Scwd Ddwli, Vale of Neath, Wales by Jackie Matear

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Picture Story

Scwd Ddwli is one of the many waterfalls in the Vale of Neath, a spectacularly beautiful area on the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons in Wales. It is called ‘Waterfall Country’ with good reason – there are a series of dramatic waterfalls of varying size along the many tributaries of the River Neath in the deep gorges between the villages of Pontneddfechan and Ystradfellte.

The usual viewpoint for pictures of Scwd Ddwli is either straight on from the other side of the river or further down the river looking back towards the waterfall for a broader view. I tried making images from those areas but there were too many walkers and tourists about enjoying the beautiful autumn colours for me to be able to compose an image with no people in it.

I decided to explore the other side of the falls and clambered across the mossy rocks to see if I could find a pleasing composition. I immediately saw the potential of the green rocks speckled with orange leaves as an anchor to the frame with the golden canopy above. It was then a question of finding the best grouping of rocks, which I made the most of by shooting from a low viewpoint, and experimenting with shutter speeds to capture an optimal flow of water whilst retaining some detail and texture.

It was an overcast day, which helped to control the contrast in the scene. I used a polariser to remove the glare from both the water and the surrounding foliage. I also used a 0.6ND soft graduated filter over the golden trees above the falls to balance the exposure.

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