Mike Wright Photography

20th February 2018


Last month I mentioned that I had four pictures selected for an exhibition at the Wildwood Arts Gallery 'Capturing Dartmoor' photographic exhibition. Lesley and I attended the preview evening and was pleased to see that my pictures weren't out of place amidst the other fantastic photographs on display. It was good to have an excuse to have shots enlarged and printed to the highest quality, with equally high quality mounting and framing for two of them, and just mounting for the other two. I doubt whether they will sell, but if they don't they will grace the walls in our house after the exhibition!


The gallery itself is well worth a visit – there is a wide range of beautiful art and craft work on display and for sale, all of it from local artists and craftsmen. There are also regular courses on different aspects of arts and craft. The website is: www.wildwoodartsdartmoor.co.uk should you want further information.


Through January, the knee began to improve and I began to push myself with some walks on The Moor. I began with a walk from Norsworthy Bridge to the ruins of Combshead Farm along the Danescombe Valley. There were no steep ups or downs, but I did struggle when I came to some stepping stones and didn't feel confident enough to take a step down without support. Quite pleased with some of the pictures – a Winter's day on The Moor, with faded grasses and muted colours on the trees. The light was good after the sun rose and it was fresh and beautiful as I walked back to the car.


Next time out I went to Trebarwith Strand after reports of big waves. It was quite pleasant by the time I set off, but by the time I reached Trebarwith, the weather had closed in and it began with a rain shower. It did stop and I had a walk along the track past the Port William pub. The wind was pretty strong and the light pretty poor, but I managed a few shots. Not many other people around and eventually I called it a day when a squall out at see looked like it was heading my way. The trip home saw me driving through North Cornwall at its winter bleakest – through deserted villages and hamlets, past hedgerows with stunted trees all shaped by the prevailing wind and a darkening, lowering sky. It has a character all of its own at this time of year.


My poor daughter was ill and came home from College to be looked after for a few days, after which I gave her a lift back to Plymouth. On the way back I had a walk at Maristowe. After the rain on the way in, the sun was kind and broke through with a bit of a weak and watery light. It lit up the bare trees and just brought the colours out – particularly on the trees with moss and lichen on their branches, which shone almost white against the darkness of the other trees. Snowdrops were out and I also took some shots of seedheads agains the light. Again, it was a flat walk, but the knee held up and didn't give me too much trouble.


The next time I went out was when we had a frost. I went out to Norsworthy Bridge and decided to try and reach the banks of the reservoir but the deer fences which have been put up over the last couple of years didn't have any gates or stiles along this section, so I only got a few shots. The walking was rougher than I'd been walking over recently and I successfully negotiated some steep drops.


This encouraged me to try something a bit more difficult, so my next trip out was to walk up to the top of Great Staple Tor. The weather wasn't particularly good – there was a strong wind which buffeted me the whole time, and there was the odd rattle of hail agains the coat at times. The sky was mostly overcast, but there were breaks where the sun was rising, so I got some lovely light on sections of the landscape and the distant clouds, while other parts remained in shadow. In addition, as the sun got a bit higher there were some spectacular rays breaking out from the gaps. The knee wasn't too bad, although it was a bit uncomfortable coming down, but taking it slowly and picking out a route without too many steep steps down helped. It was still a relief to get back to the car and my right knee certainly ached somewhat for the rest of the day.


Next I returned to Maristowe. The walk around the river to Lopwell reopened on the second of February after being closed during the pheasant shooting season. This time the light wasn't so kind, but it was still and peaceful, and there were canada geese, black headed gulls and a couple of swans quietly feeding and preening on the river before the canada geese took off and headed back downriver towards Bere Ferrers.


Finally this month, after two days of frost, I headed off for the River Meavy hoping to get some shots of ice forming along the river, where the water had splashed onto the rocks and plants and frozen. It didn't quite work like that! I walked up the path and then cut across into the trees to reach the river, but before I reached the water, I found some hair ice. As you can see from the picture, it's amazing stuff – looking more like fur, it grows on dead wood and only if that wood has a specific fungus growing on it, so it is quite rare. Due to the special circumstances at this particular location, there was quite a lot of it about, so it was then a matter of setting up the macro lens, splaying out the legs of the tripod to get the camera low enough and crawling round the leaf litter for three quarters of an hour or so trying to get some close ups. Finally, I felt I had enough shots, so put the telephoto lens back on and headed for the river itself. There wasn't much ice around, so I just looked at picking out some of the details of the little waterfalls. Sadly, after only a couple of shots, my battery failed. It's been a bit dodgy for a few weeks, so it's failure wasn't entirely unexpected, but the spare needed recharging, so that was the end of the photography for the day – and was going to cost me a small fortune for a new battery.


Hope you have had a good month – I've been pleased with the pictures I got and am looking forward to the improved weather as Spring begins to kick in.