Different views

I am often asked what I enjoy most about photography, a simple enough question but with a little consideration there are actually several things that feed my desire to keep going out with the camera.

Going to a new destination is always an enjoyable experience, I spend a few hours looking online, to see what the attractions of that particular destination may be, writing down a few of the ones I would like to photograph myself, saving the ones I did not get as an excuse to visit again another day.
Of course, I will play the tourist and get a couple of the usual photos but I also like to have my own take on a popular photo, a different view.

Going to a place regularly is seen for me, as an opportunity to explore beyond the usual images, a composition that seemed mundane one one day can be seen as photo worthy on another, mindset and weather often the key.

Another facet of photography I find valuable, are the ‘non camera’ days, where I read about or watch videos on the people that have helped to inspire me, keeping my own creativity alive, which leads me to probably my most enjoyable part of my photo forays… experimenting.

Experimenting is perhaps using a vintage lens found in a charity shop, using a 50mm lens wide open for an entire trip, getting to know my camera inside out.
Some of my favourite images are the more obscure shots, perhaps a section of barbed wire framed with the said 50mm lens, a single flower head backlit with the early sun.

Finding that different view, the more unique angle probably stems from my enjoyment of using prime lenses, I have always had a 35mm and 50mm lens in my armoury, zooms are great but make me lazy, using my feet to find a shot helps to find that ideal angle.

The fact that I have been using a fixed lens (35mm ) camera as a project this year is also nurturing my enthusiasm, some say they would find this restricting, I have found it liberating, no feeling of thinking I should change lenses, just get out and find what I can.

The above images are a few of my personal favourites over the last 18 months , many taken with a vintage nifty fifty but most taken during my one camera project this year.

A trip to Dorset

Occasionally, the opportunity arises to go further afield for a photo shoot, Wednesday was one such chance, to Lulworth Cove and Portland.

The last time I was in this vicinity, it would have been the mid 1990’s I was still working as a chef and at that time I was not into photography, so did not have any pictorial records of the places I visited on my days off.

Lulworth Cove is a tourism magnet, it’s horseshoe shaped cove was formed around 10,000 years ago by coastal erosion, this is also an important area in the study of geology, where there are some excellent examples of folding rock strata, the Lulworth crumple is its popular name.

Arriving around mid morning, the bland skies that had been left behind in Exeter, were replace by more defined clouds, it looked promising for some good photos.

The beach is a mixture of pebble & shingle, with the finer shingle nearer the waters edge being a good base for a tripod and some long exposure photography.
With the few visitors that had already made their way to the area, there was a pleasant buzz about the place, without being overcrowded.
Before moving to the next destination, Portland, a pleasant half hour was spent watching the world go by, with a welcome cuppa at the beach front cafe.

Arriving at Portland, the sun had decided to make a welcome appearance, adding light to a very interesting landscape.
The lighthouse here is one of those images that photographers are duty bound to take photos of, myself included but I was more drawn towards the boat cranes perched on the cliff top, coated in their uniforms of rust from exposure to the salt air.
A single boat by the base of the first one, this is right up my street!

 

The collection of working huts are mixed with those used by holiday  makers, where the garden borders are not the usual garden flower, but hardy sea pinks, outdoor wooden benches have the rugged look of exposure to the elements, more photo fodder for me.

As usual, the sands of time fall all to quickly and it is time to pack the gear away and head back home, it will however be a little less than 20 years before my next visit here.

By the sea again

For the first time in 30 plus years, I have the month of June to myself, an opportunity to spend time with family and friends before starting something new.
It will also mean having to spend time out with the camera …..

Friday afternoon sees the first of these outings with a trip to the seaside at Dawlish Warren, just a twenty minute trip away from Exeter.
The beaches are already busy with half term holiday makers, all waiting for the sunshine that is promised for later today.

Vibrantly coloured wind breaks are dotted across the beach, each family group huddle around their chosen spot while the youngsters ignore the lack of sunshine, engrossed in the ancient art of sand castle building, or stood with fascination over the many jellyfish that have been washed ashore this year.

Other families play beach cricket, the yell of ‘CATCH IT’ carries in the wind, while the bowler watches with disappointment as the ball falls short of outstretched fingers of his younger sibling, while dad will claim another hour at the sandy crease.

As the earlier grey skies are beaten away to reveal blue skies, the light offers some much more photogenic opportunities, as I enjoy the meander along the beach.

Walking to the furthest end of the beach, the town of Exmouth lies across the estuary, I am sure to be posting photos from there in the coming weeks.

Lyme regis revisited

The Easter holidays now over, the dress rehearsal for the summer season is done, a perfect time to revisit one of my favourite destinations, Lyme Regis.

Known as “The pearl of Dorset” along the Jurassic coast, it is deemed a world heritage site.
The sea wall or cobb, has been used in both film and literature, Jane Austen’s ‘persuasion’ and John Fowle’s ‘The French lieutenants woman’.

From the car park, 114 steps lead down to the main footpath alongside the beach, the tide is well out, revealing algae covered rocks which will be concealed as the tide makes its way in once more.

