Tuesday 26 July 2022

Dartmoor Photoshoot with Glavind Strachan Photography

Tree below Shelstone Tor; looking up the West Okement Valley

Paul Harris, better-known by his alias, Glavind Strachan Photography, is a local photographer based just off the north-west edge of Dartmoor. His photography is very varied, specialising in portraiture, landscapes and other subjects; but for me, it has been his landscape photography that has left me spellbound on every occasion for the last few years - it really is captivating.

His work is instantly recognisable as being predominantly moody which, for me, is what Dartmoor is most renowned for. It is this very weather that has given Dartmoor an infamous reputation, the site of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Hound of the Baskervilles' and Great Grimpen Mire, based off of the notorious Foxtor Mires. This aspect makes Dartmoor the place that it is, but few, if any, photographers in my opinion successfully capture this evocative landscape better than Paul.

In August 2021 Paul circulated the idea of running an exhibition about people who are intimately connected to Dartmoor, so of course I said yes to that - I love having my photo taken! 😂

Obviously things such as lockdown, life and other bits and bobs prevented this from happening anytime soon, and the idea of an exhibition was no longer on the cards... but we still finally met up in July; nearly one year later.

Lints Tor

We started at 6:30am at Prewley Moor and headed across to a beautiful treeline near South Down, which allowed for some glorious morning sun to reach through.
Next up was Shelstone Tor, an absolutely beautiful tor which has some lovely, gnarled trees on its clittered slope. This tor is a great one because it is accessible while also making you feel like you're some way into high Dartmoor. The views are unforgettable.

Shelstone Tor

Shelstone Tor

We crossed the West Okement River and walked through Black-a-Tor Copse. This stunning high ancient oak woodland is characterised by mossy boulders, stunted trees and possesses a real sense of enigma.

The wonderful light that we had been afforded was a godsend but it didn't last forever; soon enough the sky became clear and we endured a warming climb up to Lints Tor.

Despite the lack of any moody sky, Paul was still able to pull off some striking compositions... I have no idea how he does it! I guess having a fabulous subject does help 😉
After that we visited Dinger Tor and then High Willhays, where I obviously took the opportunity to have a banana break. It was hot but the brisk wind negated the potential heatstroke if it ever came to that.

As someone who uses their phone to take most of their photos, I am fascinated by Paul's approach and 'how he does it'. To be brief and not too techy, he takes his large (good descriptive word) camera and shoots in raw, which he then at home puts into Lightroom to do the majority of the editing. You might think this is time consuming but presets speed up the process. You will notice that all of the images include a vignette (a slight dark blurring on all four corners of the image); this helps to focus on the subject. For an example of the editing process, click HERE to read his blog.

Paul's landscape images are not intended to be over the top, and by that I mean images with far too much sharpening and contrast like some other photographers. Instead he has his own style (which is not for everyone but I love it) which, in my opinion, complements the landscape of Dartmoor beautifully.

It doesn't rock! Black Tor

Onto Fordsland Ledge where there is a magnificent view of the valley, we dropped down to Black Tor for lunch. I love this tor, it is huge and has numerous exciting angles... but we were both keen on getting back down to the river for a swim.

'Wild swimming', as it is known, has never been something I've been willing to partake in. I used to be very self conscious and I have always had the mentality of getting from one place to another in record time; the concept of stopping for a prolonged period of time felt like a blow... but I'm pleased to say that having someone else with you and actually getting in the water has changed my perspective forever.

Admittedly it was very, very warm, which made it a pleasant experience (I'm not sure I fancy it in the winter). I felt very comfortable in the company of Paul and felt strangely at peace in the water. It was so soothing.

As relaxing as it was, we had to reluctantly pull ourselves away and walk back to the cars via Vellake Corner. It was very hot now and we were both glad to have started as early as we did. I had no intentions of doing another walk and we had done over 10 miles... that was good enough for me.

This blog post has showcased just a few of the photos that Paul took of me and I am delighted with them all. From the very start Paul's demeanour put at ease, we discussed compositions and I enjoyed the whole experience; it really was bespoke. In fact (although he would disagree) it was a privilege to meet someone who knows what they're doing and is able to capture such stunning images.

As mentioned, Paul's services are varied; please see his website to see what he offers and look at his portfolio. Thanks again to Paul for putting up with me! 😂


Visit Glavind Strachan Photography

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