50 days of 50mm #28

It’s just after 04:15 as I head out this Saturday morning to capture another seaside sunrise, this time at Dawlish Warren.

As I make my way to the railway station, the dawn chorus has begun already, a male blackbird stands proudly atop a concrete pillar, preaching his avian chorus to anyone who listens, I do, his melodic overture is a pleasure to hear as a new day begins.

My walk to the station is rarely interrupted but for the occasional takeaway car making their last calls to hungry party goers, or taxi cabs ferrying the night club weary back home for a welcome slumber.

In just a few weeks, even the five AM train will not be early enough for those summer seaside sunrises but that is a concern for then, not now.

The train glides out of Exeter St. David’s station on time, I will be at my destination in twenty minutes and with darkness already lifting, I can see a little colour beginning to form in the sky above.

Mine is just the third stop of the train’s journey to Paignton, Dawlish Warren station is just a stone’s throw from here, the local arcades, cafe’s and fairground rides lie dormant for now, in just a few hours, it will be a thriving mini town, as day trippers and tourists from the local camp sites look to entertain family members, young and old.

The beauty of the new day has begun already, bright orange and dark blue skies are all I need to get the camera out for the first shot of the day, a simple composition of nearby benches in silhouette.

First image of the day


It is a fabulous start but I am keen to find a few more shots before the sun begins its rapid ascent, with the tide making its way in, I look to find some reflections in the calm water as a contrast to the rippled patterns in the exposed sand and a couple images from the path above the beach, using the picket fence as foreground interest.


Once the sun appears above the horizon, these beautiful shades will be lost all too soon, all the more reason to just sit and enjoy the rest of this brief show with a well earned cuppa from my generously sized thermos flask.

With mission sunrise achieved, I will make my way along the footpath to Starcross and Cockwood, joining the estuary trail as far as Topsham, where I will catch a ferry and enjoy a well deserved refreshment.

The next set of images are just a handful of those I took along one of my favourite hikes, a good ten miles allowing for my numerous ‘off piste’ ambles along the way in the search for more photos.

50 days of 50mm #25

It’s the half way point of my 50 days of 50mm project, something that began as a seed of an idea for a long term project as 2021 came to a close and commenced on my first outing of the new year.

Shooting with a Canon 5d MKII body, I have allowed myself a little indulgence, in that I will occasionally use one of my vintage 50mm manual lenses, the go to lens for this is a Pentacon 50mm F1.8, a lens that had been left forgotten in my collection of old lenses but has become a regular passenger in my camera bag.

This project so far has changed my approach to my photography, before I would have a large camera bag with perhaps 3 lenses, filters and a tripod, these days I rarely take the tripod and the only filter I tend to have with me is a polarising filter.

The simpler set up is clearly lighter but with minimal options in terms of gear, I am thinking more creatively with my compositions, the lens choice dilemma that would sometimes creep into my shot making no longer exists, can only I use what I have.

Today’s venue was to be Stoke Woods, pretty much on my doorstep but my first visit here since autumn last year, I will be hoping for a few bluebells somewhere along the woodland trails but just being around nature is all I need after a busy working week.

I have decided to use the Pentacon lens once more, I am learning to use the corner softness of this lens to my advantage, rather than see it as a flaw.

I have remarked in previous posts how using a manual lens has made me feel more a part of the photographic process again, the 5d body is the same, with no tilting screen, I have to physically get as low I need in order to get the low angle shots, but it is what we all did before, so why not now?

The route through the woods zig zags gently down to the busy ‘Exe valley’ road, where just literally across the road from the woodland trail, is a footpath that leads to some pretty rural villages just on the outskirts of Exeter.

I will follow this path for a mile or so, just to take in some of the scenery that I have captured before including a beautiful old oak tree, however my last image of this arboreal beauty stood majestically in place last autumn, will be my last, as it is now nothing more than a mass of tangled timber, having become a victim of the recent winter storms.

It is just as I begin the return trip back along the path that the sun finally breaks through the cloud, hopefully I can capture some of that light through the trees as I make my way back through the woods…..

50 days of 50mm # 24

It’s the Easter weekend and according to local radio reports, the roads are packed with the holiday crowds heading towards the south west, so I decide that I will finally spend some time catching up on that backlog of jobs I have evaded until now but not before an early(ish) start for day #24, another morning stroll by the river.

As I make my way through the city centre at just after six am, the local road sweepers are out in force, clearing the night before’s takeaway debris left by the lazy who have lost the ability to locate and use a bin.
Urban gulls fight like drunkards over a polystyrene box, only dispersed by a passing ambulance, blues and twos turned up to eleven!

My approach to the river, takes me via the subway, a labyrinth of graffiti painted walls, abstract images and messages, I take a couple of shots with the aim of a grunge style edit, ideal for the subject matter.

