50 days of 50mm #47

With the welcome return of some of my most anticipated yearly events, today’s visit to Torbay steam fair is one I have looked forward to for some time.

It is another day of cloudless blue skies and hot August sun, a reminder perhaps of that summer of ’76 when I was just a ten year old with seemingly endless weeks of summer holiday ahead of me.

The photographer in me would love to see a few more clouds in the sky, the realist in me is just so glad to be back at an event that I have always enjoyed, a comment that would be said more than once today by fellow spectators and exhibitors alike.

The event sprawls over two very large fields, with an array of classic cars, motorcycles, tractors and traction engines, as well as a number of fairground rides and various food stalls.

My sense of smell is working overtime, the aroma of fried onions from a burger stall has to compete with the delicious aroma of Indian spices from a curry stall, that in turn over ridden by the smell of coal and oil from the stars of todays outing, the traction engines.

Using a 50mm lens for such an event is certainly challenging at close quarters , these iron leviathans soon fill the frame, so I decide to get closer still and pick out the detail shots of the engines and their owners as they work on their machines.

My camera has worked hard today, a good few hundred images will take some sorting but here are a handful which hopefully capture the essence of one of the highlights of my photographic year.



50 days of 50mm #46

Back in the late spring, I visited a forest that to my shame, I had not really explored that much, despite being just a few miles from my doorstep.

I blame my preoccupation of Dartmoor and the nearby coast for my lapse but today, I intend to fulfil a promise I made to myself after the last trip, which was to become more familiar with my local forests and woods.

Immersing myself within this beautiful landscape is not hard, listening to the stonechat just ahead of me, interrupted very rudely by the screech of a jay, neither of which I see, just knowing they are here is good enough.

I choose once more to use my manual focus 50mm lenses (50mm takumar F1.4 and Pentacon F1.8), as I find the act of twisting a focus ring so much more pleasurable than pressing a button, that same feeling goes for changing aperture value on the lens itself, rather than through a screen.

Hopefully the enjoyment I had here is evident in my selection of photos in the gallery below, I will also ensure my next visit will sooner than the autumn.

50 days of 50mm #45

Sunday morning has rolled around far too quickly, my brief visit to Salcombe is almost over as I make my way back to Exeter to commence another working week.

In my usual manner, it will be a meandering trip back, stopping off to add a few more photos to my collection and to complete day 45.

Totnes will be the first stop, a bustling market town just about 20 miles from Salcombe, where I will follow a footpath along the river to the local steam railway station but only after I have made my usual vist to ‘the island’ a very pleasant and popular public space by the River Dart.

Today, I have decided to use my Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens and my Pentacon 50mm F1.8, same focal length but so different in their rendition of colour and sharpness.

50 days of 50mm #44

Day 44, it’s just after 5am and I am back in Salcombe for an early morning stroll before the first day of the summer holiday begins in earnest

My hopes of catching the sunrise were to be thwarted by increasingly overcast skies but the occasional break in the clouds allowed brief opportunities for the light to escape and cast that early glow here and there, I just had to find those places.

The town is quiet, only the sound of squawking herring gulls break the silence, a noise that definitely is not the dawn chorus!

As much as I enjoy capturing the light on the landscape, I am finding more and more that I enjoy finding those close detail shots that any 50mm lens is so good at capturing, the last three shots in this selection were among my favourites of todays outing.

50 days of 50mm #43

When I began this ‘ 50 day’ project back in January, fifty days sounded easy but of course my working week between those days I can get out taking photos meant it was always going to take me well into the months of summer to complete the challenge.

Thankfully, this year has seen the return of some of my most looked forward to events, the vintage car rallies and steam fairs, as well as my regular trips to Dartmoor and the local coastal paths and beaches, seeing all these familiar venues with a single focal length has been a fascinating experience and a great learning curve in how to shoot with what I have in my now minimalist camera bag.

