the twins was like a step back in time. The weather was awful but we still managed to catch some pictures of the lighthouse. Some might remember it from the Dulux ad back in 2011; I also found this cool little clip on YouTube [no idea how they took that by the way; attach a camera to a drone...?]

Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Talacre Beach, Flintshire, North Wales, UK

On the picture above you can see the other problem I encounter on a regular basis: blurriness! I spent a considerable amount of time reading EVERYTHING there is to know about shutter speed but it just wasn’t connecting with my simple little brain. I like my explanations factual & visual and preferably written in the plainest English there is. Show me a diagram that tells me exactly what to do in times of a crisis and I’m a happy bunny. To stop me from feeling frustrated I ended up printing basic little diagrams that I laminated and now carry with me everywhere.

Point of Ayr, Talacre Beach,  Flintshire, North Wales

Point of Ayr, Talacre Beach, Flintshire, North Wales, UK

Since these pictures were taken I have played around with shutter speed settings. A lot. I made one of our apprentices jump. I watched our fire team extract a live dummy from a small hole. I captured flames. And I was brave enough to crank up the ISO. I guess we’ll have to go back to the beach to take sharp shots of the twins running. I don’t mind!

Point of Ayr, Talacre Beach, Flintshire, North Wales, UK

Point of Ayr, Talacre Beach, Flintshire, North Wales, UK

[PS: I discovered that freezing movement works for me and my 10-20mm F3.5 lens from a speed of 500 onwards. You can do this in Shutter Priority mode - and let the camera pick the best aperture - or you can play around on manual until you find the right aperture & ISO to go with your shutter speed. I find that now I have found a benchmark my brain can cope with, it's easy to play around until you find the match you're after ^_^]

Freeze flame:
fire training 2014_01_15-3

Chasing the sun up on Moel Fenlli –> Clwyedian Range, North Wales

This year, my aim is to get better at taking photographs from a technical (nerdy) point of view. It’s one thing to hear I have an eye for a good picture but quite another to get praise for technical brilliance. And brilliance is what I want ^_^
Following instructions isn’t my strongest point and so sometimes it can take me longer than the average person to reach a satisfactory result (translate: if I wasn’t so stubborn and would listen to others now and again I could have already been at this point some time last year. Ah well. Better late than never!).

To see how the sunny F16 rule translates into real pictures, I schlepped Mr. B & the hounds back to Moel Fenlli yesterday to play around with some settings.

Moel Fenlli, Clwyedian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Fenlli, Clwyedian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Fenlli, Clwyedian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Fenlli, Clwyedian Range, North Wales, UK

The above were all shot with F11 @ 1/200 and ISO 200. The one below was shot with F22 @ 1/200 and ISO 200. The foreground was obviously quite dark so I’ve taken a lot of shadow out in LR and subsequently it’s quite grainy. But I loooooove the rays!!

Moel Fenlli, Clwyedian Range, North Wales, UK

Now then. I’m of the opinion that because my trusted D5000 is quite old and only has 12.1 MP I will never ever be able to take fabulously sharp shots? I am kinda waiting for somebody to take my hand and show me how to get the absolute best out of my old little friend but so far I haven’t found a *camera buddy* who’ll do just that. There are some amazingly brilliant photographers over on IG but I’m sure they wouldn’t wanna spend their Saturdays or Sundays chasing shots in the Clywedian mountains with us so I guess I’ll just have to take a lot of bad pictures to get to the ones I’d love to see printed in my own four walls.

http://www.wikihow.com/Impress-Your-In-Laws

Moel Fenlli, Clywedian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Fenlli, Clywedian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Fenlli, Clywedian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Fenlli, Clywedian Range, North Wales, UK

Moel Fenlli, Clywedian Range, North Wales, UK

Panorama luck

New Year. New lens. Now also shooting with a Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC wide angle one. On Day 1 I took it on a local afternoon dog hike along the Panorama near Llangollen. And got lucky!

rainbow

 

PS: spot the dog ^_^

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