Chris bought himself a new lens recently, and his place of choice to try it out for the first time was a photography trip to Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor. Full of myth and legend and being the place of many a fairy sighting, I was pretty keen to go as well…
So we packed a couple of outfit changes into a rucksack to take photos for fashion blog posts; along with a red tutu, which was really just for fun! The tiny carpark at the footpath entrance was full, so we paid £3 to park in the Two Bridges hotel carpark opposite, and walked from there. It was a really nice, easy-going walk across the moor, but further than we expected, with heavy camera equipment and clothes in bags, and we’re not the fittest of people; it took us forty minutes to get there. But photographers beware: even on a dreary drizzly day in January, we were surprised to find the place was absolutely packed with people – half were walkers, and half were other photographers! It was really funny, we found ourselves walking alongside the same couple who were getting their Instagram shots at an old bridge we’d stopped at half an hour earlier! We also passed a photographer and model carrying tutus, and the people walking in front of us were getting Viking themed photos there to promote the horn cup he was carrying. So don’t expect to have the place to yourself!
Wistman’s Wood is beautiful and well worth the walk. For any landscape photographers reading this though, it’s probably worth warning you, it’s really difficult to get a decent composition in there. It’s a small wood full of ancient dwarf oaks and silver birch, all covered in moss with ferns growing out of the branches. Underfoot is moss covered boulders. There are no singular or contrasting trees that stand out to be the subject; although all the boulders provide excelling foreground interest, there’s no way of standing back far enough to find any lines to lead you into the scene. It’s a shame it wasn’t misty as I think that would really work, and help capture the magical atmosphere of the place. The photos I took while it was cloudy are all disappointing, but about twenty minutes before the sun sank below the hills, it peeped out of the cloud and cast a beautiful light through the woods and I managed to get some photos I was happy with.
As a location for portrait photography though, it was ideal, with plenty of background interest. And actually, if nude photography is your thing, and if you get up at 4am on a summer day, then Wistman’s Wood is full of rocks to lie on and old gnarled tree trunks to lean against, which would provide lovely contrast to naked humans. The outfits I wore for blog posts were a pale beige Mori-girl dress, and a red floaty goddess dress – both coming here soon! I also dressed up in a red top and tutu for Instagram photos. (When I grow up I’ll be much more sensible!)
Red is always a good colour for standing out in the countryside, and on our way back to the car, we stopped for a little photoshoot to show you my new red coat as well!
I bought this red coat in the January sale at Joules, and I am very smug about the half price bargain I got! I really needed a walking coat that’s going to keep me warm and dry, so I’m hoping this one is it. It wasn’t all that cold that day though, and only drizzled a little bit, so I haven’t had chance to give it a thorough test yet. I love it so far though, and the bright red is such a cheerful colour – and as a bonus, it will stand out well for those Instagram photos!
If you like the look of the coat, you can purchase it on Amazon, and there are other colours as well as red:
We stayed in the one location most of the day, mainly because the popularity of Wistman’s Wood meant we were often waiting for people to move out of shot. It did clear at the end of the day, but be warned, due to the hills on the west side, it gets dark quickly, particularly if heavy clouds move in, and there isn’t a good phone signal to follow google maps on your phone. So be prepared with torches and a good old-fashioned compass if you don’t want to get lost. We managed to lose sight of the path and I think only just got back before it got dark enough to be scary!
Unfortunately, I didn’t see any fairies, or wish-hounds, or ghosts of druids, but I can see why they would want to hang around Wistman’s Wood – it feels like the sort of place they’d be.
My photos taken on a Panasonic Lumix GM1 with a 14-140mm Panasonic zoom lens; photos of me taken by Chris on a Nikon D850 with a 50mm f1.4 lens.
If you’d like to watch the video of our day, here’s my January Vlog: