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

 

 

A city break

With a few days of last years holiday left, I decided to revisit London for the first time in around 30 years.
It was about the time that I had started to become interested in photography, and had my first film camera, a Praktika LB2.
If I am being honest, my photos were woeful from this excursion but I knew that I would return in the future.

Thirty years later, I am armed with my X100f and a heap more knowledge about my hobby, so was looking forward to completing as much of my photographic bucket list as possible.
My coach had left Exeter at eight thirty, reaching the Victoria coach station just before 1pm, a 15 minute walk to find my hotel in the Pimlico area, where I was checked in and ready to take some shots just a few minutes later.

I had been very fortunate to pick a day of blue cloudless skies, the temperatures were the highest recorded in February for some years, spring had arrived early

While I had put together an itinerary of sorts, the first afternoon was always about strolling along the River Thames, taking in the iconic landscape and enjoying rediscovering the city.
I had an idea in my mind that I would walk the North side first, then the south the following day, I ended up meandering both sides like a drunk snail, walking one side to the other.

I had packed my large tripod, thinking I would need it for some low light shots later that evening but decided to leave it at the hotel, knowing that I had another full day on the Wednesday if I could not get away using the mini tripod I carried in my bag.
My decision was rewarded with several low height walls with pillars big enough to accommodate the small tripod.


Wednesday morning dawned with more blue skies and sunshine, my first point of call was a cafe just 5 minutes from the hotel which opened at 7am, where my full English breakfast  was cooked to order and served piping hot, along with a cuppa and toast.
This has to be the first time I had eaten breakfast to Copland’s fanfare for the common man but certainly very uplifting.

My route this morning was to keep to the north side, passing Buckingham palace and the national gallery, finding a few good shots along the way, especially by the national gallery where lines of people went about their day.

The sun was creating some wonderful shadows, between the pillars at Somerset house, the light and shadow created a celestial zebra crossing on the concrete, right at the end of the light one of the staff was opening the building.

Reaching St Paul’s cathedral for the second time in as many days, I carried on to London city where I had wanted to capture Leadenhall market and the LLoyd’s buildings.


The day was slipping by very quickly, I was happy with the shots I was getting but there was still the matter of one more iconic building to fulfil my personal goals, the Tate modern staircase.
It is just one of those photos that I have wanted to capture for myself, now was my chance.
The gallery was not overly busy, so I was able take some time to stand and stare at one or two of the exhibitions,  admiring most, while in my ignorance not ‘getting’ some of the others, then to that staircase …


I like the simplicity of the first image but it really does need the human interest, so I was happy to patiently for a few minutes to get some other shots.

My plan to walk everywhere enabled me to find parts of the city I may not have otherwise seen, perhaps another time, I will use the tube or buses more, either way, I still have so much more to see on future trips.
Yes, I will return, I came to London with a thousand ideas, I have returned with a million more, I went as a stranger, and returned having met some wonderful people that made me feel very welcome in their home city.

 

A walk in the fog

Sunday morning, the first day of a few days off from work, with the promise of a few outings out with the camera.

It’s just after 6:30am, the mornings are becoming a little lighter and there is a promise of fine weather again today but this morning begins with a thick shroud of fog and mist.
Keen to begin my day, I decline a second cuppa, and set out to capture the conditions by the river and within the city.

With no early commute to work for many on a Sunday, the streets lay almost silent, the normally clearly seen high street stores hidden behind a grey veil.
Just a few souls around this morning, we have the city to ourselves.

After a few street shots, my route will take me towards the cemetery of the church of St. David’s, where the mist will add another dimension to graveyard within.
With no trains until later, St. David’s station lies still, with my camera set for Black and white photos, the film noir ‘look’ is there for the taking.

Walking along the river, my company is that of the occasional dog walker or runner, pleasantries are exchanged briefly and the tranquility descends once more.
A flock of gulls are disturbed by my presence, I manage to capture their flight across the water, one of my favourite shots of the day.


As my walk meanders towards the quay side, local rowing clubs are out in force, sleek boats cutting through the still water like a knife through butter.

My decision to shoot mostly monochrome was an easy one, the weather conditions were perfect, in terms of editing, mainly just cropping, but added a little more contrast and fade in lightroom to the rare colour photos.

Favourite places

We all have our favorite haunts that we love to photograph, places that inspire, or simply somewhere we just want to be.
With a plethora of such places within an hours drive away, I appreciate just how fortunate I am in this regard.

With both coastline and moorland, I can never fail to be inspired by nature’s beauty but another favourite venue of mine is of a less organic nature but a place that has encouraged my photographic creativity.
Buckfastleigh steam railway is less than an hours drive away, run by a diverse group of very knowledgable and dedicated staff, that make it one of the most enjoyable places to go for a day out.

While the trains running the route are always a perfect photo opportunity, I get as much enjoyment from chatting the guards, the drivers and those that help keep the station running, when the opportunity arises.
Their enthusiasm is contagious, along with the welcoming ambience, is one of the factors for my many visits here.

It is not just the wonderfully restored trains and carriages, as around the periphery of the station, where the hidden treasures can be found


Locos and carriages on sidings, awaiting or beyond the restorers craft, are an Aladdins cave of textures, colours and patina!
Weathered wood on freight carriages, with peeling paint reveal past paintwork, rust coloured streaks run down woodwork from rusted rivet heads, the sheer size of these railway leviathans just oozing heritage.

Public access is very generous here, but it is those treasures that lie beyond public access that I try to photograph through a convenient gap, which give an air of mystery to what lies beyond.

Yesterdays overcast conditions helped to create the gritty, industrial feel I like to capture at these places, all taken with my trusty X100f for my one camera project.

Spring in February

February, normally one of those months that likes to dish up a menu of cold winds and grey skies, just to remind us that winter is still here for a few more weeks but occasionally, we are offered a respite, where the temperature touches double figures and there is a real warmth in the sun.
Today was one of those days, with the added bonus that it was a day off, a perfect day for a visit to the seaside.

With half term on the horizon, Dawlish Warren was emerging from its winter hibernation, as the local shops began receiving their first deliveries of the year in anticipation of the first holiday makers of 2019.

With high tide just an hour away, there would be no chance of my usual meander along the beach, to the nature reserve and back along the path to the car park, but more than content to enjoy an hour or two taking photos and watching the waves roll in.

Continuing with my one camera, one lens theme for the year, I feel that I am becoming more considered and creative in my choice of shot, rather than worrying if perhaps I should be using a different lens.

 
I have been asked a number of times why I want to ‘restrict’ myself with just one camera for a whole year, the answer is mainly because I like to challenge myself, it breeds a more fertile imagination and it will stop me buying more camera gear!
Henri Cartier-Bresson used a 50mm lens exclusively for over 60 years, what better way to be inspired.