Monday, 24 January 2011

Llandovery schools’ first field trips

Pantycelyn Comprehensive students go to town

We were lucky with the weather – it was cold, but not freezing and the rain stayed away – for the first time out for the students at Pantycelyn. It's only a short walk to the town from school and there are plenty of exciting subjects to photograph. The first stop was the car park beneath the castle, where we were able to get shots looking upward to the remains of the castle itself and to the stainless steel sculpture. A short walk up the hill and were next to the wonderful statue of the local hero Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan. Martyred in 1401 as a supporter of Owain Glyn Dwr, his shining monument overlooks the town.

Above: Pantycelyn visit the statue of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan

The children were quick to take lots of pictures of it from all perspectives. Further up, Llandovery Castle has dramatic landscape views of the town and hills around from its massive masonry walls. Pausing to take a group picture at the statue, we then walked to the market square where scenes of townscapes, buildings, the market hall and fountain made a contrast to the previous location. There were plenty of photo opportunities here, ranging from close-ups of cobbles and trees to roofscapes and town buildings. It was a very good example of a built environment and, as proof of the children's commitment to the project, it was gratifying to see the high quality of their work back in class.

Ysgol Rhys Pritchard look up to the Heart of Wales line

In contrast to the morning session, the children of Ysgol Rhys Pritchard chose to make the short journey in the minibus to Cynghordy. Here the huge railway viaduct dwarfs the local landscape. Built in the 1867, it carries the Heart of Wales railway line. It's a dramatic subject for photography and its dizzying height of ninety three feet gave everybody plenty of creative options, both as close-up shots of the monumentally sized stone blocks from which it is made, and as unusual perspective pictures. The viaduct curves away, allowing photos that fill the frame with pillars and arches. The clear but cold weather continued as we walked up the valley.

Above: The Rhys Pritchard team dwarfed by viaduct at Cynghordy

Now the fields by the side of the road were laced with shallow ice-filled depressions, which offered different creative options, especially viewed against the woods and pastures of the valley sides. Afon BrĂ¢n flows near the lane and we were able to take pictures of its fast flowing stream before turning back and getting images of the viaduct filling the valley. Back in the bus, we made a detour up the mountain, where we stopped to photograph the distant viaduct in its setting of the Cambrian Mountains. It was very pleasing to view the children's work back in class and to realise again the value of this project in raising their confidence.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Carmarthen schools begin work on their pictures

Queen Elizabeth High

Today we started the process of sorting the hundreds of photos the students have taken on their four field trips and their first session in the school. It's quite a task to create folders for each session, plus the two extras for the best choices for printing. Despite some technical problems, we all managed to learn how to make the folders, to download some files and to play with an image on the computers.

Now that the school is getting more flash drives, our next session in a fortnight will focus on making the tricky decisions about which of all those pictures we took will go into the 'Best twenty five' folder and from them the 'Best ten'. These ten will be the pictures that are printed and displayed in the big exhibition.

Johnstown Juniors

The children were as enthusiastic as ever when we arrived and were happy to get started on this second phase of the project. We were pleased to have 'buddies' from year six to help out. As usual in this part of the project, the first task was to make the seven new folders.

This went well and the next job to download images from the cameras was fast, thanks to plenty of space on the hard drive. Thanks to the buddies, everybody had lots of fun at the end of this session altering one of their photos by including text and changing the colours in very radical ways. We ended up with time to spare.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Exciting first day for the Llandovery schools

Pantycelyn Comprehensive and Ysgol Rhys Pritchard

It's one of the most rewarding parts of this project: the look on the children's faces when they open the boxes and get out their new cameras. This morning at Pantyceln Comprehensive in Llandovery, the students were excited and delighted. As usual, it didn't take long for them to work out how to use the cameras and with just the most basic instructions in how to hold the camera steady, they were busy practicing by taking pictures of other people in the class room. Of course, we'd had to make them wait a little while we explained what the project was all about; but that only built up the anticipation.

Above: Students and staff at Pantycelyn on day one

They followed instructions and took at least thirty photos indoors before going into the school grounds to take another fifty of the buildings, trees and other aspects of the landscape. We were lucky with the weather - it didn't rain. Viewing the kids' choices of their best three pictures of the morning, it was pleasing to know that they all had grasped the principles of the project and had produced some good work.

After lunch, we went to Ysgol Rhys Pritchard, which is the main feeder school for Pantycelyn. If anything, the children here were more excited about their new photography project. Even before they'd opened the boxes, their enthusiasm for the idea was a delight. Emphasising the need to take lots of pictures is one of the important elements of the work we do. The children need to have plenty of choices for the exhibition and they will learn from their mistakes more readily.

Above: The class at Ysgol Rhys Pritchard delighted with the new cameras

We all took plenty of pictures indoors, but when it came time to go outside, we found it was pouring with rain. The best we could do was to dodge the rain looking through open doors and even take photographs from under the equipment in the play area. Nevertheless, everybody had lots of fun. Lots of good pictures were taken and I'm certain we will be seeing a great exhibition in due course.

Next time, 24th January, will be the first field trip; so let's hope for good weather.