A trip to Portmeirion has been on the cards ever since I finished watching “The Prisoner” back in 1968. The village was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village – rumoured to be Portofino.
Normally, Portmeirion is packed with happy tourists – I had found myself at a loose end after finishing a shoot at Lake Vrnwy earlier than I had anticipated. Lake Vrnwy being nearer to Portmeirion than home made it an easy decision and off I went. We arrived 15 minutes after they had closed to the public, but fortunately, a bit, ok a lot, of humble pleading persuaded the gatekeeper to let us in, on condition we didn’t stray far from the village itself.
I couldn’t have asked for more! The village was deserted except for a couple of people staying in the hotel and I was able to capture the full weirdness of the place without another human being in sight. Perfect. Photographing Portmeirion was proving to be a breeze.
It wouldn’t have been the same with hordes of people roaming around – unless those people were clad in striped blazers, boaters and so on like the cast of “The Prisoner”. The sand bar, on which escapees were pursued and subdued by intelligent balloons is an amazing sight. Huge and unlittered, at low tide it is revealed in all its glory, exceeding expectations if anything.
To the technical then. I used the Canon EF 24-70mm L mk II lens to get these shots. It was late afternoon and quite grey so I pushed the ISO up to around 400 so that I could get a fast enough shutter speed to shoot handheld with decent front to back focus. For the benefit of those new to photography, I had to use a small aperture (high number) around F11 to get the depth of field. This lets less light in so the only way to maintain a high shutter speed is to boost the sensitivity of the sensor – ISO. Some of the shots from this expedition have been accepted by Alamy so I’m very pleased, technically the photographs worked well.
I’m already planning my next excursion to Wales and can recommend a book Photographing North Wales by Simon Kitchen. Not only is he an excellent photographer but the book contains detailed travel guidance down to the nearest car parks. Get hold of this and the Photographers Ephemeris to check the location of the sun and moon on the day you travel and you’re almost guaranteed to have a successful shoot.
For my part, I’m heading next to the disused slate mines in Snowdonia. The weather is turning and this is one location I’ve been looking forward to visiting this autumn.