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4 Days in Dartmoor

Myself and some fellow photographers decided to spend 4 days and 3 nights at The Two Bridges hotel in the middle of Dartmoor. I last stayed here in 2013 and discovered that there are numerous spots nearby just calling out to be photographed. On this occasion there were 11 of us and we had arranged a number of possible photographic venues that would finally be decided upon when we saw what the weather was to throw at us every day.
The plans were to visit various tors (rocky outcrops on top of the moor), forests and rivers and, if we had a clear night, attempt star photography. As always having planned about 20 different places to visit I actually managed about 5 of them over the course of 4 days. Inclement weather, bad navigation and tempus fugit conspired against me. However, I list below a few of the more successful forays.

Great Staple Tor - this lies a few miles to the west of Princetown and involved an early start as we wished to be there for sunrise. We left the hotel at 05.00 and drove to a convenient car park where we gathered our gear and donned our head torches and set off in a north-easterly direction ascending the tor. We walked about a mile on a gradual ascent (not easy in the case of one of our group who had imbibed excessively the night before) and reached the summit prior to sunrise. Unfortunately it was a cloudless sky that morning so the sunrise was not very spectacular. Nevertheless it was an excellent location and we enjoyed walking around the summit looking for compositions that did the scene justice. After an hour or so the wind picked up and must have been blowing at 40/50 mph as we left to return to our cars.

Great Staple Tor Sunrise
 


Dewerstone Wood - I visited here as the day was forecast to be overcast and damp. Such conditions are invariably suitable for photography in the woods as they reduce the excessive light variations that occur on a sunny day. The wood lies a little way north Of Plymouth and has a spectacular boulder strewn river running through it to act as the main focal point of many images. Given the time of year the forest was not overrun with tourists and for much of the time it felt as though I had the place to myself. At one point I came across a group of people who were clearly on some sort of corporate training day. They had two long pieces of rope and two of them had to stand outside a wide circle and try to pick up some object in the middle of the circle using the rope and then lift it outside of the circle.They never did succeed. I do not miss corporate training days!

Dewerstone Wood Dartmoor
 


Plymouth Aquarium - not a place I had expected to visit when planning my trip. However, cold wet weather one morning made a trip to Plymouth seem appealing and then I came across this aquarium down by the waterfront. The exhibits were interesting and I obtained some interesting silhouette shots of people looking into tanks full of fish. A small aquarium full of tiny jellyfish was my favourite shot of the day.

Jellyfish Plymouth Aquarium
 


Astrophotography - myself and some friends decided to attempt star photography in the dark of Dartmoor, a short distance from our hotel. We were blessed with a nearly cloudless sky at midnight and ventured out looking for something to act as an interesting foreground. We found a tree and stone wall and set our cameras up on tripods. It soon became clear that we were not very adept at this new form of photography as we kept using our torches to see our camera controls and ruining each other's shots with the stray light. However, eventually we managed to take some 30 second exposures that we later blended in Photoshop in order to make startrails. The shots are not good enough to feature here but I hope to obtain something better by way of astrophotography images in the near future.

Overall we had an excellent 4 days and learnt a few lessons. Not least of which is that you have to be careful in the pursuit of images. One of our group ended up in casualty having fallen on the moor and dislocated his shoulder. Another slipped on wet rock and ended up limping for the next few days. So I continue to be careful!