As the autumn colours begin to appear, my ambles to Dartmoor will cease for a short time, as I begin my annual photographic pilgrimages around the local reservoirs, rivers and woodlands, in search of the treasures this wonderful season gives us.
The slow mooch around woodland trails in search of fungi, especially the ever elusive fly agaric. fallen leaves on algae covered rocks, glints of copper and yellow like coins in a wishing well and of course, the long exposure flowing water shot.
As much as anything, it is an excuse to stand idly by the riverside, where the sound of rushing water is so relaxing, to watch the dippers flit from rock to rock, or just to simply watch the river flow past.
This particular shot, is the River Dart at Deadman’s corner near Holne, a good mile or so following the woodland path, away from the popular kayak launching areas.
The trees may not yet be in their full autumn splendour but that gives me a reason to re visit in another couple of weeks…..
There is a chill to these late September mornings, this morning is one of those, with a cloak of grey mist adding a ghostly feel through the gloom.
I love these atmospheric days, and head out with a camera in hand, with a view to some moody monochrome images.
The walk towards the quayside may be familiar but the moments I capture today will be unique, as I seek out the abstract and the seemingly ordinary.
Cobwebs in railings, shimmer in the slight breeze, dew laden, like pearls as they capture what little light the morning offers.
A council workman steam cleans the pavements, almost enveloped in his self made mist, another shot in the bag.
The panic of pigeons as they sense my approach, I love how the camera caught the moment just before the last one took off, maybe not the best composition, yet it conveys that avian sense of urgency in perceived danger.
I have walked past the pane of cracked glass umpteen times before, today I see its potential in my ‘noir’ mindset, another abstract to the collection.
With a busy day ahead, I call time on my spontaneous outing but look forward to sharing the images later in the day.
It’s a Monday morning, the familiar sound of rain beating against the window wakes me just after six, I keep the darkness of the early hour shut behind the curtains while I check my e-mails and the weather forecast while I relish a bacon sandwich.
Once again, the forecast is for heavy showers but today’s trip to Burrator reservoir to capture the autumn colours will go ahead as planned, this is a trip I always enjoy, something of an annual pilgrimage.
Burrator Reservoir stands on the edge of Dartmoor, not far from Yelverton, it was completed in 1898 and expanded in 1929 and as with the other Dartmoor reservoirs, has a walkable route around the perimeter, today’s walk is just 3.5 miles.
On arrival, a recent rain shower has just passed, leaving that lovely ‘between showers’ light to reflect upon the water and bathe the trees in its ambient glow, my first shots are in the bag, time to see what the morning will bring.
The short walk along the road to the main footpath is under an avenue of trees, either side, the road is coated in golden leaf litter, a lovely contrast to the dark surface of the tarmac road.
The reflection of the blue skies on the water add another splash of colour to the trees near the waters edge, I take another few shots while watching the impending rain clouds as they threaten another heavy downpour.
In amongst my shelter of trees, the skies have not so much opened, more torn asunder, as hailstones fall, and a wind that has come from nowhere denudes a few more branches of their leaves.
In amongst my arboreal shelter, I spot a tree with a cluster of fungi, as the squall finally passes, I grab a shot and walk a little further into the woodland, where the sun once again emerges from behind the now well dispersed clouds.
At the two mile mark, is a favourite spot of mine to take stop for some long exposure shots of the water.
Rocks coated in a lush green cloak of lichen sprinkled with fallen leaves make for an archetypal autumn scene, this type of shot is something of a photographic cliche but I am happy to sit by the water and just enjoy the moment.
After enjoying the moment, or thirty of them to be exact, it’s time to walk the final stretch of this years visit to Burrator and to head back for a spot of lunch and then home.
It is over my post walk meal that I go through my images, looking forward to seeing them on the bigger screen, also padding out the ideas from a few words I had written for today’s blog.
Back at home, I make a note to hopefully visit again before next autumn, in reality, it probably won’t happen, the ratio of places I want to visit, compared to the time I have to do them all is not mathematically possible, so I guess I will see you again next November Burrator!
It’s the last week of October and I am keen to revisit a favourite woodland walk, Newbridge, situated on edge of Dartmoor between Ashburton and Poundsgate.
On arrival, the car park is already well utilised, this area is popular with walkers and canoeists alike, I spend a few minutes chatting with a group that have come from Horsham to sample the fast flowing waters of the River Dart, I leave them to their final preparations while I head to the woods.
Holly bushes seem to have an abundance of berries this year, a contrast of red and green against the slowly browning bracken along the edge of the path, these colour contrasts are one of the reasons that autumn is my favourite season.
As usual, I cannot resist the urge to create some long exposure images of the River, the smoky look of the water against algae clad rocks, some of which are speckled with the yellows and golds of fallen leaves.
