Memories of 2021 and what next?

As 2021 makes its way out of the door to make room for 2022, the first blog of the new year is an easy one, a bit like an established band making a ‘greatest hits’ album, it will be a brief review of my last year in photography and my aspirations for the year ahead.

Picking a selection of my favourite photographs was not easy, yet most of them have come from the final quarter of this year, where I have thoroughly enjoyed capturing the essence of autumn in local woodlands and of course on my beloved Dartmoor.

In terms of gear, I have given up on the notion of feeling the need to buy the most up to date equipment, my current gear consists of a Canon 5d mkII and Canon 7d mk1, with both of these photographic veterans, I am enjoying my days out as much as ever.

In terms of projects for the year ahead, the ‘older camera’ project continues but I have ideas for something different for 2022.

It was a no brainer for me to purchase a ‘nifty fifty’ in the form of Canon’s 50mm F1.8, the more I use this lens, the more I am enjoying it, so I will be starting the ‘Fifty days of fifty mm’ in the coming days, fifty outings using just this one lens, of course the blog will help document the progress of this project.

Are you starting a new photo project this year? if so, I would be happy to follow your progress as it unfolds, knowing that others are interested in such creative ideas are one one of the drivers that sees it through to completion, encouragement is contagious!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those people who have followed and commented on my blog over the last year, your kind words and encouragement are very much appreciated and help sow the seeds of creativity in both word and picture format.

My process.


It is fair to say that I look forward to my weekend outings with my camera, the process begins around the middle of my working week, looking for my next destination, according to whatever the weather may bring.

Without a shadow of doubt, the best part of photography is being out in the great outdoors, camera in hand, capturing whatever the landscape has to offer and even if do not take as many images as I had hoped, I have still had a good walk.

There are a good few photographers I have watched on various social media outlets, who say that they prefer to wait a few days, weeks or even months before even looking at that day’s shoot but I look forward to seeing my day’s endeavors on the computer monitor at the earliest opportunity.

With a fresh cup of tea made, I browse through the images, and flag the images I am keen to edit, these being the favourite of the day, the ones that I am keenest to share online.

On a Sunday, I will often go through the images a second time, flagging and posting once more, while sub consciously picking out images for the next stage of my process, which is this blog.

By mid week, I browse through my images once more, these are what I term as the ‘also ran’ images, yet they can sometimes be the hidden gems.

It was this mid week browse that made me look more closely at four images I had taken around the local Xmas market and High street, edited in monochrome for that documentary feel.

More often than not, I will ask for photos, I enjoy the interaction, yet I also like to take those candid shots of an every day scene around my home town.

I will post the four images below for your perusal, and finish this blog entry here, as I have a few ideas for this weekends outing!



More moor moodiness


It’s a Sunday morning and an invitation to get out on to Dartmoor once again will rarely be turned down, today is no exception as I go through my pre outing routine of checking batteries are charged and most importantly, I have a thermos of tea to look forward to after the morning’s walk.

It’s a lovely September morning, that autumnal freshness is making itself more prominent, there are also signs of low cloud in the distance, as usual, my eyes are peeled for any impromptu shots on the way.

First shot of the day, heading out from Exeter , low cloud and gorgeous light over the landscape.

With this potential for mist in the landscape, the thought is to head to Foggintor, scene of quarry workings and former quarry workers buildings, long since abandoned.

The blue skies of Exeter, less than an hour earlier are replaced by more moody skies, my second shot of the day is barely yards from the car park, a wonderful interplay of light upon the landscape, one of the many reasons for my frequent visits here.

Shot two, yards from the car park.

As I think about the images I have just captured, I look forward to whatever else I may be fortunate to see as the next 3 or four miles begin in earnest.

My next shot, taken a few steps to the left of the one above, will be the last of the sunlight I will see on the moor today, a huge front of ominous grey approached from the distance, there may well be a few monochrome images today.

The last of the sunlight seen on today’s outing.

The footpath passes Yellowmeade farm, the bovine community is out and about, of course I take a shot and a name immediately comes to mind for the image, ‘The Yellowmeade farm beef mountain’.

The Yellowmeade beef mountain

I come to realise This will become something of a theme today, the name of the image is decided before the click of the shutter, I come to realise that I actually do this on a regular basis…. here another one named before the shot was taken on the return leg of the walk.

