Shorter days and Xmas markets

With the hours of daylight lasting only for the duration of the blink of an eyelid, it is only a matter of time before the inevitable festive countdown begins, as Christmas decorations adorn our towns and cities.

Under normal circumstances, I would say that the countdown starts far too early but with the omnipresent spectre of Covid, the vibrant colours and feelgood factor are a pleasant distraction.

Before anyone hurls the ‘bah humbug!’ tag in my general direction, I do look forward to the local Christmas market, a perfect place to not only indulge in my pursuit of photography but also an opportunity to take in the wonderful aromas from the myriad of food stalls selling their wares over the next few weeks.

My sense of smell is tantalized from all directions, the subtle spiced aromas of a Thai food stall one minute, that fried onion and home made burger the next, with the essence of winter spices from the mulled wine counter just around the corner.

As I make my way around, one or two of the stall holders allow me to take their photos before the after work crowds arrive, up to a couple of years ago, this would have been a swift candid photo but more and more I am enjoying the engagement with those who so generously indulge my requests.

I am sure I will be making one or two more visits to the Xmas markets over the coming weeks but for now I will leave a selection of my favourite images.

Ambling a little further



A few days away exploring Gloucester and the Cotswold’s gave an opportunity to explore a site that I have had bookmarked for a number of years but thought I would never see for myself.

Anyone that has read my blog for long enough, will know my love of canals, boats and pretty much anything with a nautical theme, so after listening to a radio broadcast about the ‘Purton hulks’, my interest was piqued.

Purton is situated on the southern bank of the River Severn, about half a mile from the port of Sharpness.

A river bank collapse in 1909 lead to concerns that the canal may be breached, so a collection of old steel barges, Severn trows and concrete barges were deliberately run aground to reinforce the banks.
These hulks were then deliberately holed, so as the sediment from the river may weight them down further into position.

The beaching of this varied collection of boats continued up until 1965, where the remains are still visible.

The weathering of the remains are perfect for my appetite of weathered wood and rust, the autumn sunshine and cloudy conditions adding a little more drama to the scene.

Perhaps some time in the future, I could return to explore a little more this fascinating piece of maritime history.

Low tide at Exmouth




For last week’s three day weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend two of them out and about with the camera, with Dartmoor on Friday and a local trip to Exmouth on Sunday.

My expeditions to Dartmoor may be a more recent bookmark in my photography timeline but my love of the coast and seaside towns is etched into my DNA, growing up as I did in a small seaside town in South Devon.

Of course, in my formative years, I did not have a camera but my innate curiosity always drew me to the well weathered maritime paraphernalia of the fishing quays and the treasure trove of flotsam that would wash up on the beaches after a storm, the very things that I look to capture with my camera.

With the summer holidays now a fading memory, the local beaches will be a little quieter until half term, I have never been a ‘crowds’ person so I am happy to wait my turn to visit on my camera days out.

I have decided to travel light, it’s the x100v and the Ricoh Gr3 that have their place in my bag, however, it is the ‘V’ that will get most use today, as I have been experimenting with more ‘home brew’ recipes using the various film simulations built into Fuji cameras.

I have really enjoyed experimenting with these simulations, by doing so, I have learned the attributes of each and have started getting some pleasing JPEG’s out of camera, using Astia for my woodland walks with a warmer white balance to add vibrancy, while Classic chrome with a more muted colour setting is ideal for those moody days on the moor.

While I shoot today, I will be fine tuning a recipe based on the classic neg simulation that so many Fuji shooters love, another more muted based on the videocentric Eterna.

As the day seems to alternate between sunshine and overcast conditions, it will be a good test of how both act in different light, with an aim to using as many of the Jpeg images as possible for my final image.




Over the last few months I have been shooting this way more and more, simply because I love the colours that come from the Fuji camera and I am spending less time trying to replicate them via a computer screen and a plethora of sliders.

For the record, each of the gallery shots were from the Jpeg, with nothing more than a crop or a tweak in exposure settings.

A Welsh excursion

My first time in Wales was back in 2005, at that time, I had just dipped my toe in the waters of the digital photography world, my camera of choice was a Konica Minolta Dynax 5d, if I remember correctly it boasted an 6mp sensor, which in fairness was more than adequate for my needs and knowledge of photography at that time.

It had always been on my wish list to return, finally doing so in the last week of June.

With holidays having been a distant hope for too long, I was determined to make the most of the time I had there, getting a few early morning walks under my belt, while appreciating the time away.

The mornings started cool, ideal for walking, perfect for shots of low cloud around the mountains, there were also some pretty dramatic skies as the sun did its best to break through the clouds.

Just two miles away, Bala Lake was a certain destination for my bucket list, I made it on my final day, arriving at LLangower just after 7am, I had an entire lake to myself!

No words can amply describe the breathtaking beauty of Wales, but a pick of my favourite images may just give an idea of why I will be keen to return.


Foggintor revisited

It has been over nine months since my last visit to Dartmoor, so to say that I was looking forward to this visit is something of an understatement.

Foggintor has long been a favourite destination for my photo walks, the ruins of the quarrymen’s houses and the quarry itself are perfect photography fodder, especially on those rain laden cloudy days such as today.

It’s late May but a cold wind prevails, temperatures are just a little above 7 degrees, a little unseasonal perhaps but after a nine month absence, I do not care, it’s good to be back once more.

Today’s walk will take in Foggintor quarry, Kings tor and Swell tor, a route of about 6 miles, this is not allowing for my inevitable deviations to take pictures of remote gnarly trees, or anything else that may catch the eye.

At it’s peak, in the mid 1800’s the quarry employed over 300 people, the granite from this quarry was used in the making of Nelson’s column and London bridge.

As I amble my way at a leisurely pace, I can only imagine the brutal nature of the work here, more so, given the volatile nature of the weather here on the moor.

A good 2 weeks of rain are evident here, rainwater drains from the higher ground onto the footpath making it part path, part stream, not a complaint, just one more thing I love about this inspiring landscape.

A third of the way into today’s foray and the sky begins to show signs of light, as dappled patches of sunshine escape through the thinning cloud, perhaps I may even see some sunshine today.

Through the gusts of wind, the only sound to be heard are my own footsteps and the tell tale trill of the many skylarks dipping and soaring and for the first time this year, a cuckoo, heard but rarely seen.

I had honestly thought that my chance for capturing bluebells on the moor this year had well and truly gone but as I look at the path below, three adjacent fields are a sea of blue, such a contrast in this landscape of greens and browns.

Finding this riot of blue was one thing, finding that there is public access is a bonus, surely I must get a few images here?

As the last of the heavy rain clouds are blown across the horizon, blue skies emerge from under their drab grey cloak, sunlight bathes the distant landscape in its glow, just for a few fleeting seconds.

The end of today’s walk is near, approaching the car park that on arrival was empty, it is now full with a queue of four more looking to turn in and look for spaces that aren’t there and exit once more.

With a good few miles completed, I feel that I have had the best of the day, I am hoping my next visit will be a lot sooner than my last.



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.

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.

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.