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.

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.