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.

Another night time shoot

I had made the most of a bright and sunny Friday bonus day off to get out for my weekly photo walk, knowing that the rest of the weekend was likely to be unsettled.

Saturday was as forecast, wind and rain for most of the day but it looked as if there may be a break much later in the day, a chance for another night time shoot around Exeter city centre.

On a normal Saturday night at just after 7pm, the streets would be full of people having enjoyed a day out and looking for a place to eat, or those looking to meet with friends in one of the many city city centre pubs or clubs but this is 2020, a year that is far from normal.

With the second national lockdown going into its second week, the city is like a ghost town, more like a Monday night in January instead of a Saturday just a few weeks from the festive countdown.

For all the adversity this year has brought, a spirit of ‘the show must go on’ prevails, as the Christmas lights have been turned on, almost as an act of defiance in the face of covid, normally I would be the first to say that it is too early, this year I welcome the cheer that they offer.

The eerie silence is disturbed only briefly by the sounds of buses going about their business, virtually empty chariots going to places where nobody waits.

While taxis lie still at their ranks, it is the takeaway delivery driver that is king of the road, knights on two wheels, delivering Saturday night treats to the many, one of my favourite images of tonight’s outing being one such rider awaiting his next delivery.

With the streets empty of diners, this delivery driver waits for his next call

I seek out a few compositions for some light trails, but there is little traffic around of course but do manage one or two, so decide to turn my attention to some black and white shots around the city.

The black and white shots are pretty much straight out of camera Jpeg’s from the Ricoh GR3, the high contrast preset is a favourite of mine.

Returning home to the inevitable brew, I see that I have walked around 5 miles tonight, not bad considering I just intended an hour or so, that ended up as a 3 hour mooch.

I have found that seeing a place in the dark offers so many different ways of seeing the familiar, the speed of a car passing a zebra crossing, the shadows and light of a car park staircase are not things I would consider during the day.

With the longer hours of darkness here for the duration, I will look to embrace the chances they offer but I will still look forward to those longer, lighter days at the end of March.

Sunday by the sea

Sunday morning, the only morning when I tend not to set an alarm, yet still I wake at around 4am, my futile attempts at a lie in are appeased by the thought of my first cuppa, while I lazily thumb through the weekend papers or read one of the three books I currently have on the go.

A quick look out of the window and of course it is still dark, the rain covered road and pavements reflecting the lights of the few cars that pass by at this early hour.

Regardless of the weather, I have planned to spend an hour or three by the sea, a little shutter therapy is a welcome Sunday pastime, so make sure my camera bag is ready and batteries charged.

The earlier rain has cleared, but the overcast skies still show some intent, a strong breeze offers plenty of wave movement with the high tide just about to turn.

Dawlish Warren offers so many photo opportunities on days like this, naturally I look to try a couple of long exposures to capture the drama in both clouds and sea.

Setting aside my tripod, I then decide to make my first attempt at the concept known as ICM photography.
ICM or intentional camera movement is where the camera is deliberately moved during exposure time, so an exposure of a second or more is recommended to get the desired effect, the effect essentially being the polar opposite of the sharpness and definition photographers strive for, a blurred ‘arty’ looking image, that implies an image rather than defining it.


I have an ND filter attached to my camera lens, at F5.6 I have an exposure time of just over a second, so begin my experiments in earnest, the first 5 attempts are not brilliant as I try different speeds with the camera movements.
On my 6th attempt, I have something that looks interesting if nothing else but it is a concept I will have more attempts at in the future.


Putting the filters away, my aim is just to stroll to the far end of the Warren and take the footpath around the nature reserve side of the beach, a long slow trudge through the soft sand that is the pathway.

Naturally there are several other people with the same idea of spending some time at the beach, a chance to to do some ‘street’ photography by the sea.


Over the coming days I will go through the days shoot, the shots posted here are my favourites from the day.

October sunrise

Thursday morning, the fourth morning of a well earned week off and the most promising in terms of a possible sunrise, after a damp and miserable start to my holiday.

Today also happens to be my 54th birthday, so I have set aside the whole day to indulge in my two favourite pastimes, walking and photography.

Sunrise is around 7:30 am, so I arrange to leave Exeter Central station an hour or so earlier, the twenty minute journey gives plenty of time to find my sunrise location and to scout other potential areas of interest.

Having set up close to the sea shore, I opt for a place near one of the many groynes along the beach, a typical sunrise shot with a silhouette of groynes and beacon against the rising sun, that is when the plan changes.

Two shots into today’s outing and the lighting behind me casts a golden glow on the path above the beach, the picket fence and grass, either side,the sand covered footpath is a shot to good to miss.





It was to become one of those rare days that wherever I turned, the beautiful October light presented so many photo opportunities, I was in my element!

Happy with the shots I had captured, it felt like I had put a single coin into a fruit machine and won the jackpot on the first roll, yet I still had the rest of the day ahead and a small matter of 12 miles to walk back home…..

….But first, a pit stop at a local bakery, where a hot cup of tea and a breakfast baguette went down rather well, the perfect fuel for an October morning hike.

