The two tor tour

During the course of the working week, I like to spend spend a little time making tentative arrangements for a camera walk for the following weekend but this week the pages on the notepad were still empty by the time Friday evening came.

Saturday morning dawned bright, with blue skies and a gentle breeze, it felt like a Dartmoor day, with the promise of sunshine for most of the day, the holiday crowds would be more likely to head for the beaches.

After a pit stop at a favourite cafe for a cooked breakfast and an intake of caffeine, Dartmoor is indeed the destination, initially to the Merrievale area, to seek out one of the many stone crosses on the moor but as we head to the car park, the well of ideas, so drought ridden during the week, is now a mains burst as 3 or four possible walks come to mind.

From the car park, the route is uphill all the way, over a stile and up the hill leading to Little Mis Tor, it is the various rock formations on the way up that are of interest in photographic terms. Large and small rock formations jutting out at various angles, giving some superb foreground interest in the view surrounding area.

Little Mis Tor can be seen in the photo above (just) the apparently small mound at the centre of the image, Great Mis Tor, the larger of the two is to the left.

Making steady progress to the tors, the views are just breathtaking, there are several very convenient rocks to sit on, to admire the scenery.

Dartmoor has this way of rewarding the walker for their efforts, today, mine was the majestic sight of the Dartmoor ponies congregating for their equine meeting at Little Mis Tor.

Finding a place to sit and admire the view, I take a well earned drink, while the horses get used to my presence, seemingly unperturbed, they carry on grazing as though I am not there, time for a few shots.

The tor on its own is photogenic enough but to have the native ponies to seemingly pose for me is priceless, as is one the foals, curious enough to come and make his acquaintance before having a sniff round my camera bag.

Twenty minutes and a heap of horse related photos later, I meander to great Mis Tor, where the summit has already be claimed by a couple of hikers, with pleasantries exchanged, we go our separate ways.


The descent back to the car park is much easier, a well used track leads to the main road but the views are simply not as good as those of the earlier climb, regardless of this, I think I have a new second favourite place on Dartmoor.

A summer migration

The winds of change have been a prevailing force for me so far in 2019, most of them have been self induced, such as a desire to eat more healthily and take more exercise, other changes have been made for me, in terms of my employment and now my choice in photo editing software.

For a good six to seven years, I have invested a good amount of time in learning lightroom and photoshop, I was comfortable using the software and saw no reason for changing, it did what I wanted and suited my needs very well.

Then came the whole subscription idea, where the selling pitch is that you will always have regular updated camera raw conversion software but the price for this is £10 per month forever!
No thanks Adobe, you are good, but not that good, perhaps you have become a little complacent, even a little greedy in having had the lions share of the market for so many years.
It’s not me, it’s you, I was happy to upgrade every two to three years for the agreeable discount you gave to already licenced users.

While I did decide to take a 12 month usage plan last October with Adobe, I made a conscious effort to seek out the alternatives, making good use of trial periods of about five other packages, two of which I liked enough to purchase, alien exposure 4 and capture one Fuji edition.

Capture one has been a big learning curve but the company provide superb webinars and online tutorials, with a number of different packages to suit most needs.
There is a perpetual subscription model, there are other packages with extra built in styles or presets in adobe parlance.

The fuji edition (there is also a Sony only edition) was bought with a 50% discount offer, since taking the plunge, I have started to develop a few custom styles that suit the photos I like to take.

I have developed a simple workflow in Capture one that seems so much more efficient than LR’s, the use of non destructive layering is so useful once you get used to how it works.

The above photos are from a trip today in Torquay, ‘The English Riviera’

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.

Early starts

 

One of the things I enjoy most about photography this time of year, is the early mornings.
I admit to certain reservations when an alarm is set for around 3:30am at this time of year but that is soon replaced by a feeling of pleasure as I will be one of one of the few fortunate people that will watch the day awaken.

Sunrises have been very few and far between this summer so far but it’s about more than a sunrise for me, it is listening to an avian chorus as they welcome the new day, that feeling of having that space and time all to yourself.

Yesterday morning was an early start, I was meeting a friend who enjoys fly fishing, he asked me some time ago if I would like to go along one morning, a chance I will seldom refuse, so at 4am with his car packed with his fishing gear and my camera bag, we watched the last of the darkness fade as we headed to one of my favourite places on Dartmoor, Fingle bridge.

Fingle Bridge takes its name from Fingle Brook, a minor tributary that flows into the River Teign, while Lucas was on the search for Sea trout and Brown trout, I was looking forward to a gentle stroll along the river bank to take a few shots.

 

I was duty bound to bring a couple of ND filters for some long exposures but the grey skies and shade from the trees along with the built in 3 stop ND filter on the X100F were enough to produce the effect I wanted, 10 second exposures are more than adequate for the fast flowing water here.

Until now, my visits to Fingle Bridge had been saved until mid October, waiting to capture the hues of autumn as nature prepares for the colder months of winter, for this visit, the scene was of lush green leaves and just the sound of the gentle breeze whispering through the foliage and the sound of water flowing over rock, a perfect combination for an early Sunday morning.

As the hours ticked by, it was apparent the day had truly woken, dogs were getting their first walk of the day, my camera bag was subject to much canine curiosity, then aloofness as they discovered it was not full of treats as they had hoped.

I arrived back home just after 11am, I had already been up for over 7 hours, it was time for a well earned cup of tea, a bacon butty and a browse through my mornings efforts.