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…..

Easter Sunday sunrise

Easter Sunday, my alarm was set for 4am but at 3:45, I am already awake.
Too early to think about breakfast, I down a glass of fruit juice before heading out into the darkness to catch a sunrise.

My destination is 6 miles away, sunrise is just after six am, my earlier departure gives me a jump start.
The first mile or so, before I reach the riverside footpath is along one of the main arterial routes into the city, normally very busy but the third day of the Easter weekend helps keep more normal people in their beds at this hour.

Reaching the riverside path, darkness still clings to the skies but my way is lit by the full moon, for a while I progress in silence, the birds have not yet begun the first strains of their dawn chorus.
Two thirds of my way in, the silence is now broken, where later in the day the roar of traffic near the carriageway will be heard, the avian chorus has tuned up and the full concerto can be heard from all around.

In the number of years I have enjoyed photography, I have always considered that a sunrise is earned, the sacrifice of a couple hours sleep by getting out at silly O’ clock is not for everyone but the peace and solitude appeals to my inner hermit.

I reach turf locks, my destination, pastel shades in the sky is repainted into tinges of fiery reds of oranges, just a few minutes later and the sun’s glowing red disc appears from below the horizon.
Watching the birth of a new day has always been a pleasure, the ever changing palette of colours captivates and enthrall in equal measure.

After twenty minutes, the sun gets high enough to erase it’s earlier painting, my cue to take a slow amble back towards a well deserved cuppa and something to eat, I decide to head back via the quayside route.

The river banks are now being occupied by local anglers, making their first cast into the river, their array of baits a piscatorial picnic for their prey.
Anglers, just like photographers are so reliant on good weather, for them, this morning’s cloudless skies are not good for their odds of catching today.

My route along the riverside is met with runners, cyclists and dog walkers, their charges wet from rescuing a favourite ball or stick from certain drowning!

Nine AM and I have reached home after 12 and a half miles I have a cup of tea freshly brewed steaming away on my desk, while I look at the morning’s efforts on the PC monitor.
It is morning’s such as today that I fully appreciate how fortunate I am to live where I do

 

 

Finding the spark

Good Friday and I have a day off, I wake to perfect conditions for a photo walk but feel that my creativity has drained away, going through my usual local repertoire, I cross them off in my mind, feeling that I have captured them all so many times, it feels like I have been invited to a party but have nothing to wear….

I tell myself that anyone who enjoys creating, will at some point feel uninspired, the photographic equivalent of writers block.
For the first time in I don’t know when, I consider going out without a camera, but know that I would be annoyed if I missed an unexpected opportunity.

As the clock turns past nine, I take the very British approach by making another cuppa, after which I am resolved to at least get out of my chair and at least go somewhere.
I head towards the River, a favourite haunt on days like today, where a Good Friday run is under way, so take the opportunity of some action shots, YES!! I am off the mark, I will not blank today.

 

Often on my solo forays, I set myself a theme but today the well of ideas has seeped away overnight, yet I still manage to take a few shots here and there and am glad at least I have got myself out.


Is this where the creative spark was reignited?
Instead of carrying on the footpath to the very photogenic Double Locks Pub, I take a path that takes me away from the river and onto a local trading estate, where among the many car dealerships and builders merchants lies an Aladdin’s cave of vintage treasure.

In the past, there has been the rusting chassis of a vintage model A ford, this has since been sold or hidden beyond sight, then the Jackpot, the sight of an old vintage Chevvy pick up, and seek permission from the store owners to take photos, by doing so, I have often found they may offer to show other things not open to the public.

 

The yard is a photographic wish list, Patina, rust, weathered wood, faded colours and curios.
Hoping to capture further gems, I enter the store and ask to take photos of the interior, where the only stipulation is that I post a few on their social media page, not a problem for me!
After nearly an hour, I have found my mojo again, the camera is working overtime, the staff offering to move any items if I wish.

 

From such a negative start to the day, I look through the mornings work with a certain amount of pleasure, knowing that just a few hours before, I doubted I would make a single image.

 

Spring in February

February, normally one of those months that likes to dish up a menu of cold winds and grey skies, just to remind us that winter is still here for a few more weeks but occasionally, we are offered a respite, where the temperature touches double figures and there is a real warmth in the sun.
Today was one of those days, with the added bonus that it was a day off, a perfect day for a visit to the seaside.

With half term on the horizon, Dawlish Warren was emerging from its winter hibernation, as the local shops began receiving their first deliveries of the year in anticipation of the first holiday makers of 2019.

With high tide just an hour away, there would be no chance of my usual meander along the beach, to the nature reserve and back along the path to the car park, but more than content to enjoy an hour or two taking photos and watching the waves roll in.

Continuing with my one camera, one lens theme for the year, I feel that I am becoming more considered and creative in my choice of shot, rather than worrying if perhaps I should be using a different lens.

 
I have been asked a number of times why I want to ‘restrict’ myself with just one camera for a whole year, the answer is mainly because I like to challenge myself, it breeds a more fertile imagination and it will stop me buying more camera gear!
Henri Cartier-Bresson used a 50mm lens exclusively for over 60 years, what better way to be inspired.