In the years that I have spent on my photographic journey, it is clear that in every photographer’s repertoire, certain iconic images are sought by amateurs and professionals alike.
The row of coloured beach huts lining a seaside beach front, the colours of morning sunrises and evening sunsets and those late spring woodlands carpeted in bluebells, just to name a few.
It is the latter that forms a variation on a theme for day 32 of my 50mm challenge, bluebells.
There is a popular location on Dartmoor where it is possible to capture these beautiful spring flowers in all their glory, a place that I have not visited for over two years because of lockdown, so I was looking forward to this walk immensely.
Unsure of whether there would be the sea of blue I was hoping for, there is plenty here to photograph, it’s just that the bluebells really add that something to any image here.
Its a short stroll from the car park to my destination, it is clear that although it is just after ten AM, there is plenty of other photographers already here, toting huge wildlife lenses, their prey, a pair of redstarts nesting in the vicinity, as well as a pair of elusive cuckoos.
I try to keep a distance from these photographers, so as not to disturb the subject they may have waited some time for already, I work around the scene skirting my main objective.
One of the photographers takes some to chat to me, he has already photographed the redstarts, he also shows me some wonderful images of the stonechats and wheatears he has captured today, I admire his patience, he admires my discipline in shooting one focal length for a long period of time.
Once they have moved on to other locations, I am able to work closer to the old barn that adds such a lovely contrast to the verdant grass and of course, the bluebells.
Once again, I have my favourite vintage 50mm attached to my camera, manually focusing is a more deliberate and enjoyable process than half pressing a shutter or back button focusing, I am an integral part of the image making, not a bit part player.
In the space of an hour, the location is filling with more walkers and photographers, it is time for me to make room for them to get their shots of spring time glory.
I had not set an alarm for Saturday morning but woke up just after 4:30 am, a lie in of some 90 minutes from my normal work day alarm.
Summer is knocking on the door when it is almost light at this time of day, such a welcome respite from those long hours of darkness of wintertime.
I feel that I need to make the most of these few short months of extra daylight, so after my first brew of the day, I set out for an early stroll along the river, breakfast will be my Saturday treat upon my return.
The sun has already begun its ascent into a cloudless sky, casting a golden glow across all it touches, the river is perfectly still, there appears to be a photograph wherever I look.
It is this one particular scene that falls into my photo of the day category, the reflections of the houses reflecting in the serene waters with the beautiful green of the bankside grasses and flora, bathed in the early morning sunlight, what a perfect storm of photographic ingredients.
It is scenes such as thuis that are my reward for those early starts, a small price to pay for such beauty.
It has been some time since my last ‘one frame’ blog but as I have been going through my images from the last couple of months, I have picked out one of my favourite images from just a couple of weeks ago.
A walk around a local forest had started off with dull clouds smothering any sunlight but gradually the cloud disappeared, offering small areas of light for brief periods of time.
With the untrodden areas of woodland, a carpet of verdant ferns surround the base of the trees, this particular tree, catching the light as it finally escaped its prison of cloud.
With my vintage 50mm lens at an aperture of F2, I wanted to capture the detail and texture of the tree bark with its adornment of ivy, while leaving a softer out of focus background.
For day 31 I am back in my former home town of Salcombe, where I once again make an early morning start in the hope of watching another sunrise.
The chances of capturing the vibrant colours of late are lessened by a thick layer of cloud but the light is favourable and there is little or no breeze.
The stillness of the morning is emphasized more by the silence of a town devoid of people and traffic, in just a couple of hours, it will be a typical bustling seaside town waiting to welcome the weekend’s pleasure seeking tourists.
For now, I enjoy the solitude and serenity of the scenes in front of me, capturing the shimmering reflections and subdued light of this Saturday morning.
Using the native Canon 50mm for the landscape shots, I decide to shoot with my Pentacon 50mm lens, capturing a few shots on the walk back, with an emphasis on close ups of a patch of daisies that appealed to the eye.
One of things I have come to appreciate with shooting at 50mm, is how an apparently mundane subject can be seen as a potential image, especially through the glass of an older lens, where its soft corners and vignetting can be used to my advantage for that more organic and imperfect look.
