A long absence

As we begin a considered easing of lockdown rules over the coming weeks, I look forward to treading once more the hallowed turf of Dartmoor, to reacquaint myself with the joys of roaming this vast and wonderful landscape, to marvel once more at the majestic tors, standing tall and proud, sentinels of the landscape, to enjoy each breath of its invigorating and inspiring air and every footstep made along its many paths.

This enforced absence has made me appreciate even more, just why I enjoy taking a camera with me on my walks, looking through photographs of previous visits evoke a memory of that particular day, or time of the year, in some cases, remembering how hard it was to keep the camera steady as a strong wind blew across the moor, or just how quickly that rain cloud appeared just overhead, ready to drench the unwary walker with its cargo.

Over the last few months, I have slowly and somewhat belatedly started to catalogue my photos, a long overdue process that is still a long way from completion, as I seem to make more and more reasons to get out and take yet more photos.
I had dreaded this sorting process, but it has been an interesting insight in to my personal photographic journey, as well as a sobering reminder of the cameras I may have bought, sold and purchased again along with all the ‘necessary’ accessories, yet I have not regretted a single second of this process.

It was looking back at recent trips to the moor that inspired me to pick a few favourites from the archives and sow a seed of optimism that it may not be too much longer before I am there once again.







For the love of clouds

Photographers are an inherently fussy breed, in pursuit of the ‘perfect’ light we abhor those insipid grey washed characterless skies and take exception to those cloudless azure blue skies with equal measure.

To capture the mood of a rainy day requires adequately weather proof camera bodies and lenses, lacking both or either requisite we will keep our gear safe from the elements but moan that we cannot get outside.

For some the midday sun is to bright while an overcast night sky for an astro photographer is about as welcome as a bill from the tax man!

The nature of our hobby is such that not all conditions will suit everyone but my own addiction to shutter therapy means I will try to get out at any opportunity.

Of course, shooting a landscape in the harsh sunlight of mid day is not ideal, but take those same conditions to a busy city, where contrasting light and shadow may be found, it is only a matter of time before people will walk into these areas of light and some interesting shots can unfold.
The same may be said of those rainy days, reflections from the wet ground offer some good monochrome shots.

For most of us, the ideal conditions are those days with cloud leaden skies, where the sun escapes through the occasional gap to fall upon buildings or the ground below.

For me, this recipe is best served around the coast at low tide, the mud flats or shallow tidal channels reflecting the light and cloud.
I was fortunate enough just recently to have the weather gods on my side just a few days ago, the gallery below are a pick of the many and varied shots I took that day, inspiring the title ‘for the love of clouds’

A sunny Sunday

As we hit the middle of March, there are welcome signs of spring, with the hours of daylight increasing slowly but surely, day by day.

Spring is a time of change, as we shed the siege mentality of those often wet and windy days that keep us indoors and look to spend more time enjoying the first prolonged warm days outside.

With Saturday offering nothing better than frequent rain showers, I looked to make Sunday morning my day of lockdown exercise along the river path, so just after five thirty am, I head out before the city wakes from its slumber.

How nice at this time of day to see the sky beginning to lighten already, instead of the black velvet shroud of darkness, as I reach the quayside, pink clouds of candy floss sail along blown by the chilly wind.

Pink skies by the quayside

For now, I have the quay to myself, in a few hours it will be the destination for those looking for a warming takeaway drink after their morning constitutional, I will probably be back home by then, a reminder that I practiced social distancing before it became a ‘thing’.

A mile or so along the riverside path, the morning sun begins its ascent into the dawn sky, its light painting clouds with bright, warm hues, one of the reasons I love watching the new day come alive.

Days such as these, bring the senses alive, the feeling of familiarity of this path during lockdown dissipates into appreciation of the place I am fortunate to call home.

Reaching the end of this stretch of the path, I could cross the busy main road at Countess wear and join it again to walk towards the Exe estuary, this idea is trumped by the knowledge I have promised myself a bacon and egg roll when I get home and with the hunger pangs making themselves known, I begin the walk back along the opposite path.

