Today’s blog will be day 21 in terms of my 50mm project and a milestone for the blog as a whole, as this is my 200th entry!
Before I begin my thoughts on yesterdays hike, I would like to thank everyone who takes the time to read my musings and follow my amblings around the Devon landscape, your kind comments and support is very much appreciated.
At last the clocks have gone forward, one of the first signs that we can begin to look forward to longer and warmer days but this morning at just after 4am, winter is beginning to outstay its welcome with temperatures just above zero.
Today’s hike will start with a 6am train to Starcross, then walking the ten or so miles back along the estuary trail back to Exeter, with the hope of a sunrise along the way at around 7am.
As the train pulls away from the station, the darkness begins to fade, and promising patches of light begin to show through the clouds, my optimism levels are raised from perhaps to probable in the search for some early sun.
Arriving at Starcross just ten minutes later, there is still another forty or so minutes before sunrise but there are signs already of some colour in the skies above.
The station platform at Starcross overlooks the estuary, I remain here for a few minutes after the train has departed, this is a perfect place for my first shot of the day.
My patience is rewarded after barely 15 minutes, the fiery hues in the sky, reflect on the water, this is why I love early mornings, the pleasure of watching a new day dawn.
The cold is now biting at my hands, it’s time to begin the walk back, can the day get any better?
It would appear that it can, as the morning breaks into one of those days of beautiful early spring light, where the suns rays paint the landscape with a golden hue, what more could I ask for?
I finally join the estuary trail, a footpath that has the estuary to my right and rolling fields and the railway to my left, the only traffic here are the occasional train and pleasure boats.
I appear to be the only walker on the upper path today, I do however chat with a local angler who has just caught a decent sized flounder which he puts back, as he is looking for some early bass, he is happy for me to take a couple of photos, which I will send to him later in the day.
I have done my best to describe in words the mood of this beautiful spring day, only the images will give a true reflection, so enough already from me…….
It has been a rare weekend, one where I have not felt at all like getting out and about with my camera, after the works lurgy finally cornered me into staying at home to get over that horrible feeling of lethargy that has lasted all week.
Day 16 is belatedly, last Sunday’s trip back home from Salcombe, once again all taken with my current favourite fifty, the Pentacon 50mm 1.8.
The scenic route back to Exeter, will pass through Kingsbridge, Torcross and Dartmouth, a good route in the quieter days of early spring, a little harder in the peak tourist season.
Barely a mile out of Kingbridge and Bowcombe creek and bridge are lit up nicely by the sporadic sunny spells, a photo I have been wanting for some time but inevitably the tide always appears to be fully out.
A quick excursion to Torcross and this time a couple of photos from the ‘Strete gate’ end of the beach, where I watch the waves roll and break in the strong winds, no better entertainment than watching the forces of nature.
After that bracing sea air, I start to feel that it is time for a bite to eat, stopping at Dartmouth for another brief pit stop, a rather tasty chicken and chorizo pasty hits the spot while I watch the world pass by.
A rather disgruntled gull looks on as he watches me devour the last of my pasty, sorry mate, that was too good to share with you!
My non camera weekend has not been entirely wasted, a couple of seeds have been sown for another project later in the year and it has been kind of fun, catching up with some reading and a few challenging cryptic crosswords while listening to the rain and wind outside and while I should not wish my life away, I cannot wait to get out next weekend.
It’s just after 9am on a Friday morning, I am at St. David’s station, waiting for my train to Totnes to arrive, the morning has started bright and crisp, signs at last of spring.
My destination is a couple of days in Salcombe, making the most of what is forecast to be a warmer weekend. With the train a good ten minutes away, I take advantage of the shadows and light on the opposite platform, three souls sat on the same bench, yet worlds apart as they focus on their phones, another passenger to be stands in the sun, waiting for his train to wherever.
After a spot of lunch and welcome brew, I look to make more of this early spring day, a stroll around the seemingly hibernating town, waiting for warmer days and the new holiday season to commence.
As I walk around a favourite route, the local sculptors studio is open, a place I have not visited before, and glad that I decide to do so now, as I admire the craft work of the expert hand, skulls carved with such amazing detail and the most beautiful chessboard I have ever seen.
Jim, the sculptor indulges my request for a photo, the artist at work is a welcome spur of the moment image, something a little different to add to the portfolio.
Day ten of my 50mm project and I decide to reach once more for my vintage Pentacon 50mm lens for a morning stroll around Exeter.
This is a lens that I had purchased a few years back while dipping my toe into the waters of vintage lenses and their usage with mirrorless cameras, just one of the many and varied chapters along my photographic journey.
At the time, I liked the lens for its close focusing ability but my obsession with wanting clinically sharp images, meant it was cast aside for much of the time, left to its fate in my box of ‘stuff I may use later’.
My decision late last year to withdraw from the desire to keep up with newest cameras on the market has been late in coming but I am really enjoying using a twelve year old DSLR that was out of my budget at a time when it was one of Canon’s flagship models.
What has changed with regard to the pentacon lens? Perhaps the challenge of shooting 50mm has given me the reason I needed to get to know this lens a little more, to embrace the flaws and use them to my advantage.
An image I took of a gravestone in a local churchyard, I shot at wide open for one shot and stopped down to F4 for another , it was the wide open image I preferred, the softness around the edges leading the eye to the subject perhaps ?
I do find myself using the Petacon lens for close up shots a lot more than I would the native Canon 50mm 1.8, the ability to get closer to the subject is one reason, the other is that I am rediscovering the joy of manual focus, taking more time to look around the frame, being more involved in the process of photography than simply clicking the shutter when the autofocus system says I can.
With the ground dusted in a coating of frost, my eye was drawn to the contrast of the white and green, simple natural beauty at my feet, likewise, greenery behind the centre shot above, adding a perfect backdrop to the subject, while the catkin just looked better with its monochrome edit.
If I am depicting this lens as a one trick pony, I will dispel that notion with my last few images of the day, my walk home takes me through the city centre, where I try its hand at street photography and a couple of landscapes, shot at F2, I was more than happy with the results, okay, so they are not competition winning images but I think they tell a story, record a moment in time that can never be recaptured, most importantly, I enjoyed my two hours, capturing the world through a vintage lens.