Taff Magnified

From their sources in the Welsh Brecon Beacons, the two rivers Taf Fechan (Little Taff) and Taf Fawr (Greater Taff) travel down before merging together in Cefn-coed-y-cymmer to become the River Taff. A 64 km river that flows into the Severn Estuary in Cardiff. (1) Once a key trade route, the River Taff established Cardiff as the largest exporter in the world, in the early 20th century. (2)

After years of being heavily polluted by industry, the river is now a haven for wildlife. (3) With improved water quality, it has become a significant wildlife corridor essential for migratory fish such as salmon. As such, it has been recognised as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). (1)

When studying a habitat in the field of Ecology, multiple samples are taken, using quadrats, to represent the area as a whole. Quadrats are square frames, which mark out and identify a patch of land from which a sample can be taken. They allow for consistent samples to be gathered from the habitat and can be used to measure biodiversity. The sampling of a habitat can be random, systematic or stratified. (4)

‘Taff Magnified’ by Alexander J Carnie, is a photographic project that aims to explore the River Taff in Wales through a scientific lens. By repurposing ecological sampling techniques in his photographic process, Carnie has sampled and magnified the landscape surrounding both sides of the River Taff.

The resulting body of work becomes a dataset, containing information about the habitats bordering the River Taff. The dataset acts as a baseline from which future comparisons can be made, by revisiting and resampling the locations initially documented in ‘Taff Magnified’. The work therefore allows the River Taff to be photographically examined as an ecological haven over time.

Methodology

Starting at the confluence of the Little and Greater Taff and ending where the river flows into the Severn Estuary, Alexander J Carnie divided the river into eight equal points to systematically sample the river. At these points Carnie took the first sample, creating maps which have an area of 250000m2.

At each of the eight points, Carnie then set out to sample the landscape surrounding the River Taff by randomly selecting nine locations to photograph using a random number generator. If these locations were reachable, Carnie took two samples at different scales. The first sample had an area of 2500cm2 and the second was a macro sample. If the location was unreachable, the sample became an artifact. (5) An error within the photographic dataset that Carnie compiled.

The eight points that Carnie sampled are in chronological order, and the samples are pinpointed on the maps. The samples that were reachable can be magnified further to reveal more details.

1.Park, B. (2020) River Taff | Bute Park. Available at: https://bute-park.com/attraction/river-taff/ (Accessed 16 November 2020).

2.Visit Wales (2020) Walk Or Cycle From Cardiff To Pontypridd And Back. Available at: https://www.visitwales.com/things-do/adventure-and-activities/walking/walk-or-cycle-cardiff-pontypridd-and-back (Accessed 16 November 2020).

3.Beale, C. (2020) Biology Toolbox: Ecological Sampling. Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/the-biology-of-bugs-brains-and-beasts/0/steps/68839 (Accessed 15 November 2020).

4.Countryside Info (2011) How To Carry Out Ecological Sampling Page 1. Available at: http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/howto.htm (Accessed 14 November 2020).

5.TheFreeDictionary.com (2021) Artifact. Available at: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/artifact (Accessed 24 January 2021).

Point 1 51.75516, -3.39642

Sample 14

Sample 23

Sample 36

Sample 38

Sample 43

Sample 46

Sample 55

Sample 62

Sample 67

Point 2 51.70818, -3.34566

Sample 01

Sample 26

Sample 30

Sample 35

Sample 49

Sample 53

Sample 55

Sample 75

Sample 79

Point 3 51.65896, -3.32401

Sample 08

Sample 15

Sample 33

Sample 34

Sample 44

Sample 51

Sample 57

Sample 66

Sample 76

Point 4 51.62633, -3.32752

Sample 05

Sample 08

Sample 10

Sample 13

Sample 14

Sample 15

Sample 19

Sample 61

Sample 79

Point 5 51.57996, -3.31292

Sample 06

Sample 12

Sample 39

Sample 44

Sample 45

Sample 46

Sample 51

Sample 56

Sample 73

Point 6 51.53884, -3.26266

Sample 04

Sample 20

Sample 22

Sample 28

Sample 49

Sample 51

Sample 54

Sample 74

Sample 80

Point 7 51.49883, -3.22024

Sample 01

Sample 05

Sample 17

Sample 38

Sample 41

Sample 53

Sample 72

Sample 77

Sample 79

Point 8 51.45744, -3.17719

Sample 03

Sample 14

Sample 21

Sample 24

Sample 32

Sample 50

Sample 58

Sample 72

Sample 78