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.
It has been a rare weekend, one where I have not felt at all like getting out and about with my camera, after the works lurgy finally cornered me into staying at home to get over that horrible feeling of lethargy that has lasted all week.
Day 16 is belatedly, last Sunday’s trip back home from Salcombe, once again all taken with my current favourite fifty, the Pentacon 50mm 1.8.
The scenic route back to Exeter, will pass through Kingsbridge, Torcross and Dartmouth, a good route in the quieter days of early spring, a little harder in the peak tourist season.
Barely a mile out of Kingbridge and Bowcombe creek and bridge are lit up nicely by the sporadic sunny spells, a photo I have been wanting for some time but inevitably the tide always appears to be fully out.
A quick excursion to Torcross and this time a couple of photos from the ‘Strete gate’ end of the beach, where I watch the waves roll and break in the strong winds, no better entertainment than watching the forces of nature.
After that bracing sea air, I start to feel that it is time for a bite to eat, stopping at Dartmouth for another brief pit stop, a rather tasty chicken and chorizo pasty hits the spot while I watch the world pass by.
A rather disgruntled gull looks on as he watches me devour the last of my pasty, sorry mate, that was too good to share with you!
My non camera weekend has not been entirely wasted, a couple of seeds have been sown for another project later in the year and it has been kind of fun, catching up with some reading and a few challenging cryptic crosswords while listening to the rain and wind outside and while I should not wish my life away, I cannot wait to get out next weekend.
It’s just after 9am on a Friday morning, I am at St. David’s station, waiting for my train to Totnes to arrive, the morning has started bright and crisp, signs at last of spring.
My destination is a couple of days in Salcombe, making the most of what is forecast to be a warmer weekend. With the train a good ten minutes away, I take advantage of the shadows and light on the opposite platform, three souls sat on the same bench, yet worlds apart as they focus on their phones, another passenger to be stands in the sun, waiting for his train to wherever.
After a spot of lunch and welcome brew, I look to make more of this early spring day, a stroll around the seemingly hibernating town, waiting for warmer days and the new holiday season to commence.
As I walk around a favourite route, the local sculptors studio is open, a place I have not visited before, and glad that I decide to do so now, as I admire the craft work of the expert hand, skulls carved with such amazing detail and the most beautiful chessboard I have ever seen.
Jim, the sculptor indulges my request for a photo, the artist at work is a welcome spur of the moment image, something a little different to add to the portfolio.
After the storms and rain of last weekend, I hope to make up for the lack of milage on my weekend camera walks with a trip to Dartmoor for my 14th 50mm outing.
It is a bright and breezy Saturday morning, sure enough my destination is the former tin mining hamlet of Whiteworks, where a few ruins remain to explore and the site of one of my favourite trees of Dartmoor.
Once again, I decide to use my vintage lenses on this trip, my pentacon 50mm 1.8 and my Super Takumar f1.4 lenses, the canon 50mm gets to have a day off today as I am reaching more often for the vintage glass.
Today will be a waiting game for some shots as the sunlight is regularly snatched away by ever thickening clouds, while I wait, I walk around the scene for other potential images, this also serves to keep warm as there is a keen edge to the temperature in this open landscape.
Finding the site of ‘my tree’, I look to find a variety of shots but the light dictates that I will make a similar compostition from my previous visit, I love the defiance of this tree amongst the other desolation.
If it is not the trees that draw my eye, it is the texture of the stone in the remains of boundary walls, some lie hidden amongst the coarse grass, offering that balance of colour and texture I seek out time and time again.
In what feels like the blink of an eye,two hours have flown by, as I have immersed myself in this wonderful landscape, it is only the thought of my flask of hot tea that makes me amble my way back, even then, I am always on the look out for more images.
My usual Friday outing was rudely interrupted by Storm Eunice gatecrashing her way into what would have been day twelve of my 50mm challenge, the advice to stay put was heeded as the wind brought a maelstrom of destruction across the South west of the UK.
Saturday’s forecast was for a brief respite before the next weather system was set to bring even more of the same, a small window in which to stretch my legs and go in search of some local photo opportunities.
Just after nine thirty AM on a Saturday morning and the city centre is not as busy as it may be, I think the out of town D.I.Y centres may have more custom today, replacement fences and such for the necessary repairs after Eunice’s unwelcome visit.
The first half hour of my walk offers a little sunshine, which is soon enveloped in a blanket of moody grey, and the first rain shower of many throughout today.
Of the few shots I take, the last few will almost certainly be perfect candidates for my monochrome collection, with the light fading, for a couple of frames I manage a second and a half exposure to blur the movement of the few shoppers that have ventured out, unwitting protagonists in my abstract scene of the high street, the rest capture another Saturday morning in my home city.
Day ten of my 50mm project and I decide to reach once more for my vintage Pentacon 50mm lens for a morning stroll around Exeter.
This is a lens that I had purchased a few years back while dipping my toe into the waters of vintage lenses and their usage with mirrorless cameras, just one of the many and varied chapters along my photographic journey.
At the time, I liked the lens for its close focusing ability but my obsession with wanting clinically sharp images, meant it was cast aside for much of the time, left to its fate in my box of ‘stuff I may use later’.
My decision late last year to withdraw from the desire to keep up with newest cameras on the market has been late in coming but I am really enjoying using a twelve year old DSLR that was out of my budget at a time when it was one of Canon’s flagship models.
What has changed with regard to the pentacon lens? Perhaps the challenge of shooting 50mm has given me the reason I needed to get to know this lens a little more, to embrace the flaws and use them to my advantage.
An image I took of a gravestone in a local churchyard, I shot at wide open for one shot and stopped down to F4 for another , it was the wide open image I preferred, the softness around the edges leading the eye to the subject perhaps ?
I do find myself using the Petacon lens for close up shots a lot more than I would the native Canon 50mm 1.8, the ability to get closer to the subject is one reason, the other is that I am rediscovering the joy of manual focus, taking more time to look around the frame, being more involved in the process of photography than simply clicking the shutter when the autofocus system says I can.
With the ground dusted in a coating of frost, my eye was drawn to the contrast of the white and green, simple natural beauty at my feet, likewise, greenery behind the centre shot above, adding a perfect backdrop to the subject, while the catkin just looked better with its monochrome edit.
If I am depicting this lens as a one trick pony, I will dispel that notion with my last few images of the day, my walk home takes me through the city centre, where I try its hand at street photography and a couple of landscapes, shot at F2, I was more than happy with the results, okay, so they are not competition winning images but I think they tell a story, record a moment in time that can never be recaptured, most importantly, I enjoyed my two hours, capturing the world through a vintage lens.