Summer steam

Over the last few years, I have attended a number of the annual steam rally events between Devon and Cornwall.

This year, due to the way my weekend work rota fell, I was unble to attend two of my usual events, Powderham vintage rally and Bocconoc steam rally, in Cornwall.

However, this year, I was able to finally visit the Torbay steam Rally, previous attempts had been halted by wet weather.

The day was filled skies of blue, steam engines, vintage cars and motorcycles gleaming with the reflected sun, the owners proudly tending their charges, always happy to give a history of their cherished vintage machines

Each of the various classes of vehicles are given their own show area, each seemingly a mini community, a pool of knowledge,ready to help one another without question.

What is clear, is the sheer amount of hours that have gone into bringing many of these vehicles back to their former glory, a true labour of love, many taking years to complete.

Watching these vehicles in the parade grounds, is to see a part of our engineering history, whether it is a traction engine, classic car or vintage bike, each and every one has a story to tell, each as fascinating as another.

I always try, where possible to send a few of my photos to the event organisers, my way of showing a small token of appreciation for their time in making these wonderful events possible.

Sadly, this years event calendar will be run, machines will be back in the garage for more restoration or storage until the following year, rest assured, I hope to be there in 2019!

 

 

Travelling light

Over the years, I have dabbled with many different makes of cameras, always hopefully, looking for the best one I could possibly afford, and yes, of course I have coveted full frame and Leica cameras.

The full frame dream became a reality a few years ago, having acquired the Legendary Nikon D700, an absolute tank of a camera but with the ability to produce some really good images.

But here lies the issue,  I found after a while that I was taking my smaller mirrorless cameras out more than the Nikon, just because of the weight.

Over the last 12 months, my mindset with regards to the importance of sensor size has changed, so much so, that for my personal photography I use Micro four thirds cameras.
I still have a full frame camera but this is used mainly for work shoots, where I like the extra resolution and low light performance for the bulk of my shots, but the close up images are taken with the M43 gear.

Just recently, I have added a little gem to my M43 list, the Lumix LX100, a camera ticks the take everywhere box, its 24-75mm equivalent lens, has a fast f1.7 aperture and lurking inside, is the m43 sensor!
lx100

Using the LX100 is a pleasure, great for those days when a good hike without a bag of gear is required.

I have managed some really good candid shots with the LX100, to all intents, it looks like a compact snapshot camera, but produces some quality shots!

Steam days

One of my favourite camera days out is visiting the various steam Railways we have in the south west.
Buckfastleigh is one of my favourites, where during the course of the year, they host a number of events that are always well attended.

The original railway ran from Buckfastleigh to Ashburton, first opened in on 1st May 1872!

The railway never made much profit but was used to carry coal, cider and agricultural goods.
The railway stopped carrying passengers in 1958, freight continued to be carried until 1962.

A group of businessmen announced an intention to reopen the line as a tourist line and in 1965, the first rolling stock arrived.

In 1969 services commenced between Buckfastleigh and Totnes, the line to Ashburton was lost in 1979, due to the widening of the A38

In 1990, the line was taken over by the South Devon Railway trust, the line renamed South Devon Railway.

I doff my metaphorical hat to those volunteers who help keep these wonderful reminders of our heritage going, giving so much pleasure to many.

Sunday’s outing started with a cloak of grey cloud and drizzle, my immediate thought was to capture the essence of this in monochrome photos, to create a ‘film noir’ or ‘brief encounter’ style shots

 

A mixture of steam and mist really brought my vision to life…..

A big thank you to all the staff here at SDR, they are so obliging to requests of photos, they helped make this trip one of my favourites by far!

Once the weather began to brighten, I saw an opportunity to use a vintage style post edit on some of the shots, some of these are my favourites of 2018, but I am certain there will be many more to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black and white

Throughout my own photographic journey, I have always been inspired by black and white photos, from the early pioneers, to the masters of photojournalism and street photography.

It is not hard to be inspired by the work of Henri Cartier Bresson, Gary Winogrand, Vivian Maier and Jill Freedman to name just a few.

