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Minions, on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor is one of my favourite locations. I like to visit at least once a year and will generally take in The Cheesewring or a walk to Sharp Tor at the same time. There are numerous mining relics in this area, of which this is one. Today it is a Mining Heritage centre and a visit will reveal the history of mining in this area, including many old photographs. Although difficult to believe today, Minions was, in the latter half of the 19th century something of frontier town, not to say “a den of iniquity”. It sported numerous public houses and the odd brothel or two, and like the “Klondike” towns of the American West was populated mostly by the men who worked in the mines, most of whom came from elsewhere in the county. Today you will find no trace of its shady past, apart from the remaining mine relics, but instead you will find a sleepy village with a fine pub and a village shop, and numerous walks you can use to discover the delights of this corner of our county.
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Photographers love the single tree, one that stands alone in its landscape, strong, enduring and permanent. I’ve never really analysed what it is I like about this subject, and maybe it will take many more images to come to a conclusion, so for now I will just present this example for you to look at, and maybe you can come to your own conclusions and let me know in the comment box below.
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I have a fascination with the single tree. There it stands on its own, very often in a hostile environment with no protection, but yet it thrives. Why is that ? In its early years it must have been very vulnerable, from wind damage or from stray animals, but has managed to come through these adversities to become a venerable addition to the landscape. Take this tree, I have taken numerous photographs of it over the years and in that time hardly anything has changed about it – it’s still bent with the wind in that slightly decrepit stance, away from the prevailing wind, which at this location is from the south-west. It seems to stand there defying anything the weather can throw at it, there is no shelter and yet it thrives. I suspect I will never know the answer to why it survives at this spot but I will pay homage to it by making images of it down through the years. If one day I visit it and it has gone I will feel its loss as if an old friend has passed. But maybe it will outlast me, who knows.
This tree can be found on the south west side of Stowes Hill, just north of Minions on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Any photographer visiting The Cheesewring is likely to have taken this image as it’s an obvious shot. The way the branches bend towards the rock formation at the top of the hill is just perfect. I got down fairly low to the ground to frame my image, making sure I had a scattering of rocks in the foreground to provide some interest in that part of the image and giving an impression of the type of landscape at this location. I also made sure that the the line of the tree followed the contour of the top of the hill. So I got my image and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I see this tree.
This is Stowes Hll, near Minions on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor. If you park in one of the two Minions car parks and start walking north eventually this feature will come into view. This was taken on a beautiful summers day when the heather was just starting to flower. Heather is one my favourite plants, that beautiful purple colour which seems to lay close to the ground like a carpet always brings a smile to my face. So with this picture I thought I would make a feature of the heather and other plants in the foreground, while what is really the main subject occupies only the top third of the picture. I want the viewers attention to be grabbed by the heather carpet and then let their eye move towards the top of the image where they can then pick out details such as the quarry or The Cheesewring rock formation which is on the left of the hill. The image reveals itself slowly so that the main subject – Stowes Hill can be seen set in its environment. I hope you like it.
I had been trying to get a sunset picture at this location for some time, but after a couple of fruitless attempts had all but given up. I visited the Minions area to gather some more pictures for my stock library and had a busy late afternoon and evening shooting around Minions, The Hurlers and The Cheesewring. I was on my way back from The Cheesewring that I noticed that the sky and clouds were starting to present the ideal conditions for a sunset image, and I was not to be disappointed. As I started to approach The Hurlers I noticed that a number of people had started to gather round the stones. I later learned that they were a group of photographers out on a club evening shoot, but as I didn’t want any people visible in my shot I set up a little further away from them.
The shot was fairly straightforward in that I wanted the majority of the image to be concentrated on the sky as the colours I was seeing were fabulous. I attached a graduated neutral density filter over the lens to cover the sky area and boost the exposure of the land. Taking a rural sunset as opposed to a sunset at the coast is more problematical in that there is very little reflected light from the land so the exposure was a little difficult, so once imported into Photoshop I boosted the levels of the land area a little. I think the image achieves what I set out to do, but let me have your thoughts.
Another image from my early morning shoot at Minions. This was taken a short distance to the east of the picture from my last post, on a slightly raised hillock looking down the valley towards Upton Cross. The sun had been up for about 30 minutes by this time and is actually hidden behind the slopes of Caradon Hill on the right of the picture. Behind Caradon Hill I could see a beautiful pink glow which was bathing the clouds with beautiful light. The dark hill you can see on the horizon is Kit Hill and the dark clouds to the left of that are bringing rain to Callington and eventually to me!
It wasn’t long before I had to run for shelter, but not before I was able to grab some shots of the South Phoenix Mine Engine House which is now the Minions Heritage Centre. After taking shelter in the car I eventually moved off to my second location at Golitha Falls from which I will have some more images to post over the next few days.