Over the last few weeks, I have been incredibly fortunate with the weather, managing to capture some wonderful sunrises and early morning light, day #34 however would buck this trend, with overcast skies and more than a little rain.
A trip to the Powdermills on Dartmoor, an area once used to produce the gunpowder required for the local quarries, has been a long time favourite destination for my camera walks, until today, I had not captured this fascinating place in the rain, I would have my chance today.
Arriving on Dartmoor at just after 11am, the heavens decided to open, rain beating against the metal shelter of the car while waiting patiently for the rain clouds to pass.
This was not going to happen any time soon, so my impatience to get out and take at least a few photos, was greater than my need to stay dry.
To me, Dartmoor in this moody maelstrom is as beautiful as Dartmoor on a fine day, just being here the perfect antidote to a very busy working week.
Barely five minutes into my walk and the rain changes from a few drops to ‘the rain that soaks you through’ in Peter Kaye parlance,yet I have already bagged a few shots before quickly hiding the camera back under my coat before my next shot.
Shoot, wipe dry and conceal, shoot, wipe dry and conceal, regardless of the fact that my walking shoes are now leaking and I have wet feet, the camera is dry and ready for the next image.
My personal favourite image is the black and white image on the approach to the nearby pottery where a welcome cup of tea and toasted fruit bread was consumed with gusto.
It is the eighth day of my 50mm challenge, where I will head out for another camera walk to Beesands, a seaside village along the heart of the South Devon coast.
I have decided today to use an alternative 50mm lens, a Pentacon 50mm F1.8 vintage lens that used to be equipped with Praktika film cameras back in the day.
The Pentacon lens is far from the sharpest lens in my arsenal, yet it has a certain character that I find pleasing, rendering colours in to a pleasing vibrancy without being over saturated. One other aspect of this lens that appeals, is a close focusing distance of about 3.5cm, ideal for those close up shots I enjoy taking.
Arriving at Beesands around mid morning, the village is but a ghost of its summer self, holiday houses empty but plenty of choice for car parking.
Walking along the sea front, sturdy sea defences protect the village from the powers of nature that are a constant threat to so many coastal towns and villages, the sea wall with a bank of large rocks to its front, helping to reduce the damage of winter storms.
A waft of frying bacon permeates the air, too good to miss, the scent takes me to a small premises serving an assortment of tempting snacks and hot beverages, perfect for these January days.
After a rather tasty sausage bap, the photography continues, as I watch for those brief patches of light escaping through the moody grey skies.
I have always enjoyed walks along desolate beaches in winter, the emptiness has a beauty of its own, with plenty of space to find a place to just sit and enjoy the scenery while listening to the crash of waves against the pebbled beach.
I have enjoyed using the Pentacon lens for today’s shoot, having to manual focus each image is a pleasure, not a chore, I have already decided that my next shoot will be with another of my vintage 50’s, my Super Takumar F1.4….
It has been a grey and moody December and January to say the least, but these conditions are favourable for any photo walk on Dartmoor, the bleak,sultry days are fitting in this harsh yet beautiful landscape.
This recent snapshot is taken at Combestone Tor, one of Dartmoor’s more accessible and subsequently popular destinations but on arrival today, there are just a couple of other cars in the car park.
With a strong wind the cloud above scuttles along at a fair pace, mostly fifty shades of greyscale with just an occasional glimpse of escaping light penetrating the gloom.
The muted colours of winter browns add contrast to the cold grey of these granite sentinels, the solitary tree amidst its rocky haven, testament to the desire of nature to adapt and survive against the elements.
This for me, is Dartmoor at its very best, in its beauty and brutality, just one of the many reasons that keep me going back for more.
After a short two day week, I have three days off plus the weekend to enjoy some well earned time off.
What better way to enjoy the time, than to head out to Dartmoor for a little shutter therapy, a trip to Hound Tor, famously said to have inspired Conan Doyle’s The hound of the Baskervilles.
Dartmoor folklore has it that the tors were hounds turned to stone by a vengeful witch, while fact has Hound Tor recorded in the Domesday book as ‘Hundatora’.
It is a pleasant September morning, with a noticeably cool breeze, with sporadic sunshine peering from increasingly thickening clouds. I am barely out of the car park before the first shot of the day is in the bag, looking back towards the car park and the view beyond, a low layer of cloud hangs over the landscape.
Climbing higher towards the Tors, there are already a few climbers being shown the ropes (pun intended) with much encouragement from their instructors below, I watch for a while, take a couple of snaps and continue onwards.
The views from here are nothing short of breathtaking, I take several shots in close proximity, each added to my treasure trove of Dartmoor memories.
No trip to the moor is complete without at least a couple of moody monochrome shots, there will be no exception to that rule today, as Dartmoor does what it does best in having a complete change of mind about the weather, from bright skies and some gorgeous light to grey skies and a poor attempt at rain in the matter of a few moments but for all that, in all her moods Dartmoor will always be beautiful.
I have only covered three miles today but it was always going to be more of a mooch and an explore rather than a full on hike, as usual, there are reasons to be back again as there are so many paths and trails to follow.
For all my trips here to the moor, I still feel that I have barely scratched the surface, what better excuse for continued exploration of this truly wonderful landscape.
In April this year, like many, I was furloughed for a number of weeks, time that I think I used fairly constructively in finally getting around to cataloguing and sorting through a few terabytes photos, a job that had been remained permanently rooted to the bottom of my ‘to do’ list for far too long.
Once the decluttering phase had begun with the photos, it became contagious, books, cd’s and dvd’s found their way into my ‘no longer required’ boxes, ready for when we may once more safely give to charity shops or to the local recycling facility.
Then came the crunch day, when I decided it was time to purge the camera gear that had lain unused for too long, ebay bargains I had intended to sell but used, liked and kept, older models of newer cameras, the classic case of gear acquisition.
I was given plenty of time to evaluate my decision, with only essential shops still open, it would not be until the beginning of August that I was able to trade in at my local camera shop and collect the Lumix G9 I had decided upon.
One of the deciding factors in deciding upon the G9 was the weather proofing, it would give an opportunity to still get out on those wet and windy days, as long as it was paired with a weather sealed lens of course.
It is only in the last couple of weeks that I have acquired the Olympus 17mm 1.2 Pro lens, great not just for being weather sealed but good for low light photography, of which there will be plenty of opportunities with the clocks going back an hour just a week ago.
Having a couple hours free this Saturday morning, rather than making a cup of tea and heading back to bed after hearing the rain against the window, I packed the G9 and headed into town to hopefully get a few moody wet day shots.
It was still a little early to capture people in numbers as they went about their day, however, I did manage to capture a good few reflections and ‘outside looking in’ shots as shops were preparing to open.
These shots have had very minimal editing, I really like the tones that the in camera ‘L monochromeD’ setting offers.
Now I have no more excuses not to go out wet days, as a whole new wet and windy world awaits to be captured.