With Christmas day now over, we approach that feeling of limbo leading up to the new year, where our ability to remember what day of the week it is, gets somewhat blunted by the pleasures of over indulgence and that thought of not being back at work for a few more days.
With the weather not being that favourable for any long walks out with the camera, I was keen to walk off some of those festive excesses, as I make my way back home after a few treasured days spent with family.
The constant rain of Christmas and boxing day have abated for a few hours, however the blustery winds remain, perfect for some seaside photography and watching the awesome power of the waves as they batter the sea defences at Hope Cove.
The sky above is a dark battleship grey, full of rain filled intent, the roar of the sea as it pummels the sea wall, is as loud as I have ever heard, it’s time to capture some images.
The wind is far too strong for any tripod work, it is all I can do to keep the camera still on occasions, as the gale force winds are that strong. Crouched low, with my shoulder against a firmly closed kiosk, I adopt a contorted position that allows me to keep steady as I shoot the scene in front of me.
There are screams of cold sea spray surprise from those people who thought they were at a far enough distance from the huge waves that breach the height of the sea wall, the waves reach, increased by the wind.
With my camera in burst mode, it is a case of take the shot, then wipe the lens as the rain and spray look to soak all in its way, each wave just seems to get bigger with every gust.
It is rare that I root myself to one spot on a photography outing but such are the power and beauty of the conditions I have no reason to explore further, hopefully the images below will support that thought.
It is the start of another week and as has become something of a routine, I take another browse through the images of my weekend photo shoot, with the intention of writing the back story of either the whole outing, or taking ideas from a single image for my ‘one frame’ series.
From Saturday’s outing to Fernworthy reservoir, may I present ‘Medusa’s lair’ the title for which I had in an instant, even before I composed this final image.
I had taken a similar shot on a previous outing but the diffused light and the tight crop of a 50mm lens added more impact.
There are a few landscape / woodland photographers that may find this scene a little to busy for their tastes, for me, it is this apparent chaos that makes the eye want to follow every twist and turn of these Medusa like lichen coated branches.
In such an incredibly inspiring place such as Dartmoor, steeped as it is in legend and folklore, it is not hard to let the imagination run free.
One of the ways that I try to remain creative with my photography, is to set myself personal challenges while I am on a photo walk, it could be that I shoot only in the square format, using the in camera 1:1 aspect ratio option, perhaps when I am in town running a few errands, I may set myself a time limit to find a few images but most frequently, I like to shoot with just one focal length.
After using the Fuji X100 series for a good few years, I am more than familiar with the 35mm focal length, so much so, that I would now not see this as a challenge, especially since a long term project from a couple of years back, was to use just this one camera for a whole year.
A more recent project to use older cameras is still very much in progress, the realization that I do not need the latest and fastest may have come a little late along my journey but I am enjoying taking this latest path with my photography, in the form of a Canon 5d Mark II.
It was as I was packing this old beast into my bag for a Saturday foray on Dartmoor, I made the decision to take just one lens, the classic ‘nifty fifty’, Canon’s 50mm F1.8
The last time that I shot this particular focal length in anger for any length of time, was when I had purchased my first film camera back in the 1980’s, a second hand Zenit camera, most likely armed with a Helios 58mm lens.
My destination is Fernworthy reservoir on Dartmoor, near the village of Chagford, a chance to capture the remains of the autumnal colours and a rather pleasant walk skirting the edge of the reservoir and surrounding woodland.
A damp start to the day sees mist and drizzle set for most of the morning but as I see this as an opportunity to capture the area at its moody and melancholy best.
The autumn colours are all but a faded memory, yet the rust browns and dark green of the local fir trees offer a muted colour palette that adds more atmosphere to the scene.
Occasional glimpses of diluted sun find their way through the murk, only for this curtain of grey to close the gap and bring a little more drizzle.
The morning’s walk may be damp but my mood is quite the opposite as I enjoy looking for my next image, it has taken little time to become accustomed to my chosen 50mm, so much so that I wonder why I have not done this more often.
The walk around the reservoir is just about 5 miles, by which time I am ready for my flask of tea and a welcome hot pasty from a convenient mobile café that had set up for the days business in the car park.
With the pasty devoured and tea drunk, it’s time to head home, good timing as the drizzle is now more constant rain, now to look forward to viewing this latest days foray.
As mid December approaches, the countdown to the yuletide festivities is in full swing, Christmas markets, shopping for gifts and winter wonderlands will occupy the minds and time of many over the next couple more weekends, while I endeavor to make my purchases during the quieter part of the week after work, leaving my weekends free to continue my regular amblings on the moor, or by the sea.
At just after nine AM, I am heading away from Teignmouth railway station and heading for the beach, where remnants of the darker hours linger in the sky above, moody clouds with just a hint of the morning sun’s attempts to paint a little colour on the horizon.
It is a given that I will take a few shots of the pier, a few from either side of the structure as I capture the moodiness of the moment, for once, I do not even consider the normally mandatory long exposure shot, as I see other opportunities a little further away.
A lone fishing boat works a little out to sea, chaperoned by the opportunist herring gull population, looking for a free breakfast, a rare decision to bring a zoom lens, enables me to get a little closer than my normal 35mm focal length.
The changing skies add a little more mood to the scene, affording me several varied looking images.
One of my favourite shots of today is a father and his young daughter walking along the water’s edge, hand in hand, as they explore the shoreline for sea shells and other coastal treasures.
My own love of our coastline began at a similar age, exploring the shoreline at low tide while my dad would be working on his boat, I may have ‘helped’ for a while before the greater need to look for crabs under the carpets of sea weed took hold, or to find the biggest intact whelk shell amongst the shingle.
It was perhaps these sea shore foraging’s that unknowingly taught me the art of ‘seeing’ that would become such an essential part of my photography as I look to find that more unusual shot from the norm.
As I make my way back to the station, ideas for this blog are already forming in my mind, as I wait for my train, I type a few notes on my phone, a reminder of my thoughts at the moment I took a shot, or perhaps an observation I would like to share.
Often, a title eludes me, today it is easy, coastal contentment is what I felt as I meandered my way along the beach today… and so another blog is born.
It is fair to say that I look forward to my weekend outings with my camera, the process begins around the middle of my working week, looking for my next destination, according to whatever the weather may bring.
Without a shadow of doubt, the best part of photography is being out in the great outdoors, camera in hand, capturing whatever the landscape has to offer and even if do not take as many images as I had hoped, I have still had a good walk.
There are a good few photographers I have watched on various social media outlets, who say that they prefer to wait a few days, weeks or even months before even looking at that day’s shoot but I look forward to seeing my day’s endeavors on the computer monitor at the earliest opportunity.
With a fresh cup of tea made, I browse through the images, and flag the images I am keen to edit, these being the favourite of the day, the ones that I am keenest to share online.
On a Sunday, I will often go through the images a second time, flagging and posting once more, while sub consciously picking out images for the next stage of my process, which is this blog.
By mid week, I browse through my images once more, these are what I term as the ‘also ran’ images, yet they can sometimes be the hidden gems.
It was this mid week browse that made me look more closely at four images I had taken around the local Xmas market and High street, edited in monochrome for that documentary feel.
More often than not, I will ask for photos, I enjoy the interaction, yet I also like to take those candid shots of an every day scene around my home town.
I will post the four images below for your perusal, and finish this blog entry here, as I have a few ideas for this weekends outing!