Heading back towards the quayside, I have walked a healthy six and a half miles, and with the sun radiating some rather pleasant light, I grab a few more shots before the home straight.

Cold frosty days

As we approach the last week of February, the long winter nights and dark mornings are gradually making way for lighter and hopefully brighter days and after last weekend’s rain filled days, a little sunshine would be more than welcome.

I am at Starcross, just after six fifteen AM, my intention to walk the few miles along the estuary footpath back to Exeter.
It is one of those very cold mornings where the chill nips at the fingertips but as the skies lighten, the blue hour is nearly upon us.

One of my first shots of today is a spur of the moment experiment, hearing a train in the distance, I set my camera up for a long exposure, not just to flatten the water but to hopefully capture the ‘ghosted’ image of the passing train, I will have just one go at this with the light as it is….

A 20 second exposure of the passing train was a spur of the moment idea.

I was more than happy with the resulting image, this would be my ‘photo of the day’.

This time of day may be known as the blue hour, with a camera in hand it feels like just a few minutes, as I take a few more images before moving on.



From the beautiful hues of blue hour to pastel skies as the sun greets the new day, the cold morning leaves traces of mist in the distance.

From here, the road follows alongside the railway track, to Powderham, Turf locks and back along the path to Exeter.
The railway offers a few images in monochrome, as the sun does its best to burn through a cloak of fog on the estuary.

With a mist on the water, inland, the frost on the bracken and grass offer more photo opportunities, until that is, the fog has a second wind and finds its way amongst the trees ahead.

By the time I reach Turf Locks, the sun appears to be winning the day, brighter skies above and a brisk pace mean my hands are thawing and I can shed the fleece I had on under my coat.


The last few favourites from today’s walk, before heading for the home stretch and a reward of a bacon sandwich and a rather large mug of tea.

A cold start

It seems like the five hundredth day of January, as I wake this Friday morning. just after 6am.

As with many others, I am longing to have the shackles of lockdown loosened as I contemplate which part of my home town I shall walk today, I would like to take an early train and catch the sunrise on one of the local beaches but respect the importance for only necessary travel on public transport and decide upon a circular walk following the River Exe once more.

It is another one of those still winter morning’s where the cold soon shakes any latent sleepiness from you, while hidden patches of ice on the pavements also help keep you alert.

A cold mist floats above some parts of the River, in my head the deep purple ‘smoke on the water’ intro plays in a loop as I look for my first shots of the day.

There are still traces of night lingering in the skies above as my first shots are taken, I love the moodiness of this time of day, the longer shutter speed turning the river to an almost smooth mirror, the star like light emanating from the street lights on the opposite pathway.

Atmospheric cloud and smooth water, the lights reflection make for a satisfying first image of the day
A patch of blue sky is quickly hidden by the spectre of cloud
Just a few minutes later, as the sky lightens the day, the mist rises from weir like a ghost

With the city behind me, I join the footpath to the Riverside valley trail, where the powerful gushing of the fast flowing weir is replaced by the first strains of the dawn chorus, a sound I will never tire of.

If the sound of birdsong was not enough, my reward is twofold, as I see the cloud begin disperse, their edges painted with the glow of the morning sun, how different from last Friday’s insipid, uninspiring blanket of grey.

Beautiful reflections and light as the sun makes a welcome appearance

This morning is offering photo opportunities at every turn, the river reflections and golden skies, the grass either side of the footpath dusted with a light frost, it is a day to treasure.


The highlight of today’s shoot, my picture of the day was an opportunist shot, taken opposite the Double Locks pub, where on the landing stage a young lady stands, taking photos of the local swans, who with their natural grace and elegance are as photogenic as ever.

With the sun adding a golden glow to the scene, I have my favourite shot of the day.