Rare steak and pea soup


It is a good half way around the walk that the grey seems to want a permanent residency over the landscape, a chance for me to experiment with black and white images in camera or for later editing.

The ruins that remain of this part of Dartmoor look stark against the barren moorland, I do my best to capture the atmosphere which is helped by approaching mist.

My favourite trees, alone in most cases, stand defiant as ever against the elements, while horses look to find what little shelter they may offer.

I will finish this blog entry with the last picks of todays’s outing, all in monochrome, these really capture the essence of the moor in it’s raw beauty.

A noir kind of day


There is a chill to these late September mornings, this morning is one of those, with a cloak of grey mist adding a ghostly feel through the gloom.

I love these atmospheric days, and head out with a camera in hand, with a view to some moody monochrome images.

The walk towards the quayside may be familiar but the moments I capture today will be unique, as I seek out the abstract and the seemingly ordinary.

Cobwebs in railings, shimmer in the slight breeze, dew laden, like pearls as they capture what little light the morning offers.

A council workman steam cleans the pavements, almost enveloped in his self made mist, another shot in the bag.

The panic of pigeons as they sense my approach, I love how the camera caught the moment just before the last one took off, maybe not the best composition, yet it conveys that avian sense of urgency in perceived danger.

I have walked past the pane of cracked glass umpteen times before, today I see its potential in my ‘noir’ mindset, another abstract to the collection.

With a busy day ahead, I call time on my spontaneous outing but look forward to sharing the images later in the day.


Woodland wanders

Summer arrived this weekend, its suitcase packed with blue skies and temperatures in the mid to late twenties centigrade, the first prolonged period of decent weather for some time.

Not wishing to sound ungrateful but I will not be one of the many seeking sand, sea and surf, instead I will seek the shade of a woodland walk, while continuing with my series of vintage lens shoots.

Today’s lens of choice is a Helios 44-2 58mm lens, bought some years ago on an online auction site, these lenses are known for their swirly bokeh wide open at F2, with a decent sharpness throughout the focal range.

Helios 44-2 ‘Zebra’ lens

My introduction to the Helios lens was with my first film camera in the 1980’s, a Zenit TTL, at that time,it would be true to say that I did not appreciate what I had, equally, my relationship with photography had barely begun.

Today’s destination is Dane’s wood, owned by the National trust just a couple miles from the Killerton estate near the village of Broadclyst.

Normally, my woodland walks tend to be in the mid to late autumn months, capturing the changing colours of nature, today will be finding areas of interesting light, flora and fauna, looking for more abstract shots of the woodland.

It is a slow amble through the woods, enjoying the cool shade of the trees,while listening to the birdsong above as I look for my next subjects, of which there is plenty.
More and more, I am enjoying the more deliberate process of manual focusing, for sure, auto focus has its many advantages but for me it is not critical in capturing the ‘moment’ in an instant as it would be a journalist, sports or wedding photographer.

A two hour mooch around the woods seems like just a few minutes, it never ceases to amaze me how fast the time passes by on my camera walks.
Emerging from the woodland path to the car park, it appears that the world and his brother are looking for a parking space, it looks like a good few others have no wish to go the beach either.


Between the rain showers

As we reach the middle of May, it has to be said that it has been a little more than underwhelming on the weather front, it appears that the usual April showers overslept and are now playing catch up.

I was not entirely surprised to see that this weekend was not looking much better but I was determined that I would get out for a few hours on at least one of my days off.

Saturday morning just after 5am and the familiar sound of rain falling gently on the windows, I make my first brew of the day and ruminate over the weather forecast apps, each one telling a different story but decide to head out regardless.

I board the train to Topsham at 6:15 am, but for the driver and ticket inspector, I am the sole passenger arriving at Topsham about 20 minutes later.
This is one of my favourite local walks, where the footpath runs alongside the estuary but the whole path is not always accessible at certain points at high tide but today, after checking tide times, I have timed it well.

As the gentle drizzle turns to a more persistent and heavy rain, I think at first that I have rolled the dice and lost but after a few minutes, the distant horizon appears to brighten up.

