Classic cars & steam

With the summer calendar of events now in full swing, an opportunity for me to visit a local classic car and steam rally in the grounds of Powderham Castle was too good to miss.
Arriving slightly before the 10am opening, there were already a few early birds waiting to purchase tickets and and the now mandatory wrist band.

The exhibition area is huge but well organised, a large ring roped off in preparation for the various vehicle displays throughout the day.
With so many exhibits to look at, it will be a slow and deliberate approach to the day, patience is key in attempting composition without too many inadvertent photo bombs as onlookers come into shot.

Where possible, I like to chat with the vehicle owners, their enthusiasm is evident as they talk with a smile on their face and no small amount of passion about the history of their vehicle and the work they have done.
It is from these conversations that the spontaneous photos can be inspired by, the proud owner of a Bugatti, seeing my interest in his various props inside the car, took out a bottle of vintage Bugatti labelled champagne for me to photograph.

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The owner of my favourite car of the day, a vintage Volvo rally car took so much joy in telling me he still uses his car for rally events, the most used tool in the back of the car is a crowbar to pull out any dents from any collisions with walls or trees!
The car did not gleam as so many, it showed battle scars aplenty and character in spades!

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The display of cars, motor bikes, trucks and buses are so varied and interesting, but I will always have a soft spot for the traction engines and steam trucks, the traction engines have a certain majesty as they steam sedately by…. and that smell! The mixture of burning coal, oil and steam pervades through the air.

Seeing youngsters around these engines is so good to see, the family ritual of cleaning and polishing the engines before the main parade in the arena, each family member seems to have a designated part to clean, all seemingly done without the usual teenage angst.

In past years, I have always been very concentrated on taking photos of the exhibits, without really taking in the atmosphere of the rest of the event arena, this year, I found myself wanting to capture more of the wider picture, perhaps in part because up to a  couple of years ago, I did not like taking ‘people’ shots but with a small mirrorless camera, I feel less obtrusive than when I had the mandatory DSLR and its howitzer of a lens!

By the end of my multitude of laps of the display area, I had taken a good number of photos, the selected ones above are a few of my favourites, the rest will revisited later in the year when I need a reminder of another super day out.

A 40’s weekend

After recently changing jobs, I am now a fully subscribed member of the Monday to Friday brigade once more, so with my weekends free, it means being able to attend more of the classic car and steam rallies that I have enjoyed in the past.

Yesterday was the first of these events, the annual forties weekend at Buckfastleigh steam railway.
After a usual pit stop for breakfast and a brew, my arrival was about half an hour before the official opening of the 40’s event in an adjacent field but a good opportunity to make a round of the station as the crew get the trains ready for a busy day.

Through the station speakers, the unmistakable big band sound of Glen Miller is played, and a local Lindy Hop group rehearse their moves for their multiple performances throughout the day.

Today will be a real test of my resolve with my one focal length challenge, I would normally have a wide angle lens in my armoury for an event such as this but today, I will need to wear my creative head and get on with it.
I am expecting to take a lot more photos today, so I have made the decision to shoot JPEG, with the classic chrome film simulation, to help avoid spending too much time at the computer later in the day.
If I get my act together, a couple of minor adjustments, with a crop and the odd straighten will suffice in terms of editing.

The event field is well populated with a good number of Jeeps and transport vehicles, also this year a Russian tank, which has plenty of attention paid to it.

The owners of the various vehicles are very generous with their time, happy to relate what work they have done to restore their vehicles, their enthusiasm is contagious and I am happy to talk at length with them to get the history.

Events like this also provide an opportunity to meet with fellow photographers, where a myriad of cameras are at work, it is always a pleasure to chat and exchange ideas and to discuss how and why we choose the gear we have.

A big thank you, to all those who were kind enough to spare me the time to take a photo, it is these images that help tell the story of the day.

Reservoir walk at Fernworthy

Sunday morning wakes to cloudy skies and a cool summer breeze, a promising start for a reservoir walk on Dartmoor.

Fernworthy is situated just a few miles from the Dartmoor town of Chagford, the reservoir covers 76 acres of land and holds about 380 million gallons of water.
The footpath around the reservoir was today’s route, a mixture of forest, meadow and of course the breathtaking Dartmoor scenery.

Armed with my usual X100F, a tripod and some filters, the conditions were good for some long exposure shots across the reservoir, to accentuate both cloud and water movement.
I have always enjoyed long exposure landscape photography, there is a discipline I enjoy in setting up the shot in a deliberate fashion, working out the exposure required with a 10-stop filter and deciding upon the composition of the shot.

Today, with its overcast skies was a perfect opportunity for some monochrome shots, for these I will shoot a JPEG and RAW image, seeing the scene in black and white through the viewfinder helps to visualise the final shot.

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There is a single tree along this path that I had been wanting to capture with a long exposure and while I did take the image, I will wait for another day when the leaves will remain still for the shot I would like.

With the tripod put back in its case and the various filters packed neatly away, it was time for some of the close up shots I like to take when I am around woods or moor, just one of the benefits of the 35mm focal length is its versatility.

Where the footpath comes away from the waters edge and into meadow, the ground is a carpet of summer flora, pinks, yellows and whites, a cacophony of colour to please the senses.

