As my working week progresses, I start to sow little seeds of ideas for weekend outings with the camera, regularly checking to see what hand the weather gods may deal for my days off. By Wednesday evening, I had arranged another visit to Salcombe, an overnight stay on Friday and Saturday, with an amble back to Exeter on the Sunday.
My hopes for an early sunrise on the Saturday morning were to be scuppered by heavy rain and winds, which were forecast for most of the day, with a slim chance of a two hour clear spell later in the day.
By mid day, I had drunk copious amounts of tea, made a mushroom soup for lunch and completed Saturday’s cryptic crossword, a personal best time of 37 minutes, I guess rainy days have their uses.
It was after lunch that the skies began to brighten, discarding its grey cloak revealing patches of blue sky, perhaps I would get some photos today after all. As I made my way into the town’s high street, it seems that everyone had the same idea, enjoy the spell of sunshine for as long as it lasts.
It is these unexpected photo walks that throw up unexpected photo opportunities, the earlier rains had not all drained from the road, creating some interesting reflections, perfect for a low angle perspective.
Sunday morning woke up to brighter skies but still a keen wind, I would be heading back to Exeter later today but only after another walk around a favourite footpath with superb views of the estuary and countryside.
On the edge of the footpath, poppies and daisies gave a vibrant display of colour, a distinct and welcome contrast to the previous morning, poppies like bright red flags waving in the wind.
The estuary was already thriving with those wanting a day on the water, this normally quiet path popular with other Sunday walkers.
After the disappointment of Saturday morning’s washout, the enjoyment taken from that small window of opportunity more than made up for it later in the day, even Sunday’s destination was a spur of the moment decision…. who needs plans anyway?
It has been four long months since I last visited Dartmoor, a trip to Wistmans wood in March, just a few days before lockdown restrictions were put in place. Realising that such measures were likely, I made sure to savour every step of that March outing, unsure of when I may visit again.
That day was yesterday, to say I was looking forward to it would be an understatement, I could not wait to tread once more amongst the vast openness, to hear the sweet summer sounds of the skylarks soaring above, to gaze in awe at the many tors, stone sentinels of the moorland landscape.
The rain from earlier in the morning had abated but the skies still wore remnants of mist and grey cloud, giving the moor a sombre moodiness, for all I cared it could have been torrential rain, I was just happy to be back on familiar ground.
Dartmoor will always present photo opportunities, the most obvious being the landscape as described earlier, yet I find pleasure in finding the smaller treasures, water droplets on grass, a fallen foxglove petal, or fungi thriving in the humid air, to name just a few.
It has taken a long time but I have finally decided to minimize my gear choices on days out, carrying a bag of lenses and other gear has become less appealing, shooting with what I have, has become more fun.
On today’s trip to Dawlish, I took my trusty 100f and a recently acquired Ricoh GRIII, a fixed 18mm (28 mm equivalent in full frame terms) camera that boasts amazing image quality in a small form factor.
The lack of built in viewfinder takes a little getting used to but this little beast is a joy to use.
I mentioned that I also took my 100f today, but I barely used it, for two reasons. One reason being that I was keen to get used to the controls of the Ricoh, the second being that I had forgotten to replace the memory card I had used for my first few test shots with it yesterday evening. The GRIII has 2gb of internal memory storage, around 40-50 images in RAW format, I know this because I used its full allocation, then had to pilfer the card from my 100f! Looking through the menu, I was able to copy the internal memory images to the now installed SD card, my schoolboy error had been rectified.
Getting to Dawlish Warren just after 10am, the beach was already filling with those that wanted a day by the sea, I was happy to stay for just a couple hours to get some much wanted sea air and to get more accustomed to the GR.
It will take a while to customise the controls of the GR to my liking and the GR gives plenty of scope for doing so but if this first batch of images is anything to go by, then the GR will be my ideal minimal gear set up