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Teign Valley: Dunsford Wood and the River Teign, Christmas Day

Teign Valley: Dunsford Wood and the River Teign, Christmas Day

Steps Bridge, River Teign, Dunsford Wood, in mid-winter

Steps Bridge, River Teign, Dunsford Wood, in mid-winter


This has turned out to be one of the coldest Christmas days on record here in South Devon. Living on a boat, this has not escaped my attention. I haven’t been moving too far from the woodburner stove at night. For the second winter in a row I’ve been locked in ice for weeks on end. Around 2a.m. this morning I was woken by a loud bang and the whole boat shuddering strongly. It was around minus 10 Centigrade (~14deg F) and Maria had shifted as the ice thickened and expanded. Maria weighs around 30 tons. I climbed on to deck to check the thickness of the ice. A few hard thumps with an old wooden oar succeeded only in sending gunshot-like sounds ricocheting through the night and splintering the blade of the oar. I gave up and retired to bed. Maria is very stoutly built with oak frames at 11″ spacing, she wasn’t about to be crushed. I just don’t want the ice to get any thicker.
River Teign partially frozen, Dunsford Wood, South Devon, UK.

River Teign partially frozen, Dunsford Wood, South Devon, UK.

Christmas day was perfect: clear blue skies and crisp white snow underfoot. So after doing the family stuff in the morning I decided to take my son Calum walking in the Teign Valley through Dunsford Wood. It would certainly give us an appetite for Christmas dinner. Dunsford Wood is owned by the National Trust and Managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust, with footpaths through the woodland and along the riverbank open to the public. In summer it is a great place to see huge wood ant colonies and the rare High Brown Fritillary butterfly. Year round it’s a great place to walk; light open oak, hazel and ash woodland on one side and on the other the river lazily gliding past (or thundering past, depending on season). As it happened, the river was doing neither along much of the walk on Christmas Day; or if it was drifting past it was doing so beneath a carapace of ice. We were lucky enough spot a couple of dippers (Cinclus cinclus) as we walked ( a first for my son). We watched one for several minutes as it skipped between sheets of ice-covered river, occasionally slipping beneath the surface where it found ice-free water. Unfortunately the sun was already low and the only long lens I had with me was way too slow, so I didn’t bother getting it out. As the sun set and the temperature plumetted we headed back to the landrover hoping that the stove would still be going when we got back to the boat.

River Teign partially frozen, Dunsford Wood, South Devon, UK.

River Teign partially frozen, Dunsford Wood, South Devon, UK.

Snow-covered upland oak woodland along banks of the River Teign,  Dunsford Wood, South Devon, UK.

Snow-covered upland oak woodland along banks of the River Teign, Dunsford Wood, South Devon, UK.


As always my images are available to license and as fine art prints. If you’d like to use one of my images for publication please contact me. If you’d like a print of one of the images drop me an email stating image number and print size (costs for prints can be found on my fine art prints pages, e.g. Fine Art prints of Devon. Email me.
To my main website www.colinmunrophotography.com

Greeting for the Festive Season – Snow comes to Exeter

Greeting for the Festive Season – Snow comes to Exeter

Hungry geese paddle across the snow-covered footpath on Exeter's Quayside

Hungry geese paddle across the snow-covered footpath on Exeter's Quayside


This image is for sale at Alamy, click here and search for geese, snow, Exeter.

Snow has finally arrived in Exeter, just in time for Christmas! Despite sub-zero conditions that have lasted for weeks we have escaped the heavy snowfalls that have paralysed much of the UK. This morning I woke to a couple of inches in light, fluffy snow covering my boat, and pretty much everything else. Just enough to look pretty without causing too much disruption.

Close up of an inquisitive goose in snow, Exeter Quayside

Close up of an inquisitive goose in snow, Exeter Quayside


This image is for sale at Alamy, click here and search for geese, snow, Exeter.

Close-up of inquisitive goose standing in snow, Exeter Quayside

Close-up of inquisitive goose standing in snow, Exeter Quayside


This image is for sale at Alamy, click here and search for geese, snow, Exeter.

www.colinmunrophotography.com

Loch Ness in winter, Scottish highlands; reflections and ghost ships

Loch Ness in winter, Scottish highlands; reflections and ghost ships

Frozen birch trees and snow-capped mountains reflected on the still waters of Loch Ness, Highlands, Scotland, UK.

