Cwm Orthin. Gwynedd.
25th June 2006
I first visited Cwm Orthin in 1983 I think, and it was already well known to Monochrome photographers back then.
I have visited these abandoned slate workings a couple of times since then and the thing that always saddens me is how rapidly it is all decaying.
The last time I was here the chapel still had roof beams and I have old negatives that show the barracks with five chimneys still intact.
However it may have declined over the years it is still an atmospheric location and somehow I always find new shots and viewpoints.
And while there is certainly colour to be found here for the most part I see the valley in shades of black and white.
One of the only things in the valley that showed any sign of being maintained was this slate fence by the side of the main track.
New wire has replaced old and perhaps this feature stands a little chance of survival.
I suspect that the Barracks in Cwm Orthin are amongst the most photographed buildings in North Wales and it is easy to see why.
While I was setting this shot up a pair of Buzzards where patrolling the area quite noisily but never in a position that I could photograph them well. If I ever get a good shot of one I’ll probably add it to this image.
This was composited from two frames of different exposure to contain the very high dynamic range of the lighting. It wasn’t the first time I used this technique but it was the first time I had been really happy with the result.
I think it was also one of the first archival pigment prints I produced that had the sort of quality that I would have expected from my darkroom.