Great British Railway Journeys at Penllergare.

Back in July 2014 I was contacted by Boundless Productions, makers of Great British Railway Journeys.  They were looking for a photographer working in historical processes similar to those used by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, they had been given my details by Roger Watson, Curator of the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock Abbey. Thank you Roger.

The first segment was to be an interview with Michael Pritchard, Director-General of The Royal Photographic Society. The second was supposed to be of me shooting a portrait of the presenter, Michael Portillo, in the Library rooms at Swansea Museum…………

I’d met Michael (Pritchard) at the Swansea Museum about lunchtime, the production crew turned up at 4pm, by then we’d had a good look around and from my point of view the Library was very cramped and dark for wet plate, the windows also had UV filters in place. I had taken artificial lighting with me but there wasnt exactly a lot of room to set up.

Luckily the Director asked if it was possible to travel to Penllergare Estate and shoot a portrait on location at the waterfalls. Similar in style to one of the unpublished images in Llewellyns albums.


Helen, the Production Assistant and myself left them to it at the Museum and travelled to nearby Penllegare. There we met Philip James, Project Director at Penllegare Valley Woods, who showed us down a very bumpy road to the waterfall.


I first shot a test plate of Helen. 10 seconds at f8 resulting in a lovely bright ambrotype.

The lens just about covered a half plate with a little vignette. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the rest of the production crew.





Heres the plate. Michael Portillo doing a grand job of standing very still on a slippery rock for 20 seconds.

We were all really pleased with it, especially as I had only the one chance to get it right with the light failing fast.


And the print as requested by the Production team, a toned Van Dyke Brown print.


I had a great day, and it was a lovely to meet everyone involved. It was really interesting in seeing how they filmed it, all the different angles, the multiple questions and then the final edit.

It aired this evening 26th January. It’ll be available on BBC iPLayer for the next 29 days, heres a link. I’ll see if I can get some permanent footage to add to the blog archive.

Lets just say, I was a little surprised I didn’t sound like Richard Burton after all…..

Thanks to Philip James, Project Director for all the supporting digital images from the day.