SOMERSET LEVELS 127 – STORM 4 – ARRIVAL AT SWANSHARD LANE

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I went down to the Somerset Levels on a very stormy day recently – the details are given here.  I arrived there in darkness before the storm hit, but a little later the elements raged.  These two photos show my arrival beside a narrow country back road, with trees in the headlights, and then the storm’s onset. 

I generally try to make my photos good to look at and/or interesting.  But here I’m trying to give an idea of what it was like to be there.
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Arrival in Swanshard Lane, near Polsham, before dawn; 23 Dec 2013.

In the headlights (and helped by my imagination), the line of pollarded Willows, their branches spread out in welcome, walk towards me along the bank of the little River Sheppey, which is flowing down in the darkness to the left.  There is an unkempt grassy verge which is periodically hacked back by the local farmer.  And lower right is the edge of the small mud and chipping “layby”, where I pull the car off this single track back road, to indulge in reviving food and hot, sweet coffee, after my drive down from Bristol.

The rain and wind had not yet arrived. 

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The same place, sometime after the first photo was taken, seen with a combination of the headlights and dull daylight.  Dawn has broken and, sometime before that, the forecast high winds and heavy rain had arrived.  The illuminated shafts of rain, coming in more horizontally than vertically, are lashing the car, and the diffuse dark band originating near lower right and making a diagonal up to the left across the frame, is one of the flailing windscreen wipers.

The river can be seen down below the car, not yet full, but with a lot of water moving.  And far back above the trees, the wan light of the stormy dawn.

Both images: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 70mm; 25,600 ISO.

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

21 Responses to SOMERSET LEVELS 127 – STORM 4 – ARRIVAL AT SWANSHARD LANE

  1. Sonali Dalal says:

    2nd one seems like a painting!

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  2. Malin H says:

    I like this a lot, Adrian. You’ve managed to get an eerie feeling. It’s very creepy and intriguing at the same time. (I have some similar photographs too in my archive).

    And I also like the feeling that you’ve somehow “released” yourself in your photographing here.

    I’m getting this feeling of being “there”, as you write; “But here I’m trying to give an idea of what it was like to be there.”

    Everything don’t have to be perfect or as you wrote “I generally try to make my photos good to look at and/or interesting.”

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I’m pleased you like this, Malin. Eerie, creepy and intriguing sound good – it was strange arriving there in the dark. I felt no fear, I’m at ease in the dark, but nothing was visible, save for a few far off lights >>> and it was so strange to watch dawn unfold, to watch the material world gradually emerge from all that darkness.

      But I’m intrigued by your words – “And I also like the feeling that you’ve somehow “released” yourself in your photographing here.”. What do you mean? A 🙂

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      • Malin H says:

        Well, maybe it’s hard to explain, but I mean something like this: that not everything needs to be perfect. If I say that these are not so “well directed” (I don’t know the exact explanation for this, hey I’m Swedish haha), but I hope you know what I mean.

        You wrote this in your post: “I generally try to make my photos good to look at and/or interesting.” And when I look at your images in this post, I see something different, from your other images (well, I haven’t seen them all… but… ) And I see this as if you have released something within you in your photographing. I don’t know if my answer is an answer on your question, but I’m trying to 😉

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Yes, thanks, I think I do understand what you’re saying – “not everything needs to be perfect” and “well directed” explain it >>> I try to attain a high quality with my pictures. But with these two shots I’ve made it clear that I’m not attaining that standard but, rather, I’m presenting images of a lower quality that have a different purpose – they are not here for their quality but rather the are here to try and show how it felt to be there, alone in the car, in the darkness and with the storm breaking. Is that right? Thank you! 🙂

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  3. Meanderer says:

    The first image with the willows looks so atmospheric. The second image exemplifies the weather we are having so well.

    Awoke to strange claps of thunder in the distance this morning which sounded more like an explosion. Just had a very heavy downpour. The weather people have said things will calm down. We’ll see!

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, the weather forecasts are ameliorating – let’s hope! On the Levels there is serious flooding south of the Polden Hills, but no reports from the lesser known areas – where I go – to the north – I bet Tadham and Tealham Moors are underwater though – rather nervous about going to look, to tell you the truth!

