A trip to Fishtown

Brixham is one of those towns that I visit for photo outings on a regular basis, it is just one of those places that maintains a sense of community and always offers a warm welcome to its visitors.

Known as Briseham in the Domesday book, Brixham was also the landing place of William of Orange during the glorious revolution in 1688, some of the street names still bear the names of its Dutch history.

Famous for the design of the Brixham trawler, the design was adopted by boat builders throughout the UK, this boat design helped form the fishing fleets of Hull, Grimsby and Lowestoft.

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To the left, the modern Brixham trawler, on the right, one of those lovingly restored.

Brixham was featured in a fascinating documentary called Fishtown, on the Discovery channel a few years ago, an insight into the workings of a busy fishing town and its residents.

Typical of any seaside town, the shops around the quay side are dotted with the usual cafes, bars and eateries but more notably, the number of small shacks, selling the fresh fish and shellfish, cockles, prawns and crabmeat from the fish market just around the corner.

From the photography perspective, it is just such a picturesque town, the brightly coloured houses on the hill, the fishing paraphernalia and those beautifully restored iconic fishing trawlers of yesteryear will keep me coming back for more.

A trip to Dorset

Occasionally, the opportunity arises to go further afield for a photo shoot, Wednesday was one such chance, to Lulworth Cove and Portland.

The last time I was in this vicinity, it would have been the mid 1990’s I was still working as a chef and at that time I was not into photography, so did not have any pictorial records of the places I visited on my days off.

Lulworth Cove is a tourism magnet, it’s horseshoe shaped cove was formed around 10,000 years ago by coastal erosion, this is also an important area in the study of geology, where there are some excellent examples of folding rock strata, the Lulworth crumple is its popular name.

Arriving around mid morning, the bland skies that had been left behind in Exeter, were replace by more defined clouds, it looked promising for some good photos.

The beach is a mixture of pebble & shingle, with the finer shingle nearer the waters edge being a good base for a tripod and some long exposure photography.
With the few visitors that had already made their way to the area, there was a pleasant buzz about the place, without being overcrowded.
Before moving to the next destination, Portland, a pleasant half hour was spent watching the world go by, with a welcome cuppa at the beach front cafe.

Arriving at Portland, the sun had decided to make a welcome appearance, adding light to a very interesting landscape.
The lighthouse here is one of those images that photographers are duty bound to take photos of, myself included but I was more drawn towards the boat cranes perched on the cliff top, coated in their uniforms of rust from exposure to the salt air.
A single boat by the base of the first one, this is right up my street!

 

The collection of working huts are mixed with those used by holiday  makers, where the garden borders are not the usual garden flower, but hardy sea pinks, outdoor wooden benches have the rugged look of exposure to the elements, more photo fodder for me.

As usual, the sands of time fall all to quickly and it is time to pack the gear away and head back home, it will however be a little less than 20 years before my next visit here.

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