An elegance of swans have their photos taken/

From a safe distance we exchange greetings and I explain that the shot was too good to miss and would she like a copy of the image.

The young lady’s name is Ama, she explains that under normal circumstances she would have been in Mexico, celebrating a friend’s birthday with them but instead, here she was in the middle of an English winter, making the most of the allowed exercise.
Ama loves the picture, she says it will be a memento of lockdown she will treasure, I promise to send the image later in the day via email.

With a good few landscape images under my belt, I seek out the more abstract images I find so much enjoyment from, close ups of plants bathed in the glow of the morning light, ice crystals atop a fence post, bramble leaves seemingly candied with frost.


The smaller details are as much fun to photograph as the grand vistas, finding beauty in the every day has taught me not just to look but how to see the apparently mundane in a different light.

As I make my way back home, ideas for this blog begin to germinate, that initial thought of despair so early this morning of it feeling like the five hundredth day of January as the opened curtains revealed nothing but darkness has been replaced by ‘ the five hundredth day of January was a great day to be alive! ‘

Winter walks in lockdown

After the expected recent lockdown measures, any thoughts of trips to the seaside or Dartmoor are out of the question for now, so my new January musings will follow familiar waking routes around the River and other local haunts.

I had considered starting another long term photography project this year that is on hold for now but still have one or two ideas for some themed photo shoots around my home city that can still be achieved during the lockdown period.

As usual, I had been checking the weather forecast for this weekend, hoping for a couple of dry days to get out for my permitted daily exercise, Saturday was looking good until Friday night, when the promise of sunshine was to be cancelled due to overcast skies.

Unperturbed, at just after seven thirty, I head out into the cold of the day to hopefully get a few shots.
As I walk through the city centre, I grasp the chance of a couple of quick photos, before heading towards the riverside.

From here, a steady walk to the River, where slowly but surely the night gives way to daylight, albeit overcast, uninspiring skies.



While Saturday was grey and drab, Sunday started with some early mist and perhaps a little sunshine to come a little later, so with a new optimism I set forth once more.

I was not to be disappointed today, as a combination of the mist and the morning sunrise competing for attention were to offer some lovely images, so glad I made the decision to get out again instead of the lazy Sunday option I had considered.

The best bit of winter walks is getting home to the self promised hot cup of tea and bacon roll, while looking at the mornings efforts, then embracing that idea of a lazy Sunday.

December sunrise

It is the penultimate Saturday before Christmas, many of us will be having to entertain thoughts of heading into towns or cities for some Christmas shopping, fortunately I am not one of the many, instead I shall be heading out for a morning hike, with the hopes of catching the sun as it rises along the way.


Setting off at just after seven fifteen AM, darkness still hangs around like an unwanted guest, I have about 45 minutes before the sun begins its morning ascent into northern hemisphere skies.

A little rain is still in the air but today is forecast as mainly sunny until later in the day, one of the reasons I have chosen today for my outing.
I have about a mile and half before reaching the well trodden riverside path that follows the River Exe to the Exe estuary, it is when I reach this path that I spot some orange hues in the sky as the morning awakens.

I reach one of my favourite spots along the footpath, close to the Double Locks pub, the sun breaks through the cloud in all its golden glory, what a start to the day.




After the light show, I decide to capture a long exposure shot of the river as it looks back towards Exeter, the serene stillness broken only by the melody of the avian chorus.

Another five minutes and the stillness of the river is broken by the first of many early morning rowers, their sleek boats cutting through the water like a knife through butter, as they glide so elegantly by.

From here, the path takes me to Countess wear, one of Exeter’s main arteries out of the city, where I will cross the already busy main road to join the path on the other side, another 3 miles will take me to Turf Locks, another of my favourite photographic venues.

I am not alone on my walk, the river bank has seen overnight fishermen hoping for their catch of a lifetime, the predator anglers seeking pike in one place, while down river the carp anglers have set up their temporary base, sandwiching a solitary Tench angler making his first cast of the morning.

