One frame – the sea tractor

Nestled away in the South Devon coast is the Iconic Burgh Island, famous for its links with Agatha Christie, the luxury art deco hotel and a plethora of tales of pirates and smuggling.

As the tide submerges the narrow strip of sand between the island and Bigbury, the island businesses have a unique solution in enabling visitors to cross the short distance during high, in the form of its sea tractor.

This one off design was the brainchild of Robert Jackson CBE, known originally for his pioneering work in the 1950’s nuclear power station programme.

Designed in 1969, it cost £9000, however payment is said to have been made in the form of a case of champagne!

This was my first visit to Bigbury for a couple of years, a bright and warm November afternoon, the tractor plods its way through the incoming tide, I chose a black and white edit, as I was shooting into the sunlight, it’s striking design makes for an interesting silhouette.

One frame – The sea front



With summer all but a distant memory, my trips to local seaside towns become more frequent, especially when the first of the autumn winds begin to make their presence known.

A trip to the East Devon seaside town of Sidmouth did not disappoint on Friday, blustery winds and showers being on the meteorological menu.

I had initially thought that my ‘one frame’ blog from this trip would have been one of the photos I took of waves crashing dramatically over the sea wall, edited with a contrasty black and white vibe but there was just something about this scene that appealed more and was perhaps less of a photographic cliché.

In a world that is forever in a hurry, these coastal towns have a way of slowing down the madding crowd, where we actually make the time to watch the waves crash and recede over the beach below.



Walks by the sea

Growing up in a small seaside town has ensured a love of the sea and coast have been indelibly etched into my DNA, so any opportunity to visit the many seaside towns throughout Devon will rarely be missed.

In the eighteen or so years that I lived in the beautiful town of Salcombe, I rarely walked the coast path, my enjoyment for coastal walking, indeed walking of any kind had not yet manifested itself, my time being spent fishing with my father, or enjoying the freedom a racing bike can give.

It was my regular cycle rides to the coastal village of Hope Cove, just a five or so mile distance from Salcombe, that made this charming postcard perfect place one of my favourite places to visit even to this day.

With my tendency to start my photo walks at an early hour, it often gives an added bonus of having a beach or town virtually to myself, for at least a couple of hours, a chance to photograph a pristine beach maybe, or to just enjoy the solitude for a few moments.



A lot of my enjoyment with photography, is the way that looking back at images will evoke a memory of that day for me in a personal sense, another is that with the ability to share images to social media, my photographic adventures can be shared with old friends and new, far and wide.

For the love of clouds

Photographers are an inherently fussy breed, in pursuit of the ‘perfect’ light we abhor those insipid grey washed characterless skies and take exception to those cloudless azure blue skies with equal measure.

To capture the mood of a rainy day requires adequately weather proof camera bodies and lenses, lacking both or either requisite we will keep our gear safe from the elements but moan that we cannot get outside.

For some the midday sun is to bright while an overcast night sky for an astro photographer is about as welcome as a bill from the tax man!

The nature of our hobby is such that not all conditions will suit everyone but my own addiction to shutter therapy means I will try to get out at any opportunity.

Of course, shooting a landscape in the harsh sunlight of mid day is not ideal, but take those same conditions to a busy city, where contrasting light and shadow may be found, it is only a matter of time before people will walk into these areas of light and some interesting shots can unfold.
The same may be said of those rainy days, reflections from the wet ground offer some good monochrome shots.

For most of us, the ideal conditions are those days with cloud leaden skies, where the sun escapes through the occasional gap to fall upon buildings or the ground below.

For me, this recipe is best served around the coast at low tide, the mud flats or shallow tidal channels reflecting the light and cloud.
I was fortunate enough just recently to have the weather gods on my side just a few days ago, the gallery below are a pick of the many and varied shots I took that day, inspiring the title ‘for the love of clouds’

Photography Friday

It’s the last Friday in November and I have a bonus day off from work, so decide to set my usual 4am work alarm to an hour later, with the intention of spending a few hours out with the camera.

No need for the alarm, I have become so accustomed to the early starts but the dark mornings never look that inviting.

As usual, I have my camera bag ready, leaving no excuses not to go anywhere, my intention is to head to the coast,so I will catch a train that departs just after seven fifteen.
I leave the house an hour before this, perhaps I can take advantage of the quiet streets of Exeter and take some low light shots.




The streets are empty but for the road sweepers and the few early commuters, I take full advantage of shop lights illuminating the streets and seize a quick opportunity to take a photo of a locked up bicycle lit by a mechanical road sweeper making its rounds, immediately thinking this would make a good black and white shot.

