As I set off for today’s photo walk by the Exeter quayside , in the back of my mind there was that nagging voice about trying to find new subjects on familiar walks, after all, having lived in Exeter for over twenty years, it is easy to take a place for granted.
Yes, I know Exeter pretty well but what I never know on any given outing is what may unfold as I follow my chosen route, what story can I tell with the camera today?
I would not have guessed that today’s favourite picture would be of a trio of pigeons, what the photo does not show, is the pigeon on my shoulder and one on my camera bag, looking for non non existent bird seed!
An excited cry of ‘That man has a pigeon on his shoulder’ from a giggling youngster who just seconds earlier was lamenting the fact he could not have another ice cream that day, along with some good banter with other walkers enjoying their Sunday stroll.
With my spontaneous pigeon camouflage, I have clearly made my way into this avian fraternity where I am able to get close to the trio already perched on the bridge railings.
Okay, an osprey plucking an unsuspecting fish from the water it is not but it was a moment that kept several onlookers and myself amused….
As another weekend approaches, I am keen to become more familiar with my recently acquired ‘new but old’ camera set up, a canon 5d Mk II, so with a few errands to do in town this morning, I take the 5d with a 50mm lens for a brief spell of ‘street’.
With rain showers forecast for most of the day, I shall find a few of my favourite spots around the city and familiarize myself with the camera setup.
There are said to be two types of street photographer, the hunter and the fisherman, the hunter is always on the move, looking for that moment that will tell the story, the fisherman however, will find a spot and wait for the scene to unfold, this is my approach today, as the work goers and Black Friday shopper’s pace will be a little quicker in order to get out of the rain.
My first shots are not fantastic as it is a learning curve getting used to an unfamiliar system but it takes little time before I am happier with the images, most of which I have in mind to be edited in black and white to depict the grey and dreary mood of the morning.
With about 30 or so images taken, the clock has worked its way to nine AM, it is time to tick the boxes of the days ‘to do’ list so that I can leave tomorrow free for a longer day of photography.
Images taken with the Canon 50mm 1.8 STM
Since my very first foray into digital photography, I have bought, sold and repurchased too many cameras, caught up in the trap of feeling that the newest and latest gear will be ‘the camera’ I need to take this passion/obsession to the next level.
I have enjoyed every moment of this not inexpensive journey, but in the last year or so, I have become less interested in the latest offerings from the usual protagonists, not because I do not want them, more because I do not NEED them.
Where this sudden seed of sensibility has come from, I am unsure, I am blaming it on recently reaching my mid fifties and beginning to grow up!
Joking aside, with all that today’s camera technology offers, I have no use for video capability, I do not need 50 plus megapixels files, as I so rarely print anything, I am not a sports photographer requiring blazingly fast autofocus and huge, 500mm plus lenses, nor do I need WIFI to instantly transfer photos to a mobile phone or tablet, as I enjoy the process of looking through my day’s shoot on a bigger screen and editing in my own time.
I do not need the above but there are those that clearly DO need or want the latest and fastest, often trading their ‘out of date’ gear as a way of softening the financial blow the new system will bring.
So I see myself as something of a camera ‘womble’, making use of old tech that the future proofing folks leave behind, where I am able to acquire the cameras I coveted a decade ago but the price was out of my budget.
Enter the used Canon 5D mk 2 DSLR that has recently made its way into my camera bag, yes, its bulky, it ‘only’ has a dozen or so focus points but it is built like a tank and will serve me well for some time to come.
The lenses for these older cameras too are more affordable, good glass will always be good glass in much the same way that a good camera from a decade ago will still be a good camera.
So this weekend has been my first outing with my ‘rescue’ camera, the old dog has found a new forever home and I have a new project to get my teeth into.
The above photos were all taken with either the Canon 50mm F1.8 STM II or Canon 28-105mm lenses, needless to say that I am looking forward to my next days off….
With the hours of daylight lasting only for the duration of the blink of an eyelid, it is only a matter of time before the inevitable festive countdown begins, as Christmas decorations adorn our towns and cities.
Under normal circumstances, I would say that the countdown starts far too early but with the omnipresent spectre of Covid, the vibrant colours and feelgood factor are a pleasant distraction.
Before anyone hurls the ‘bah humbug!’ tag in my general direction, I do look forward to the local Christmas market, a perfect place to not only indulge in my pursuit of photography but also an opportunity to take in the wonderful aromas from the myriad of food stalls selling their wares over the next few weeks.
My sense of smell is tantalized from all directions, the subtle spiced aromas of a Thai food stall one minute, that fried onion and home made burger the next, with the essence of winter spices from the mulled wine counter just around the corner.
As I make my way around, one or two of the stall holders allow me to take their photos before the after work crowds arrive, up to a couple of years ago, this would have been a swift candid photo but more and more I am enjoying the engagement with those who so generously indulge my requests.
I am sure I will be making one or two more visits to the Xmas markets over the coming weeks but for now I will leave a selection of my favourite images.
Nestled away in the South Devon coast is the Iconic Burgh Island, famous for its links with Agatha Christie, the luxury art deco hotel and a plethora of tales of pirates and smuggling.
As the tide submerges the narrow strip of sand between the island and Bigbury, the island businesses have a unique solution in enabling visitors to cross the short distance during high, in the form of its sea tractor.
This one off design was the brainchild of Robert Jackson CBE, known originally for his pioneering work in the 1950’s nuclear power station programme.
Designed in 1969, it cost £9000, however payment is said to have been made in the form of a case of champagne!
This was my first visit to Bigbury for a couple of years, a bright and warm November afternoon, the tractor plods its way through the incoming tide, I chose a black and white edit, as I was shooting into the sunlight, it’s striking design makes for an interesting silhouette.
As the year flies by, we are already hurtling into November, the clocks have gone back, giving us those extra hours of darkness, the perfect chance to indulge in one of my favourite genres of photography, low light.
The way that the hours of darkness transform a city can often mean that we may see compositions in low light that we may never consider during the day.
Exe bridges, located in my home of Exeter is one of the main arteries into the city, so unless you want pictures of traffic, not a place that one would think of spending any time looking for shots during daylight hours, especially with the River Exe, just a few steps away.
Looking for a sunrise just a couple weeks ago, I am heading to the River, where I am walking over the bridge, where I see the first signs of light emerging from the darkness.
I had not carried a tripod, as I had wanted to travel light, however, the bridge has a very convenient flat railing, perfectly suitable to use as an impromptu tripod, where I set a 40 second long exposure.
I liked the way the street lamps lit the Renslade house building in the centre of the image (now a hotel) and the sporadic traffic added the light trails as they made their way to B from A.
With the local Christmas market starting within the next week and the festive decorations awaiting the big switch on ceremony, I hope to share more low light images from the place I call home.
With summer all but a distant memory, my trips to local seaside towns become more frequent, especially when the first of the autumn winds begin to make their presence known.
A trip to the East Devon seaside town of Sidmouth did not disappoint on Friday, blustery winds and showers being on the meteorological menu.
I had initially thought that my ‘one frame’ blog from this trip would have been one of the photos I took of waves crashing dramatically over the sea wall, edited with a contrasty black and white vibe but there was just something about this scene that appealed more and was perhaps less of a photographic cliché.
In a world that is forever in a hurry, these coastal towns have a way of slowing down the madding crowd, where we actually make the time to watch the waves crash and recede over the beach below.