Signs of autumn are all around, the local amusement park closed until half term, its attractions hidden under tarpaulins, the transition of greens to golds, oranges and reds of leaves along the way, the coolness of the early morning, lingering for a few minutes a day more.




The walk along the estuary trail to the Exeter canal has some of the most wonderful scenery, it is a walk I will always enjoy, whatever the season,my camera will be kept busy today, with the wealth of opportunities.

From Dawlish Warren and Starcross, through the small village of Cockwood, the path takes me through Powderham, where my route goes from B Road to footpath, alongside the estuary, where it passes another favourite haunt, Turf locks.
The Turf locks pub is sadly closed, the views, fortunately are still very much open.

One could be forgiven for thinking that this route cannot offer any more in the way of stunning views, yet as the path meanders from estuary trail to canal trail, there is still much to see, changing with the seasons.




With a good nine miles under my belt, the opportunity for a welcome refreshment at the double locks pub is far to good to pass up, from the outside, the pub commands picture postcard views, even the interior is worth a photo, as I like the way the light and shadows play through the large windows.

It is well into the afternoon before I reach Exeter, it has been a long time since I had a whole day set aside for my own indulgence, it is a day I have enjoyed immensely, a day that will end with a well earned fish and chip supper before looking through the days efforts.

A trip to Whiteworks

Saturday morning and I have a date with Dartmoor once again, doing my best to make up for my enforced lockdown absences.

Today’s destination is one of my favourites, Whiteworks, a disused tin mining area not far from Princetown.

Tin mining in the area dates as far back as 1790, mining here was at its most prolific here as the demand for tin for the industrial revolution increased, the ore was sent from here to the Calenick smelting house in Truro, as at this time, Devon had no smelting houses.

By 1880, the mining was ceased, only to be revived briefly again in the early 20th century as the value of ore increased but by 1914 mining was discontinued, the land then used for livestock farming and pony breeding.

It is the remnants of this history that brings me back here time and again, the fallen remains of the stone cottages, the fenced off areas showing where the mining shafts once were.

This place has character in spades, where buildings once were, trees now stand, what is left of the cottages brickwork is covered in a verdant cloak of lichen, adding more texture for the photographer’s eye.

Some of my favourite trees of Dartmoor are located here, one in particular torn asunder at its root, it’s branches a tangle of twigs, defiantly reaching for the skies, yet so near to the ground, today this beauty is emphasized by the moody skies blown along by an early autumn breeze.

I am here for pleasure but it is not hard to imagine the brutal nature of the work that once existed in this chapter of Dartmoor’s history.

This rugged beauty of Dartmoor will continue to draw me in like a magnet, it is always a pleasure to spend time here, exploring whatever it wishes to give.

Sunday on the moor

In this strangest of years, my trips to Dartmoor have been few and far between, after the enforced absence of lockdown , I feel that I am reacquainting myself with an old friend once again.

In the last three or four years, I have made regular visits, yet still, I have barely scratched the surface of all that Dartmoor has to offer.
Yesterday’s outing was to a place I had been to just once before, Bonehill rocks, not far from the well known Haytor and Hound Tor.

Arriving just after 10:30 am after a hearty breakfast, the car parks are already beginning to fill with holiday makers looking to make the most of the long bank holiday weekend.
The skies are a clear blue, the sun is bright but a strong breeze keeps the temperature ideal for walking.

Bonehill rocks are a random array of tors and granite outcrops of varying shapes and sizes, a favourite destination for climbers of all abilities, a good few of which have made the trip here today.

I love that the moor has so much to offer for so many, rock climbing, walking and cycling to name just a few, for me of course, it is to hopefully capture the moor in all its moods through my lens, indelible memories to look back upon on those days when I cannot visit.

As usual, I was spoiled for choice with photo opportunities, the heather and gorse creating a vibrant display either side of footpaths, the weathered nature of the rocks and tors, light and shadow emphasizing the cracks and fissures within the stone.

As usual, I took a good number of photos on yesterday’s amble, all the above are my pick of the bunch.

Sunrise with the GRIII

It’s another early Saturday morning, I am on my way to greet the morning sunrise at Teignmouth, a little further down the coast from last weeks jaunt.

Once again, I have come armed with the GRIII, this little powerhouse of a camera is such a joy to use, the image quality is just superb from its fixed 28mm equivalent lens.

The GRIII is a favourite amongst street photographers, its compact size and silent shutter are perfect for the genre, however, it it is pretty darned good at landscapes as well!

Another recent addition to my photographic arsenal since getting the GRIII is the Nisi filter kit, a specially developed mini filter kit for the GR, consisting of the following :

  1. Adaptor Ricoh GR3
  2. 3 Stop Medium GND (0.9)
  3. 3 Stop Soft GND (0.9)
  4. ND8 (0.9) 3 Stop
  5. ND64 (1.8) 6 Stop

Nisi filter kit




Mini Tripod – ideal for travelling as light as I can

With my filter kit and mini tripod, I am able to travel with minimal weight, while being able to shoot long exposure scenes when I require, a set up I am enjoying more and more.