Often on days such as this, there is the possibility of some dramatic cloud and light as rain and sun fight for aerial superiority, I was not to be disappointed as I make my way along the path, a huge grey cloud attempts to smother a rainbow, what a great start after all.

The seven mile walk back home was to be interrupted only a handful of times with rain showers, I am happy that I made the effort today, even happier with some of the images I took along the way

Familiar ground

As the painstaking process of cataloging years of photos continues, it has been interesting to see how much my photography follows a familiar pattern as the months pass by.

The winter months capture the bleak and moody landscape of the moors, or perhaps a walk along a desolate beach, the months of early spring capture the beginnings of new life, daffodils, snowdrops and tulips bring welcome colour to the bland browns of winter.

Summer brings the occasional trip to the seaside and for me, the season of classic car shows and steam rallies that are always a pleasure to visit, then of course, the colours of autumn, with a plethora of woodland walks.

This of course was during normal times, when the freedom of choice to catch a train or bus for a day out was taken as a given….. until last year.

Looking on the bright side, it made life very easy in planning my photo walks, “where shall I go this weekend? I know, lets do Exeter! “

Let me be the first to say that I consider myself lucky to live in such a historic and beautiful city, where walks by the river are just a walk away but I began to wonder if it was possible to take any more photos of a place that I have lived in for over 20 years.

The initial feelings of frustration and not a little resentment subsided into a more positive frame of mind, challenging myself and my creativity to find something different from familiar ground, after all, I was still able to get out, for many this was not the case.

With this renewed and more welcome mindset, I have looked to process familiar scenes in a different way, learning new editing techniques to keep myself motivated to keep getting out there and taking photos.

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 city at night

Last weekend was the first weekend in a long time that I did not manage to get out with the camera, my days off were spent unpacking boxes and settling into my new abode, so no opportunity for the usual shutter therapy.

My hopes for a bright and sunny Friday and Saturday are to be dashed by two days of wind and rain.

Ever the opportunist, Thursday evening is at least dry, so decide to head out for an hour or so, just around the city centre for some night time photography.

As I walk past St James station, I realise that I have lived in Exeter for twenty years and never taken a photo here, in daytime the small station is one of the many smaller ones along the Exmouth railway route but the lights reflecting on the platform catch my eye enough to take a photo.

In all honesty, I have no plan in mind for tonight’s impromptu foray, as with the station image, it will be whatever catches my eye, as I make my way into the city centre.


My favourite shot of the evening, I liked the lines and light through the window

I love the way a city seems to take on another persona at night, the way light reflects onto other buildings, or onto the street, offer chances not seen during daylight hours.

While I do not consider myself to be a ‘crowds’ person, I look forward to times when the city streets will be busy once more, where the hospitality and retail industry can open their doors once more and to see my home city getting back to business as usual.

The inadvertent project

I had no plans to start a photographic project during the first part of this year, with an impending house move and the current lockdown restrictions, my time would need to focus on more important matters.

As I write this first blog for February, I am surrounded by boxes, those I have packed, sitting with a pile of empties, awaiting the last minute items to be packed.

With most of my camera gear carefully packed away until next weekend’s move,
I have returned to a one camera, one lens set up once more, this time with the Fujifilm X00V.

I had traded my 100f last year, then noticed I had begun seeking out more lenses to fit the replacement camera, something I had tried to avoid but I love trying new stuff! (who doesn’t?)

I had spent some time after work last week packing the first few boxes, with a plan in the back of my mind, that should there be any good weather on one of my days off, I could spend a few hours away from box city and have a little shutter therapy.

Friday morning looked to be a good opportunity, according to the late evening forecast on Thursday, with a suggested less than 5% chance of rainfall.

As I left the house at just after seven fifteen AM, the less than 5% rain was falling quite fast, yet ever the optimist, I was certain there was a break in the clouds somewhere.







At just after 8am, the day begins to brighten, a still morning with still waters, reflecting boats and buildings onto the water,



Today’s walk is somewhat abridged, knowing that I still have boxes to pack, I have made 3 miles before making the decision to make my way back home.

It remains to be seen how long it will take to unpack everything once I have moved, in all honesty, I am enjoying the one camera set up a lot, so will probably continue the inadvertent project for the foreseeable future.