The river lies still, not a breath of wind in the air, a little overcast with a hint of mist in the distance, I enjoy these conditions to capture the reflections and mood of this Holy Saturday morning.

Only two boats from the local rowing club have the River to themselves, I had expected to see more, I watch, admiring the synchronicity of the rowers as the boat glides gracefully through the water and into the distance.

A little further along, a fly fisherman stands thigh deep in the briskly flowing waters, the first time in my 22 years in Exeter that I have seen anyone fish this spot, I decide to stop here awhile to enjoy a cup of tea from my flask as I watch him cast his line in graceful arcs into the water.

A fellow angler shouts encouragement from the bank, there have been salmon caught a little further down river a couple of days before.
I watch, fascinated by the methodical way in which fly fishermen work the swim, their unwavering optimism that the next cast will find their elusive prey.

I remain here until my flask is empty, sometimes it is good to just sit and watch the world go by, runners on their daily exercise, some unplugged, just the sound of their feet for rhythm, others plugged into their motivational play list, both ‘in the zone’.

My playlist is the sound of the nearby weir, where a heron stands statue still on sentry duty, patiently waiting for his unsuspecting prey, he will find his fish before the fisherman for sure.

I have eked out two or so hours here but I am determined to get back home and tackle that list of jobs, I will only allow myself to look through the morning’s images once I am half way through them, I do better than that, I complete all but two tasks that can be done tomorrow…. or Monday.



50 days of 50mm – Day #23

It has been a rather busy week one way and another, so I am later than usual in posting the second of last weeks camera outings, some may say better late than never.

Having spent Friday and Saturday visiting family, Sunday was my day to travel back to Exeter, taking in a photo walk somewhere on the way back.

That somewhere would be a visit to Staverton Steam railway and a walk along the woodland path, sandwiched between the Railway and River.

With bluebells gradually taking their turn on the botanical stage, it may be a little early to capture that carpet of blue in the woodland but I did find one or two images, a preview of the weeks to come.

Sadly, the full route of this footpath is no longer open at weekends but I understand the need to conserve these areas of natural beauty from the damage of erosion from so much footfall over the years.

I head back to the steam railway station where the first of the new season’s trips have commenced, these stations are kept so immaculately by the team of volunteers, the retro signage and paraphernalia are always an attraction, the photographer’s holy trinity of texture, colour and patina well represented with old sack trucks, travel cases and the mandatory vintage bicycle or two.

There is always a warm friendly feeling to these old stations, perhaps even,a yearning for the days when we were in less of a rush to do everything by yesterday.

After a couple of very pleasant hours, it’s time for a welcome brew before heading back home, where I look forward to seeing my weekend’s efforts and the new memories I have created over the last few days.



50 days of 50mm – Day #22

With Easter just over the horizon, this may well be the last of my three day weekends until late September, so I will be spending this weekend in Salcombe , first and foremost visiting family and hopefully a sunrise photo shoot on Saturday morning.

It’s 5am and day 22 of my 50mm challenge, sunrise is at just after six thirty, so I have a good hour to walk to a favourite place in Salcombe, the National trust footpath at Snape’s point, where I hope to catch the early light as it reflects on the town I once called home.

Too early for a full breakfast, I drink my first brew of the day and eat a slice of toast before heading into the last few minutes of night time, as I walk briskly towards my destination.

As the darkness fades, I have clear skies above, with just a hint of orange on the horizon, a promising portent for the day to come.

The early chill has been negated by my brisk pace but I will feel it more once I stop to wait for sunrise, as my favoured spot for today is at the top of a hill overlooking the estuary and various creeks.

It would appear that I have times my arrival to perfection, barely ten minutes later and there is a beautiful orange glow painting the sky, this is why I get out early on my days off, the sheer pleasure of watching a new day dawn will never fail to leave me inspired.



It comes to mind that this is the first time that I have come to this location for a sunrise shoot, this has always been a walk I have done later in the day, it is safe to say that I will definitely make the effort to return for another early start later in the year.

After a slow mooch back for a welcome bacon butty and the mandatory cuppa, I make my way back into town for a few more photos, this time capturing the town with a few more people around, especially on the estuary where I watch the local sailing yachts lining up for their next race, while taking a few photos of course.


50 days of 50mm #20

After a very enjoyable outing to Totnes, capturing the essence of a busy market town, my Saturday morning will be quite the opposite, as I make my first early morning outing of the year.

With sunrise at just after 6am, I set out just after 5am, heading towards the quayside and the Canal footpath along the River Exe, looking forward to capturing whatever this new day may bring.