With this last weekend set to see some of the hottest weather of the summer so far, my plan was to get out around 6am and meander around one of the local public gardens and riverside before the heat set in, armed with my favourite vintage fifty, the Pentacon 1.8.

Even at this early hour, there was already a warmth in the air, the subtle light of the sunrise was brief, this was to be a long and beautiful summer day.


Today’s images were a mixed bag, the beauty of the summer flora and the abstract of glass shards to the light cast on the railway bridge over the river Exe, the graffiti reflecting in the river below.

I really do enjoy these shorter local walks as much as my all day trips, there is always something to be found, even if it is on our doorstep.

50 days of 50mm #42

My first visit to Dartmoor after the constraints of lockdown felt like it was my first and though I knew what to expect, my appreciation for the landscape and the freedom it gives, had grown.

Slowly but surely, life has got back to some semblance of normality, however, I was going to have to wait another year to visit one of my favourite summer diary events, the Powderham historic vehicle gathering.

Yesterday was the day I had been waiting for, the two day event was to welcome the public once more to the grounds of Powderham Castle, again I felt as though it was my first time after such a long enforced absence.

With the next few days set to be some of the hottest of the summer so far, the event organisers have certainly picked the right week, the morning was already warming up at seven am as I walked to a nearby shop to pick up some refeshments for later in the day.

With the gates open at 10am, I was there for just a few minutes after, my online purchase of my ticket allowed me through the prepaid ticket queue a little faster than those buying on the day, as well as saving a couple of quid by doing so.

The event covers a vast space in the grounds of the Powderham estate, it is almost like a village within the grounds, with the varied and many vehicle exhibitors as well as the food vendors and vehicle related memorabilia outlets.

My first point of call will be the traction engine zone, I like to capture the proud owners of these incredible workhorses as they polish their charges for the umpteenth time, before they head towards the concourse later in the day to show off their gleaming engines.

My common sense head tells me to slow down as I head from exhibnit to exhibit but frankly I am like a child in a sweetshop, wide eyed with the choices available, then I tell myself that I have all day!

I think that everone senses the carnival atmosphere of today’s event, like the welcome return of an old friend, it is a field of perfect strangers chatting and laughing as though we had known each other for years.

While I have not had time to go through all of yesterdays images, I have picked a few that hopefully give some measure of why I look forward to this event so much and why I will look out for the same exhibits at Torbay steam rally in a few weeks time.

50 days of 50mm #41

I am not entirely sure where my love of early mornings came from but perhaps the seeds were sown by the occasions that I would stay with my grandfather over the school holidays, even though he lived just around the corner, it still felt like an adventure.

He would knock on my bedroom door at just after 5am, where more often than not he would tell me that breakfast was waiting, two boiled eggs and perfectly browned doorsteps of toasted white bread and good old fashioned butter.

After helping with the washing up, we would often be headed out for a walk somewhere blackberrying in the summer, mushroom foraging in the autumn and still be back before 11am.

My early forays these days follow a similar pattern, the early train to a local venue in the early spring and summer to capture the new day, camera of course at the ready.

With trains not starting to run until after nine am on a Sunday, I will more often than not be found walking along the local quay and riverside paths here in Exeter, day 41 being one such day.

Sunday mornings always feel more laid back, the one day of the week where the world seems to slow down a little and take a bit of a breather.

I enjoy the peace and solitude of these brief few hours before the city comes to life, the way the light changes as the sun makes its ascent into the skies above, the random chats with fellow early risers going about their own Sunday, that flask of tea I always carry with me to enjoy somewhere along the way.








50 days of 50mm #40

As I edge ever closer to completion of my current project, there is no doubt that I will contue to take just the 50mm lens on the regular outings, to keep the creativity it encourages honed.

However, the project has not just been about the lens, it has also been about my desire to quit from the upgrade race and enjoy camera gear that I would have liked a decade ago but simply could not justify the expense.

Just a few months ago, I had never entertained the idea of ever using a DSLR again, mirrorless cameras were king and of course they may well remain so for some time to come but I am one of those people that like using old gear, enter my Canon 5d MKII.