As my walk takes me further into the woodland, I stop to take pictures of the fungi.
Each year, I promise to educate myself to learn the names of the species I see, each year, I fail miserably in doing so, yet my admiration of the beauty and fragility of their nature will never dwindle.
A simple rust coloured leaf, still clinging to its vine grabs my attention, acorns on a lush verdant cushion of lichen, ivy leaves basking in the autumn sun, all these little treasures are there to be found, the fun is in seeking them out.
My walk has come full circle, I am back at the car park supping a welcome cup of tea, I am thinking about how my photo walk tomorrow in Bristol will be the polar opposite of today, from spacious woodland to sprawling urban conurbation.
It’s Monday morning, the third day of a rather welcome 3 days off, it’s just after 6am as I enjoy the first cuppa of the day, while listening to the rain as it hits the windows.
The weather forecast suggests that the morning’s rain will clear to sunny spells, either way, I intend to have a good day out.
My first destination will be Totnes, a town I really enjoy photographing, it’s quayside and town centre are always a hive of activity, I will have a mooch for a couple hours here, before meeting my parents for lunch, my treat today, they are celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary this weekend!
As the grey clouds begin to clear, the morning has a lovely mood with a warm autumnal glow of sunlight, a good start to the day.
After a pleasant couple of hours with my folks, I continue my photo day trip, off to Paignton and Torquay, the ‘English Riviera’.
It’s half term, I was expecting the beach to be busy with family groups, perhaps the recent drop in temperatures are keeping the less hardy ones at home, those that are here are having a great time, one young lad trying to show his mum the dead crab he has found, mum wants none of that thank you!
There is a keen wind near the pier atr Paignton, bobble hats and scarves have been salvaged from their summer hibernation, to use a Games of Thrones analogy, ‘winter is on the way’.
From the confines of a cosy cafe by the sea, I watch the world go by with a welcome cuppa, browse through my photos so far before making my way back to the town centre where I hope to get some photos from the steam railway station there, then head over to Torquay for an hour or so before making my way home.
It has been a long time since I had a day like today, being able just go at leisure with no time constraints, it is something I hope to do more often over the coming months.
Sunday morning, 7am, I am supping my first cuppa after arriving home from my nightshift, another week complete, the day is mine to do with as I choose, that choice will be heading out to Dartmoor.
Camera packed and batteries charged, I decide against carrying a tripod, I want to travel as light as possible, a day for exploring without the need for too much gear.
Today’s venue is a favourite, with a variety of things to see, but it is the solitude of the place that appeals, it could be high summer and it may be possible to meet just a handful of other walkers here…. perfect.
There is a distinct coolness to the wind today, it is the first time I have dug my fleece out for a walk since early spring, even my wellies will be worn today, the recent rains will have made areas of today’s venue quite boggy in places, these places have some rather nice abandoned buildings which will look good in the sunshine that has just made an appearance.
The first thing that hits you with Dartmoor is just the absolute peace and quiet, no roar of traffic, just the gentle thud of Wellington boots against the path,the sound of the wind and the rush of the nearby River Swincombe, the perfect antidote for the hustle and bustle of every day.
As with all my Dartmoor days, I will be searching for its treasures, not just the beauty of the vast open space but the gnarled spindly tree surviving against the harsh winds that try to break its will to survive, hidden fungi growing on a fallen tree and the textures of weathered wood and rusty fences.
September has always been one of my favourite times of year, the turning of the season from summer to autumn, nature’s changing of the guard.
Watching the leaves turn from green to hues of orange and gold has always held a fascination, photographing them is a pleasure I will always enjoy, yet it is always tinged with that bittersweet taste of knowing dark winter nights are not that far away.
One of my favourite haunts to observe the rite of passage from summer to autumn is Hembury woods near Buckfastleigh, just on the edge of Dartmoor, the woodland lies alongside the River Dart.
With the summer holidays just a fading memory, I have the woods and river pretty much to myself, one of the advantages of having weekdays off from work.
With just the whisper of wind through the leaves and the occasional birdsong, it is so peaceful, a place to reflect or gather ones thoughts after a busy week, as I sit on a rock watching the river flow past.
As usual, my eye is drawn to those small patches of light that seep through to the woodland floor, also to the long since fallen trees with various species of fungi that will be prevalent at this time of year, along with the many fallen acorns.
I tried so hard not to take the usual long exposure of the water, but those orange leaves that had already fallen on to the rocks were just too good to miss, it also gave me the excuse to stay by the river for just a few minutes longer.
After a four mile stroll, it is time to head back for a little light refreshment and something to eat before the next best part of the day, reviewing the days photos.