Frozen birch trees and snow-capped mountains reflected on the still waters of Loch Ness, Highlands, Scotland, UK. Image MBI000124.

Reflections on still water, Loch Ness, mid-winter.

We’ve just had a pretty hard winter, by UK standards. The coldest for about eighteen years. I didn’t manage to get up to Scotland this winter so this is an image for a few winters back. I am originally from this part of the World so it brought back childhood memories.
A winter high had settled over the highlands, leaving the air still, clear and bitingly cold. A dense layer of fog slowly rolled across the surface of the loch. Fog such as this is known as evaporation fog or steam fog, as the warmer water of the loch evaporates into the bitterly cold air above. Loch Ness is the second largest, by surface area, loch in Scotland (and lake in Britain), second to Loch Lomond. At 230 metres deep its volume is far greater and so it is the largest freshwater body in Britain, containing more freshwater than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Thus in winter this huge mass of water cools slowly, rarely falling below 5 degrees C. As I watched a survey vessel appeared out of the fog like a ghostly apparition. A few moments later it was lost in the fog again like a modern-aday Marie Celeste. As always my images are available for licensed use. If you’d like to use any of my images just email me

Like a ghost ship, a survey vessel cruises through winter fog across Loch Ness

Like a ghost ship, a survey vessel cruises through winter fog across Loch Ness. Image MBI000029

Boats and wind and winter skies

Boats and wind and winter skies

We’ve just had around ten days of stormy weather here in southwest UK; a series of deep lows have driven rain-laden westerlies out of the Atlantic and up the English Channel. I’ve spent this time trying to effect repairs on my deck between squalls, while winds howl through the rigging. Trying to pour molten pitch into leaky seams between planks, each seam rather less than quarter of an inch wide, in a force eight gale is somewhat akin to attempting to juggle ping-pong balls whilst standing in the downdraft of a helicopter. A stream of bubbling pitch carefully aimed at a newly raked out seam will unexpectedly slew sideways to decorate my newly sealed deck with a long string of tarry sine waves. I spend the next ten minutes scraping off rapidly solidifying pitch, then retire to my laptop as the next squall arrives. Days like this can make me long for the blue skies of summer. When trying to work outdoors on the water, winter offers relatively few advantages. It does offer others though. Whilst sun-kissed beaches and clear blue skies look pretty, I generally prefer my landscapes to look dramatic. Dark skies and storm clouds with shafts of sunlight breaking though are, to me, intrinsically more interesting. Very often the look of a landscape will change dramatically in seconds as cloud cover waltzes light and shade across the terrain. It’s the opportunity to capture these ephemeral patterns that makes me climb out of bed early on winter mornings, pile camera gear into the cab of my old Landrover and try to make it to my selected vantage point in time for sunrise. Okay, sometimes it does; and sometimes I’ll hit the ‘snooze’ button on my alarm, turn over and reassure myself there’ll be other mornings like this.

Landscape photography is one of the few areas where I still on occasion use film. In terms of workflow and cleanness of image 35mm film no longer compares with current DSLRs (to be brutal, spatial resolution, signal to noise ratio and even the old weakness of dynamic range are all better on good DSLRs than 35mm film equivalents), but there is something about producing images by initiating and influencing a chemical reaction on a medium you can touch and feel that has a magical quality about it. I no longer process my own film; cutting, mounting and scanning slides is enough of a chore. Yet exposing images on film still feels closer to the spirit of Louise and Auguste Lumiere’s autochromes or Hurley’s Paget Plates than allowing photons to kick electrons up the energy escalator in layers of silicon.

Given the wintry weather we (in the UK) are experiencing at the moment, I thought a local winter scene would be an appropriate image of the week. This one was taken a couple of years ago, on a chilly November afternoon on the Exeter canal near where it joins the Exe Estuary. The sun was getting fairly low and boat hulls were shining brightly against the dark water. It was very still, and where the canal widened to allow vessels to moor alongside, just in front of the first lock (the Turf Lock) a perfect mirror image of the moored boats reflected of the water. It may have rained later that day but I’m really not sure. It’s the moment I remember.
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