The previous evening’s weather forecast had overcast skies for most of Friday, as I wait for my train, patches of blue hour coloured sky are visible through the cloud, maybe I could even see a glimpse of sun.

Arriving at Teignmouth, there is a noticeable chill in the wind, the mornings have that feel of winter about them but no matter, the light of morning is looking rather good, time to get to the beach.

The strong winds are offering some good wave action, exposure times of less than ten seconds will be enough for me to capture the movement of the water, it promises to be a good morning,



With just a glimpse of sun peering from behind its cloudy curtain, the colours are a reminder of why I like to get out whenever possible to watch the day unfold.

With a dozen or so shots in the bag, it’s time to treat myself to a hot cup of tea and a breakfast baguette, luckily for me, a local cafe open for takeaway service is just a short walk away.
Fed and watered, I am ready to walk the short distance along the sea wall to Dawlish.


With schools and work now under a semblance of normality, there are few other souls around today, one of the reasons I enjoy getting out on a weekday.

As the morning progresses, the clouds begin to thicken and turn a dull grey, I feel fortunate to have captured the earlier light but see the changing light as a chance for some monochrome shots.

It has been a good mixture of a morning, a few miles walked and a good selection of shots , I decide to catch the next train from Dawlish and head for home, where I look forward to checking out my mornings efforts.

Shooting monochrome

In the last eighteen months, I have occasionally set myself small challenges while out on my photo walks, I find that setting a theme or challenge helps me become more creative in my shot making when shooting for my own pleasure.

I am becoming more accustomed to my more compact camera setup, I have been taking full advantage of the G9’s twin card slots, shooting Raw only on one card, JPEG on the other, just to see how the different in camera picture styles are rendered.

One particular style I am using more often than not, is the LmonochromeD setting, which produces some good quality Black and white images, that require little or no post processing.

My G9 is coupled with my Ricoh GR3, which also has some very good monochrome simulations, my favourite being the high contrast black and white.
The ricoh also has the added advantage of shooting 1:1 aspect ratio in RAW, shooting ‘squares’ is something I like to do on a regular basis.

Last week’s photo outing to Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton saw plenty of changeable weather, bright and sunny one minute, then some rather nice moody clouds scuttling along in the wind, perfect for some black and white shots.


More and more these days, I am enjoying spending less time editing, which in theory, means I could spend more time out with the camera …..

Another early start

Saturday morning just before 4am, I am awake before my alarm, not a work day today though, I am hoping for the kind of skies that have tantalised me all week on my early morning walks to work.

It’s too early to think about breakfast but enjoy my first brew of the day, and head to St. David’s station to catch the 5am train to Starcross.
The station is pretty much deserted at this time of day, a railway ghost town, it appears I am the only customer as the rail staff prepare the trains for the for the first departures.

My journey will take only 15 minutes, I watch with interest as the skies are already showing some promise of colour, as the early clouds part like curtains to make way for the dawn.

Stepping off the train and onto the platform, I stop to enjoy views of the high tide, the water lies still, with reflections beginning to form as the day breaks, then the colours of dawn begin to paint the sky with hues of yellow and orange, this is what I had hoped for, I am glad I made the effort to get out of bed!


Five minutes after my arrival, the hues of yellow paint the dawn skies.

The silhouette of the railway bridge and platform fences make a lovely contrast against the coloured sky, time to find some more shots before the light show ends.

The peace and tranquility of the sunrise never ceases to be a source of joy, watching a new day unfold is a pleasure on its own, capturing them on camera is a privilege.

From Starcross, I head towards Turf Locks, where the path leaves the estuary side and follows the Exeter canal, a walk I have done many times in my twenty years of living in the area, a walk that I will never tire of.

All these images were taken using my recently acquired Ricoh GR III, a lightweight single focal length camera (28mm)
The Nisi filter kit specially designed for the Ricoh was used for the long exposure shots.

Minimal gear

It has taken a long time but I have finally decided to minimize my gear choices on days out, carrying a bag of lenses and other gear has become less appealing, shooting with what I have, has become more fun.

On today’s trip to Dawlish, I took my trusty 100f and a recently acquired Ricoh GRIII, a fixed 18mm (28 mm equivalent in full frame terms) camera that boasts amazing image quality in a small form factor.

The GRIII is a favourite with street photographers but is perfect in my quest for minimal gear on days out

The lack of built in viewfinder takes a little getting used to but this little beast is a joy to use.

