A trip to Ilfracombe

My twenty or so years working in the catering industry meant that the summer holiday months of July and August were ‘out of bounds’ but September and October were times that I could look forward to a few days away.

I have become so used to this arrangement that even now, I still like to take a few days in late October and early November, where popular destinations are a little less busy and the pace a little less frenetic.

My last visit to the coastal town of Ilfracombe was over three years ago, it was time to catch up with friends once more and enjoy a couple of days exploring a favourite location.

My arrival on Wednesday afternoon was welcomed by strong winds and persistent rain, perhaps the beginning of the payback for such a good summer but in any case, I had promised to reprise my catering skills, in the form of a slowly cooked lamb stew as a token of appreciation for some very comfortable accommodation for the next two nights.

Thursday morning was a little brighter, so just after seven thirty I headed out for some fresh air and hopefully a good few photos.

A typical November morning with a blustery wind found me watching the sheer power of the waves as they pounded the rocks below my viewpoint, the roar of water as it crashes against rock never fails to remind me to respect nature in this kind of mood.

Rain clouds and blue sky fought for dominance as I meandered my way up the hill just above the town, where a brief squall presented me with a great view of the town partially bathed in sunlight and the start of a rainbow to boot.


There would be no doubt that I would take photos of Damien Hirst’s legacy ‘Verity’ but just a few footsteps away from my hilltop view is a more understated monument, dedicated to the memory of a 14 year old Russian girl who tragically fell from the cliffs in foggy conditions, she had come to study English in the town.

‘Ekaterine’ is a very poignant reminder of the fragility of life, as I took a photo of this memorial, I was blessed with some golden sunlight, as I paid my own quiet respect to a life taken far too soon.



Descending the hill to follow the sea wall footpath, my route takes me to the harbour and another visit to a little gem of cafe I found on my last visit here, for a cup of tea and a cooked breakfast.

Again, I was spoiled with some striking scenery, St. Nicholas chapel standing atop lantern hill since the 14th century was aglow in the sunlight as the clouds parted once more to allow the sunlight freedom of the sky.


After my breakfast and two cups of tea, my meander took me to the breakwater and harbour beaches, retracing my footsteps of previous visits where I was happy to oblige with the typical seaside photography imagery.

My three hour amble seemed like just an hour, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly time flies when I am in my photography walk mode, I hope to return to Ilfracombe again in the not too distant future, but for now, thank you for the (new) memories.

Another Teignmouth sunrise

As I prepare for my impending house move, the blog posts may have slowed a little as I spend my evenings after work on the onerous task of packing boxes, allowing me the leeway for a few hours shutter therapy at weekends.

My last outing to Teignmouth was on the first train of the day at just after 5am, back in May or June, where the sunrise was at just after five thirty AM, with the first week of autumn already history, I catch the six fifty five from St. David’s for a seven AM sunrise.

With about thirty minutes before the sun’s daily ascent, the sky already has tinges of orange and blue and there is a noticable chill in the air, as the temperature sits at two degrees celcius.

While I was tempted to find a different viewpoint to watch the day break, the contrasts of deep orange against the pier seemed too good to pass up, out came the camera and the obligitory flask of tea as I watched the scene unfold.

It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly the sun rises from it’s inital appearance from the horizon, the blues and oranges from a few moments ago dissolve away in the blink of an eye, with just a pastel glow of yellowy orange paint the surroundings in an attractive glow.

With the sunrise part of today’s shoot done, I head for a local cafe for a cuppa and a fry up, my treat for my an early start, before moving on to explore Shaldon, just on the other side of the estuary.

50 days of 50mm #27

After Saturday morning’s sunny start to the Mayday bank holiday, Sunday reverted to the more traditional British bank holiday fare of grey skies and intermittent rain.

Unperturbed, a hastily planned trip to the East Devon coast was to be my destination for today’s outing, more precisely, Budleigh Salterton.

After the recent Easter holidays, the tourist season has begun, the beach huts that line various locations along the beach are now out of winter storage, most are still padlocked shut but the odd one or two are cosy wooden havens from which to watch the waves, for those that have brought a bite to eat and hot drinks.

This Mayday bank holiday is probably the least busy of the spring bank holidays, closely sandwiched as it is, between Easter and Whitsun, there is no half term holiday to extend the week.

There is rain in the air, as I embark on another seaside foray, the sky above just a few shades of grey with little character, perfect for those monochrome edits I like.

For today’s outing, I am using the native Canon lens (50mm F1.8), a lens I am coming to know inside out, one of the side benefits of using a particular lens for a length of time, many of today’s images will be shot between f1.8 & F2 and rarely above F5.6, just because that slight softness will suit today’s conditions.

My meander from one end of the beach to the other will take just over an hour, as I thread my way between the small fishing boats along the shore, snapping the array of lobster and crab pots that await their next use.


It may not have been the brightest day but any seaside exploration is a more than pleasant way to enjoy a Sunday.

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.

Coastal walk contentment

As mid December approaches, the countdown to the yuletide festivities is in full swing, Christmas markets, shopping for gifts and winter wonderlands will occupy the minds and time of many over the next couple more weekends, while I endeavor to make my purchases during the quieter part of the week after work, leaving my weekends free to continue my regular amblings on the moor, or by the sea.

At just after nine AM, I am heading away from Teignmouth railway station and heading for the beach, where remnants of the darker hours linger in the sky above, moody clouds with just a hint of the morning sun’s attempts to paint a little colour on the horizon.

It is a given that I will take a few shots of the pier, a few from either side of the structure as I capture the moodiness of the moment, for once, I do not even consider the normally mandatory long exposure shot, as I see other opportunities a little further away.

A lone fishing boat works a little out to sea, chaperoned by the opportunist herring gull population, looking for a free breakfast, a rare decision to bring a zoom lens, enables me to get a little closer than my normal 35mm focal length.

The changing skies add a little more mood to the scene, affording me several varied looking images.

One of my favourite shots of today is a father and his young daughter walking along the water’s edge, hand in hand, as they explore the shoreline for sea shells and other coastal treasures.

My own love of our coastline began at a similar age, exploring the shoreline at low tide while my dad would be working on his boat, I may have ‘helped’ for a while before the greater need to look for crabs under the carpets of sea weed took hold, or to find the biggest intact whelk shell amongst the shingle.

It was perhaps these sea shore foraging’s that unknowingly taught me the art of ‘seeing’ that would become such an essential part of my photography as I look to find that more unusual shot from the norm.

As I make my way back to the station, ideas for this blog are already forming in my mind, as I wait for my train, I type a few notes on my phone, a reminder of my thoughts at the moment I took a shot, or perhaps an observation I would like to share.

Often, a title eludes me, today it is easy, coastal contentment is what I felt as I meandered my way along the beach today… and so another blog is born.





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 clich√©.

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.