Cardiff Photomarathon 2012

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So this Saturday just passed the Photomarathon descended upon Cardiff again. For those of you who don’t know; the Photomarathon involves taking 12 photographs, based on 12 different topics, all in 12 hours. In such simple terms like this it might not sound like a huge task but it’s a lot harder than you might think. You can find out more about the Photomarathon here:

I limbered up early on Saturday morning for what would be my third marathon with tea and toast and peered out upon grey skies which wasn’t encouraging and sure enough I was registered by 10:00am and soaked to the bone by 11:00am.

If it wasn’t tough enough already this years Photomarathon was made doubly difficult by heavy downpours of rain. I’d decided prior to Saturday morning that I was going to take a more observational rather than interventional approach to my photographs this year. With hindsight this might have been a bit daft since with the wet Welsh weather it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to base myself at home in the fry and work from there. Nonetheless here are my efforts:

My Number: Celebrate

Those familiar with the Photomarathon will know that the first topic is always “My Number” with a twist, which this year was “Celebrate”. Knowing the format for the first topic is I had been running through some potential ideas over the preceding days and had a few potential props in my bag… none of these were in the least bit suitable so it was back to the drawing board. As you can see I cut my registration number out of some black fabric and pinned it to this lovely handmade bunting. It was a slow start to the day but I was up and running.


Buttons may have been a little obvious but it was nice and dry in this telephone box so I was quite happy to find some shelter whilst I shot this. I toyed with the idea of having a finger in shot but decided that it didn’t really work and that the suggestion of the action was enough.


This topic was perhaps the one that had me racking my brain for the longest. I tried shots of friends huddling beneath umbrellas in the rain or sheltering doorways amongst other things but this shot of our coffee cups was the strongest of my efforts by far.

City Life

This is one of my least favourite shots amongst those I took. This shouldn’t really have been a difficult topic in a city like Cardiff but being behind schedule I ended up rushing a bit. With hindsight I should have changed my lens back to take a cleaner shot of Castle Arcade.

My Favourite Thing

Anyone who know’s me at all will know I’ve got a sweet tooth and who doesn’t love Dolly Mixture?

I thought about heading home to unleash my unicorn for this picture but with pond-life making it’s home in my shoes I settled for something more simple. I snapped this picture in the sweet shop one of the arcades in Cardiff.

The State We’re In

Of course there is a glut of empty shop fronts in Cardiff at this time but upon checking in at the RWCMD to get my second set of Photomarathon topics I took my registration card out to get it stamped only to have it disintegrate in my hands: the weather had gotten the better of it. Given the bedraggled state I was in as a result of the wind and rain it seemed an appropriate item to snap for this topic.

One of the hardest things about the digital Photomarathon is selecting which image to submit having taken a few variations on each topic. This is one that I think suffered for that and I should probably have selected a less abstract image like this.


Now this was my kind of topic. I used this as an opportunity to head home for some respite from the weather, to fill my belly and rest my weary legs. It took me about an hour or sew (sorry!) to embroider this copy of the Photomarathon logo. It wasn’t my best work as I was in a bit of a rush but for the purposes of taking a photograph I think it worked out quite nicely.


Well now, this really doesn’t need any explanation does it?

Out of Place

I was struggling to come up with an original idea for this topic. There were almost too many ideas to choose from. I considered setting something up with one of the potential props I was carrying in my bag but decided against it an sought out this simple shot near the Secret Garden instead. I struggled with the focus a little but it’s not my worst image.


Conceptually this is my favourite as my random tweet at the time will attest to. I took the lift up to one of the upper floors in the NCP car park near the Millennium Stadium which at 7.00pm was nice and quiet since the shoppers had headed home again. I’m really happy with the way this shot turned out. I played with different light levels and decided that this, the darkest image, was by far the strongest.


This one might be a little too abstract for it’s own good but I thought that this shot of some moss made for a more interesting image than a number of landmarks that I tried shooting. Again, with hindsight I think I should have switched back to my standard lens for this shot.


I decided that a literal picture of a smile would be far too obvious and happened to have a plastic cock with a moustache stuck on it ready and waiting… as one does.

If this doesn’t make you smile…

Looking back over the shots I took I think my personal favourites are ‘Handmade’ for the effort and personal touch put into the making and ‘Silence’ as I mentioned above for the concept of the shot; I’m also particularly fond of the subtle dark colours in that shot.

I spent most of the day soaked right through and on Sunday morning my legs felt as if I’d climbed a mountain. Despite this I would do it all over again in a flash and I’ll be looking forward to next year’s event.

You can view my photographs along with those by some of this year’s other entrants in the Photomarathon 2012 Flickr pool here and you can follow a Twitter timeline of the day on Storify here.

Click here to view my photographs from the 2011 Cardiff Photomarathon
Click here to view my photographs from the 2009 Cardiff Photomarathon