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  4. That top shot looks like something out of a supernatural flick. Spooky, and awesome!
    Hope you’re well, and on warmer, higher ground.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hi Gem! Yes, the top shot does look a bit weird, doesn’t it – its the Levels in the night, and those trees are coming to say hello – I could certainly handle that, I’d be right up for that! Its the same with ghosts, I would love to see one – in fact I may be staying in a pub soon where one has been seen. I wonder … my strategy will be to freak out first … and to ask questions … later … 😉

      There is a lot of flooding in Somerset, and a bit in Bristol too, but we are mercifully unaffected – and the weather forecast is looking a bit better now.

      But I hear you’re really getting it – the news says that folks over your way have been told not to go outdoors in case their skin freezes! You just look after yourself! A xxx

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      • A real live ghost?!!? I mean, a real ghost!? I mean… Well, you know what I mean. Take pix!!!!
        It is frigid but tomorrow should be better. Glad you’re safe, my friend. We are fine, sitting in the den under blankets. 😉

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  5. krikitarts says:

    Hmmm…Swanshard Lane… is it so-named because even a swan finds it hard to land there, or is there a legend of a swan being caught in an ice storm and being flash frozen and breaking into numerous shards as it suddenly plummeted to the ground, or is it in memory of a local person who tried to herd a flock of swans and wasn’t very good at spelling, or…? But, on a less serious note, love the moods you’ve conveyed in these. The Highland Park must have been most welcome upon your arrival.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Oh god … I mean … oh gooood … a probing mind …. Well, short answer, I dunno, do I, squire? BUT, I have googled it, and have received no results except references to FATman Photos – which is pleasing! 🙂

      So then I consulted Ekwall’s “Concise English Dictionary of English Place-names” – but absolutely zilch!

      And then I thought to motor on down there and ask, but I know that the answers would either be “moo-OO!” or “Oo arr … arrrrrr … zider … OOO ARRRR!!!!” ….

      And instead of “arrival”, don’t you mean “return”?????

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      • krikitarts says:

        I said what I meant and I meant what I said. May I call your attention to your very words…went down to the Somerset Levels…to indulge…after my drive down from Bristol…now, it’s my firm impression that, since you’re “based in Bristol,” that’s where you hang your hat, and there’s nothing in your text here that indicates that you returned home again after your visit(s) to the Levels. In fact, signs point to a likelihood that you’re there so often that you probably have a hidey-hole of your own somewhere handy to the Levels. In summary, and being quite level-headed myself, thank you, mine was a perfectly logical deduction and conclusion. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury…???

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        • krikitarts says:

          By the way, I really appreciate your efforts to satisfy my curiosity as to the origin of the place name. I find such studies endlessly fascinating and I frequently get lost in the names on a map when I’m visiting some new and exotic parts of the world. Have you ever had a few minutes’ look at the names of some of the communities in Australia? I highly recommend it, if you ever find yourself totally bored and in need of a good stretch of the imagination.

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          • Adrian Lewis says:

            I’m very interested in placenames too – around here, they’re mostly Anglo-Saxon, with Norman bits added eg Shepton Mallet = sheep (shep) farm (ton), with Mallet the name of the Norman knight who was given the land after the Norman invasion in 1066. There are a few earlier Celtic names too, especially for rivers – Avon (cf Welsh Afon), Axe, Exe, etc. It adds a new aspect to the landscape.

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          OK, guv, its a fair cop! I’ll come clean … if I can just borrow some soap to have a wash …

          Its like setting off a macro, isn’t it? I just make one little, throwaway (like me then ..) query, and I’m hit by an irrefutable (been trying to get that word onto the blog for ages!) verbal avalanche!

          I’d LOVE to get stuck into Highland Park, in the dark, in Swanshard Lane!!! >>> but think the rest of the day might get a little mellow! 🙂

          Like

  6. LensScaper says:

    What a grim start there has been to the New Year especially for those who, under fortunate conditions, were entitled to feel privileged to live in the SW if the UK. Anything but privileged now, considering the horrendous onslaught they have faced. These images for me sum up how storms seem to have a habit of stealing in during the night under cover of darkness. Summed up in the phrase: ‘we never saw it coming’. How cruel is that. Trust you have stayed safe and free from danger, Adrian.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hello, Andy – thanks for this! Yes, I’m ok. That trip to the Levels was right on the border between sense and stupidity, but it went off ok – but I have a feeling that many places I went are underwater now. Hope you’re fine – Happy New Year! Adrian

      Like

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