I have been asked if I miss not having a viewfinder, in honesty, it takes a little getting used to but it is the perfect way to compose long exposure compositions.

My walk takes me into Dawlish, where I decide to grab a cup of tea and a bite to eat, with the day already warming up and the local beaches filling with holiday makers, I decide to catch the next train back to Exeter, I have got what I came for, so I am happy to move on.

Just half an hour later, I am back in Exeter, Saturday shoppers are out in force, a chance for some post lockdown street photography.

Again, the GR excels, the compact nature of the camera does not concern those I pass, using the 2m snap focus to full effect.

As I have become more accustomed to the GRIII, I have slowly customised it more to my liking, it is possible to save various custom settings into 3 user settings accessible on the mode dial, one of which I have saved as ‘street’ settings, the second, I have a 1:1 square aspect ratio, shooting Jpegs, I really like the built in mono and the positive film preset , the third I have yet to decide upon.

While my current set up is working well for me, I would be interested to see other people’s favourite set ups, to see how others like to shoot on days out.

Another early start

Saturday morning just before 4am, I am awake before my alarm, not a work day today though, I am hoping for the kind of skies that have tantalised me all week on my early morning walks to work.

It’s too early to think about breakfast but enjoy my first brew of the day, and head to St. David’s station to catch the 5am train to Starcross.
The station is pretty much deserted at this time of day, a railway ghost town, it appears I am the only customer as the rail staff prepare the trains for the for the first departures.

My journey will take only 15 minutes, I watch with interest as the skies are already showing some promise of colour, as the early clouds part like curtains to make way for the dawn.

Stepping off the train and onto the platform, I stop to enjoy views of the high tide, the water lies still, with reflections beginning to form as the day breaks, then the colours of dawn begin to paint the sky with hues of yellow and orange, this is what I had hoped for, I am glad I made the effort to get out of bed!


Five minutes after my arrival, the hues of yellow paint the dawn skies.

The silhouette of the railway bridge and platform fences make a lovely contrast against the coloured sky, time to find some more shots before the light show ends.

The peace and tranquility of the sunrise never ceases to be a source of joy, watching a new day unfold is a pleasure on its own, capturing them on camera is a privilege.

From Starcross, I head towards Turf Locks, where the path leaves the estuary side and follows the Exeter canal, a walk I have done many times in my twenty years of living in the area, a walk that I will never tire of.

All these images were taken using my recently acquired Ricoh GR III, a lightweight single focal length camera (28mm)
The Nisi filter kit specially designed for the Ricoh was used for the long exposure shots.

Windows of opportunity

As my working week progresses, I start to sow little seeds of ideas for weekend outings with the camera, regularly checking to see what hand the weather gods may deal for my days off.
By Wednesday evening, I had arranged another visit to Salcombe, an overnight stay on Friday and Saturday, with an amble back to Exeter on the Sunday.

My hopes for an early sunrise on the Saturday morning were to be scuppered by heavy rain and winds, which were forecast for most of the day, with a slim chance of a two hour clear spell later in the day.

By mid day, I had drunk copious amounts of tea, made a mushroom soup for lunch and completed Saturday’s cryptic crossword, a personal best time of 37 minutes, I guess rainy days have their uses.

It was after lunch that the skies began to brighten, discarding its grey cloak revealing patches of blue sky, perhaps I would get some photos today after all.
As I made my way into the town’s high street, it seems that everyone had the same idea, enjoy the spell of sunshine for as long as it lasts.

It is these unexpected photo walks that throw up unexpected photo opportunities, the earlier rains had not all drained from the road, creating some interesting reflections, perfect for a low angle perspective.






Making the most of the reflected images


Sunday morning woke up to brighter skies but still a keen wind, I would be heading back to Exeter later today but only after another walk around a favourite footpath with superb views of the estuary and countryside.

On the edge of the footpath, poppies and daisies gave a vibrant display of colour, a distinct and welcome contrast to the previous morning, poppies like bright red flags waving in the wind.

The estuary was already thriving with those wanting a day on the water, this normally quiet path popular with other Sunday walkers.


After the disappointment of Saturday morning’s washout, the enjoyment taken from that small window of opportunity more than made up for it later in the day, even Sunday’s destination was a spur of the moment decision…. who needs plans anyway?

A welcome return to Dartmoor

It has been four long months since I last visited Dartmoor, a trip to Wistmans wood in March, just a few days before lockdown restrictions were put in place.
Realising that such measures were likely, I made sure to savour every step of that March outing, unsure of when I may visit again.

That day was yesterday, to say I was looking forward to it would be an understatement, I could not wait to tread once more amongst the vast openness, to hear the sweet summer sounds of the skylarks soaring above, to gaze in awe at the many tors, stone sentinels of the moorland landscape.

The rain from earlier in the morning had abated but the skies still wore remnants of mist and grey cloud, giving the moor a sombre moodiness, for all I cared it could have been torrential rain, I was just happy to be back on familiar ground.

Dartmoor will always present photo opportunities, the most obvious being the landscape as described earlier, yet I find pleasure in finding the smaller treasures, water droplets on grass, a fallen foxglove petal, or fungi thriving in the humid air, to name just a few.