There is something about working in monochrome that seems to capture the essence of a moment in time, and while it is clear that one has to master the tools we use, being in the right place at the right time is an art in itsself.

I experimented with black and white film, in the very first few steps of my own photographic journey, but in all honestly lacked the knowledge in utilising it to its full potential.

It was once I had bought my first ‘proper’ DSLR that I began to take an interest in the masters of film, honing my photographic education from books or information gleaned from the internet.

There is something I still love about leafing through pages of photos from around the world, of so many different subjects, borrowing ideas or becoming inspired by so many talented photographers of a bygone era,

My own photographic philosophy is to attempt to capture the everyday, but to add my own touch if possible.

Any photographer will tell you that they look for textures, shapes or contrasts, all these become so much more relevant with black and white images.

The image of the cranes in the above sequence of images is such an example, through early morning cloud, there was something about the contrasts I liked and while the image looked good in colour, the monochrome was just so much better, especially with a slight vignette to focus on the centre.

The underside of the road bridge just had to be taken with a conversion to black and white in mind, the textures, light and shadow are all the things I love about photography.

Had anybody told me that I would take great enjoyment from street photography, I would have never believed them, I never felt confident about portrait or street photography, but as I have become more assured as both a person and a photographer, I have found that talking to a possible subject breaks the barriers, often the conversation turns to the cameras I use.

In Exeter, we have a plethora of very talented buskers, today, finally I had my camera with me to take the following shots

Today was just one of those days when I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and while I will always hope to be as good as those that have inspired me, I always come away from a photo walk with a sense of enjoyment and achievement.

 

 

 

 

January in Sidmouth

The day starts off with its usual grey, insipid cloak, this has been the norm for the year so far.
Deciding that the moors would not be a good idea after the recent rains, today’s venue is an early jaunt to Sidmouth.

The closer we get to our destination, the skies show a promise of clearing as sun lit clouds make a most welcome appearance.
Approaching the sea front, the wind is still keen to make its prescence known, but the sight of sun dappled waves lapping the pebbled shore and golden sun rays, reaching like fingers into the sea, is a sight I will never tire of.
Bwater 3

Joined only by dog walkers and those looking for a newspaper to read with their breakfast and coffee, the beach is pretty deserted for now.

Watching the clouds float by, I decide to take a few long exposure shots, the waves on the breakwater, the clouds sailing across the sky….


As the tide ebbs, a chance to walk across the full length of the beach is too good to miss, a chance for the customary stone stacking, and foraging for images….

 

As usual, time has wings and flies so quickly, the beach fills with like minded folk, seeking to enjoy the rare visit of sunshine.
On winter days such as this, the light is not too harsh, the contrasts of the red rock against a blue sky is such a change from the monochrome cloud and rain we have endured throughout the last few weeks.

With such inspiring landscapes upon my doorstep, it is not hard to see why tourists flock from far and wide during the holiday season, but for me, the true beauty is to see these places in the quieter times, when we have a chance to stand and stare.

Rainy days

I woke this morning to the usual grey insipid skies so common for this time of year, but instead of merely supping copious amounts of caffeine and staying in, decided to take a walk into town with the idea of capturing some monochrome images of my home city.

Exeter is blessed with so many side streets and alleyways, perfect for light and reflections to show upon the slabs or cobbles.

 

For a Saturday morning, the streets were bereft of the shoppers that are likely to appear later in the day, I actually like the feeling of having the city to myself while I move from place to place in a world of my own.

A January outing

The festivities are well and truly over, January sees life return to a semblance of normality, for some, it is a month to hibernate away from the cold, damp weather, for me, it is an oppotunity to capture popular summer haunts in their winter clothing.

Cafes remain closed, their owners taking a well deserved break before the coming season, beaches bereft of sandcastles and brightly clad bathers.
The gentle solitude of a seaside town in winter has its own kind of beauty, it is a chance to capture a place in another mood, an opportunity to capture the things that can be missed as we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of those warmer days.

A recent visit to my home town of Salcombe for a couple of days, offered a chance to capture the town in its post Christmas lull….


Winter time often gives some wonderful lighting, the textures of the quay area caught my eye as the light fell uopn the walls and floor, equally, the long exposure taken at North sands gave a very pleasing end result.

