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 #26

As my working week edge closer to Fridays, plans begin to take shape for my weekend photo walks, as I perused the weather forecast, Saturday was looking good for another sunrise.

It’s 4am on Saturday when the alarm sounds, an hour later than my normal work day alarm but I am already awake, supping the first brew of the day and getting ready to head out for my 5am train.

As usual, I arrive at the station with more than enough time to spare, I could never be one of those people that leave appointments or meetings until the very last moment,I have never enjoyed trying to make up time, preferring to ease myself more sedately into my day!

My train will take around 25 minutes to get to today’s destination, Teignmouth, sunrise will be just 15 minutes after my arrival, enough time to pick my spot to watch the new day dawn.

Finding my place on the shoreline, the dawn light show has begun already, skies of blue and orange, reflected into the sea, a truly beautiful start to my morning.





It is not long before the sun appears from below the horizon, its vibrant orange orb adding more fiery hues to the sky.

I make my way further along the sea front, I would like to capture a scene of the pier as the sun rises above, I am not prepared for the scene that unfolds as apparently out of nowhere, a flock of herring gulls are above the pier and appear to surround the sun…..


As much as I enjoy capturing these scenes, I feel that sometimes I miss opportunities to just observe, caught up in the moment as I am with my photography, today I make the time to just sit and watch while enjoying my second cuppa of the day from my flask… and then a third.

From here, I walk towards Teignmouth’s ‘back beach’, admiring the golden glow cast on the scene before me, where I meet Claire, a Teignmouth local who takes time every day to clear the beach of litter, in rain, wind or shine.

I admire the work and dedication of people such as Claire and others, who strive on a daily basis to clear up the debris of the idle, when did some lose the notion that we should leave a place how we would wish to find it?

By the time I have finished my beach side amble, it is just after 8am, I head back to the station for the next train and begin to look forward to the full English I promised myself a few hours before.



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 #21

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.

Shot from the station platform at Starcross.

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…….

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.





One frame – Beautiful light


Saturday had been a busy day, with no chance of getting out with the camera, so I decided to get out early on Sunday before the forecast band of rain set in.

I had meandered slowly through the city centre, honing my low light skills, heading towards Exeter quayside as the night began to fade into day.

It was as I neared the Haven banks area, I noticed the changing light, a dull orange / yellow hue hung over the water, my pace quickened to capture this brief unusual light show.

I have taken shots of this particular view countless times in my twenty plus years here in Exeter, this one is easily my favourite.

One frame – The swan feeder



One of my favourite photos from this year, I took this back in February, on one of my (permitted) walks along the River Exe during lockdown.

A crisp clear morning where the footpaths glistened with frost as the sun was about to rise and the mist upon the river, adding an ethereal feel to an already beautiful daybreak.

As the sun began to rise, a golden light painted the scene where a young woman was feeding swans on a landing stage, the silhouette was what made the scene for me.

I could have just carried on walking after the shot but decided to wait until she walked back to the path, where we spoke about the lovely sunrise, I explained that I had taken a picture of her, asking if she was okay with me to put it on social media, which she was perfectly happy with as long as I sent her a copy too.

The best part of our (socially distanced) conversation was when she explained that she was due to have been in Mexico that day, for a friend’s twenty first birthday but of course, covid travel restrictions had cancelled that plan some time ago.

After I had sent the photo to Amla, I was so pleased when she explained that she had used the photo as an E-Card to her friend for her birthday, a happy thought that was small chink of light and hope during the long weeks of lockdown.

An early start

As the year passes by at an alarming rate, the early morning starts I regularly enjoy are getting steadily lighter, with sunrise at around six AM.

Being a Sunday, it is the one day I rarely set an alarm yet I am still awake at just after 4am, this morning however, I manage another hour before deciding to venture out for an early riverside walk.

It has been a week of clear blue skies with an abundance of sunshine, spring has arrived at last but there is still a chill in the early morning air.

The strong winds of the last few days have abated for a while, only a gentle breeze ripples the still waters and as the sun makes its first appearance, its golden rays paint the opposite side of the riverbank in its warm glow.

Early sunlight paints the buildings with a golden glow

But for a couple of anglers, a dog walker and a brace of joggers, the riverside is mine, the peace and solitude only occasionally interrupted by an industrious woodpecker and a stonechat going about their avian business.

Today may not have been the longest of walks, it is more about getting out for a couple hours and grabbing a few snapshots along the way, for me, the perfect way to start a lazy Sunday

A cold start

It seems like the five hundredth day of January, as I wake this Friday morning. just after 6am.

As with many others, I am longing to have the shackles of lockdown loosened as I contemplate which part of my home town I shall walk today, I would like to take an early train and catch the sunrise on one of the local beaches but respect the importance for only necessary travel on public transport and decide upon a circular walk following the River Exe once more.

It is another one of those still winter morning’s where the cold soon shakes any latent sleepiness from you, while hidden patches of ice on the pavements also help keep you alert.

A cold mist floats above some parts of the River, in my head the deep purple ‘smoke on the water’ intro plays in a loop as I look for my first shots of the day.

