Cardiff; Shot of the Millennium?

January 05, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

A professional photographer can visit the right place at the right light, meaning the golden hours on a day when the weather and skies are favourable. I, like most of us, can't. 

Without my own transport often I have just one hit during a family holiday to get what I can...

My visit to Wales and The Elidir Trail, (see the Elidir Trail blog posts), last summer included an overnight stop in Cardiff; an afternoon around the town centre and the following morning around the regenerated docks.

I remember the Cardiff of 30 years ago.  I had family in the Splott area and one such relative worked on the trains from days of steam to the modern High Speeds out of the nearby Cardiff Canton depot.  A hard life.  So much of the docks has changed over the 30 years.  Now it's modern bistros, swanky wine bars, cuisine from places a whole other world away.  What would an old steam train driver make of it?

I can guess.  But I can't print it! 

He was a man who never changed political allegiance...but changed membership because the other 'side' had a larger club with better beer. Priorities sorted...it didn't change the vote.  I don't think he'd be impressed with anything other than a pint of Brains and a full roast dinner.

I digress...

The docks were once thriving with industry, it was among the busiest in Europe.  Then the coal stopped flowing out and the area began a swift decline.  Twenty odd years later and enter rejuvenation of the whole docklands area and the creation of the now iconic Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) that sits next to some restored period buildings that stand as reminders of the industrial past.  I didn't capture the old buildings as the light on the day did nothing for them.

The WMC opened at the turn of the millenium? Well, no, 2004, and it has been much photographed since it's opening and it is a truly spectacular sight, both inside and out. 

I am no photographer, just an enthusiastic enthusiast, but I still wanted to get more than just a memento snap of the place.  I always try, often  fail, to do something creative when I point my lens at something. 

How though, when the light it as flat as it was that morning?  There had been no real sunrise: cloud!  The light when I reached the centre was bright, grey, almost white in fact: high cloud, with little or no definition.

The whole 7 day trip through Wales was either cloudy or rainy, or both. This was late July 2017. Clouds gave some good definition in Tenby.  There was scattered cloud on the Elidir Trail, which was a diffuse blessing, but the stunning Gower Peninsula had been a total wash out.  Cardiff was grey on both days which was a shame as it is an attractive city.  Posts from Tenby will follow in the not too distant future.

The sky on my visit to Cardiff meant one thing: black and white.  I was thinking something bold.  A contrasty conversion to show off the shape of the WMC.  It's a bold, strong building with chiseled features, (which sounds like John Wayne, or Tom Jones in this part of the world).  The strength of the structure is what I had to capture.

Front on my view was obstructed by works.  Side on from front left: traffic: I fancied the buses wouldn't wait for me to do my thing.  Side right was my chosen shot to emphasise the form.  Shot of the Millennium?  Well, in one meaning yes...in the other, no.


f/11 - 1/80 - 42mm - ISO 100

I find with architecture shots it's necessary to find pieces that demonstrate why the structure is special, especially when light doesn't help. An image of the whole building from afar will only be interesting with a unique, or at least, attractive light. The day of my visit was definitely a day for finding an aspect of the structure that spoke of its essence and shape.  I hope I achieved that!

Do you prefer to photograph the whole or part of a building? Why did you choose the compositions that you have taken?  Share your thoughts here!

I believe you need a license to use images of the Millennium Centre for commercial use (both internal and external). Something for you to research if you get a shot of portfolio quality.  

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.
 


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