Working with my self imposed square format perspective with my photos, has made an enjoyable hobby even more so, as I am seeing different ways to shoot everyday scenes.

Even the days I travel back from my visits to Salcombe are often photo opportunities, a quick trip to Slapton, capturing images between the rain showers ….

 

Back to the blog

The start of another year, the hope of keeping to new years resolutions.

No, I have not taken a membership to a gym, neither have I taken to pounding the roads by running myself into oblivion, instead, I will attempt (note I did not say promise) to keep more regular postings here with my various camera outings.

My recent self imposed challenge with just using a 50mm lens in 2017 was enjoyable, forcing the creative side to find the more unusual take on a subject, it is something I will continue doing throughout 2018

As well as my favourite fifty, I will be mainly shooting 35mm, essentially my two favourite focal lengths, but I will also be adopting the ‘square’ format to my armoury this year.

Over the festive period, I was reading articles on the various formats used in photography, the 6×6 ‘square’ was the one that piqued my interest.
Used in the past by the medium format photographers with their twin reflex cameras, I love the way this format frees the composition out of the constraints of the rules of the thirds.


As most modern cameras now allow the facility to change aspect ratios, with their advanced EVF’s it is possible to view the cropped frame within the viewfinder.

A recent trip to Avon Dam on Dartmoor was the first time I tried this, it was a little odd at first, not seeing the whole image in the usual 3:2 aspect ratio where it filled the entire screen / viewfinder.

I like the way the image fills the square, leaving no empty spaces at the edge, the eye is drawn immediately to the subject.
I particularly like the way that Black & white images suit this format.

It is going to be fun discovering the everyday, in a new perspective, and hopefully as much fun sharing the images in more regular blogs

50mm lens challenge – second outing

Today saw just my second outing of my self imposed single lens challenge

I prepare for each outing the evening before, where possible, so batteries are charged, and I would normally select a camera bag based upon the lenses I would normally choose to take with me.

The one lens challenge makes this ritual easy, the smallest camera bag I own with a couple of spare batteries and a lens cloth!

I am beginning to appreciate the versatility of this focal length.
With decent wide apertures, 50mm can create some lovely soft focus close up shots, but stopped down to F8, I can also get some good landscapes.

With overnight rain and a promise of some early sun, my hope was to catch water droplets on flora with a little of the diffused morning light.
I was not disappointed.

At just the second outing I am ‘seeing’ the shot in my minds eye, before I have the camera switched on, I honestly thought this process would take longer.

The only time I really wished for another lens, was for the butterfly, but in all honesty, I am really happy with the shot I got before it flew off, and at no other time did I feel I was missing out.

One camera one lens

As a keen amateur photographer, I have bought into a camera brand, then over a period of time have built a collection of lenses to suit the different kinds of photography I enjoy.

For each trip, I inevetably end up packing a couple of camera bodies, and 3 or four lenses I feel will do the job for that days outing.
While I like to be versaltile, I think the time has come to set myself a challenge.

I have a good selection of vintage prime lenses, I like them all, but I feel that I am not getting the best from them for one reason.
I am not using one lens enough to really know how to get the best from it.

Am I able to picture a shot in my head with one particular focal length before I compose with the camera?
No.

I read many photography related blogs, more recently I have read about fellow amateurs, setting themselves a challenge, for instance, monochrome only shots, a picture a day from one location and one camera, one lens.

I have always enjoyed using prime lenses, I like the sharpness and bokeh of the single focal length, if I had to choose two focal lengths, I would go for 35mm and 50mm.
Using a fuji x100s – it has the 23mm fixed lens (35mm equivalent) , it is great for street and landscape alike.

But I want to set myself a challenge with a focal length I do not use as much , so I am going to use a 50mm focal length over the coming weeks.

I have paired my Sony A7 with my Pentacon 50mm 1.8 and I will have in my camera bag, the camera, the lens, spare batteries and a remote release.

The more I thought about my self imposed challenge, the more I wanted to actually get it started, so here are the opening offerings from day one of my one camera one lens challenge.


All taken along the River Exe and Exeter city Centre