I mentioned that I also took my 100f today, but I barely used it, for two reasons.
One reason being that I was keen to get used to the controls of the Ricoh, the second being that I had forgotten to replace the memory card I had used for my first few test shots with it yesterday evening.
The GRIII has 2gb of internal memory storage, around 40-50 images in RAW format, I know this because I used its full allocation, then had to pilfer the card from my 100f!
Looking through the menu, I was able to copy the internal memory images to the now installed SD card, my schoolboy error had been rectified.

Getting to Dawlish Warren just after 10am, the beach was already filling with those that wanted a day by the sea, I was happy to stay for just a couple hours to get some much wanted sea air and to get more accustomed to the GR.


It will take a while to customise the controls of the GR to my liking and the GR gives plenty of scope for doing so but if this first batch of images is anything to go by, then the GR will be my ideal minimal gear set up

New technology, old methods

As technology in digital cameras becomes ever more advanced, the inquisitive part of me looks forward to reading about the latest features in new cameras, yet my inner luddite  feels that the technological roundabout is going too fast and I want to get off.

Since acquiring my first digital camera, I fully appreciated the way that settings could be changed on the fly, I embraced the way that I could experiment with composition more, as I was no longer restricted to a maximum of 12, 24 or 36 exposures per roll of film, I could also see my image in an instant, rather than having to wait for my last roll  to come from the developers via the post.

Modern cameras all have state of the art video capabilities, they allow us to see how our images will look within the viewfinder, perfect for the fast paced society we live in today, where we want everything yesterday, each new camera boasts faster autofocus but it is too easy to become reliant on the tech and forget the art of photography.

My enjoyment of ‘old school’ photography has perhaps been rekindled by the ability to use manual focus vintage lenses on mirrorless cameras, a reminder of when most SLR cameras only came with a 50mm lens and we were perfectly happy.

It was with this ‘old school’ mindset that I decided to set myself a challenge on yesterday’s outing to Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth.
Since my X100f has both an electronic and optical viewfinder, I set the camera to OVF only and switched the rear LCD screen option to viewfinder only, relying only upon the camera’s meter reading for exposure ( a bit like the original X100).

For the first few shots, I had to resist the urge to look at the rear screen but soon got into a ‘wait and see it later’ frame of mind, it was then that I began to realise how much more care I was taking in each shot, if I wanted each one to count, I had to be more patient.

Back at the car, while enjoying a hot cup of tea, I took the opportunity to look at the images I had taken, it was almost like opening that package of developed photos for the first time, it was a pleasantly rewarding exercise that I will continue with on future shoots.

First shoot of the year

With Christmas fading to just a memory, slowly but surely life will return to some sort of normality, from that between Christmas and new year twilight world where all days feel like a weekend and we lose all track of time.

Today was to be the my first shoot of 2020, the first time in a year when I could use a variety of focal lengths after last years self imposed challenge.
In my bag today, would be a fuji XE-2  bought recently for a good price online, and my Xe-1 that I have had for a number of years.
Paired with the xe2, I have a used 16mm f2 Fuji lens, along with the 18-55mm ‘Kit’ lens on the Xe1.

Lyme Regis would be today’s destination, another seaside town that I enjoy visiting whenever I can.

The morning has started with a pall of grey cloud, but these clouds do at least have structure and character, not the washed out grey we have had so much over the last few weeks.

My first shots with the 16mm lens are test shots, it is the first time I have used this lens in anger, the field of view is somewhat wider than that I have been used to, but it does not take too long to get used to.

The 16mm lend will be used a lot more today than the 18-55mm, it seemed strange using a zoom lens, as I have always preferred to use primes.
A walk along the shoreline will not be possible today, the tide well up, showing only a few small patches of shingle, the wind is also blowing pretty well today, giving some nice waves as they crash suddenly into the waiting rocks.

The footpath to the main town centre and beach has some pleasing curves and texture, a couple of monochrome shots with the wide angle lens are taken, the results look pleasing, only time will tell.

My walk as usual, takes me to the Cobb wall, today it is doing it’s job as it prevents waves crashing over the wall to where many of us are walking, those walking on top of the wall for a better view are having several near misses from the waves as they attempt to capture them on their mobile phones.

As the clouds slowly depart, they make way for blue skies and sunshine, a rather pleasant January day, it has to be said.

With a number of the kiosks open for business, the aroma of eau de fish and chips is in the air, the kind of smell that wakes an appetite.

The first trip of the new year has been very welcome, a chance to walk off the festive excesses and to enjoy a few hours out with the camera, for me a good way to spend a few hours.