Looking for Goldilocks in Watersmeet forest!

Watersmeet is a place that I have been to on several occasions and it is always a challenge. Accompanied by my brother-in-law on his first steps into landscape photography I felt that a gentle introduction to early o’clock was needed: 6 am meet up. As opposed to the usual mind numbing 4 am start at this time of the year. That really is a case of just have your gear by the door and go to bed dressed. Don’t think just go.

Colour was in the sky as we drove along the deserted roads of North Devon heading towards Lynton but that was not our aim. The dark lush valley’s of East Lyn and Hoar Oak Water merge together to form one of the deepest gorges in the country. At this time of year I knew that it would be a vibrant green and above all else, this year there would be plenty of water! However dark valley’s and early morning starts would also mean that there would be quite a lot of “looking” to find a suitable image.

As Rock happily trudged along the steep paths of Watersmeet with his light pack, I felt like a mule with my 20kg of gear strapped to my back. Sometimes I do wonder why I got into this. Maybe I should take up painting! Once our eyes had started seeing the opportunities were boundless. Too often people walk without noticing what is going on next to them or at their feet. Nature has a way of providing images everywhere, if you take the opportunity to slow down. Maybe my pack is a good idea after all – a perceptive anchor!

Ferns in perfect symmetry, grasses in gentle cascades and even the leaves of brambles were all suitable prey. I don’t formally “teach” photography and my time that morning gave me new found respect for those who do – trying to explain the intricacies of composition when using someone else’s gear is difficult. It also proves the maxim of the need to get familiar with your own gear before you head out.

The River Lyn is difficult to get to. Tantalising glimpses of falls and rock pools abound as the path winds its way up the valley. But frustratingly they didn’t build the path with photographers in mind. The viewing platforms present clich├ęd views of certain parts of the river. Generally nice but not image worthy. Off road landscape photography is called for and it’s at that point I usually wish that I had brought crampons and a rope. That 20kg pack I mentioned made me very concious of falling head over arse down the side of the gorge.

Still after a suitable amount of stumbling and sliding we were at the edge of the River Lyn. It was pot luck really. We had no idea what we would find and in all honesty I probably would never find it again.

The thick green canopy all around, punctured by the overcast sky above meant that the water turned green. I had guessed it would. I had everything crossed that I’d fine something “worthy.” We fumbled with gear and tripods until the composition worked its way and then I let time and water do their thing. Not too much to remove all texture from the water. Just enough to not blow out the whiteness by over exposing.

Really – the Goldilocks combination. Once I had finished porridge and bed were next on the list!

River Lyn, Watersmeet

[Canon 5d MkII, 24-70mm, ISO 100, 1 sec F13]

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