My last few Saturdays have been early starts, as I have been keen to catch those late spring sunrises around the local coastline of Dawlish and Teignmouth respectively.
Day 30 starts with grey, overcast skies with brighter sunny spells later in the day, so decide that a trip to a local woodland just a few miles away may be an idea, after all, I have not visited this one for a couple of years.
Ashclyst forest is owned and maintained by the National trust, just on the outskirts of the village of Broadclyst in East Devon and a stones throw away from Killerton House.
As with any location on one’s doorstep, I Have not visited Ashclyst as many times as perhaps I should but I am certainly looking forward to exploring the myriad of trails and footpaths that make any woodland and forest so enjoyable.
Even if I were not involved in my current 50mm project, a 50mm lens would be my choice for today’s venue, the wider aperture of a 50mm prime lens is perfect for those out of focus backgrounds in woodland, as well as plenty of scope for those close up shots that have become a part of my photographic repertoire over the years.
There is something very calming about ambling around these forest trails, the pure joy of hearing the birds singing, their melodies undiluted from traffic noise and other man made interruptions.
I take a little time to experiment with some ‘intentional camera movement’ (ICM) shots, as I stand in a clearing, facing a copse of fir trees, a three stop ND filter attached to my lens gives me an exposure time of around two seconds, enough to create some abstract images of the scene before me.
After a number of attempts., I have a couple that I am happy with, it is this type of experimenting that keeps me wanting to get out and trying new (to me) techniques.
With patches of concealed bluebells just waiting to be found, the paths are a riot of late spring colour, with buttercups and celandine offering a vivid contrast to the campion that sways gently in the pleasant May breeze.
Dandelions lie in various states of undress, some with their full Afro of pappus, others semi bald, their party crowns long since stolen away by the breeze.
Even among this spring time palette, traces of the ochres and browns of winter can be found, oases of fallen ferns and fir cones, lying forgotten as last years Christmas toys, yet still beautiful, even in decay.
A lot of my seaside visits for camera walks involve getting up early for a sunrise and enjoy the indulgence of having an entire beach to myself for a short while.
Brixham is different, this bustling fishing town on the ‘English riviera’ is more photogenic when there are plenty of people around, walking the breakwater wall, or exploring the town itself.
It has been over a year since my last visit here, little may have changed but sometimes after a long absence from a favourite place, it is almost like visiting for the first time again.
Famous for its fishing heritage, Brixham’s fish market and fishing fleet retain a healthy presence here, where the fish market sells to both Joe public and the catering industry.
An array of kiosks along the sea front sell cockles, prawns and crab to those visitors keen to taste the local wares, If shellfish is not your thing there are cafes and restaurants aplenty, to entertain ones gourmet cravings.
My choice is the local pasty shop after my meandering around the quayside and breakwater wall, where I am under scrutiny from a herring gull, who is keen to share the delight of my lamb and mint flavoured pasty, they have become so adept at taking the slimmest of opportunities to steal food, that I keep my lunch very much within its bag after each bite, it is far too good to share with this avian thief!
It’s just after 04:15 as I head out this Saturday morning to capture another seaside sunrise, this time at Dawlish Warren.
As I make my way to the railway station, the dawn chorus has begun already, a male blackbird stands proudly atop a concrete pillar, preaching his avian chorus to anyone who listens, I do, his melodic overture is a pleasure to hear as a new day begins.
My walk to the station is rarely interrupted but for the occasional takeaway car making their last calls to hungry party goers, or taxi cabs ferrying the night club weary back home for a welcome slumber.
In just a few weeks, even the five AM train will not be early enough for those summer seaside sunrises but that is a concern for then, not now.
The train glides out of Exeter St. David’s station on time, I will be at my destination in twenty minutes and with darkness already lifting, I can see a little colour beginning to form in the sky above.
Mine is just the third stop of the train’s journey to Paignton, Dawlish Warren station is just a stone’s throw from here, the local arcades, cafe’s and fairground rides lie dormant for now, in just a few hours, it will be a thriving mini town, as day trippers and tourists from the local camp sites look to entertain family members, young and old.
