The Lone Tree Of Lake Vrnmy

Geoff Moore on Sun 30 September 2018

  • Image Title: The Lone Tree Of Lake Vrnmy
  • Pentax K-1 Camera used:
  • Pentax DFA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens used:
  • 100mm Focal length:
  • f/4.5 Aperture:
  • 1/60 Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

A return visit to photograph one of Wale's most stunning Lakes resulted in discovering a solitary lone tree that could rival in beauty and composition the world famous tree on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

Just on the edge of The Snowdonia National Park and south of Lake Bala, you will find Lake Vyrnwy, set amidst the remote and beautiful Berwyn Mountains with its spectacular waterfalls, and unspoilt open countryside, this hidden gem is one you will never forget, however at 3am in the morning the beauty of the location is difficult to appreciate. Despite the 2 hour 30 min drive from my home in Worcestershire this was our second visit to this magical lake, on our first visit we concentrated on photographing  the fairytale Princess Tower at Lake Vrnmy 

The Princess Tower as I have named it is a stunning building set to Gothic revival architecture and is easily the crowning jewel with the landscape. it's position on the lake looks on to the splendid victorian dam that holds back  ‎59.7 gigalitres of fresh water from flooding the Vyrnwy valley. At the end of our previous adventure, before setting off to grab breakfast  we had a scout around the edge of lake Vyrnwy that totals 12 miles long, looking for various other points of interest and subjects in which, if a return visit was to happen we could photograph. It was one of these subjects that Mark and I were keen to investigate and explore further. An undiscovered and unphotographed lone tree sat within the lake. 

The Princess Tower Lake Vyrnwy
  • Image Title: The Princess Tower Lake Vyrnwy
  • Canon 7d Mark2 Camera used:
  • Canon 70-200mm F4 IS Lens used:
  • 135mmmm Focal length:
  • f/11 Aperture:
  • 1/180 Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

The Return Journey

Having parked up as safely as possible on the side of the B4393 we grabbed our camera gear from the boot of the car walked to the edge of the carriageway. Our view down the lake made possible by a bridge that crosses the Eunant river. Either side of it tall trees blocked any meaningful view down to the water, however we were sure there must be a navigable path down to the lake shore.

Armed with torches and moon light we tried to illuminate a path way down from the bridge to the lake below, Stepping over a crash barrier, a steep but accessible path down to the lakes edge was found. Careful footing is required as the roots from the trees are prominent and present a trip hazard, to which there is quite a steep fall or 20 ft or more into the undergrowth and the rocky shoreline beneath that. Having slowly made our decent to the shoreline, we navigated in the darkness to a small rocky out cropping which would be come home for the next few hours.

Before The Hour
  • Image Title: Before The Hour
  • Pentax K-1 Camera used:
  • Pentax DFA 15-30mm f/2.8 Lens used:
  • 21mm Focal length:
  • f/2.8 Aperture:
  • 120 Seconds Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

Finding the Composition

The early hours were cold with a brisk and cutting wind that worked its way under the collar, the brightest stars hung in the night sky crisp and twinkling whilst the landscape under them was illuminated by a half moon. The tree lined valley imposed its majesty of the inky blackness of the lake water in front of me.

The shore of the lake was stoney and several large boulders provided a good storage area for bags and gear should you wish drop a little weight. As I approached closer to the waters edge it was clear to see, that the water was deep, fast running and very cold. Either side of the lake the valley sides were steep and imposing in the faded blackness of the night.

Considering my options and assessing the risks involved Mark had already sprung into action, my apprehension of clambering on some nearby rocks to offer a better view down the length of the lake was not shared by him and he proceeded to make good and clambered up on the slippery outcropping and managed to find a suitable and secure vantage point looking down the lake and on to our subject the lone tree.

In my indecision Mark had already eyed up the perfect composition and releasing this I also wanted to make best use of the position he had found, with a large camera bag on my back and the additional weight this would bring I gingerly made my way on to the rocks and edged my way on my bum to a slightly lower vantage point in order to get under marks field of view and as to not spoil his excitement.

My position was precarious to say the least, to my right less than half a foot, a sheer drop from the rocks would see me tumble 6ft into the cold waters of unknown depth, to my left by only a few inches Mark's tripod was set up and any accidental knock could at best ruin his image and at worst, send his camera into the drink. I was uncomfortable and not very relaxed, unable to move freely or confidently, I was questioning my own sanity and how I talked myself into thinking this was a good idea.

Settling down and taking my time I reassured myself that I wouldn't be going anywhere, keep calm and if I kept concentration I shouldn't accidently knock Marks setup. Contorting myself into shapes Olympic gymnasts would be impressed with, I managed to release my camera body and lens from my camera bag and set about getting my my tripod configured and camera attached and taking the first few frames of the adventure.

The Mighty Helios 44-2 (Modified)
  • Image Title: The Mighty Helios 44-2 (Modified)
  • Pentax K-1 Camera used:
  • Helios 55mm F2.8 Lens used:
  • 55mm Focal length:
  • f/2.8 Aperture:
  • 1 Second Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

(One of my favourite and yet most unused lenses in my collection; the mighty Helios 44-2 58mm - Built in the good ole USSR 1950s)

Cold and uncomfortable but worth It

The early hours of the morning were making way for the first light of day, the moon had set and a few stars still hung in the sky as the warming light of dawn crested on the low wispy clouds on the horizon. The scene was perfect but my fingers were numb from the cold of the night. The dew that had formed on my rocky perch was being soaked up into the seat of my trousers. It was time to move, grab a coffee and setup a different composition for the full sunrise and hopefully put some warmth back in..

Recomposing a few feet away and thankfully off the rocks, the scene unfolded with the developing light. Sunrise; and what a sunrise it was to be, perhaps the best sunrise I had seen this year, the depth and variation of colour was limitless, ranging from deep blues to bright pinks and every shade in between, whilst the light was putting on a show, a slight cool breeze picked up perhaps no more than 2 or 3 mph and the surface of the lake erupted in a splendid evaporation fog that drifted down the valley this really was a sunrise that all landscape photographers read and dream about, yet few experience;

My discomfort, tiredness and chill, vanished from my thoughts. The conditions were perfect, the image taking simple; this really was the best of of landscape photography and I enjoyed every moment of it. What resulted, was a tantalising split of time where you wilfully accept and understand your insignificance in the universe whilst feverishly capturing frame after frame as to evidence what no one else would believe.

Interesting Facts ...Did You Know?
Lake Vyrnwy is a reservoir in Powys, Wales, built in the 1880s for Liverpool Corporation Waterworks to supply Liverpool with fresh water. It flooded the head of the Vyrnwy valley and submerged the village of Llanwddyn.
The length of the lake is 7.64 km & covers an area of 4.53 km² at its deepest point its 26 m (85 ft) deep & its elevation above sea level is 251 m (823 ft)

Other Images from this adventure

Daybreak Daybreak
Morning Light Morning Light

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