While the conversation with them all is about their piscatorial prowess, the one thing we all have in common, is the joy of watching the morning sunrise, where we are all agreed that the early mornings are the best part of the day.

A little way along the footpath, it splits into two, a narrower path following the river is ideal for walkers, the wider path below takes the cyclists, as I join the narrow river path, I can take in the views at my leisure.



Making my way to Turf locks, the clouds above start to thicken hiding the sun for a few moments before it appears once more casting that wonderful winter light upon the landscape.


With the light changing rapidly, I try to keep up with the moody skies, grey and threatening one moment, then back to sunny landscapes as the sun escapes from its cloudy cloak.

Reaching Turf locks, the skies begin to darken and in the distance the clouds shed their cargo of rain, tide in or out, this part of my walk is just so photogenic.

I take a couple of in camera monochrome shots to capture the drama of the changing light, the exposed mud flats add more to the mood.

Having decided that I would catch a bus home, I take a road I have not walked before, looking at possible new routes and footpaths along the way.

I walk about another mile and a half before hearing the traffic pass on the main road ahead, as I reach the junction a convenient bus stop is just on the other side of the road, I have approximately 15 minutes to finish my flask of tea before the next bus arrives.

The ride home gives me a chance to look through my mornings photos, I am pleased that I made the effort to get out when I did, as Sunday’s weather is looking pretty hopeless.

Photography Friday

It’s the last Friday in November and I have a bonus day off from work, so decide to set my usual 4am work alarm to an hour later, with the intention of spending a few hours out with the camera.

No need for the alarm, I have become so accustomed to the early starts but the dark mornings never look that inviting.

As usual, I have my camera bag ready, leaving no excuses not to go anywhere, my intention is to head to the coast,so I will catch a train that departs just after seven fifteen.
I leave the house an hour before this, perhaps I can take advantage of the quiet streets of Exeter and take some low light shots.




The streets are empty but for the road sweepers and the few early commuters, I take full advantage of shop lights illuminating the streets and seize a quick opportunity to take a photo of a locked up bicycle lit by a mechanical road sweeper making its rounds, immediately thinking this would make a good black and white shot.

The previous evening’s weather forecast had overcast skies for most of Friday, as I wait for my train, patches of blue hour coloured sky are visible through the cloud, maybe I could even see a glimpse of sun.

Arriving at Teignmouth, there is a noticeable chill in the wind, the mornings have that feel of winter about them but no matter, the light of morning is looking rather good, time to get to the beach.

The strong winds are offering some good wave action, exposure times of less than ten seconds will be enough for me to capture the movement of the water, it promises to be a good morning,



With just a glimpse of sun peering from behind its cloudy curtain, the colours are a reminder of why I like to get out whenever possible to watch the day unfold.

With a dozen or so shots in the bag, it’s time to treat myself to a hot cup of tea and a breakfast baguette, luckily for me, a local cafe open for takeaway service is just a short walk away.
Fed and watered, I am ready to walk the short distance along the sea wall to Dawlish.


With schools and work now under a semblance of normality, there are few other souls around today, one of the reasons I enjoy getting out on a weekday.

As the morning progresses, the clouds begin to thicken and turn a dull grey, I feel fortunate to have captured the earlier light but see the changing light as a chance for some monochrome shots.

It has been a good mixture of a morning, a few miles walked and a good selection of shots , I decide to catch the next train from Dawlish and head for home, where I look forward to checking out my mornings efforts.

Fifth time lucky

Today was to be a Dartmoor day, the first in a couple of weeks, to a venue I have visited on four occasions previously, on each occasion coming away without a particular shot I have sought, due to strong winds.

The venue is Fernworthy reservoir, just a few miles from Chagford on Dartmoor, one of several reservoirs on the moor that has public footpaths allowing a walk around its perimeter.

The area is just wall to wall photogenia, especially when like today there is no breeze, so the reservoir stands serene reflecting the surrounding landscape on mirror flat waters.