The beauty of the new day has begun already, bright orange and dark blue skies are all I need to get the camera out for the first shot of the day, a simple composition of nearby benches in silhouette.
It is a fabulous start but I am keen to find a few more shots before the sun begins its rapid ascent, with the tide making its way in, I look to find some reflections in the calm water as a contrast to the rippled patterns in the exposed sand and a couple images from the path above the beach, using the picket fence as foreground interest.
Once the sun appears above the horizon, these beautiful shades will be lost all too soon, all the more reason to just sit and enjoy the rest of this brief show with a well earned cuppa from my generously sized thermos flask.
With mission sunrise achieved, I will make my way along the footpath to Starcross and Cockwood, joining the estuary trail as far as Topsham, where I will catch a ferry and enjoy a well deserved refreshment.
The next set of images are just a handful of those I took along one of my favourite hikes, a good ten miles allowing for my numerous ‘off piste’ ambles along the way in the search for more photos.
After Saturday morning’s sunny start to the Mayday bank holiday, Sunday reverted to the more traditional British bank holiday fare of grey skies and intermittent rain.
Unperturbed, a hastily planned trip to the East Devon coast was to be my destination for today’s outing, more precisely, Budleigh Salterton.
After the recent Easter holidays, the tourist season has begun, the beach huts that line various locations along the beach are now out of winter storage, most are still padlocked shut but the odd one or two are cosy wooden havens from which to watch the waves, for those that have brought a bite to eat and hot drinks.
This Mayday bank holiday is probably the least busy of the spring bank holidays, closely sandwiched as it is, between Easter and Whitsun, there is no half term holiday to extend the week.
There is rain in the air, as I embark on another seaside foray, the sky above just a few shades of grey with little character, perfect for those monochrome edits I like.
For today’s outing, I am using the native Canon lens (50mm F1.8), a lens I am coming to know inside out, one of the side benefits of using a particular lens for a length of time, many of today’s images will be shot between f1.8 & F2 and rarely above F5.6, just because that slight softness will suit today’s conditions.
My meander from one end of the beach to the other will take just over an hour, as I thread my way between the small fishing boats along the shore, snapping the array of lobster and crab pots that await their next use.
It may not have been the brightest day but any seaside exploration is a more than pleasant way to enjoy a Sunday.
As my working week edge closer to Fridays, plans begin to take shape for my weekend photo walks, as I perused the weather forecast, Saturday was looking good for another sunrise.
It’s 4am on Saturday when the alarm sounds, an hour later than my normal work day alarm but I am already awake, supping the first brew of the day and getting ready to head out for my 5am train.
As usual, I arrive at the station with more than enough time to spare, I could never be one of those people that leave appointments or meetings until the very last moment,I have never enjoyed trying to make up time, preferring to ease myself more sedately into my day!
My train will take around 25 minutes to get to today’s destination, Teignmouth, sunrise will be just 15 minutes after my arrival, enough time to pick my spot to watch the new day dawn.
Finding my place on the shoreline, the dawn light show has begun already, skies of blue and orange, reflected into the sea, a truly beautiful start to my morning.
It is not long before the sun appears from below the horizon, its vibrant orange orb adding more fiery hues to the sky.
I make my way further along the sea front, I would like to capture a scene of the pier as the sun rises above, I am not prepared for the scene that unfolds as apparently out of nowhere, a flock of herring gulls are above the pier and appear to surround the sun…..
As much as I enjoy capturing these scenes, I feel that sometimes I miss opportunities to just observe, caught up in the moment as I am with my photography, today I make the time to just sit and watch while enjoying my second cuppa of the day from my flask… and then a third.
From here, I walk towards Teignmouth’s ‘back beach’, admiring the golden glow cast on the scene before me, where I meet Claire, a Teignmouth local who takes time every day to clear the beach of litter, in rain, wind or shine.
I admire the work and dedication of people such as Claire and others, who strive on a daily basis to clear up the debris of the idle, when did some lose the notion that we should leave a place how we would wish to find it?
By the time I have finished my beach side amble, it is just after 8am, I head back to the station for the next train and begin to look forward to the full English I promised myself a few hours before.