Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Carmarthen schools enjoy their final field trips

Queen Elizabeth High go to the seaside

A fine morning greeted the students from QE High when we arrived at the beach in Ferryside. At the mouth of the Tywi River, we were opposite Llansteffan Castle, where two weeks before the children of Johnstown Junior School had visited. From this side of the estuary, the castle was very dramatic across the water and the village, church and big house made a number of nice scenes. The children were not slow in capturing these landscapes, together with many other possibilities in the shore itself with patterns and textures in the sand, flotsam and seaweed. The jetty and shoreside buildings provided other creative opportunities.

Above: Queen Eliizabeth High students and staff on Ferryside platform

One of Ferryside's significant features is, of course, the railway. The main line between Swansea and Carmarthen runs round the coast and up the Tywi estuary. The trains are quite frequent, though many do not stop here. Taking pictures of the trains, and the station from the footbridge and the platform gave our students some exciting shots. Before leaving, we all gathered on the platform in front of the signal box for the group picture. The exhibition is going to be wonderful, judging by the quality of the images we looked at back in school.

Johnstown Juniors in the formal garden of the Bishop's Palace

A short bus ride from Johnstown is the Bishop's Palace at Abergwili. Home now to the Carmarthen Museum, this fine building has beautiful grounds with mature trees, lawns and shrubberies. The first thing we did was to tour the gardens taking many photos of the magnificent trees in their late autumn finery and on the way making the most of details in the leaves, bark and fungi.

Above: Johnstown Juniors on the grand staircase at the Bishop's Palace Abergwili

Completing the circuit, we made the most of the curators' invitation and spent the rest of our time in the museum itself, enjoying the displays of the history and archaeology of our great county. There was much to see, ranging from mineral samples, through paintings to the great stone frieze depicting the death of General Picton at the Battle of Waterloo. We were allowed to take pictures inside, but not with the flash on our cameras, due to the bad effect that bright light can have on some of the exhibits. It was a real treat for the kids to get this opportunity and thanks are due to the staff at the Bishop' Palace for their hospitality.

Next year

This was the last field trip for the two Carmarthen schools in this part of the project. When we resume in January, we will undertake the three classroom sessions, learning about downloading images, making folders and choosing and naming pictures. This will start on the nineteenth of the month. Prior to that, on the tenth, we begin work in the last two schools in the project, Pantycelyn Comprehensive and Rhys Pritchard juniors, both in Llandovery.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A great day out for the Carmarthen schools

Queen Elizabeth High visit Gwili Railway

We had a lovely morning with the students visiting the Gwili railway at Bronwydd. The weather was fine and the light excellent for photography when we rolled up to be greeted by volunteers at the station yard. The yard was a good place to start and we took lots of pictures of the rolling stock before making our way to the signal box, where everybody except wheelchair users were able to climb the steps and see all the levers working and observe the work going on outside on the rails by the road crossing. Next, we crossed the line and went onto the station platform, which gave new perspectives and lots of photo opportunities for the kids. The enthusiasm for the assignment was a joy to see.

Above: QE High in front of Haulwen at Gwili Railway

Back over the line and to the engines themselves, we were give a guided tour and were able to get shots of both the machines and all the fascinating details of massive wheels, pistons, boilers being refurbished and lots of other railway items. Finally, we got to stand next to the lovely 'Haulwen' saddle tank engine, which was fired up especially for us. Here we were dwarfed by the machine for the group shot. There is no doubt that the students were inspired by the visit to take many excellent pictures, as was evident from the one-to-one sessions viewing the work back in school.

A huge thanks to the staff and volunteers at Gwili Railway!

Johnstown Juniors and Llansteffan Castle

What a castle! And so close to Johnstown. A short journey in the bus took us to the village centre, where we walked up the lanes to the castle, taking pictures of the church, Plas, trees and landscapes on our way. After the final climb, we entered via the gatehouse and spent nearly and hour exploring and photographing the towers, walls and views. The castle's situation on a promontory at the mouth of the Tywi provides magnificent scenes of Carmarthen Bay, the sands of the estuary and across to Ferryside. We could have spent more time there, but before leaving, the group picture taken in the middle part of the Keep, demonstrates the kids' happiness at taking part in the project.

Above: Johnstown kids and staff at Llansteffan Castle

After the walk back to the village and more picture-taking, we boarded the bus back to school. Viewing the afternoon's best three shots from each child, it's obvious that they all have taken on the project with great enthusiasm and have produced superb work.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Swansea schools' photos in the Grand Theatre

Wow! Penyrheol and Penybryn schools end of project exhibition was a fine thing to see. On two floors of Swansea's Grand Theatre, there were hundreds of photographs to admire. Each student had visited four locations, which landscapes ranged from seasides through rivers to city parks, taking and average of 100 pictures each time. Not only were their ten best shots displayed on their own boards, but there were nine shots of each of the eight beauty spots they had visited. It took quite a time to absorb the quantity. The quality, on the other hand was immediately obvious. With no exceptions, each student had produced stunning images, many of which would not look amiss in the pages of magazines. Many of the visitors left comments like, "lovely photographs", "very impressed" and "what a delightful exhibition". Parents, teachers and visitors alike were captivated by this show.

Above: Pen-y-Bryn with their goody bags - and the Lord Mayor

What was also obvious was the children's pride in their achievements. This was no more apparent than when the Lord Mayor of Swansea, Councillor Richard Lewis, presented every pupil with a gift bag to commemorate their participation in the project. In the bag was a certificate, a framed copy of one of their best images and various 'freebies'. Later, they will receive a dvd containing all the work they have done throughout the project, portraits, group shots at the locations and, perhaps best of all, a picture of them with the Lord Mayor. After the speeches, the presentations and the photo calls, there was another kind of opportunity – a lovely buffet, with sandwiches, pies, pizzas and many other delights. It was also a nice to chat with his worship and to observe the pleasure on the kids' faces at other people's acknowledgements of their achievements.

Above: Peyrheol students together with Swansea's Lord Mayor

All this happened on the first day. The next and last day of the exhibition, we had lots of visitors, including some of the students who weren't able to come on the first day. It was another excellent culmination of two schools' participation in this project, one in which we are proud to be involved.