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Who?

Who?
Dave Newbould

I was introduced to the mountains by my father at a very young age. We would regularly climb in Snowdonia together and this started a deep love of the mountains here. As I reached my teenage years I got more serious about mountaineering and progressed onto the Alpine peaks.
In 1982 I came to live in Snowdonia to work in outdoor pursuits, at a centre that specialised in working with people with learning difficulties at a time when there was little experience or knowledge in these areas. I loved the challenges of developing new ways to help each individual get more out of life.

My interest in photography was initially just to record my mountaineering experiences. Then I got married and my parents gave us some money to buy a few useful items, and for some unknown reason I blew a part of it on my first SLR camera (a Pentax ME Super). Although I have had no photographic training, it appears that I did have some inbuilt ability to 'see' a good photograph. This came as a shock - I was the only non-artistic member of a very artistic family.
I have been married since 1984 to the lovely Ali, who shares much of the work with me. We have three children who are pretty much grown up (or at least, they claim they are!) and who have shared many outdoor adventures with us. From a very young age they have been willing to strike a photographic pose on a mountain pinnacle at sunset.

As my time came to an end in outdoor pursuits, I strongly felt led to try and make a go of photography as a full time job. So Origins was started in 1993, initially with a range of 18 greetings cards.

Specialising in cards and calendars allows me to take the types of picture I would choose rather than be governed by the commissions of others. It also allows me to regularly get out in the mountains and other wild places, whilst still being able to claim that I am at work.

Why?

Why?
The Welsh word that we use to call Origins is Gwreiddiau. This means 'Roots'. I have always been motivated by the idea of getting back to basics photographically - to not try and get too clever with technique, but to let the sheer natural beauty to be found in Wales do the talking. As a photographer my job is to convey the amazing landscapes, shapes, textures, colour and light that are already there.
There is also a second way I wanted to get back to basics. I had originally considered calling our business Genesis, which would reflect my Christian faith and my experiences of a raw and wild landscape. As I spend time in the mountains I see all around me evidence of God's creation. In taking photographs of this my aim is to convey something of His majesty, and hopefully something of His love for us as well.

Where?

Where?
Although I love to take photographs wherever I go, nearly all my printed work is of Wales. I am privileged to live in a beautiful area of Snowdonia. There are few places where rocky peaks can be found overlooking long sandy beaches. In between are sparkling lakes and fresh white-water rivers run through native oak woodland. The land of Wales has such a great variety of landscapes for a small country. The plentiful supply of water from above ensures a lush and green surrounding, and a regular supply of sun (yes, really!) lights it to perfection. This is not always a 'chocolate box' landscape - the many ages of Welsh culture have melted into the land that God made.

How?

How?
I have spent most of my photographic life using the wonderful Fuji Velvia slide film. Unfortunately I have recently been forced to change to digital photography, mostly because of the final death of my trusty Minolta film scanner and because my printers can no longer deal with film. Digital scores over the film in sharpness of the results (especially once the film has had to be scanned digitally), but in my opinion does not get near it in quality of light and of colour. In order to get the final results looking as good as they would have looked on slide film I have to spend time editing the photographs - this goes against the grain with me and I do it through gritted teeth.

As I moved from film to digital I retired my trusty Canon EOS3 and now use the Canon 6D, which is the lowest priced camera body with a full-frame sensor. Usually I carry 2 zoom lenses with me, a Canon 24-105mm and a Canon 70-300mm. Although I have splashed out on a carbon fibre tripod, I keep returning to my trusty 30+ year old Uniloc metal monster. There are 2 types of filter that I use regularly - a polariser and graduated NDs.

I never trained or studied as a photographer, and prefer to approach things by 'feel' rather than by calculation. It could be said that I do not have a great depth of technical knowledge, but I do have many years of experience using a camera in testing mountain conditions. So with years of trial and error behind me, perhaps I can give a few simple hints that someone might find helpful.


  • Do not try and copy others' ideas - really look at what is around you and see what you can see.
  • Do not be constrained by what is considered the 'normal' or 'best' angle of a subject - have a long look as to what is really the best.
  • Be willing to walk - the best pictures are not usually taken from the roadside!
  • Be willing for a bit of pain. I find that sunrise and the couple of hours afterwards often produce the best light and strongest colours. Sometimes I start at 2 a.m. so as to be on a mountaintop for sunrise.
  • At sunrise or sunset the best light sometimes only lasts a couple of minutes. I will usually try and get a couple of 'bankers' at first, but then use any remaining time trying to work the scene before me in a more imaginative way.
  • When shooting at wild locations around the times of sunrise or sunset, try to turn up and set up early. This allows you time to work out what you think your best shot is before the possible 2 minute rush during the very best light. It also allows any lens or filters to get used to the ambient conditions and reduces the chance of them steaming up just when you need them to be crystal clear.
  • Remember that the strongest colours in the sky can be 20-30 minutes before sunrise or after sunset. Don't assume that the only worthwhile pictures are to be had at the time of the sun rising or setting.
  • Keep in mind that many of the best sunrise or sunset photographs are not necessarily taken looking towards the sun. Often the most striking images at these times are looking at a strong subject that is being lit up by the low and warm light.
  • Think out angles and viewpoints. Sometimes I use a map to work out a good new viewpoint. I can also work out from which angle the sun will be shining. The strongest colours are usually achieved by taking a picture at right-angles to the sun.
  • Use a tripod for landscapes, even when you don't need it. This helps you really think out the composition and foreground points of interest. A movement of the camera position of no more than a few inches can make the difference between a good picture and a great picture.
  • With digital photography it is possible to 'play' with images in photo editing programs such as Photohop, and significant changes can be made. However, I would strongly advise trying to get the image as near as how you want it to look at the photography stage rather than relying on computer work later. This attitude will produce a higher quality final image, but will also leave you as the photographer feeling more satisfied about how you go about your craft. Computer editing skills are no substitute for real photographic gifting.

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