It has been a busy few days, my move is complete and a semblance of order is taking shape in my new abode, thankfully the final box is unpacked and consigned to the queue awaiting a journey to the recycling centre.
With my belongings pretty much in place, there will be a little fine tuning as I become more settled but with my photography gear now out of its brief cardboard incarceration, it is time to head out for my weekly jaunt along the riverside and into town.
It has become a familiar habit to reach for my G11 and LX5 cameras of late, it appears that my enjoyment of retro compacts is not about to fade any time soon, such is the enjoyment I am getting from using them.
Today’s jaunt would be brief, believe it or not, I am packing my bags again, or at least one, in preparation for a few days away, a welcome break from a busy summer at work and the tribulations of moving.
The hardest decision I will have to make here, is whether the bigger gear gets packed or if I prefer to travel light, suggestions are welcome!
We all need an escape from the treadmill of our daily routine,that personal haven that offers a little peace from the damands of a hurried and frantic world.
My escape is Dartmoor, three hundred and sixty five square miles of vast open landscape of which I have barely scratched the surface of.
Home to ancient oak woodlands, towering granite monoliths and custodian of countless tales of folklore and fable.
Quarrymen, farmers and miners have toiled in this unforgiving landscape, their legacy the scattered remains of farmsteads and buidings for the inquisitve to explore.
I love Dartmoor in all it’s moods, serene summer days where skylarks swoop and soar, the landscape painted with the purple and yellows of heather and gorse, even those frequent wet winter days of mist and greywashed skies have a beauty of their own.
To me, Dartmoor is a source of constant inspiration for my photography and word craft alike, as well as an enormous sense of well being and gratitude that I live so close.
As my dalliance with older digital cameras continues apace, today was the turn of my Lumix LX5, for its first ‘proper’ shoot.
A trip to Dartmoor would give the latest recruit a challenge with the changing light but I would not be disappointed.
My enjoyment of shooting in the square format was soon put to the test as the ‘5’ has the ability to shoot 1:1 aspect ratio in RAW, a stroll around the footpath of Venford reservoir gave me plenty of chances to find some early autumn compositions.
Using the square format with the cameras macro mode worked very well, the level of detail was very pleasing to say the least.
When I started shooting with these almost forgotten cameras, I had envisaged the occasional day out with them, however, it would appear that they will find their way into my bag for some time to come as it feels as though I have rediscovered the hobby of photography all over again.
As I edge ever closer to the finishing line of my 50 days project, I am keen to reach my goal by the end of this weekend, so decide to get out for a rare week evening outing, for a short stroll with my Pentacon lens
The evening is still rather warm, temperatures have been in the mid to high twenties celcius this week but at just after 7pm, the harsh sunlight has gone.
I decide to take in one of the public parks / gardens, about a 15 minute walk from home, just to see what nature shots I may find.
Using a 50mm lens for this length of time has brought me a lot of pleasure and I have truly realised the versaltility of this focal length.
I have always enjoyed macro photography, but this old lens can focus close in to capture the finer details of nature without the expense of a dedicated lens.
I am not entirely sure where my love of early mornings came from but perhaps the seeds were sown by the occasions that I would stay with my grandfather over the school holidays, even though he lived just around the corner, it still felt like an adventure.
He would knock on my bedroom door at just after 5am, where more often than not he would tell me that breakfast was waiting, two boiled eggs and perfectly browned doorsteps of toasted white bread and good old fashioned butter.
After helping with the washing up, we would often be headed out for a walk somewhere blackberrying in the summer, mushroom foraging in the autumn and still be back before 11am.
My early forays these days follow a similar pattern, the early train to a local venue in the early spring and summer to capture the new day, camera of course at the ready.
With trains not starting to run until after nine am on a Sunday, I will more often than not be found walking along the local quay and riverside paths here in Exeter, day 41 being one such day.
Sunday mornings always feel more laid back, the one day of the week where the world seems to slow down a little and take a bit of a breather.
I enjoy the peace and solitude of these brief few hours before the city comes to life, the way the light changes as the sun makes its ascent into the skies above, the random chats with fellow early risers going about their own Sunday, that flask of tea I always carry with me to enjoy somewhere along the way.
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.
It has been a rather busy week, so my first post for this weekend is my early morning walk from last weekend.
I had not set an alarm for this morning, not having anything planned, it was to be a spontaneous outing, more than likely another riverside walk to begin my day.
It was just after 5AM, a good two hour lie in by normal workday standards, the day was bright with clear skies, with that late spring stillness of the early morning.
Too early to eat breakfast, I fuelled up with a generous mug of tea before heading out, I will look forward to a cooked breakfast on my return.
The river lies still, reflections of riverside residences reflect in the water below, it is not long before the first rays of sun paint the scene in a gentle glow.
I love the early light as it finds its way through trees and foliage, fresh verdant leaves bathing in the early rays, a tree trunk surrounded by its garland of wild flora, perfect subjects for my favoured close up style shots.
Above, a collection of my favourite shots from my brief but enjoyable morning walk, it may be just after eight AM but I feel that I have seen the best of the day….
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.
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.
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.
If woodland walks in autumn are a bittersweet reminder of the shorter days and longer nights to come, those same walks in spring are a treasure trove of mother nature’s wonders, as new life slowly emerges from winter’s grip, we can look forward to the annual displays of snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells to add a splash of colour to the landscape.
A recent trip to steps bridge, just on the edge of Dartmoor was the perfect antidote to what felt like months of constant grey skies, as the sun’s rays made their presence known with a little spring time warmth.
The woodland path was a riot of yellow and green, as daffodils paraded their bright yellow bonnets for all to see, while trees began to show the delicate beauty of their early blossom, or the vibrant green of new foliage.
To spend just a couple of hours amongst nature, listening to the wind as it whispers between the trees and the sweet melody of the avian chorus revives the senses and shakes off that feeling of lethargy that winter can bring, as I sit by the riverside listening to the river rush by, I look forward to the months to come and my next trip to Dartmoor.