Saturday, 27 December 2014

Devon part 2: Steam trains, Dartmoor and The Wistman's Woods

I got up early the next day having organised to spend the day visiting Dartmoor and the myth shrouded Wistman's Woods. However my friend had a surprise in store and instead of the moors we ended up visiting Buckfastleigh train station where a magical steam train awaited.

We got chatting to one of the conductors who filled us in on some of the background behind the workings of the train and the training of its operators. Apparently to get to the position of train driver takes years of training and commitment, having to work your way up from basic menial tasks, to shoveling coal, to finally being able to take on the role of train driver.

After leaving the charming train behind us we arrived to a typical English welcome of persistent wet drizzle as we set out to explore the moors. Now Dartmoor is a place filled with myths and legends. It is the setting for Sherlock Holmes' investigation in Hound of the Baskervilles, its the site of numerous folklore legends (a scorch mark in a pub nearby is meant to be a site where the devil placed his tankard as he rode towards his destination). And the moors themselves are filled with mysterious stories and sightings of the unexplained.

The moors were beautiful, desolate and windswept, filled with subtle colour and covered in a mist that had seeped over the land and had seemed to find its way into its very pores. The best was kept for last though as we came to the Wistman's Woods. An ancient oak woodland sunk into the heart of the moors.

Hobbled by the stoney ground and bend and shriveled by the harsh conditions that the trees had grown upon this miniature forest had seemingly grown out of some dark fairy tale. And indeed The Devil's Hound as this wood is otherwise known was said to be the haunt of witches, fairies and devils.

We spend a while there amoungst the stones and the woodlands, soaking up the atmosphere before we decided that we were soaked enough ourselves.

After heading back to the car we had one final lunch at another of Devon's charming pubs before my friends saw me to the train station. As the train pulled away I relaxed, having been thoroughly enchanted by this magical place.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Devon: The wild and beautiful

 I had an invite from a friend to visit her over the Christmas holidays and so I decided to take her up on it and headed out to sunny old Devon.

The south of England is a beautiful place to visit, full as it is of sweeping coastline, desolate moors, pristine woodland and quaint pubs to relax in with drink in hand.

After a long and slightly delayed journey I arrived in Totnes and spent the night relaxing, listening to music, catching up and having drinks with my friend and her partner before heading to bed.

In the morning she took me down to a paddy where she kept her horses and together we went for a ride. It was my first horse riding and I have to say after I got over my initial nerves from getting on a horse for the first time I began to really enjoy myself. In between ducking and dodging past holly and persuading/pleading with my horse to occasionally slow down we managed to complete the ride successfully.

Afterwards I took the chance to explore the local woods behind the stables and after scrabbling through the tree ended up getting some great shoots of the setting sun through the trees.

We got some food at a cozy local pub before heading over to a friends house to have a night of hilarity playing board games and drinking wine. I went to bed that night in high spirits with the promise of the Dartmoor moors on the horizon tomorrow.

Friday, 12 December 2014

In cars

"Here in my car,
Where the image breaks down,
Will you visit me please,
If I open my door,
In cars" - Gary Newman, Cars

Colour, form and motion, an irresistible combination for me and one perfectly expressed by cars in motion.

By tracking cars in motion on a low shutter speed I was able to convey a sense of their speed as they zoomed past and the amount of contrast I could get from one picture to the next in terms of colour was really exciting.

Finally by capturing pictures before and after the rain swept in and the streets became glistening rivers I was able to capture the trails of the moon across the sky. Or the gleam of a road turned to molten gold by the flickering street lamps.

I have to say that from all of this I found there is only one way to live when taking pictures of the night and its in cars.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Cardiff Graffiti: The writings on the wall

Firstly I wanted to say that the images I am displaying are in no way my own work, they belong to the deeply talented graffiti artists of Cardiff. Carry on the good work lads and ladies.

If you wander past the back streets of Cardiff, past innocuous shops and crooked back alleys you might think that they hold no secrets or unexpected surprises. But you would be wrong, for hidden behind this dull veneer can lie riotous explosions of colour, form and imagination.

By exploring the city you can find these works that lay bare the beating hearts of its artists, write large upon its walls.

I love art in all its forms and in truely great graffiti you can find something that transforms the urban grind into something magical and wonderful. Sometimes wonder and beauty are found in the most unexpected place, you just have to be willing to look for it.

Monday, 1 December 2014


Painting using photography has started to become a minor obsession of mine recently. The idea that you can use a medium famed for its realism and create surreal painted images appeals immensely for me.

Maybe it comes from the idea of rebelling against an expected norm. Thou must use a tripod at night, thou must produce images with mainstream appeal, thou must be able to sell on stock photography websites or follow certain rules. Well why? Art hasn't followed the same processes and procedures, they haven't kept the same static rules and regulations. As much as modern art can be detestably pretentious sometimes, at least it dares to push the boat out and ask what is art? Isn't it time we did the same thing with our photographs?

Maybe its my love of night time as a magical time to be out doing photography. The colours, the sights and the sounds. Everything is transformed.

Or maybe its something as simple as this, its what I love. Water painting with light.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Cardiff's winter wonderland

Christmas has come to Cardiff, the lights are up, shoppers bustle through the streets and festive music is playing everywhere you go. And with twinkling lights, rides and one more go style attractions so has Cardiff's Winter Wonderland.

I wandered past food galore; freshly made candyfloss, overflowing chocolate fountains, sizzling sausages and a an invitingly warm beer tent offering a great place to warm up.

The rides and attractions lit up the night, people screaming and laughing from bumper cars, the mad scramble of those foolish enough to attempt the fun house. And glowing over it all a whizzing tower that lifted its pundits high into the night sky.

The night was made for lovers as happy couples enjoyed the brisk night air, no where more then the ice ring where some couples glided and soared and some slid off their feet much to amusement of the person they were with.

 I left feeling joyful having enjoyed the romance, glitz and sparkle of this winter wonderland.