50 days of 50mm #4

The fourth day of my fifty days at 50mm takes me around two of my favourite places in the South Hams, Torcross and Dartmouth.

Boasting one of south west Devon’s straightest stretch of roads, Torcross has a rare geographical phenomenon, in that on one side of the road is a shingle beach, the other has a freshwater lagoon or ‘ley’.

Blessed with a rare morning of blue skies and sunshine, the beach already has a good few people enjoying the cool sea air, while others sit at the outdoor tables of the local pub, drinking hot beverages or contemplating an early lunch.

Since beginning my latest photography project, my camera bag is minimalist, a camera body with the faithful fifty attached and a spare battery, on sunny days such as today, I do not bother even taking the bag, a lens cloth and spare battery in my coat pocket and the camera in hand or around my neck.
On rare occasions, I may bring a tripod and a selection of filters but I am enjoying today’s self set challenge of minimal gear.

A regular question I have been asked is ‘Do you not find 50mm restricting?’
Restricting no, I find it makes me ask questions of my ability to be creative, to shoot with what I have.

I use the tools available to me in camera and in post processing, a simple work around for the tighter focal length is to take multiple shots of a scene and stitch them together in post to create a panorama, this works especially well for landscape photography.







With the nifty fifty produces sharp images stopped down, I like separation of subject and background at the wider apertures, my obsession with clinical sharpness of lenses has lessened over the last couple of years, softness in an image often adds to the story of a photograph.

Just one crumb? …. Please ?

The pigeon image was my ‘shot of the day’ in Dartmouth, as I sat on a bench along the embankment eating a well earned pasty, the optimistic pigeon became braver and edged closer in hope of a dropped pastry crumb or two, he was virtually stood on my boots when I took this shot, camera in one hand and pasty in the other.

With my appetite sated, I had around 40 minutes before the allotted parking time was up, time enough to capture some good light before the grey clouds rolled in for their late shift.

50 days of 50mm #3

After yesterday’s washout, I am determined this Sunday morning to get on with day three of my 50mm challenge, so after devouring a rather tasty bacon and egg sandwich and finishing my second mug of tea, I will head towards the riverside to see how much the water levels have risen after the deluge.

It is just after eight thirty, as I make my way through the city centre, the streets are Sunday morning quiet, with just the council sweeping teams making their rounds and the first buses waiting at empty stops for their first passengers of the day.

My first image of the day is of Miller’s crossing bridge, a black and white image to emphasize the fast torrent of water flowing by, the incredible roar of water even drowns out the noise of passing traffic on the nearby road.


I walk over the bridge and stop to take a few more photos and stand for a few minutes to watch this mesmerizing maelstrom as it carries several large tree branches like matchsticks in its watery grasp.

The normal footpath following the river is all but submerged, cyclists and walkers alike will have to follow the higher footpath for now, which becomes busier by the minute as others look to get out for some fresh air.


It has become a habit for me to pick out my favourite shot of the day, today’s image is a monochrome of gull’s perching on Cricklepit bridge, moody skies above add some drama to the scene.


It has not been the longest of walks today, but it is another couple of hours testing my creativity with a 50mm lens, I just hope that my next outing offers brighter skies and perhaps even a little sunshine.

50 days of 50mm #2

As the second weekend of the new year approaches, I tentatively make plans for my second outing of 50mm, the prospects are not looking good as each of my weather apps show yet more rain for most of the weekend.

I do however, have an ace up my sleeve, a bonus Friday off, where the weekend rain is due later in the morning, so I head into town to run a few errands but will make some time to get a few shots around the city before the deluge and my date with a necessary booster jab.

My usual habit, would be to head towards the river and quayside but instead I keep myself around the city centre and local parks, seeing what subject matter may present itself on this dull grey morning.



Given that I was not expecting to get out for any photography this weekend, I feel that the shots I have taken are all a bonus, unless of course Sunday offers me a chance to get out for day 3 of fifty mm.

50 days at 50mm – #1

If 2021 saw me rekindle my enjoyment of the 50mm focal length, then 2022 is the year in which I begin a new project featuring just this lens over the next 50 outings.

It’s new year’s day, a trip to Venford reservoir, a place I have visited on many occasions, my camera bag is laden with the now familar 5D mkII with the 50mm 1.8 now seemingly ‘glued’ to the mount, there were other lenses in the bag but decided that new years day would be the perfect time to begin this new project, so took just this setup without the weight of the camera bag.

The car park has just a couple of other cars on my arrival, the world is enjoying a collective lie in after the new year celebrations, I will be a good way around the route before too many other people have arrived looking to blow the festive fug away.

The colours of autumn are nothing more than a distant memory, the crisp ochres and bronze coloured bracken replaced by damp dark browns, the trees once laden in their autumnal finery now baring their skeletal frames to the elements.

