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 cliché.
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.
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.
As we approach the last week of February, the long winter nights and dark mornings are gradually making way for lighter and hopefully brighter days and after last weekend’s rain filled days, a little sunshine would be more than welcome.
I am at Starcross, just after six fifteen AM, my intention to walk the few miles along the estuary footpath back to Exeter.
It is one of those very cold mornings where the chill nips at the fingertips but as the skies lighten, the blue hour is nearly upon us.
One of my first shots of today is a spur of the moment experiment, hearing a train in the distance, I set my camera up for a long exposure, not just to flatten the water but to hopefully capture the ‘ghosted’ image of the passing train, I will have just one go at this with the light as it is….
I was more than happy with the resulting image, this would be my ‘photo of the day’.
This time of day may be known as the blue hour, with a camera in hand it feels like just a few minutes, as I take a few more images before moving on.
From the beautiful hues of blue hour to pastel skies as the sun greets the new day, the cold morning leaves traces of mist in the distance.
From here, the road follows alongside the railway track, to Powderham, Turf locks and back along the path to Exeter.
The railway offers a few images in monochrome, as the sun does its best to burn through a cloak of fog on the estuary.
With a mist on the water, inland, the frost on the bracken and grass offer more photo opportunities, until that is, the fog has a second wind and finds its way amongst the trees ahead.
By the time I reach Turf Locks, the sun appears to be winning the day, brighter skies above and a brisk pace mean my hands are thawing and I can shed the fleece I had on under my coat.
The last few favourites from today’s walk, before heading for the home stretch and a reward of a bacon sandwich and a rather large mug of tea.
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!
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.
My first seaside walk since early March saw me going back to my home town of Salcombe last weekend, my main agenda was to visit my dad for father’s day, the second to enjoy a low tide walk along the shore of a favourite haunt from my childhood.
With the tide at its lowest ebb, there is an opportunity to walk along the best part of the beach, taking in views of the town of Salcombe from a different perspective, it is here that many of my favourite views can be seen.
From an early age, I have enjoyed these walks along the shore, especially after winter storms, where all sorts of maritime debris would be washed up along the shore, all treasures to a youngsters mind.
To this day, I unashamedly love peering into rock pools, and still like to look under seaweed for any small crabs that may be lurking beneath, evoking memories of looking for peeler crabs for fishing bait in spring and early summer.
It is true to say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, my absence was just 3 months, yet I felt a new appreciation for something that can be so easily taken for granted.
The second part of today’s jaunt, was a revisit to Slapton sands, another of my favourite beaches, with it’s lagoon or ‘ley’ to one side and the open sea on the other, the two are sandwiched by probably the longest length of straight road in Devon, a road that over the years has been washed away more than once by savage winter storms.
As popular as ever, the beach was busy, but not crowded to the extent of those recently depicted in the mainstream media, the visitors here were observing social distancing and there was a happy buzz as complete strangers were making new friends while waiting for their takeaway food or drinks from the pub and cafes, attempting some semblance of normality in these odd times.
It was here I have taken my favourite shot of the year so far, a gentleman with his two dogs, sat on the sea wall, he kindly agreed for me to take his photo, which if I am being honest, was not expecting.
As usual, a rather enjoyable trip to the seaside, as usual, time passes too quickly but looking forward to my next trip here already.
It’s Monday morning, the third day of a rather welcome 3 days off, it’s just after 6am as I enjoy the first cuppa of the day, while listening to the rain as it hits the windows.
The weather forecast suggests that the morning’s rain will clear to sunny spells, either way, I intend to have a good day out.
My first destination will be Totnes, a town I really enjoy photographing, it’s quayside and town centre are always a hive of activity, I will have a mooch for a couple hours here, before meeting my parents for lunch, my treat today, they are celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary this weekend!
As the grey clouds begin to clear, the morning has a lovely mood with a warm autumnal glow of sunlight, a good start to the day.
After a pleasant couple of hours with my folks, I continue my photo day trip, off to Paignton and Torquay, the ‘English Riviera’.
It’s half term, I was expecting the beach to be busy with family groups, perhaps the recent drop in temperatures are keeping the less hardy ones at home, those that are here are having a great time, one young lad trying to show his mum the dead crab he has found, mum wants none of that thank you!
There is a keen wind near the pier atr Paignton, bobble hats and scarves have been salvaged from their summer hibernation, to use a Games of Thrones analogy, ‘winter is on the way’.
From the confines of a cosy cafe by the sea, I watch the world go by with a welcome cuppa, browse through my photos so far before making my way back to the town centre where I hope to get some photos from the steam railway station there, then head over to Torquay for an hour or so before making my way home.
It has been a long time since I had a day like today, being able just go at leisure with no time constraints, it is something I hope to do more often over the coming months.
One of the things I most enjoy about visiting a new town, or location for photography, is to find the popular destinations and to take my images, hopefully from a more original angle but how many of us visit places that are close to home?
I had lived in Exeter for ten years before I made my first of now many visits to the city’s iconic cathedral, my previous visits had been with school trips, the local museum is just one other popular venue, that being on my doorstep, is so easy to overlook.
I am trying to redress this imbalance, slowly but surely, in recent years I have had National trust memberships to access some of the many properties in the South west, as well as making full use of our local steam railway stations and other local attractions.
I have been very fortunate to have lived near the coast for many years, walking the coast path at all times of year is such a pleasant way to indulge the joys of the great outdoors.
Just this week, after a visit to my home town of Salcombe, the journey back to Exeter, would include a visit to Dartmouth and Start point and its lighthouse.
This stretch of coastline has claimed many a ship over the years but it was not until 1836 that the lighthouse, designed by James Walker was built to warn passing ships of the treacherous coastline.
The lighthouse, as so many these days, is fully automated but this does not make them a closed shop to visitors, opening up to the public during summer months, adds welcome funding to the Trinity house coffers.
I normally visit Start Point in the winter months, a perfect alibi for not having made a visit here before but today, with the doors open and a tour about to start, I clocked up another local venue on my tick list.
With another 10 or 11 people in the tour group, photographic opportunities were few, but I was also keen to hear the history of the lighthouse from the well informed guide.
Until this week, I never knew that each lighthouse had a unique light signal, each one of a designated duration.
The early keepers had a long and busy day, maintenance being the biggest part of their roles in keeping the light in working order, there were also regular weather reports to write, and signalling of passing ships with weather and any other information they required.
A handful of photos of the footpath down to the lighthouse, the views around the bay and a couple of interior shots of the lighthouse.
The tour lasted for about 45 minutes, time and money well spent, I have come away with a renewed determination to visit more of the attractions that lie on my doorstep.