I’d not been to Dartmouth Regatta before, not because I didn’t want to, just that I’d always been doing something else when it was on.  An early escape from work allowed the unexpected opportunity to break my Dartmouth Duck.  My main interest was to see if I could photograph the Red Arrows.  I’d heard whispered talk of the Red Arrows skimming the masts of the yachts in Dartmouth marina, of fantastic aerobatic manoeuvres completed beneath the level of the hill tops with crowds looking down upon the blurred formation of snarling jets.  Now I’m sure the Civil Aviation Authority and indeed the RAF have lots of rules forbidding any of the above, but even so, I wanted to see them.

Red Arrows Dartmouth 2014 - South Hams Photography

Pretty Red Hawks. An Ok shot for ‘Trainspotters’ but it doesn’t really do it for me.

I talked in another post about British Fireworks Championships in Plymouth about the importance (for me at least) of placing the subject of your photograph in some form of context.  Otherwise, the subject becomes something akin to a catalogue product shot or a bit of photo clip art, isolated from it’s setting and hanging in space, cut out and surrounded by an almost discernible and certainly imaginable white background and drop shadow.  Ok, that’s possibly a little over the top but hopefully you get the idea.

Anyway, this brings me to where I wanted to be to take the photographs from.  A quick bit of research revealed I could go low or high, down in the town or higher up on one of the many hillsides overlooking Dartmouth.  As we neared Dartmouth, signs for the Park ‘n’ Ride started to appear, but tales of 2 hours waits to get back out of the town on a crowded shuttle bus and the opportunity of only ‘up skirt’ photos of the underneath of the Red Arrows made me avoid this option.  Instead, we headed for Jawbones Hill.  This venue (I should say field) is used as a car park every year and affords a stunning view over Dartmouth, a steep slope down means there’s a clear field of view.  So, £10 coughed up and a walk across the field and we were there.

Unfortunately, due to a low cloud base and approaching squalls, the show nearly didn’t even happen, however we were treated to a several fly bys down the River valley and some gentle rolls in formation.  So no dramatic manouvers to capture, but enough to ensure that I’ll revisit the same spot next time the Red Arrows are in Dartmouth.