50 days of 50mm #47

With the welcome return of some of my most anticipated yearly events, today’s visit to Torbay steam fair is one I have looked forward to for some time.

It is another day of cloudless blue skies and hot August sun, a reminder perhaps of that summer of ’76 when I was just a ten year old with seemingly endless weeks of summer holiday ahead of me.

The photographer in me would love to see a few more clouds in the sky, the realist in me is just so glad to be back at an event that I have always enjoyed, a comment that would be said more than once today by fellow spectators and exhibitors alike.

The event sprawls over two very large fields, with an array of classic cars, motorcycles, tractors and traction engines, as well as a number of fairground rides and various food stalls.

My sense of smell is working overtime, the aroma of fried onions from a burger stall has to compete with the delicious aroma of Indian spices from a curry stall, that in turn over ridden by the smell of coal and oil from the stars of todays outing, the traction engines.

Using a 50mm lens for such an event is certainly challenging at close quarters , these iron leviathans soon fill the frame, so I decide to get closer still and pick out the detail shots of the engines and their owners as they work on their machines.

My camera has worked hard today, a good few hundred images will take some sorting but here are a handful which hopefully capture the essence of one of the highlights of my photographic year.



50 days of 50mm #42

My first visit to Dartmoor after the constraints of lockdown felt like it was my first and though I knew what to expect, my appreciation for the landscape and the freedom it gives, had grown.

Slowly but surely, life has got back to some semblance of normality, however, I was going to have to wait another year to visit one of my favourite summer diary events, the Powderham historic vehicle gathering.

Yesterday was the day I had been waiting for, the two day event was to welcome the public once more to the grounds of Powderham Castle, again I felt as though it was my first time after such a long enforced absence.

With the next few days set to be some of the hottest of the summer so far, the event organisers have certainly picked the right week, the morning was already warming up at seven am as I walked to a nearby shop to pick up some refeshments for later in the day.

With the gates open at 10am, I was there for just a few minutes after, my online purchase of my ticket allowed me through the prepaid ticket queue a little faster than those buying on the day, as well as saving a couple of quid by doing so.

The event covers a vast space in the grounds of the Powderham estate, it is almost like a village within the grounds, with the varied and many vehicle exhibitors as well as the food vendors and vehicle related memorabilia outlets.

My first point of call will be the traction engine zone, I like to capture the proud owners of these incredible workhorses as they polish their charges for the umpteenth time, before they head towards the concourse later in the day to show off their gleaming engines.

My common sense head tells me to slow down as I head from exhibnit to exhibit but frankly I am like a child in a sweetshop, wide eyed with the choices available, then I tell myself that I have all day!

I think that everone senses the carnival atmosphere of today’s event, like the welcome return of an old friend, it is a field of perfect strangers chatting and laughing as though we had known each other for years.

While I have not had time to go through all of yesterdays images, I have picked a few that hopefully give some measure of why I look forward to this event so much and why I will look out for the same exhibits at Torbay steam rally in a few weeks time.

Finding the fifty

The first few weeks of 2020 have been reasonably productive ones so far, I have finally commenced the long overdue task of cataloguing my images and have begun the process of looking at downsizing my collection of vintage lenses and other camera gear.

I have come to the realization that I do not require five camera bags, three 35mm 2.8 lenses, four 50mm lenses from f1.4 to f2.8 respectively, as well as a 55mm and 58mm lenses, as well as three tripods and other related accessories.

It is one of the fifties that forms today’s musing, specifically the Super Takumar 50mm 1.4, a lens I had picked up in a charity shop for a good price, a lens that had become firm favourite with the bright 1.4 aperture, a lens that in all honesty I thought I had carelessly lost.

It was while I was going through one of my lesser used camera bags in this morning’s sort-athon that the elusive lens made its appearance.
If you have ever picked up an LP or CD that you have not heard for ages, it is like hearing it for the first time again, finding this favourite lens was just that same feeling, of course, I had to go out and use it didn’t I?


At wide open, this lens offers some pleasing bokeh, stopped down, it has adequate sharpness across the frame and at 50mm is a versatile focal length.

It was fun just to use this one focal length today, if I had a choice of only two focal ranges to shoot, I would go with 35mm and 50mm all day long.

A 40’s weekend

After recently changing jobs, I am now a fully subscribed member of the Monday to Friday brigade once more, so with my weekends free, it means being able to attend more of the classic car and steam rallies that I have enjoyed in the past.

Yesterday was the first of these events, the annual forties weekend at Buckfastleigh steam railway.
After a usual pit stop for breakfast and a brew, my arrival was about half an hour before the official opening of the 40’s event in an adjacent field but a good opportunity to make a round of the station as the crew get the trains ready for a busy day.

Through the station speakers, the unmistakable big band sound of Glen Miller is played, and a local Lindy Hop group rehearse their moves for their multiple performances throughout the day.

Today will be a real test of my resolve with my one focal length challenge, I would normally have a wide angle lens in my armoury for an event such as this but today, I will need to wear my creative head and get on with it.
I am expecting to take a lot more photos today, so I have made the decision to shoot JPEG, with the classic chrome film simulation, to help avoid spending too much time at the computer later in the day.
If I get my act together, a couple of minor adjustments, with a crop and the odd straighten will suffice in terms of editing.

The event field is well populated with a good number of Jeeps and transport vehicles, also this year a Russian tank, which has plenty of attention paid to it.

The owners of the various vehicles are very generous with their time, happy to relate what work they have done to restore their vehicles, their enthusiasm is contagious and I am happy to talk at length with them to get the history.

Events like this also provide an opportunity to meet with fellow photographers, where a myriad of cameras are at work, it is always a pleasure to chat and exchange ideas and to discuss how and why we choose the gear we have.

A big thank you, to all those who were kind enough to spare me the time to take a photo, it is these images that help tell the story of the day.