As I reach the quayside, the skies above are cloudless but bright, there will be no dramatic clouds to reflect the sun’s early light but there are some beautiful reflections in the mirror like still waters.

At just after six, the sun makes its welcome presence known as it paints the nearby buildings in a subtle golden light, the scene is jigsaw puzzle picture perfect, what a great start to my Saturday morning.

I manage one image of the sun as it rises between the trees, before all too soon those yellow hues fade away.

Happy with the shots I have, I head back along the opposite path, where the local rowers carve through the water like a knife through butter and runners and cyclists take their morning exercise, I admire their dedication as I think about that bacon sandwich I promised myself when I got back home.





50 days of 50mm #19

If woodland walks in autumn are a bittersweet reminder of the shorter days and longer nights to come, those same walks in spring are a treasure trove of mother nature’s wonders, as new life slowly emerges from winter’s grip, we can look forward to the annual displays of snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells to add a splash of colour to the landscape.

A recent trip to steps bridge, just on the edge of Dartmoor was the perfect antidote to what felt like months of constant grey skies, as the sun’s rays made their presence known with a little spring time warmth.

The woodland path was a riot of yellow and green, as daffodils paraded their bright yellow bonnets for all to see, while trees began to show the delicate beauty of their early blossom, or the vibrant green of new foliage.

To spend just a couple of hours amongst nature, listening to the wind as it whispers between the trees and the sweet melody of the avian chorus revives the senses and shakes off that feeling of lethargy that winter can bring, as I sit by the riverside listening to the river rush by, I look forward to the months to come and my next trip to Dartmoor.




50 days of 50mm #18

Day 18 may prove to be one of my favourite photo walks of the entire 50mm project, simply because of the variety of shots I was able to take today.

An opportunity to mooch around the market town of Totnes for a couple of hours will rarely be refused, especially on a market day, when the town will be busier than normal.

The market square is where my shoot begins, where a myriad of marketeers ply their trade, from bric a brac to fruit and veg, antiques to Panama hats but the busiest stalls appear to be the street food stalls, where the subtle aroma of spices tantalize the taste buds.

As the queue at the Ethiopian food stall dissipates temporarily, I ask for an Impromptu photo of the owner Hanna, as she works, she generously obliges, asking only that I share the photos with her, of course I am more than happy to do so.

I had planned to spend around 15 minutes at the market, I spend the best part of 40 minutes just trying to capture the essence of the scene and the street close to the market.




As I move from here, I head through the main street to the riverside, then take the footpath to the local steam railway station at Totnes, which had I checked their website, I would have known it was yet to open for the new season, never mind, the walk is still a very pleasant one.


If I was slightly disappointed at missing out from the Totnes steam railway, a visit to Buckfastleigh on the way back home, more than makes up for it, this will be the third ‘chapter’ for todays outing.

While Totnes station was yet to open, Buckfastleigh was hosting an event for railway enthusiasts, plenty going on here then!
It would appear that most of these enthusiasts are also keen photographers, where the mix of Canon and Nikon is evenly split, with the odd Sony user, they all have one thing in common, the long zoom lens, I feel kind of under dressed here, with just my faithful fifty.

That said, I rarely if ever feel that I have missed a shot using just one focal length, learning to adapt is what helps to keep my love of photography alive.

50 days of 50mm #17

What better way to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning than to wander around the seaside town of Exmouth, taking in the spring sunshine and capturing a few images, at 50mm of course.

Seaside towns such as Exmouth are once more coming to life after the winter months, kiosks, cafes and restaurants offering the day tripper welcome refreshments and temporary havens of warmth in a still quite chilly breeze.

The aroma of fish and chips floats briefly in the air, then I spot the well wrapped white parcels sat upon the laps of a couple who have found a suitable bench on which to enjoy their early lunch, I am sure the sea air helps increase one’s appetite!

At the first opportunity, I stray from the concrete sea front path to the beach, the ebbing tide revealing pristine sand for footprints to be made, while herring gulls patrol the shoreline edge for newly uncovered shellfish and other such piscatorial treats.

Dogs race up and down the beach at full pelt, some fetching a favourite ball, others fetching the favourite ball of a new canine friend they have just met, dogs just know how to have a great time at the seaside.

A couple of intrepid families, intending to make a day of it at the seaside, huddle around windbreak fortifications, sipping from thermos flasks, while the kids armed with buckets and spades are busy making sandcastles or looking for buried treasure.

For me, one of the many attractions of these seaside walks, is that there is always a picture to be taken, a spontaneous moment captured perhaps, or that one abandoned boat with its increasingly weathered textures and muted colours, a particular view perhaps?

More than anything it is becoming an ever increasing appreciation of the places I am fortunate to be so close to, what better reason to get out and share it with others.













50 days of 50mm #16

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.