When it comes to photographing Roath Park, there are a couple of key features to make sure you try to cover on your way around to really hone in on the stand out nature of the park. While there are lots of other elements you’ll find in the park that are pretty standard as parks go, it’s these core features that will help you to connect your images to the lengthy park in the northern suburbs of Cardiff.
However, there is a big conditional factor you might want to take into account before setting off. Lighting is everything when it comes to outdoor photography, and it’s not just about hoping for a sunny day, although this does make a big difference. It’s also about what time of day you take your photos. If you’re looking for big blue skies and even light, you’ll want to plan to be snapping away during the middle of the afternoon when the sun it at its highest point in the sky.
On the other hand, if you want to add in a bit more mood, atmosphere and directional lighting into the mix you’ll want to be out early to catch the dawn or later in the day as the sun starts to get low in the sky. Both of these provide much more creative flare for your photographs, giving you options for silhouettes, long drawn out shadows and glorious reflections on the lake.
Now that you’ve got an idea about what kind of photographs you’re looking to take, let’s look at the two big unique features of Roath Park that are integral to photographing the location:
The lighthouse on the lake
While there are many parks throughout the UK that boast a boating lake, there are few that have managed to fit in a lighthouse in the frame too, which is why the one on Roath Park lake is such a defining feature of the park. The blazing white edifice looks amazing when shot in the foreground of a very blue sky, which you can see in the shot above, and to capture this well you’re going to want to use a polarising filter to bring out the deep tones of the surrounding water and background sky.
The hidden waterfalls
Not everyone will have stumbled upon the little hidden waterfall in the park, or even thought about the possibility of shooting them, but they can look very impressive with a clever little setup. You can read more about how we managed to get the shot below with our post on long exposure water photography, but the general principle is to use a long shutter speed (1/2 to 1 second) and to use a neutral density filter to cut down on light to create an even shot. A tripod is a must too, to cut down on the potential for camera shake.
If you’re not too sure where to find the waterfalls, they’re on the right hand side of the park as you’re facing north in between the conservatory and the playground. There’s a pretty little bridge close by, so if you can locate that you should be able to spot the hidden waterfalls too.
As with all parks, there are a lot of options for many different kinds of photography, ranging from wildlife to street photography. On busy days you’ll find lots of interesting people to snap with a prime lens and during spring there are a lot of ducklings, goslings and signets to photograph with your telephoto lens. Some of the overhanging trees can look spectacular in early autumn as their leaves start to turn gold, yellow and red, while the busy summer months will provide a boat filled lake to shoot.
There’s not much in the way of snow in the winter in Cardiff, so you’ll be lucky to get too many days to try to get images of the park under a dense layer of fluffy white, but there are plenty of frosty morning to compensate. For these, you’ll need to get low to get just a faint glint on the ice crystals, which will help you bring a touch of magic to your pics.