Once again, Dartmoor delivers with another display of its natural beauty, this is why it will always be my place away from the madding crowd.

Tuesday on the moor

An opportunity to go walking on Dartmoor is rarely passed up when it is offered, yesterday morning was no exception, so just after 9am, I am heading to a well photographed part of the moor, Windy Post.

Also known as Beckamoor cross or Windy stone, the stone is thought to have been placed here in the 16th century, however there are other schools of thought that suggest otherwise.
The cross is well known for it’s slight leaning, probably from the Dartmoor ponies that have seen it as a convenient scratching post.

The waterway flowing alongside the cross is the Grimstone and Sortridge leat, a handy watering hole for the ponies and sheep that graze the area.

There seemed to be a lot more Dartmoor ponies in the area today, also a good few foals shadowing mum, one or two curious ones very keen to introduce themselves, some not quite so confident.

While the day was not particularly sunny, it was very humid, I was thankful I had taken a bigger water bottle for today’s amble, as usual I was quite happy just to sit on a rock and take in the scenery, Dartmoor never fails to fill the senses with pleasure.

After taking the usual long exposure shots, it was a joy to watch the equine residents come to the leat to take on water, the moody skies providing the perfect backdrop.

 

 

Of course, I came back with the usual large shipment of photos, the above are my pick of the bunch.

Six months of 35mm

I do not normally set myself any new years resolutions, I know that by the end of January, the promise to eat no more sweets and biscuits will have been broken but I did think I could achieve something relevant to photography.

My GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) had taken a hold, it was time reduce the amount of gear and challenge my photographic ability and not my bank account.

By the first week in January, I had made the first of many social media posts declaring my intentions, there, it was out, I was committed, I was to spend the next 12 months shooting only 35mm.

The camera I had chosen is the Fujifilm X100F, a rangefinder style camera that has style in abundance and can be carried around all day with no issues.
With a much lighter camera bag and no worries about which lenses to pack for any given shoot, as long as I have a couple of spare batteries charged I am good to go at an instant.

I have discussed in previous blogs how I feel that I am at my creative best with prime focal lengths but since embarking upon this challenge, I have become more open minded with my photography ethos, I will explain.

Until this year, I had always shot RAW images exclusively, it’s the law, everyone says you have to….
Hands up, I will admit to being one of those who would sneer at the thought of anyone shooting JPEG’s, even with my previous Fuji cameras (xpro-1 xe-1), I had never thought to even try.
I may be late to the JPEG party but at least I have now arrived, with the many film simulations offered within the camera’s custom settings, I am happy to experiment with various set ups, a part of my previous fuji cameras I had missed out on through my own stubbornness.

I liked the analogy given by Fuji ambassador Kevin Mullins, wedding and documentary photographer, when he says ‘do you not trust your camera to produce good images?’

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I still shoot RAW for paid assignments but for my personal use, I am having fun trying new recipes, some have been good, others consigned to digital dustbin.
I find myself using the aspect ratio settings more as well for the Jpegs, deciding to shoot 1:1 images for an entire shoot can be fun.

The biggest and most enjoyable part of the project, is that I am using a camera long enough to get to know its quirks and foibles.
Many of my fellow 100F users have such things as a touch screen or tilting screen on their wish list, I have one, please can we remove the drive option from the D-pad and allow it to become a custom button or menu item, I am frequently going from single shot to other shooting modes because of where my thumb rests on the camera, other than that, I simply love using this little beaut of a camera.

In much the same way that I was inspired to do this challenge, a few of my fellow photographers have expressed an interest in doing  a self imposed project themselves, it is good to think we can share ideas in our own development and  creativity.

I am always eager to read about other peoples challenges, I am already thinking about what I will do next year.

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.

Spring time at the seaside

A late March morning begins with an early shroud of mist, with a promise of a warm spring day later in the morning.
Today is one of my single days off work, so a few errands to run before getting out again with the camera.

Ten AM, my tasks complete, the day is mine and within the hour, I am heading towards the East Devon town of Sidmouth.
On arrival, the low cloud is just lifting from the coast, a couple of photos capture the ghost like presence against the cliffs.
I have made previous blogs about my enjoyment of visiting seaside towns post season, but the pre season seaside town has another character.
Many of the hotels and eateries have come out of winter hibernation, with newly painted facades and interiors, awaiting the coming seasons holiday makers, it’s like a freshly laid dining table awaiting the guests.

It seems I am a creature of habit in many of my seaside forays, I like to try to capture as much of the landscape as I can before the peak visiting time, then around lunch time, head for refreshment before a wander into the main town.

Seaside towns offer a wealth of photographic opportunities, long exposure shots for the sea, as well as the town offering the urban textures and colours for some street photography.

Sea front benches offer perfect views to enjoy paper wrapped fish and chips, the smell of freshly cooked chips doused in vinegar tease the taste buds, while those with a sweeter tooth enjoy cone laden treats of dairy ice cream.

Today sees just a gentle wind, the incoming tide laps gently at the shore, while clouds drift like gossamer across the horizon, today is truly a prelude to summer, very much the lull before the storm, for in just a few weeks, Easter will see the first holidays of the year, and this currently quiet town will be transformed into a buzzing seaside haven once more.