Heading away from Church cliffs along the path towards the town, a few day trippers, dog walkers and photographers have already arrived, making the most of what is a lovely sunny day but with a keen wind.

It is still just mid morning, the seaside cafes and restaurants are already doing a good trade, customers sipping coffee or tea while sat under brightly coloured parasols, the excited laughter of children dipping their toes into the cold sea, or making sandcastles with brightly coloured buckets and spades.

I always enjoy a walk up to the famous cobb, plenty of industrial fishing paraphernalia to be photographed, the usual colours, textures and rust that appeal.

 

Being midweek, there is no feel of hustle and bustle, the cafes are busy but not to the weekend or high season extremes, numerous opportunities to chat to fellow day trippers enjoying the day.

On the steady walk back to the car, there is ample time to dart in and out of the various back streets of this charming town, a chance to find hidden cafes and gardens or those random things that catch the eye.

Dartmoor days

As I write more blogs of my photographic outings this year, it will become evident that Dartmoor is featured in a good percentage of them.

At its best, Dartmoor is simply beautiful, at its worst, it can be a forbidding place, where many have fallen foul of its ever changing moods.
I have lived near the moors all of my life, yet it is only within the last five years that I have come to explore the moor in detail and to appreciate its wonder.

Some like to explore the moor by bike, others will climb the iconic Haytor or Hound tor, others may seek the fast flowing River Dart for kayaking while walkers and photographers seek their pleasure at a more leisurely pace.

I fall into the latter 2 categories, where my camera will be with me on any walk, always looking for the next photo opportunity.

Of all the places I have been on Dartmoor, Foggintor remains a favourite, the Quarry was decommissioned some 80 years ago, but granite hewn from here was used to make Nelsons column and London bridge, as well as more locally, Dartmoor prison in Princetown.

The quarry now lies still, a desolate reminder of Dartmoor’s recent industrial past, over these years, nature is reclaiming it once more.59784628_10218264568903959_4537558726894157824_o

Just a few yards away, lie the remains of what were quarry men’s cottages, perfect subjects in texture, light and shadow.

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One of the things I like most about Dartmoor, is its ability to throw up the odd surprise, my last visit to a well known venue for bluebells was a little premature, yet just mile or so along the path was the most magnificent display of spring this year ….

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I always marvel at the myriad of dry stone walls around the moor, an art that like so many may be forgotten in time, their resistance is testament to the craftsmen who built them.

For all the appreciation I have of the man made, it is always nature that prevails, those solitary trees amongst the rock, will always be a photo opportunity I cannot resist.

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All images taken as part of my one camera, one lens project (Fuji X100F)
Images post processed in Lightroom, shadow /highlight adjustments and cropping, apart from the sketch look to the bluebell image, which  is a photoshop workflow I have developed myself.

Local photo walks

My work rota works in such a way that I will sometimes have a couple of days off together, other times it will be just a single day.
On the days when I have consecutive days, I plan my photo walks in advance, often to the moors, sometimes seeking out special events, or to the seaside.

It is easy to forget what is on our doorstep, so I try to get out for shorter, more local walks on those single days off, where I have less time to cram in all I want to do.

Exeter is not a big city, this for me is one of its appeals, from the high street to the river is less than a 20 minute walk, going from hustle and bustle to peace and quiet in a very short space of time.

As the summer months approach, the city is often given a lift with coloured umbrellas, bunting, and hanging baskets, always adding a little more colour to an already picturesque city.

Here are just a few of yesterdays shots from a quick couple of hours around my home town.

In search of bluebells

A photographers repertoire will always have a number of ‘stock’ images within its pages.
Coloured beach huts along the sea shore, long exposure river and sea images,  autumns wonderful palette of colours and bluebells in spring.

One of the most popular venues in spring for the latter, is Hemsworthy barn, just a mile or two away from Dartmoor’s Haytor, so this was yesterday’s destination but not before a cuppa and breakfast at a local farm shop cafe on the way!

After the promise of warm weather that Easter gave us, this bank holiday weekend starts off with a cold wind and temperatures in single figures, but the sun gives a very good light, not too harsh.

With the car parked up nearby, the walk to the destination takes about 25 minutes, a slow amble as always taking in the scenery along the way.

I love the texture and character of the many dry stone walls on Dartmoor, admiring the craftsmanship of their construction, this accentuated by the brightly contrasting gorse, Dartmoor never fails to please in its splendour.

As I get ever closer to the barn, the hoped for blanket of blue is not there, yes, there are a few sporadic patches but it appears my visit  is a little premature but there is still plenty to find to photograph.

My approach to the perimeter of the barn is welcomed by the sound of a cuckoo, the first I have heard this year, just another reason why Dartmoor is so popular.

The absence of bluebells is made up for with some lovely light through the trees, dappled patterns painted on rocks, which also have a verdant coat of moss and lichen, that topped with the rust red corrugated roof of the barn, perfect!

I may not have ticked another box on my photographic bucket list, but the enjoyment of being on the moor again is always enough.
I will just have to visit again…..