Sidmouth in November

A sunny Friday in November, the perfect recipe for a seaside photo walk in the East Devon town of Sidmouth.

If ambling around the coast in the off season months is a pleasure, that pleasure is twofold when it is before the weekend, almost as though it’s an exclusive members only club.

With my Canon S95 taking a day off, I use the Lumix LX5 for many of today’s shots, I love using this camera with its multi aspect ratio switch, where I choose to shoot a good few 1:1 square images alongside the usual 4:3.

The more I use these compact cameras, the more I am amazed at how good they are and just how much enjoyment I get in using them, they have become the latest chapter in my photographic journey.

One frame – Old school social media

This time last year I would have never imagined that some of my favourite images would come from using a small digicam but my foray into the world of older photography gear has been an absolute joy.

Today’s favourite image comes from a trip to the Seaside town of Sidmouth in East Devon, as I was walking along the beach, there are a number of shelters along the sea front.
Glancing up, I immediately saw the potential of the candid nature of this shot, using a compact camera would not draw that much attention.

It was when I looked back at the shot later that I noticed a rare phenomenon, there was not a mobile phone in sight, this was a good old fashioned face to face chat between a group of people who may or may not have known one another, social media old style!






Saving the best until last?

My recent 50mm for fifty days project saw me using a 50mm lens on an older camera body (canon 5d MKII), as I simply no longer wanted to participate in the race to keep up with all the latest gear, it was a chance to use camera gear that I would have liked when it was new but was simply financially out of reach, or in the case of the small point and shoots I now have, simply not even considered.

Those flagship cameras of a decade or more ago have long since been superceded by newer and more advanced versions, where they can be bought for a fraction of the price, this is where I acquired a collection of varied older cameras that had been left in a box and unused, until now.

I have posted a number of blogs of photos taken with a Canon G11, Canon s95 and the two more recent additions a Leica X1 and Dlux-6 but I had one more to try from my original box of goodies, a lumix GF2 which I paired with a Panasonic 20mm F1.7 that I had retained from my dalliance with the Micro four thirds system.

Wanting to take a smaller camera with me on a seaside walk last weekend, I finally packed the GF2 and 20mm into my bag and rarely used the 5dII as I was enjoying the smaller combo so much.

The 20mm lens is spoken in high regard with many of the Micro four thirds fraternity, it is not hard to see why, this unobtrusive lens is sharp even at the widest aperture, what’s not to like?

A few years ago, a camera without a viewfinder would not have found its way into my camera bag, since then, I have come to love how not having a viewfinder helps me see shots I may not have seen with the camera at my eye.

Enough about the gear, the images of my walk around Teignmouth were a very enjoyable way of spending a couple of hours by the coast.



A trip to Ilfracombe

My twenty or so years working in the catering industry meant that the summer holiday months of July and August were ‘out of bounds’ but September and October were times that I could look forward to a few days away.

I have become so used to this arrangement that even now, I still like to take a few days in late October and early November, where popular destinations are a little less busy and the pace a little less frenetic.

My last visit to the coastal town of Ilfracombe was over three years ago, it was time to catch up with friends once more and enjoy a couple of days exploring a favourite location.

My arrival on Wednesday afternoon was welcomed by strong winds and persistent rain, perhaps the beginning of the payback for such a good summer but in any case, I had promised to reprise my catering skills, in the form of a slowly cooked lamb stew as a token of appreciation for some very comfortable accommodation for the next two nights.

Thursday morning was a little brighter, so just after seven thirty I headed out for some fresh air and hopefully a good few photos.

A typical November morning with a blustery wind found me watching the sheer power of the waves as they pounded the rocks below my viewpoint, the roar of water as it crashes against rock never fails to remind me to respect nature in this kind of mood.

Rain clouds and blue sky fought for dominance as I meandered my way up the hill just above the town, where a brief squall presented me with a great view of the town partially bathed in sunlight and the start of a rainbow to boot.


