Month: November 2011

28 Nov

Mexican Porn Star or Ali Bongo? You decide.

So there I was at the beginning of November minding my own business, mulling over where to go with my camera in the early morning light of the following weeks, and having distant thoughts of Christmas, when my boss started a Movember team. For the uninitiated who haven’t had their workplaces taken over by Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds wannabees this autumn, Movember is the annual growing of moustaches by men the world over in aid of men’s health — specifically testicular and prostate cancer charities.

In a moment of madness, I glibly said to Helen, my wife, “why don’t I join his team and have a go?”. I’d never grown facial hair before, and I know that Helen hates it, so I thought my glibness would be skipped over and that I would remain clean shaven and have a normal November. “OK – why not?” came the reply. Never one to shirk a bet I took her at her word and stopped shaving, allowing 4 day’s stubble growth before daring to attempt sculpting a ‘tache. After a bit of mulling, during which I worried that if I grew a “straight” ‘tache I’d end up looking like George Roper or Ned Flanders, I settled on the “trucker” variant and, following a bout of razor artistry, I emerged from the bathroom looking like, well, a bit of an idiot I thought.

Things didn’t get off to a great start after, heading into town for our weekly shop, the butcher burst out laughing and proclaimed “that’s the funniest one so far!”. Great, I thought, 4 days in and people are taking the piss already. Over the next week as my upper lip became more insulated, I grew to quite like it and I have been stopped by various people who commented that I looked like:

  • A German Porn Star
  • A Mexican Porn Star
  • Ali Bongo
  • A Yorkie Trucker
  • Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump (Don’t get this one myself — I think they were thinking of Ron Kovic in Born on the 4th of July)

(I was quite intrigued as to why the wearing of a moustache qualifies one to be compared to a porn star, and why foreign ones at that? Maybe I should do some thorough research of international porn to establish my best fit, and why the British are lacking ;-))

Anyway, here I am at the end of the month. I have been hacked off by the itchiness, developed a bad habit of stroking it, worried on several times that it had become lopsided, become mildly depressed that there’s far too much white in it, and on occasion become quite attached to it. but it is going on Thursday and I’m looking forward to having a clean top lip again.

Its been a bit of fun really, but we shouldn’t forget the deadly serious reason behind it and that is to raise money for a very good cause. If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, or have had a good laugh at my expense over the last month, please consider sponsoring me at and knowing that your money has gone to an excellent cause. And if you’ve already sponsored me, thank you very much.

To finish off, a couple of photos from the last month:

(and, yes, the title of this blog and the tags are a shameless attempt to attract people read it …)

10 Nov

In Too Deep. Almost.

Much of my landscape photography over the last couple of years has involved water — mainly coastal images taken at either end of the day, and many of these were taken with me and tripod standing in the water. Trouble is that my photography footwear has been a trusty pair of old walking boots for as long as I can remember and I’ve become fed up of suffering for my art, with water coming in over the top of my boots. Therefore, and long overdue, my latest photographic purchase has been a simple pair of wellington boots.

Somewhat, but unavoidably, too late in the season I set off for Dartmoor to get some autumnal shots of the fast flowing shallow rivers. Having seen some excellent images by Mark Lakeman and Andy Cosway on Flickr of Hisley Bridge, my chosen destination was the river Bovey just outside Bovey Tracey on the edge of Dartmoor. I was quite interested in exploring this area as it was new to me.

We turned up at the car park and set off down the hill towards the river. It was only about a kilometre walk to the bridge but, with a three year old toddler in tow, it took about an hour to get there, having been distracted by such exciting diversions as ants, sticks, and muddy puddles on the way.

Arriving at my new photo location, I spent the next hour or so stood in the middle of this fast flowing shallow river which had a surprisingly strong current for its depth. I tried various compositions but found the bridge itself surprisingly hard to place in a photo so, after a while, I headed off downstream to get some compositions which didn’t feature the bridge itself. The light was dim which led to shutter speeds of several seconds and nice milky water. I’ve posted my favourite shots below.

I knew when it was time to go as I got a bit over confident and found the water coming over the top of my new wellies. The kilometre back to the car was spent with toddler (who had spent the last hour with mummy on the banks) on my shoulders so that soggy feet could be dealt with as quickly as possible. Next year I’ll be in the rivers of Dartmoor by mid-October at the latest and I’m looking forward to it already …

07 Nov

Its Behind You!

With pantomime season still a little way off, I didn’t think I’d be hearing the words “Its behind you!” for a little while. However, going down to Sidmouth the other week, I ended up virtually shouting them at myself.

For some time I’d wanted to get a shot of the Esplanade and cliffs at Sidmouth at low tide just after sunrise. My theory being that the light would reflect off the sandstone cliffs giving a bright yellow/orange backdrop to the town. Trouble is that low tides at sunrise aren’t that low, so I knew I probably couldn’t get out to the breakwaters for some interesting rocky foreground. However, with a low tide and sunrise co-incident I ventured out to see what I could get.

The clouds were broken giving an interesting sky but a bank of cloud on the horizon would block the first light. I sat on the beach and waited for sunrise, spooking a woman in a nearby house who wandered out onto her patio in her dressing gown, obviously expecting to have her presumably hard-earned view to herself but finding that she was sharing it with a geeky bloke with camera and tripod (the view, that is, not the patio).

Sunrise eventually came and I waited and waited for the cliffs to light up. They didn’t. Feeling more and more hacked off, for whatever reason, I turned around and saw that all of the action was happening behind me and the cliffs towards Ladram Bay were aglow! Sprinting back across the beach, tripod in hand, I quickly composed a few shots to capture the moment and then calmed down. I spent the next 20 minutes enjoying some fantastic light and getting wet feet.

Ever the self-critic, I feel that I would’ve done better if I’d have turned up with the shots I got in mind and not a preconceived shot looking the other way. However, they ain’t bad, and I’ll save the view the other way for sunset at low tide.