As I have made my way to work over the last few days, a spell of icy weather has given us some cold frosty mornings, as the weekend approached, I was hoping that there may be a chance for me to capture the beauty that winter provides all too rarely these days.
As my alarm went off at a leisurely six forty five, I was still somewhat reluctant to remove myself from the warmth of my cosy bed but the forecast was good and I would not be happy to miss out on the chance of some wintry images.
It was clear that just a few minutes in that today was to be one of those fabulous photographic days where there is something at every turn, the early glow of the sun, the dusting of hoar frost coating anything it touches with its icy sprinkles, the sheer joy of seeing the day come to life.
I managed a ten mile hike on today’s walk and offer a selection of today’s offerings, there may well be a second post from this wonderful winter walk.
As the Christmas cold bug from hell finally consigns itself to a back stage role, today was the first time in a couple of weeks that I have felt like getting out with the camera.
It may have just been a gentle stroll along the banks of the River Exe but it was the perfect tonic from a constant feeling of lethargy and a complete lack of creative spark.
Not wishing to lug a huge camera with me, my Lumix GF2 with a 20mm (40 mm for those that like equivalence figures) was the perfect tool to capture a few images along my route.
My walk was accompanied by some late December sunshine, a welcome visitor after seemingly endless days of grey skies but there was a keen chill to the air, to give enough incentive to keep a brisk pace.
Today’s walk was more about getting a few miles under my belt and getting back to a sense of normality but it’s always good to capture a few images and feel that my creative mojo is on the mend.
At this time of year, there are a number of places that I like to visit to take in the autumnal colours, today sees a walk around an old favourite but the first visit here in at least four years, Fingle bridge near Drewsteignton, a national trust owned woodland, where the River Teign runs alongside the well trodden foot path.
Today’s lens of choice is probably my favourite vintage lens, the Pentacon 50mm F1.8, the ideal lens for woodland photography as I like the colour rendition and softer corner edges wide open.
After a recent spate of strong winds, I was expecting to see a lot of skeletal looking trees, bereft of their autumn foliage but was pleasantly surprised to see the golds and oranges still very much in place.
The path itself is a carpet of bronze, sandwiched either side with banks of green, which are randomly peppered with this arboreal snowfall.
My walk is just under five miles, perhaps nearer six and a half with my various detours off the main path but it still takes a good three hours as I stop and start constantly in search of my next shot.
Early on in this 50mm project, I saw an opportunity to get more acquainted with some of the vintage 50mm lenses I had acquired from charity shops and online outlets.
My good intentions were halted in their tracks by the enjoyment of using my Pentacon 50mm lens, more often than not but today’s walk finally saw me using my Carl Zeiss Jenar Tessar 50mm 2.8 lens.
The pattern for much of August so far has been to get out early, more to avoid the inordinately high temperatures we are seeing in the UK at present than to chase a sunrise.
Even at just after 5:30 am, there is a warmth in the air, the sky an expanse of beautiful blue with no hint of clouds, another scorcher on the way.
The Jenar lens is one of the few lenses that will focus to infinity on the 5d, without grazing the mirror, one of the reasons the Pentacon has taken a firm place in my camera bag.
As with many of these vintage lenses, the colour rendition is very pleasing and even at the widest apertutre of F2.8 this lens offfers a pleasing bokeh and subject separation.
As I take my normal route towards my riverside walk, the light makes for some pleasing images at St. David’s church, even at a wide aperture the images are pleasantly sharp without being clinically so.
With a mixed bag of monochrome, reflections and close ups, I have enjoyed this morning’s walk and I shall look forward to sharing the images later in the day.
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.
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.
After yesterday’s washout, I am determined this Sunday morning to get on with day three of my 50mm challenge, so after devouring a rather tasty bacon and egg sandwich and finishing my second mug of tea, I will head towards the riverside to see how much the water levels have risen after the deluge.
It is just after eight thirty, as I make my way through the city centre, the streets are Sunday morning quiet, with just the council sweeping teams making their rounds and the first buses waiting at empty stops for their first passengers of the day.
