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.

Photography and me…

I started my journey in photography in much the same way as many others have, a camera with some unused film and the innate inquisitiveness of a teenager, topped with an ever growing love of gadgets.

I would like to have been able to have the talent for art that my elder sister had but I lacked 2 main ingredients, patience and ability, so developed the creativity I enjoyed with computer programming and ray tracing software, where I could render 3d scenes with various light and shadow combinations.

A mixture of work and dabbling with other hobbies, meant I did not get fully into photography until about 10 years ago, where by joining various groups and forums, I have learned so much and found a  number of ways to enjoy my hobby.

I like to shoot in natural light, I rarely use flash, perhaps if I did more portrait work, that would change but this goes back to my fascination with light, especially low light situations, where knowing the camera you are using is a must.
My learning curve here came from visiting National trust buildings, where flash photography is not allowed, so use of natural light with fast aperture lenses is a distinct advantage.

Prime lenses are my favourite type of lens to use, I like the image quality that comes from a single focal length lens, alongside the way they make you think.

Setting challenges and projects for myself is something I have only done fairly recently but is something I intend to carry on doing as long as the ideas continue, those following my ramblings will know I am using just one focal length for my own photography this year, 35mm is a great way to see the world!

When in town, I have begun setting myself timed challenges to get as many different shots as possible and yes, I keep to my self governed limits.

 


The shots above were a 10 minute challenge, set in Exeter city centre while waiting for a lunch meeting with friends.
Discovering new places is always an enjoyable part of photography, I will look at the popular tourist shots and landmarks for the first day, then try to find my own take on the same shots, then find some new ones of my own.

One of my biggest rules for my own photography, is that there should be no rules, do not be afraid to try something different, shoot for pleasure, not to some pre defined mantra that may not work for your own style.

I very often shoot JPEG only on my personal shoots, either to be able to post on to social media more quickly, or just because I like what the camera produces.

I have recently decided to get away from subscription only editing suites, I am now experimenting more in terms of colour and look of my images, something I had become lazy with, since I had developed a number of preset looks and become stuck in a ritual of habit.

With a wealth of resources on social media channels, inspiration is never far away, so on those days where the weather makes a decision for me, I will watch videos on editing techniques or watch my favourite photographers at work, inspiring me to my next challenge.

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.

Time to change

For as long as I have been shooting with digital cameras, I have used photoshop or lightroom for my editing needs, the familiarity of the workflow and the editing tools make the editing process much easier, however, the seeds of change have come to fruition since the subscription only models with the more popular software names.

While I appreciate that the monthly subscription will work for many, I am a bit of a dinosaur in that I like to pay a one off fee and know I have a perpetual licence.
Yes, support for that particular software may dwindle after a time, but I will more than likely still be using the cameras I had when I bought that version at the time.

It is not just the issue with the subscription that has made me look at alternatives, as a long time Fujifilm camera user, there have been known issues with the way that lightroom sharpens Fuji’s X-Trans files.

Over the last few months, I have trialled a few different alternatives and have found two I really enjoy using.
Alien exposure 4 and Capture 1 Fuji edition.

While I like Alien exposure for its many film simulation presets, I like capture one for its in depth editing of colouring and powerful but intuitive masking tools.
Youtube has provided some superb tuition to make the learning curve less steep, so that today, for the first time I have not edited any photos in Lightroom….

 

I still have much to learn from both editing suites but I do find myself using capture 1 more and more, as I find it more intuitive, with much more online tutorial content available.

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.