This camera body , along with the Canon 50mm F1.8 and my vintage 50mm pentacon 1.8 have been on some fabulous outings over the last few months, proving that I do not need to keep make huge dents in my finances to enjoy my trips.

So on day 40, it was a trip locally to Dawlish Warren, for some sea air and some shutter therapy, where my walk would start well before nine and finish before the Sunday day trippers arrived to enjoy their time at the beach.

Sunday was a day of threatening rain clouds alternating with sunny spells, perfect conditions for some good light with mood in the sky above.

With the tide just about on the ebb, my path was on the upper part of the beach where the softer sand slows the pace a little, giving the calf muscles a good work out over the course of the route.

I really enjoy these mornings on the beach, especially watching the ebbing tide reveal pristine sand as it recedes, it’s like natures etch a sketch, wiping the evidence of seabird or human footprints from its memory.

Anyway, enough words, here are the images from a stroll along the shore.



50 days of 50mm #39

With my week long excursion to Wales all but a memory, it was time to tread more familiar territory once more, with a visit to Torcross and Start point.

I have happy memories of visiting both venues occasionally on Sunday afternoons, the one special day reserved for ‘family time’ in the 1970’s, the post Sunday roast outing.

A few years later on, I would work as as a chef in the nearby town of Dartmouth and become more acquainted with the coast paths around the area, it would be some years later again before any sort of camera would become a part of these walks.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I enjoy revisiting a place as much as I do seeing somewhere for the first time, making up for those days when I did not do photography… enough rambling what about today’s walk?

Arriving at just before 10am, being a Saturday, it’s ‘change over day’, those that have enjoyed their week here are getting ready to leave their holiday lets, making space for those arriving later today, I chat with one couple packing up their car, they say they have simply loved watching the sea views from the upper balcony of their holiday rental, it has been their most relaxing holiday ever!

It’s comments such as these that make me appreciate all the more, the fact these views are just an hour’s drive away and just how beautiful the county of Devon is.

After an hour or so capturing a few images around Torcross, it’s time to head out towards Start point, famous for it’s lighthouse and another beautiful part of the South west coast path.


The path towards the lighthouse is a winding route, the views are simply beautiful looking back once more towards Torcross and towards Dartmouth, I am only distracted from these views by a sighting of a pair of yellowhammers and stonechats in the hedges below the footpath wall, no chance of a photo of either species with my 50mm lens, I do not fancy carrying a lens the size of a small ship in my camera bag, I will leave that to the dedicated wildlife photographers.

As I come to the lighthouse itself, the gate is firmly closed, not open for visitors today, this is a trip for another day and a wider lens, something to look forward to on another day.

The last few yards before the footpath ends at Start point lighthouse

50 days of 50mm #38

One of the many pleasures I get from my photography walks, is getting to photograph somewhere for the first time.

With the plethora of online resources available to us all, it is easy enough to research places, especially useful if it were for a working assignment but for my pleasure photography, I try to avoid ‘spoilers’, that way, I can see a new venue for the first time.

There is no doubt that somewhere along the line, I will find a well photographed landmark, the fun is finding such images for myself, maybe with the hope of seeing it from a more unusual aspect.

So day #38 finds me on a brief trip to Barmouth, situated on the west coast of Wales, it is a popular seaside destination, luckily for me, it is just before the peak holiday season but even in mid June, I am joined by a healthy number of other day trippers.

With postcard perfect blue skies and pristine, almond white sands, this town oozes charm and some stunning views, especially that of the impressive railway bridge and the Snowdonia national park for its backdrop.




As has become customary during my 50mm project, I create a multiple shot panorama, this time of my view from the walk along the breakwater, too good an opportunity to pass up.

A 12 image panorama of Barmouth harbour

Today’s visit is all too brief but there is a certainty that I will return for a longer exploration and a promise to myself that I will add the railway bridge walk to that itinerary, something I am already looking forward to.