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.

 

Out with the X100

Some 8 years after its initial release, I have become a member of the X100 owners club.

My first foray into the X100 series, was a second-hand 100S, the second iteration, improving on many of the issues that plagued the original, I used my 100S until it failed me and was beyond repair physically and financially.

The 100S remains one of the best cameras I have ever used, just because I enjoyed using it, much as I do my 100F
Reading blogs and watching videos, many of the X100 owners have kept with the original X100, nearly all suggesting the ‘feel’ of the 12mp bayer sensor has a certain something, some saying an almost ‘filmic’ quality.

Fuijifilm are known for the way they listen to their customers feedback, the X100 was improved with later firmware, making a camera that was able to focus better and perform slightly faster but for some owners, the love/hate relationship was too much and their X100’s were sold or traded in for other gear.

Knowing all of the above, I have still wanted the try the original X100 for a number of years, yet despite the perceived faults, it still commands good money in second-hand markets, so I was unable to justify the expense.
Finally, last week my patience was rewarded with a purchase from a well known online market place and last weekend, my x100 arrived.

Due to me having to work over the weekend, I was only able to take a handful of shots with the new purchase but yesterday, I was finally able to give it its first real outing in my hands.

With the wealth of technology in todays modern cameras, I welcomed the back to basics functionality of the X100, no exposure preview in the EVF or the LCD, relying on the exposure meter within the display,  I was having to think about each shot, and become more methodical, but ultimately, I enjoyed taking every shot.

Between the showers, I had some lovely sunny spells, there was a gorgeous light throughout the day and as I looked at some of my efforts on my PC monitor, I was blown away with the image quality that 12mp sensor produces.
I can now see why so many persisted with working with their X100, when you get it right, the rewards are stunning.

I may have joined the X100 party eight years late but I am glad I have finally done so

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.

 

 

 

One camera one lens,three months in

It is hard to believe that I am already close to a quarter of the way in to this 12 month challenge, so far 2019 has simply flown by.
With winter slowly conceding centre stage to the start of spring, the promise of warmer days and lighter evenings is something to look forward to.

My recent trip to London was so much fun using the one camera, but in a city environment, the 100f was in its element, one could say it was playing a ‘home’ match, but as I have always enjoyed so many different types of photography, the challenge will really begin as I go to more varied destinations.

As spring approaches, my subject matter would often be close up shots of the new show of flora, using a favourite 50mm vintage, or macro lens to get that soft depth of field, this year I will have to be creative with the 35mm F2 lens, likewise with the various vintage car and steam events I like to photograph, my lens of choice would be a wide angle lens.

Since I have embarked on this project, I have found myself enjoying my photography so much more, finding different compositions, experimenting with techniques but ultimately getting to know this camera as I have known no other that I have owned.

On to today’s outing, I had a spare couple of hours to enjoy walking along the River, taking in the first of this years warmer weather after a week of wind and rain.
Considering the 100f is not considered to be a sports or action camera,  I was happy with the results of the skateboard park, thanks Drew for the chance to take some pics.

 

Back on Dartmoor

Saturday morning, a bright start after early rains, so set off early to a favourite breakfast haunt, Ullacombe Farm.
Appetite satiated, just a few minutes drive and arrive at the car park of Haytor, one of the most popular destinations of Dartmoor.

The tor stands majestically at the top of a small incline, it is only once I reach the top that the wind hits, the forecast storm is due later in the day but the wind speed is already significant, so much so, it is a challenge standing still enough to take photos!

The destination is Haytor quarry, used during the 1800-1900’s, the granite from which was taken for the building of London bridge, it is also from here that part of the ‘granite tramway’ is still in evidence, the tramway was designed to carry granite from the local quarries and taken to Teignmouth for shipping.

The construction began in 1776 and was built by George Templar, this route is a recognised walk called the ‘Templar way’

For a few moments the quarry is devoid of the usual traffic of sightseers, so I am able to get a few long exposures of the water, depicting a scene of peace  and tranquility, a far cry from the industry that once existed here.

Highlight of my day, was watching from a distance the Dartmoor ponies grazing, as I move closer, they look up, and perceive no threat, so carry on business as usual, except the smallest of the group who decides that I need further investigation.
The next few minutes are spent further building trust, as he allows me to pet him, nudging me for more if I dare to stop, then he turns and returns to the equine fold to tell all .

As the morning turns to noon, more walkers arrive, keen to take in the scenery of Dartmoor, it is my cue to head back home after another enjoyable Dartmoor trip