My first image of the day is of Miller’s crossing bridge, a black and white image to emphasize the fast torrent of water flowing by, the incredible roar of water even drowns out the noise of passing traffic on the nearby road.
I walk over the bridge and stop to take a few more photos and stand for a few minutes to watch this mesmerizing maelstrom as it carries several large tree branches like matchsticks in its watery grasp.
The normal footpath following the river is all but submerged, cyclists and walkers alike will have to follow the higher footpath for now, which becomes busier by the minute as others look to get out for some fresh air.
It has become a habit for me to pick out my favourite shot of the day, today’s image is a monochrome of gull’s perching on Cricklepit bridge, moody skies above add some drama to the scene.
It has not been the longest of walks today, but it is another couple of hours testing my creativity with a 50mm lens, I just hope that my next outing offers brighter skies and perhaps even a little sunshine.
As the autumn colours begin to appear, my ambles to Dartmoor will cease for a short time, as I begin my annual photographic pilgrimages around the local reservoirs, rivers and woodlands, in search of the treasures this wonderful season gives us.
The slow mooch around woodland trails in search of fungi, especially the ever elusive fly agaric. fallen leaves on algae covered rocks, glints of copper and yellow like coins in a wishing well and of course, the long exposure flowing water shot.
As much as anything, it is an excuse to stand idly by the riverside, where the sound of rushing water is so relaxing, to watch the dippers flit from rock to rock, or just to simply watch the river flow past.
This particular shot, is the River Dart at Deadman’s corner near Holne, a good mile or so following the woodland path, away from the popular kayak launching areas.
The trees may not yet be in their full autumn splendour but that gives me a reason to re visit in another couple of weeks…..
As we reach the middle of May, it has to be said that it has been a little more than underwhelming on the weather front, it appears that the usual April showers overslept and are now playing catch up.
I was not entirely surprised to see that this weekend was not looking much better but I was determined that I would get out for a few hours on at least one of my days off.
Saturday morning just after 5am and the familiar sound of rain falling gently on the windows, I make my first brew of the day and ruminate over the weather forecast apps, each one telling a different story but decide to head out regardless.
I board the train to Topsham at 6:15 am, but for the driver and ticket inspector, I am the sole passenger arriving at Topsham about 20 minutes later. This is one of my favourite local walks, where the footpath runs alongside the estuary but the whole path is not always accessible at certain points at high tide but today, after checking tide times, I have timed it well.
As the gentle drizzle turns to a more persistent and heavy rain, I think at first that I have rolled the dice and lost but after a few minutes, the distant horizon appears to brighten up.
Often on days such as this, there is the possibility of some dramatic cloud and light as rain and sun fight for aerial superiority, I was not to be disappointed as I make my way along the path, a huge grey cloud attempts to smother a rainbow, what a great start after all.
The seven mile walk back home was to be interrupted only a handful of times with rain showers, I am happy that I made the effort today, even happier with some of the images I took along the way
As the painstaking process of cataloging years of photos continues, it has been interesting to see how much my photography follows a familiar pattern as the months pass by.
The winter months capture the bleak and moody landscape of the moors, or perhaps a walk along a desolate beach, the months of early spring capture the beginnings of new life, daffodils, snowdrops and tulips bring welcome colour to the bland browns of winter.
Summer brings the occasional trip to the seaside and for me, the season of classic car shows and steam rallies that are always a pleasure to visit, then of course, the colours of autumn, with a plethora of woodland walks.
This of course was during normal times, when the freedom of choice to catch a train or bus for a day out was taken as a given….. until last year.
Looking on the bright side, it made life very easy in planning my photo walks, “where shall I go this weekend? I know, lets do Exeter! “
Let me be the first to say that I consider myself lucky to live in such a historic and beautiful city, where walks by the river are just a walk away but I began to wonder if it was possible to take any more photos of a place that I have lived in for over 20 years.
The initial feelings of frustration and not a little resentment subsided into a more positive frame of mind, challenging myself and my creativity to find something different from familiar ground, after all, I was still able to get out, for many this was not the case.
With this renewed and more welcome mindset, I have looked to process familiar scenes in a different way, learning new editing techniques to keep myself motivated to keep getting out there and taking photos.