I have a particular affection for Snowdon. It was the first mountain that I ever ascended, it was where I spent the formative years of my mountaineering life and it was also where I carried out much of my 'photographic apprenticeship'. In the years that had passed since, I had paid Snowdon no more than fleeting visits. However, with a 'fresh' pair of eyes and the powerful Fuji GX617 in hand, I decided that it was time to give the mountain the attention it deserved.
Snowdonia is justifiably popular with British mountaingoers. It has the compactness of the English Lake District but with the rugged character and grandeur of the Scottish Highlands - and it claims the highest point on mainland Britain south of the Scottish border. But unlike the Scottish Highlands, strange though it may seem, snow on Snowdon is a rare event. So, if there was one image that I wanted to capture on my return, then this was it.
Like so many of Britain's finest peaks, Snowdon lies close to the sea and is influenced by the warm moist westerly winds that make up so much of our weather. Any snow which falls on the mountain rarely lasts for long, and so to achieve the image I had in mind, I needed a window of weather during which a good fall of snow was followed by a fairly dry, clear and cold north-easterly airstream.
After a series of abortive attempts, what I hoped to be perfect conditions arrived in late February. When I arrived on location, I could see thin patchy high cirrus cloud moving very gently from the north-east. This was partly what I wanted because the air was cold and the mountains clear; but I also feared that the intensity of the light might be weakened as the winter sun rose above the horizon. Nevertheless, in anticipation, I set up my equipment beside the Royal Bridge, Capel Curig an hour before dawn.
Far from spoiling my shot, the thin cirrus acted as a filter for the light as the sun rose and the whole sky turned a wonderful shade of pink. Covered from base to summit after the heavy fall of snow, the mountains themselves now mirrored this wonderful effect and colour. With youthful excitement I fired off as many frames as time would allow, making sure that I had covered all possible exposures.
When the effect finally disappeared I stood there in amazement; pleased and satisfied in the knowledge that I had captured something rather special. It was one of the finest moments that I have ever experienced in the British mountains; more typical of days spent in the Himalaya, but more special by the fact that the subject of my photograph was snow on Snowdon.
Time of Year : Late February
Location and Map Reference : SH 71649 57754 : Royal Bridge, Capel Curig. Time : 0715 GMT
Equipment : Fuji GX 617 Camera, Fujinon 300mm f8 EBC Lens, Circular Graduated ND Filter.
Camera Settings : Fuji Velvia 50 film, Shutter 1/30 sec, Aperture f16.