Seven day walking/photography trip North Devon, England

So an opportunity came about my way to join a trip away to North Devon on the coast for a week. Being a walking holiday I was up for it because I love the countryside and outdoor exertion and plus I could bring my photography gear which is great news. 

The destination was already set out and I didn't have much insight into the character of the landscape or what pictures to take, all I knew the last time I walked along the north Devon coast I was ten years old. Being brought up in my childhood to go out and be immersed in the landscape such as Devon, Cornwall, Peak District, Lake District and Snowdonia as well as my local South Downs has provided a deep appreciation of the natural world and now I can celebrate it through my creative discipline of art and photography.  When I visit new areas to photograph, I have little interest in researching on-line landscape photographs of the area and enjoy the pressure-free environment of not knowing what to capture, I just let my natural creative trait to roll. There is also more chance of myself capturing a unique and original photograph. 

 

I brought a few spare memory cards, but managed to use only one memory card plus a back-up memory card to double record the exposure in case one of the memory cards fails....modern technology can be quite useful.  


 

First port of call on arrival is a refreshment (don't worry, we found plenty of local ales after this to sample) and a local photography book on the pub bookshelf to get the inspiration going.   

 

 

 

 

 

and at the accommodation, I found a welcome hoard of miscellaneous outdoor photography books on the sideboard to aid contemplation. Well read but inspiration can come from anywhere. 


 

The following day and the first morning was an early start to fulfil the anticipation, a walk up to the cliffs to check out the scene, being up here at dawn was the perfect start to the day and a very different immersion to my regular local haunts of the South Downs and New Forest in Hampshire. Myself being so use to the smooth and flat gradients (by some standards) of Hampshire, this trip is going to get exciting.  

On the way back from the cliffs, I just happened to look up and found this magnificent tree. Looking at different viewpoints, low down and higher up rather than just eye level opens up a lot more interesting perspectives in the picture making process.


Being a walking holiday, the long walks during the day required a lighter load. Digital photography gear can present so many options, perhaps tiringly too many if one's primary interest is just to create pictures. I was thinking of just using a simple compact camera, but throughout the trip used the DSLR and just a small manual 35mm and auto focus 50mm primes lenses for daytime use.  My previous lens collection were heavy mainstream zoom lenses to cover this range but over time I have converted to prime lenses to stimulate the dynamic mobility of framing a composition and also for improved lens performance.

In conclusion, I'm pleased I decided to use my DSLR for the whole trip rather than a little more portable compact camera, myself being a creative type was happy with the tools in hand, though a more casual user may opt for a compact or even a phone camera. Some of the walks extended into the evening for some pictures I am pleased with in DSLR image quality and the bright contrast days made the DSLR useful to recover bright highlights and to expose the dark shadows better than a smaller compact. And being limited to a prime lens during the day didn't lose any opportunities in the picture making process, just heightened the creative process. The 35mm lens provided good manual focus experience throughout the trip. The small prime lenses, together with a thin leather neck strap for the DSLR didn't attract any attention from passer-bys. 

 


And me in front of the lens. Like most photographers, I enjoy being behind the lens...being creative.


Lynmouth bathed in the summer evening light. I quite liked the black and white conversion to suit the quaint style of buildings. My type of place. 

 

And higher up at the end of the day. 


Along the long walks, every corner presented something new to photograph even if it is during the unorthodox daytime hours. My daytime shots are all handheld, and most were with low ISO's anyway because of the brighter daytime light. I like creating all the time, it's more natural for me to create than not to create. 


Another dawn trip out to the coast, the day consisted of taking pictures at sunrise then a long day of walking passing this spot at sunset. It was fairly tiring burning the candle at both ends but very enjoyable!

 
Devon-1-3.jpg

 

 

and here's the camera in action during the sunrise shoot. I would of probably added a light ND gradient filter during the exposure but didn't have my LEE adapter ring at hand, though it wasn't essential on this occasion.  (phone snap)


The daytime picture making process presented some nice surprises, such as this capture.


 

Along the coastal walks there were long stretches of unspoilt forest area on the steep gradients. Here are some groups I enjoyed studying during the walks. Using elements such as patterns, shapes, form, negative/positive space, colour contrasts are some integral parts to make up my photography. If it looks balanced to me I tend to take the shot, regardless of 'guidelines'. These small series below is probably my favourite of the trip, perhaps because it was an unexpected encounter and taken in 'manageable' evening light when I was passing.

and some more along the long stretch of unspoilt coastline. Unlimited opportunities.


 

The footpath signs came in handy during those dubious junctions

 

 

 

but we did unwittingly walk along some footpaths that suffered landslips. This is far as I could go before it got too unsafe and as you can see the path was no more. I'm glad I took a shot to record the event. The ordinance survey map was also useful for those unsure moments and for those other ambitious moments of taking an alternative route back.


ISO2000, 35mm, f2.0, 1/80 sec

ISO2000, 35mm, f2.0, 1/80 sec

 

The summer can mean 'burning the candle at both ends' with long hours in between but with the camera at hand anyway I took some pictures in low light handheld. Lynmouth. 

 

ISO 32000, 35mm, f2.0, 1/40 sec

and as the day reached into the night, the ISO went higher, ISO 32000 for the picture above. Again handheld looking out to sea towards Wales. I quite like this picture, perhaps it was to end a long day of walking and enjoying soaking up the views. Capturing the image at a high ISO with slight image noise maybe adds a little suggestive raw mood. I do not conform to any strict photography rules, all my favourite great photographers I look up to make pictures that please them and conveys a higher emotion. Inspiration creates a chain reaction. 


More coastal woodland captures in monochrome


So that's the end of the blog, the finer picture selection process will take far longer,  than the exposures, as much as it will take.  

Britain is a fairly small country in comparison to others but the beautiful landscape is incredibly diverse and rich in character. 

With all these new pictures I will update my galleries soon, and print out a few large fine art prints.