There would be no doubt that I would take photos of Damien Hirst’s legacy ‘Verity’ but just a few footsteps away from my hilltop view is a more understated monument, dedicated to the memory of a 14 year old Russian girl who tragically fell from the cliffs in foggy conditions, she had come to study English in the town.

‘Ekaterine’ is a very poignant reminder of the fragility of life, as I took a photo of this memorial, I was blessed with some golden sunlight, as I paid my own quiet respect to a life taken far too soon.



Descending the hill to follow the sea wall footpath, my route takes me to the harbour and another visit to a little gem of cafe I found on my last visit here, for a cup of tea and a cooked breakfast.

Again, I was spoiled with some striking scenery, St. Nicholas chapel standing atop lantern hill since the 14th century was aglow in the sunlight as the clouds parted once more to allow the sunlight freedom of the sky.


After my breakfast and two cups of tea, my meander took me to the breakwater and harbour beaches, retracing my footsteps of previous visits where I was happy to oblige with the typical seaside photography imagery.

My three hour amble seemed like just an hour, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly time flies when I am in my photography walk mode, I hope to return to Ilfracombe again in the not too distant future, but for now, thank you for the (new) memories.

Another Teignmouth sunrise

As I prepare for my impending house move, the blog posts may have slowed a little as I spend my evenings after work on the onerous task of packing boxes, allowing me the leeway for a few hours shutter therapy at weekends.

My last outing to Teignmouth was on the first train of the day at just after 5am, back in May or June, where the sunrise was at just after five thirty AM, with the first week of autumn already history, I catch the six fifty five from St. David’s for a seven AM sunrise.

With about thirty minutes before the sun’s daily ascent, the sky already has tinges of orange and blue and there is a noticable chill in the air, as the temperature sits at two degrees celcius.

While I was tempted to find a different viewpoint to watch the day break, the contrasts of deep orange against the pier seemed too good to pass up, out came the camera and the obligitory flask of tea as I watched the scene unfold.

It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly the sun rises from it’s inital appearance from the horizon, the blues and oranges from a few moments ago dissolve away in the blink of an eye, with just a pastel glow of yellowy orange paint the surroundings in an attractive glow.

With the sunrise part of today’s shoot done, I head for a local cafe for a cuppa and a fry up, my treat for my an early start, before moving on to explore Shaldon, just on the other side of the estuary.

50 days of 50mm #40

As I edge ever closer to completion of my current project, there is no doubt that I will contue to take just the 50mm lens on the regular outings, to keep the creativity it encourages honed.

However, the project has not just been about the lens, it has also been about my desire to quit from the upgrade race and enjoy camera gear that I would have liked a decade ago but simply could not justify the expense.

Just a few months ago, I had never entertained the idea of ever using a DSLR again, mirrorless cameras were king and of course they may well remain so for some time to come but I am one of those people that like using old gear, enter my Canon 5d MKII.

This camera body , along with the Canon 50mm F1.8 and my vintage 50mm pentacon 1.8 have been on some fabulous outings over the last few months, proving that I do not need to keep make huge dents in my finances to enjoy my trips.

So on day 40, it was a trip locally to Dawlish Warren, for some sea air and some shutter therapy, where my walk would start well before nine and finish before the Sunday day trippers arrived to enjoy their time at the beach.

Sunday was a day of threatening rain clouds alternating with sunny spells, perfect conditions for some good light with mood in the sky above.

With the tide just about on the ebb, my path was on the upper part of the beach where the softer sand slows the pace a little, giving the calf muscles a good work out over the course of the route.

I really enjoy these mornings on the beach, especially watching the ebbing tide reveal pristine sand as it recedes, it’s like natures etch a sketch, wiping the evidence of seabird or human footprints from its memory.

Anyway, enough words, here are the images from a stroll along the shore.



50 days of 50mm #39

With my week long excursion to Wales all but a memory, it was time to tread more familiar territory once more, with a visit to Torcross and Start point.