There are still traces of night lingering in the skies above as my first shots are taken, I love the moodiness of this time of day, the longer shutter speed turning the river to an almost smooth mirror, the star like light emanating from the street lights on the opposite pathway.

Atmospheric cloud and smooth water, the lights reflection make for a satisfying first image of the day
A patch of blue sky is quickly hidden by the spectre of cloud
Just a few minutes later, as the sky lightens the day, the mist rises from weir like a ghost

With the city behind me, I join the footpath to the Riverside valley trail, where the powerful gushing of the fast flowing weir is replaced by the first strains of the dawn chorus, a sound I will never tire of.

If the sound of birdsong was not enough, my reward is twofold, as I see the cloud begin disperse, their edges painted with the glow of the morning sun, how different from last Friday’s insipid, uninspiring blanket of grey.

Beautiful reflections and light as the sun makes a welcome appearance

This morning is offering photo opportunities at every turn, the river reflections and golden skies, the grass either side of the footpath dusted with a light frost, it is a day to treasure.


The highlight of today’s shoot, my picture of the day was an opportunist shot, taken opposite the Double Locks pub, where on the landing stage a young lady stands, taking photos of the local swans, who with their natural grace and elegance are as photogenic as ever.

With the sun adding a golden glow to the scene, I have my favourite shot of the day.

An elegance of swans have their photos taken/

From a safe distance we exchange greetings and I explain that the shot was too good to miss and would she like a copy of the image.

The young lady’s name is Ama, she explains that under normal circumstances she would have been in Mexico, celebrating a friend’s birthday with them but instead, here she was in the middle of an English winter, making the most of the allowed exercise.
Ama loves the picture, she says it will be a memento of lockdown she will treasure, I promise to send the image later in the day via email.

With a good few landscape images under my belt, I seek out the more abstract images I find so much enjoyment from, close ups of plants bathed in the glow of the morning light, ice crystals atop a fence post, bramble leaves seemingly candied with frost.


The smaller details are as much fun to photograph as the grand vistas, finding beauty in the every day has taught me not just to look but how to see the apparently mundane in a different light.

As I make my way back home, ideas for this blog begin to germinate, that initial thought of despair so early this morning of it feeling like the five hundredth day of January as the opened curtains revealed nothing but darkness has been replaced by ‘ the five hundredth day of January was a great day to be alive! ‘

December sunrise

It is the penultimate Saturday before Christmas, many of us will be having to entertain thoughts of heading into towns or cities for some Christmas shopping, fortunately I am not one of the many, instead I shall be heading out for a morning hike, with the hopes of catching the sun as it rises along the way.


Setting off at just after seven fifteen AM, darkness still hangs around like an unwanted guest, I have about 45 minutes before the sun begins its morning ascent into northern hemisphere skies.

A little rain is still in the air but today is forecast as mainly sunny until later in the day, one of the reasons I have chosen today for my outing.
I have about a mile and half before reaching the well trodden riverside path that follows the River Exe to the Exe estuary, it is when I reach this path that I spot some orange hues in the sky as the morning awakens.

I reach one of my favourite spots along the footpath, close to the Double Locks pub, the sun breaks through the cloud in all its golden glory, what a start to the day.




After the light show, I decide to capture a long exposure shot of the river as it looks back towards Exeter, the serene stillness broken only by the melody of the avian chorus.

Another five minutes and the stillness of the river is broken by the first of many early morning rowers, their sleek boats cutting through the water like a knife through butter, as they glide so elegantly by.

From here, the path takes me to Countess wear, one of Exeter’s main arteries out of the city, where I will cross the already busy main road to join the path on the other side, another 3 miles will take me to Turf Locks, another of my favourite photographic venues.

I am not alone on my walk, the river bank has seen overnight fishermen hoping for their catch of a lifetime, the predator anglers seeking pike in one place, while down river the carp anglers have set up their temporary base, sandwiching a solitary Tench angler making his first cast of the morning.

While the conversation with them all is about their piscatorial prowess, the one thing we all have in common, is the joy of watching the morning sunrise, where we are all agreed that the early mornings are the best part of the day.

A little way along the footpath, it splits into two, a narrower path following the river is ideal for walkers, the wider path below takes the cyclists, as I join the narrow river path, I can take in the views at my leisure.



Making my way to Turf locks, the clouds above start to thicken hiding the sun for a few moments before it appears once more casting that wonderful winter light upon the landscape.


With the light changing rapidly, I try to keep up with the moody skies, grey and threatening one moment, then back to sunny landscapes as the sun escapes from its cloudy cloak.

Reaching Turf locks, the skies begin to darken and in the distance the clouds shed their cargo of rain, tide in or out, this part of my walk is just so photogenic.

I take a couple of in camera monochrome shots to capture the drama of the changing light, the exposed mud flats add more to the mood.

Having decided that I would catch a bus home, I take a road I have not walked before, looking at possible new routes and footpaths along the way.

I walk about another mile and a half before hearing the traffic pass on the main road ahead, as I reach the junction a convenient bus stop is just on the other side of the road, I have approximately 15 minutes to finish my flask of tea before the next bus arrives.

The ride home gives me a chance to look through my mornings photos, I am pleased that I made the effort to get out when I did, as Sunday’s weather is looking pretty hopeless.