The early morning fog and mist had cleared, revealing bright blue skies with just a hint of winter in the air, a perfect day for photography.

The bracken to the right of path display hues of bronze, dew droplets hanging from fronds, while dew laden cobwebs hang like tinsel draped between the clusters.

Going back to the introduction, I mentioned a particular shot I have been hoping to get, a tree that stands close to the waters edge, that in spring and summer show off its verdant plumage, in autumn and winter laying bare its gnarled twigs and branches, yet oozing character.
Previous visits have been in windy conditions, my hope for a long exposure shot to calm the waters of the reservoir thwarted, the trees movement would be just a blurry mess, I would have to try yet again another day.

I am within sight of my goal, today is the day, and there it stands, free from movement but as a bonus for me, the water levels are high enough that it stands surrounded by water.





My four previous attempts to capture this tree had been foiled, today was my day as it also stands surrounded by the waters of the reservoir.

Finally, I had bagged the shot and while it looked okay in colour, I preferred the drama of the black and white image.

I am barely a third of the way around todays walk but take a minute or two to just sit and enjoy the tranquility of my surroundings before moving on.

I take my usual zig zagging route, taking detours down side paths I think may be of interest, a four mile walk becomes a five and a half miler, all down to my curious nature!

One such path leads to a copse of pine trees, where the morning sun is making an impression on the last of the early mist, this is a shot I have to have.

While I finally had the shot I wanted, this one is my favourite from the day.

I was over the moon to have finally got ‘my’ tree shot, yet this is my favourite from the day, as the sun pierces through the mist, painting a golden glow on the path.

The play between sun and mist was a wonder to behold, offering a wealth of picture taking treasures.

Today just seemed to be one of those days that just kept giving, the play between light and mist adding an ethereal beauty to an already picturesque location.

Making my way back to the car park, it is considerably more full than earlier in the morning, yet I feel that I have had the best of the day, as I drink a well earned brew before heading home.

Staying local

As we approach the mid way point in the UK’s second lockdown, my recent photo walks have all been based around a radius of around seven or so miles, making the most of the many footpaths that follow the River Exe, from canal to estuary, or just a quick walk as far as the quayside and back again.

This weekend has been a case of the latter, grey, uninspiring mornings have allowed the luxury of a lie in but I always feel that I have wasted my weekend if I do not walk at least a few miles.

Walking towards the city centre at just after nine, it feels like a Sunday morning as ‘unessential’ shops remain closed, a permanent reminder of 2020’s legacy.

Normally at this time of year, the festive build up begins, the high street would be full of shoppers looking for gifts for family and friends, the cathedral green would be a mini village of chalets offering hand made gifts and such like from local businesses or a selection of foods from around the world, but not this year….

My ambling takes me to the Mill on the Exe pub, or at least its car park, where I will often stand and just watch the water flow past, the sound of rushing water has often been a source of relaxation, today is no exception.

My first images today are a few long exposures to capture the water movement, I must have taken this shot hundreds of times in my twenty years of residing in Exeter, yet I care not, I love to see the river in all its moods throughout the seasons.


As usual for a Saturday morning the canal path is used by many, runners, cyclists and dog walkers, all out for some fresh air, my progress somewhat slower than the others as I slowly mooch along the path looking for my next shots.

I spend a little time watching the world pass, as I enjoy a flask of tea I prepared earlier.
Refulled and ready to continue, I make my back to the main high street
as I head for home.

I miss the hustle and bustle of a normal Saturday, the groups of teenagers shopping for designer clothes, the buskers in their allotted places are missing, the coffee connoisseurs no longer sit at outdoor tables and catch up with their friends and family, no carrier bag laden consumers moving from shop to shop to spend their hard earned cash.

Today was not my biggest walk ever but am glad I have had my fix of shutter therapy while getting out of the house for a couple hours, I shall look forward to my next fresh brew, while I contemplate on how I may start this latest blog.