One advantage of the 50mm lens is its ability in the low light of the woodland, only occasional glimpses of light find their way through the melancholy grey skies above, so I am keen to take advantage of these brief windows of opportunity.

There are those areas that defy winter’s decree of desaturation, like diamonds in the rough, leaves cling to their branches like limpets to a rock, for these, I like to use the lens wide open, blurring the background for some interesting bokeh effects.

I find it interesting that with the reservoir just yards from my feet, I take only a few shots of this expanse of water, instead, I am enjoying finding the more intimate details of what lies within the footpath, leaves in puddles or hidden mini waterfalls in less accessible areas of the path.

All that remains from this first day of 50mm is to share the images of today’s amble, I am very much looking forward to day #2



Just one lens

One of the ways that I try to remain creative with my photography, is to set myself personal challenges while I am on a photo walk, it could be that I shoot only in the square format, using the in camera 1:1 aspect ratio option, perhaps when I am in town running a few errands, I may set myself a time limit to find a few images but most frequently, I like to shoot with just one focal length.

After using the Fuji X100 series for a good few years, I am more than familiar with the 35mm focal length, so much so, that I would now not see this as a challenge, especially since a long term project from a couple of years back, was to use just this one camera for a whole year.

A more recent project to use older cameras is still very much in progress, the realization that I do not need the latest and fastest may have come a little late along my journey but I am enjoying taking this latest path with my photography, in the form of a Canon 5d Mark II.

It was as I was packing this old beast into my bag for a Saturday foray on Dartmoor, I made the decision to take just one lens, the classic ‘nifty fifty’, Canon’s 50mm F1.8

The last time that I shot this particular focal length in anger for any length of time, was when I had purchased my first film camera back in the 1980’s, a second hand Zenit camera, most likely armed with a Helios 58mm lens.

My destination is Fernworthy reservoir on Dartmoor, near the village of Chagford, a chance to capture the remains of the autumnal colours and a rather pleasant walk skirting the edge of the reservoir and surrounding woodland.

A damp start to the day sees mist and drizzle set for most of the morning but as I see this as an opportunity to capture the area at its moody and melancholy best.

The autumn colours are all but a faded memory, yet the rust browns and dark green of the local fir trees offer a muted colour palette that adds more atmosphere to the scene.

Occasional glimpses of diluted sun find their way through the murk, only for this curtain of grey to close the gap and bring a little more drizzle.

The morning’s walk may be damp but my mood is quite the opposite as I enjoy looking for my next image, it has taken little time to become accustomed to my chosen 50mm, so much so that I wonder why I have not done this more often.

The walk around the reservoir is just about 5 miles, by which time I am ready for my flask of tea and a welcome hot pasty from a convenient mobile café that had set up for the days business in the car park.

With the pasty devoured and tea drunk, it’s time to head home, good timing as the drizzle is now more constant rain, now to look forward to viewing this latest days foray.







Rainy day photography

As another weekend approaches, I am keen to become more familiar with my recently acquired ‘new but old’ camera set up, a canon 5d Mk II, so with a few errands to do in town this morning, I take the 5d with a 50mm lens for a brief spell of ‘street’.

With rain showers forecast for most of the day, I shall find a few of my favourite spots around the city and familiarize myself with the camera setup.

There are said to be two types of street photographer, the hunter and the fisherman, the hunter is always on the move, looking for that moment that will tell the story, the fisherman however, will find a spot and wait for the scene to unfold, this is my approach today, as the work goers and Black Friday shopper’s pace will be a little quicker in order to get out of the rain.

My first shots are not fantastic as it is a learning curve getting used to an unfamiliar system but it takes little time before I am happier with the images, most of which I have in mind to be edited in black and white to depict the grey and dreary mood of the morning.

With about 30 or so images taken, the clock has worked its way to nine AM, it is time to tick the boxes of the days ‘to do’ list so that I can leave tomorrow free for a longer day of photography.





Images taken with the Canon 50mm 1.8 STM

Shorter days and Xmas markets

With the hours of daylight lasting only for the duration of the blink of an eyelid, it is only a matter of time before the inevitable festive countdown begins, as Christmas decorations adorn our towns and cities.

Under normal circumstances, I would say that the countdown starts far too early but with the omnipresent spectre of Covid, the vibrant colours and feelgood factor are a pleasant distraction.

Before anyone hurls the ‘bah humbug!’ tag in my general direction, I do look forward to the local Christmas market, a perfect place to not only indulge in my pursuit of photography but also an opportunity to take in the wonderful aromas from the myriad of food stalls selling their wares over the next few weeks.

My sense of smell is tantalized from all directions, the subtle spiced aromas of a Thai food stall one minute, that fried onion and home made burger the next, with the essence of winter spices from the mulled wine counter just around the corner.

As I make my way around, one or two of the stall holders allow me to take their photos before the after work crowds arrive, up to a couple of years ago, this would have been a swift candid photo but more and more I am enjoying the engagement with those who so generously indulge my requests.

