A Day With Hannah Couzens

Introduction to Lighting by Hannah Couzens

A brief history of my humble beginnings as a photographer: I jumped straight into shooting anything and everything once my Fujifilm x100f was in my hands, be it streets, portraits, wildlife and of course scenery, with a little abstract and food on the side. I quickly learnt where my passions and weaknesses lay and from there I discovered where I wished to excel. Subsequently, I set out and looked for a variety of photographers known and unknown but all equally excellent at their craft in their own way. That way I could learn from them and practice what skills I felt I needed to be on a higher level of photoraphy.

This is where I found a well-known photographer named Hannah Couzens on Instagram. Hannah was posting stories with tricks and tips, exploring behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a photographer primarily in London, and sometimes all around the UK for portraits, courses and events. I did some research into her history as a photographer which was as impressive as can be. Following this, I jumped straight onto a lighting course.

The course was great, ideal for someone like myself. Hannah split the day into two parts, the first comprising of her imparting vital amounts of theory explanation but by no means overloading us with information. We had a break around 12:00 for lunch. The studio then became our playground where we were tasked to take the best pictures we could with the light provided. We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful model named Natasha as our muse. She was experienced with learners and very happy to pose for us while we relentlessly took photos, putting into practice what we had learnt - how she survives the constant flashes is beyond me! 

In an attempt to direct, I asked Natasha to try different expressions in the light or hold a pose that she was executing. It was a real relief to discover how professional Natasha was as I personally felt there was going to be quite a lot of pressure working with a model, but Natasha couldn’t have been a more perfect model for the course.

There were four of us on the course, varying in age and ability, which to be fair was probably a small class for Hannah, but I think 5-6 people in total is the perfect count with this kind of course as a student. Hannah explained what to look for and what to avoid. I experimented against what Hannah suggested a few times, trying different F numbers etc, and I was surprised that Hannah encouraged the experimentation. It was nice to see a teacher encouraging exploration for yourself just to see different results and in the end combining the two to make your own style.

Consequently, I would highly recommend this course. Whether you are vastly experienced but lacking light knowledge or a beginner who wants to garner such knowledge from a real photographer whose everyday obsession is her work and exploration of light in photography. Hannah has inspired and motivated me to take up more portrait work and stick to bettering my abilities in different areas of photography. Hannah was ideal for me as a teacher and I will definitely be looking for another course soon. 

Tash Eyes.jpeg
Tash Black.jpeg
Tash Blue.jpeg

Snowdonia

I wanted to share a few things about staying around and venturing up Mount Snowden. I will discuss the paths I experienced and give some detail as to how long it took. This advice is only from my experience and I would always suggest you research the trip for yourself prior to your own adventure.


Staying in Snowdonia

Pod rental

The first time I visited Snowdonia I wasn’t sure what to expect so I decided to spend a couple of nights at Bryn Dinas Camping Pods (www.bryndinascampingpods.co.uk). I had access to a heated pod which contained two private beds and some storage. Wi-Fi was available for a small fee. The pod also contained plug sockets to charge my equipment. The site itself had shared toilet and shower facilities, full kitchen access and a washing machine / dryer. If you do decide to stay here please consider using my Booking.com link below as any support goes a long way.

https://www.booking.com/s/52_6/tamim574

Camping

In my opinion, Snowdonia doesn’t get any better than Llyn Gwynant (gwynant.com). On site is a beautiful lake which is perfect for water activities such as paddle boarding and canoeing. There is also a side track leading onto the Pyg or Miners track to Snowden summit. This camping site has everything you need for a chilled camping experience with sinks, microwaves, hot water tap, showers, toilets and access to washing and drying machines for a small fee. I honestly cannot express how good [another word for good? Serene, amazing, relaxing, invigorating] camping here is. Waking up at the base of a mountain adjacent to the lake is something that you must experience for yourself. If you do decide to stay here please do share your story with me via social media.

My two trails to Snowden summit

There are six paths leading to the summit. I will only mention the paths I have ventured on myself but will link a site at the end of the page detailing other trails to the top of Snowden.

The Watkin Path - My choice for the climb - 4 hours (one way)

Officially opened in 1892 by William Gladstone, the Watkin Path is named after Sir Edward Watkin, Liberal Member of Parliament and a railway entrepreneur. Watkin was responsible for creating the path from South Snowdon Slate Quarry to Snowdon’s summit. Notably the path has a summer house by the start of the trail. 

The reason this path was so special to me is not only the stunning views into the valley but the lack of human traffic during the climb. Compared to the other paths this is quite possibly the emptiest and visually most stunning of the paths due to the terrain that surrounds you as you climb.

The Ranger Path - My choice for the descent - 4 hours (one way)

The path begins near the ‘Snowdon Ranger’ youth hostel, close to Llyn Cwellyn.  John Morton, the self-proclaimed 'Snowdon Ranger,' used the path to guide Victorian tourists to the summit. He opened a tavern where the youth hostel site stands today and called it the ‘Snowdon Ranger Inn’. 

This was the path my friend and I used to descend from the summit of Snowden. I will advise that this route is quite bare as hiking paths go since there is almost no signage on the way down. Please also be aware that the terrain is often unpredictable and consequently sometimes you must climb and shimmy down some interesting rock faces and loose gravel tracks. However, the reward is undoubtably worth it. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the day as I could see into the other valleys of Snowdonia, the beautiful lakes and of course the incredible sunset in the distance.

  • There is little to no cell signal around most of Snowdonia until you get higher into the terrain

  • There will be other people on the various trails most of the time within a certain range of you but you should always tell people you’re going up Snowden and roughly what time you are expected back

  • Basic first aid kits will go a long way. Blisters and headaches are possible with dehydration, especially in Welsh wind and rain

  • A ration pack will go a long way. Remember to pack a snack just in case anything could possibly go wrong, I personally use Carb Killa protein bars, roasted peanuts and always have biscuits or cookies with me for fast glucose release.

  • Respect the nature and please don’t leave litter. It breaks my heart seeing people leaving trash now and again on a path

- Be smart about your trip to Snowdon. I will discuss this further in another post named ‘Snowden - a Mountain of Lies’

Sources to help you plan your own journey

https://www.visitsnowdonia.info

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/forecast/gcmjghxpx#?date=2019-03-31