Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tripping the Light Fantastic–Winter Lights Festival at Anglesey Abbey

In another of those annoying catch-up posts from last year here are some of the pictures I took at the Anglesey Abbey Winter Lights Festival. To be able to afford a Stately Home in the UK you either have to be very rich or  the National Trust. It can be so expensive that even if you happen to have a spare Stately Home and want to give it to the National Trust they will only accept it along with lots of money to help run it apparently.

The NT’s first nature reserve was Wicken Fen and it owns over 200 historic houses along with more than 630,000 acres of land. You can join and visit the properties for free or pay an entrance fee each time you visit. You can get either a yearly membership or a life membership. Some friends were given one as a wedding present, their young son has to have his own membership as he wasn’t around at the time they were given the membership present.

As my kids were growing up we found the various places around Cambridge to be ideal for children – we have Wimpole Hall and Farm, Anglesey Abbey and Ickworth to name but three. They kids liked the gardens and woodlands – great, open, interesting and safe places to run around.  I hate to say it, but the great thing is that they although they “welcome” dogs in their countryside properties, they have to be under control and they generally have livestock around. Which means you don’t get too many. Young children and dogs can be a bit of a nightmare – young children seem to wander just where dogs poo – not pleasant.

Anglesey Abbey only allows assistance dogs – and has large lawns – brilliant for toddlers and younger children.

Although my kids are now pretty much grown up we still renew out annual membership, my wife walks regularly and some of the NT properties have really enjoyable walks.

Because membership means free access during the year’s membership it means that the NT has been exploring other ways to increase its revenues. Apparently the restaurants are very good for hungry walkers (according to my wife). On the odd occasion I have gotten my wife to cycle to Wicken Fen with me we usually stop there for a drink and a piece of cake – there is nothing like a bit of bribery. They also sell stuff in their shops and Anglesey Abbey has a plant nursery.

They have also worked at extending their open season, apparently the houses get cleaned during the winter – but Anglesey has recently developed a Winter garden and for Christmas 2012 had several open evenings with Winter Lights (the link might point elsewhere at different times of the year). There was a charge for members and non-members alike, which the cynical might say was an attempt to make more money out of those loyal (or wise) enough to join. But the group I went with didn’t complain. They also had (at extra cost) a hog roast, with tasty pork rolls and mulled wine and hot chocolate and roasted chestnus, which was welcome along with a couple of groups making music and jugglers and the like.

Personally I really enjoyed it, I took my camera and tripod and had a fund time trying to take pictures in the dark and was quite pleased with the results. Here they are.

As you might expect it was very popular, despite it being the first time they had run this at Anglesey Abbey. We pretty quickly got directed to a space in the growing car park (unfortunately we had to drive). It had rained pretty heavily just before we set off, but the rest of the evening was dry and the paths and routes were fine.

We had to queue to get into the gardens, there were two queues, one for pre-booked tickets and one for those buying on the night. Ours were pre-booked and they lets us in 20 at a time. Apparently over 1,500 tickets had been sold for that night, but we didn’t wait long. As I and another friend had tripods it made it easier for us to take pictures.

Whilst waiting there was a fire-eater in the car park – combining entertainment and warmth.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – fire eater in the car park

The route started along the Winter Garden.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden

Although I had to keep stopping and occasionally biding my time in order to get a picture it was all very relaxed, people tended to wait for each other to take pictures. Mind you it was pretty dark and you couldn’t always tell when someone was taking a picture.  There was a whole range of photography from tripods and SLRs to camera phones.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden – Witch Hazel

It was quite interesting taking pictures and trying to work out how best to capture the scenes – the exposures were long from around a second up to 50 seconds for one picture. This one was exposed for 1.3s.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden – Witch Hazel

The effect of light like this at night is to highlight the illuminated object at the expense of everything else. This is the path – to the right is light, to the left is dark.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden

With a bit of juggling, not literally I managed to show the route as well as the illuminated plants.  The exposure on this was 6s. What looks a little like flame on the path is a reflection in a puddle.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden

As it happens I like purple and I like Silver Birch trees –this combines them both. There was a lot of reflected light here and my first attempt washed out the trees. This picture was taken with a much shorter exposure of 0.125s which neatly silhouetted the admirers.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden – Purple Silver Birch

This time without the people.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden – Purple Silver Birch

This was taken with a longer exposure again.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden – Purple Silver Birch

This gate was quite dimly lit, the exposure was 25s.  Adults tended to stop as the picture was being taken, kids didn’t. Mind you with such a long exposure it didn’t really matter.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden – Purple Silver Birch

As we progressed the lights changed. There were bulbs, Christmas tree lights wrapped around Candelabra and single bulbs.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Winter Garden –Single red bulb

There were even green lights. IN this picture the silhouette to the left is standing still and taking a picture.  the blurry shape in the middle is just walking.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival

One of my favourite sights with this tree lit by purple lighting in the middle distance. It meant that it was easier to take a picture without causing a queue to build up and it gave it an ethereal quality.  The exposure was around 5s.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – A purple tree

The same tree with more zoom. Next time, if there is, I would like more of this type of illumination an could you hide the lights please?

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – A purple tree

The route took us past the Mill, which with its white cladding was almost blinding. The exposure was 0.04s way less than the other pictures. It had the effect of silhouetting the people.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – The Mill

I rather liked the effect so I took a few more with more zoom.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – The Mill

The Mill is supplied with water by a Lode. They had lit the trees on the other side. It was also very still and the trees also reflected in the water.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – The Mill Lode

The view looking back at the Mill, shining like a beacon.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – The Mill

This is the House – an 8s exposure.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Anglesey Abbey

A similar picture, but I stood still for the entire exposure – so you can see my shadow to the right.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival – Anglesey Abbey

On the way out the trees – larches I think, almost looked as if they had snow on them. You can also see a light trail on the right of the picture.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival

A tree with no people in shot.

Anglesey Abbey: Winter Lights Festival

I would certainly go next year (well this year – 2013). A few suggestions, perhaps have a photographers session? More long-shorts and lasers? I enjoyed the experience and the food – and it was cheaper than I though it was going to be.

If they are feeling really adventurous – how about lightning trees?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just spotted this photo of me fire performing at this event - could you send me a copy of the photo please to info@wildfireproductions.org.uk so we can use it on our website? Please let me know how you'd like to be credited. Thanks!

    Guy

    ReplyDelete