I am sure I will be making one or two more visits to the Xmas markets over the coming weeks but for now I will leave a selection of my favourite images.

Vintage nifty fifties

After moving house earlier this year, I had left a few boxes unopened and put to the back of various cupboards until just recently.
Among one of the boxes was my collection of vintage lenses, which have since found a new lease of life on my mirrorless camera.

A recent trip to Dartmouth saw me using a Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm 2.8 lens, a lens with very pleasing colours and image quality.
With a few errands to run in town last Saturday, I chose to take my Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 and 55mm 1.8 lenses for a little street photography.

One of the pleasures of street photography is not knowing what will unfold as you shoot, today’s best moment for me, was capturing a hen party as they were about to embark upon the day’s revelry.

The vintage lens project may have been a little late off the ground but will become a regular part of my photography this year, I still have a 30mm and 28mm lenses to spend time with, in the coming weeks, watch this space.

The pick of the days images are posted below, I would welcome comments, questions and feedback from anyone, especially if you were thinking of experimenting with older lenses.

The vintage lens shoot

My last blog was about how I had rekindled an interest in using vintage SLR camera lenses on a modern mirrorless camera body, and how the more deliberate process of manual focus and controlling an aperture ring on a lens made me feel much more a part of the photographic process.

Up to now, I had used my vintage lenses for more creative compositions, the wide open aperture of my Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 allows for some lovely bokeh for close ups of flora and such but it occurred to me that I had never used one of my older lenses for an entire shoot.

As I am always keen to give myself new photography orientated projects, I decided that for my next outing, I would not pack my usual 20-60mm lens, instead picking out a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar lens 50mm F2.8.

With a trip to the picturesque town of Dartmouth on the cards, I was looking forward to the first of these one lens only forays.

As I left Exeter, the morning sky was just a miserable mass of grey, in contrast, Dartmouth was bathed in a warm late June sun, with plenty of holiday makers determined to make the most of the day.

One of the things I enjoy most about photography are the spontaneous conversations that may be had with fellow photo hobbyists, I had a lovely chat with one gentleman who recognised the lens and said he had used one in the late sixties and early seventies on his Praktika film camera.
He was curious about using older lenses on modern cameras, he went away with the idea of rediscovering his older lenses that had not been used for some years, he was even more pleased when I told him that his current Sony camera was perfect for his needs, he just needed the adaptor. (His wife was even more pleased when she knew the adaptor would not cost that much!)

I was aware of how much more deliberate I was in picking my shots today, I was spending more time looking for something a little different, part of this, could be my familiarity with Dartmouth, I spent a very happy 5 or six years in and around the area, while I was working as a chef in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, it will always remain a haven of happy memories.

With just a 2 hour parking limit, there was no time to walk as far as Dartmouth Castle, that can be another trip for another day, back at the car a brief look at the images on my camera screen looked pleasing, this lens renders colours in a way I like, perhaps a little over saturated but not overly so.

On seeing my efforts on my computer screen, I was more than happy with the images from this lens, my only regret being that I had not used it that much before, there were a few shots where I had missed focus but the sharpness of this little gem even wide open was surprising.

There is no doubt that I have become used to the clinical sharpness of modern day lenses, so today’s outing has given me a eureka moment, realising that not everyone who sees an image cares about the sharpness,or what camera was used, more that for them it evokes a memory, or it reminds them of somewhere similar that they have visited, regardless, for someone else to take pleasure in a photo means that my job is done!




As I browse my vintage lens collection, I have another 3 50mm lenses to choose from, I am already looking forward to the next outing.

Close to home

Walking has always been something I have enjoyed, from an early age growing up by the sea, I took great pleasure in discovering the miles of coast path around the picturesque south hams.
It has only been in the last 10 years that a camera has become a part of my continued exploration of old and new places, what better way to record the changing of the seasons in those favourite haunts?

More recently, I have endeavoured to travel further afield, with day trips to Bristol, a 3 day break in London, other venues were due to follow this year but for the Covid spanner being thrown into the works.

The moving of the goal posts has been the same for all of us, it is how we respond to new challenges that can make us more creative, or perhaps in my case, to appreciate all the more the opportunities that are on our doorstep.

For the last couple of mornings, I have taken an early walk around the River Exe, watching the day unfold but this morning I was keen to see what I could find closer to home.

With the morning spent doing the few jobs I had set out to do, it was unusual for me to set out after lunch but with ideas in mind, it was a favourite 50mm vintage lens that was put onto the camera, the pentacon 50mm 1.8, which offers a close focusing ability.

There is something about the rendering of colours from vintage lenses that I really like for this type of close up image, as well as the fact that manual focusing gives you the feeling of taking the shot, not just point and click.

While I only took a fraction of the photos that I would on a ‘normal’ photo walk, I was happy with the majority of them, just going to prove we should not ignore, or take for granted the beauty than can be found close to home.