I have happy memories of visiting both venues occasionally on Sunday afternoons, the one special day reserved for ‘family time’ in the 1970’s, the post Sunday roast outing.

A few years later on, I would work as as a chef in the nearby town of Dartmouth and become more acquainted with the coast paths around the area, it would be some years later again before any sort of camera would become a part of these walks.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I enjoy revisiting a place as much as I do seeing somewhere for the first time, making up for those days when I did not do photography… enough rambling what about today’s walk?

Arriving at just before 10am, being a Saturday, it’s ‘change over day’, those that have enjoyed their week here are getting ready to leave their holiday lets, making space for those arriving later today, I chat with one couple packing up their car, they say they have simply loved watching the sea views from the upper balcony of their holiday rental, it has been their most relaxing holiday ever!

It’s comments such as these that make me appreciate all the more, the fact these views are just an hour’s drive away and just how beautiful the county of Devon is.

After an hour or so capturing a few images around Torcross, it’s time to head out towards Start point, famous for it’s lighthouse and another beautiful part of the South west coast path.


The path towards the lighthouse is a winding route, the views are simply beautiful looking back once more towards Torcross and towards Dartmouth, I am only distracted from these views by a sighting of a pair of yellowhammers and stonechats in the hedges below the footpath wall, no chance of a photo of either species with my 50mm lens, I do not fancy carrying a lens the size of a small ship in my camera bag, I will leave that to the dedicated wildlife photographers.

As I come to the lighthouse itself, the gate is firmly closed, not open for visitors today, this is a trip for another day and a wider lens, something to look forward to on another day.

The last few yards before the footpath ends at Start point lighthouse

50 days of 50mm #38

One of the many pleasures I get from my photography walks, is getting to photograph somewhere for the first time.

With the plethora of online resources available to us all, it is easy enough to research places, especially useful if it were for a working assignment but for my pleasure photography, I try to avoid ‘spoilers’, that way, I can see a new venue for the first time.

There is no doubt that somewhere along the line, I will find a well photographed landmark, the fun is finding such images for myself, maybe with the hope of seeing it from a more unusual aspect.

So day #38 finds me on a brief trip to Barmouth, situated on the west coast of Wales, it is a popular seaside destination, luckily for me, it is just before the peak holiday season but even in mid June, I am joined by a healthy number of other day trippers.

With postcard perfect blue skies and pristine, almond white sands, this town oozes charm and some stunning views, especially that of the impressive railway bridge and the Snowdonia national park for its backdrop.




As has become customary during my 50mm project, I create a multiple shot panorama, this time of my view from the walk along the breakwater, too good an opportunity to pass up.

A 12 image panorama of Barmouth harbour

Today’s visit is all too brief but there is a certainty that I will return for a longer exploration and a promise to myself that I will add the railway bridge walk to that itinerary, something I am already looking forward to.

50 days of 50mm #29

A lot of my seaside visits for camera walks involve getting up early for a sunrise and enjoy the indulgence of having an entire beach to myself for a short while.

Brixham is different, this bustling fishing town on the ‘English riviera’ is more photogenic when there are plenty of people around, walking the breakwater wall, or exploring the town itself.

It has been over a year since my last visit here, little may have changed but sometimes after a long absence from a favourite place, it is almost like visiting for the first time again.

Famous for its fishing heritage, Brixham’s fish market and fishing fleet retain a healthy presence here, where the fish market sells to both Joe public and the catering industry.

An array of kiosks along the sea front sell cockles, prawns and crab to those visitors keen to taste the local wares,
If shellfish is not your thing there are cafes and restaurants aplenty, to entertain ones gourmet cravings.

My choice is the local pasty shop after my meandering around the quayside and breakwater wall, where I am under scrutiny from a herring gull, who is keen to share the delight of my lamb and mint flavoured pasty, they have become so adept at taking the slimmest of opportunities to steal food, that I keep my lunch very much within its bag after each bite, it is far too good to share with this avian thief!






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.