SOMERSET LEVELS 154 – SENTINEL (MONO)

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Looking back east along North Chine Drove, southeast of Wedmore; 27 May 2014.

Down on the Levels again yesterday; quite early on, although far after May’s early sunrise.  Feeling distinctly tired after the drive despite not having touched a drop for two days, I’d stopped at a place I call Owl Barn – somewhere Little Owls have looked after their newly fledged young in the past.

A soft, fresh rain was falling and splashing into the life preserver that is known as Steaming Hot Coffee, and Glastonbury Tor was far off in the mists – and suddenly my vacant daze was shattered by a large brown shape exploding out of the trees to my left.  I had stopped beside a Buzzard perched silent and motionless amongst foliage and, uncomfortable with my proximity, it had burst out of cover, to alight on top of a telegraph pole a little further down the road, from which it could keep a constant eye on me..

Buzzards are the largest birds of prey hereabouts, and a species that DDT & co. almost did for not long ago.  But, in these more enlightened times, they are back and thriving.  The owls that I’d seen in the barn years ago had allowed me to approach them a little – tho always keeping me firmly in their bright yellow gaze.  But I knew that that was not the Buzzard’s habit; no matter how slowly I edged towards it, it would not let me near.

And so to a shot of the narrow lane – the wet surface of which shines like water at the bottom of the frame – with the raptor set against the blank overcast.  Taking the image into mono simplifies and darkens it.  The eye can follow the curve of the large tree on the left, up and around, and down via the fortuitously hanging branch, to the subject.  The nearest telegraph pole is silhouetted at upper right, and the slack wire takes us to the bird’s perch.

But this is not quite the rural idyll it appears, because if you peer very closely into the area of sky left of the most distant pole, you can just make out a looming electricity pylon and overhead wires.  A line of these giants strides across the flatlands here, forever thwarting my attempts at longshots of Glastonbury Tor.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 220mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Pinhole preset.
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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.

16 Responses to SOMERSET LEVELS 154 – SENTINEL (MONO)

  1. drawandshoot says:

    Great composition! I like the monotone treatment too.

    Like

  2. This BW works beautifully, Adrian. I love the dark around the sky and the bird. Beautifully edited, I’d say. 😉 Watch out for that kitty when you’re down that way!

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I do like working with mono, George, and producing dark scenes – I’m glad you like this one, thank you, my dear! As for the kitty, the farmer gave me quite precise instructions as to where and when, and this coming week I might take a look – from inside my car might be a good starting point! 🙂 Adrian

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  3. Emily Gooch says:

    Great composition and use of negative and positive space. Love the mysterious feel of this shot, Adrian. The b&w works really well and adds to mood. It stirs up my imagination and made me search for things, like the owl? hawk? sitting on the pole.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hi Emily! – how are you doing? Thanks indeed for the nice things you say about my picture, that’s kind of you. The bird is a buzzard (Buteo buteo … if you’re that way inclined … 🙂 !!!), its effectively a small eagle – quite similar to the Red-tailed Hawk of the Americas, and in the same genus – Buteo.

      Its good to hear from you, Emily. I hope you’re fine. Adrian

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      • Emily Gooch says:

        Hi Adrian,
        Nope, my compliment has nothing to do with being kind. I enjoy seeing your work of art and my compliment is given with sincerity. I always learn something from your pictures and thoughtful comments.

        I’m doing alright… try to keep my chin up and not let life’s challenges get the best of me. Though there are days, I just want to get lost on a deserted tropical island somewhere and forget this rat race society we live in. I’ll email you a more detailed story. It warms my heart to know there are good people like you out there. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Well thank you for your sincerity, my friend – and if you learn things from my stuff, well that’s wonderful to hear!

          Don’t know if I’ve told you but I’m retired now. And from the retirement’s calm backwater I often look at Life’s rat race, and feel sad. There seems to be ever more rush, bustle and stress in the Modern World and, ok, this may be how thing’s are, but I am increasingly dubious that all this is for the good.

          I look forward to you email, and I’m glad your heart is warmed. Take good care of yourself. A 🙂

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  4. Meanderer says:

    Super image; dark, brooding, moody but also uplifting. I love the way you have positioned the buzzard in the gap so he is well silhouetted. Also the way that his small size in relation to his surroundings here doesn’t diminish him – his solid form dominates the upper leaves of the trees and the telegraph poles.

    And – “…. not having touched a drop for a few days ……”. I’m intrigued.

    Like

    • Meanderer says:

      Sorry: “two days” not “a few days”. It’s my age you know 🙂

      Like

      • Adrian Lewis says:

        Its no good, I’m getting too old for all this “up at 0430 and go for it”, down to the Levels, “up with the lark” lark, I think I may take up basketry or even cigar smoking, tho its hard to know whether smoked cigars will be better than unsmoked ones. But, then again , its certainly true of bacon….

        Anyway, I’m glad you like the shot, my friend – thank you. Positioning him against blank sky was a must, since he would be lost against anything else – and this ensures that he does dominate the skyline.

        And “not having touched a drop” is simply this. It would be too easy to enjoy a drink every day, but then not to enjoy it because its too frequent, so I tend to take two or three day breaks from imbibing for my health’s sake, after which the enjoyment of a snifter is certainly enhanced. How honest can I get???

        And at an improbable hour this morning, in the rain just south of Godney, I had a fascinating talk with a young farmer, which included the fact that there are Big Cats now out and about down there – something which actually I heard several years back. “Kitty kitty kitty, like a nice tickle under your chin then …. ” …… 🙂 ….

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        • Meanderer says:

          Mmm – waking up with the lark is something I sometimes do but it’s the getting up and out bit I struggle with! Basketry, eh? I had a go at willow weaving at a craft event recently and loved it. Would like to learn how to do it properly.

          Big cats, eh? Sounds like a brand new adventure (or an old-new) for FATman enterprises 🙂

          Like

          • Adrian Lewis says:

            There’s willow weaving down on the Levels, its a traditional craft there tho I’m not sure how thriving it is – a shop selling such stuff (not the one mentioned below) was under 10ft of water not too long back, and in any case I imagine its a restricted market. I should think its a very satisfying and relaxing thing to do.

            There’s a place selling baskets, with tours and a museum, at P H Coate & Son, Meare Green Court, Stoke St Gregory, Somerset TA3 6HY http://www.englishwillowbaskets.co.uk/

            I did a guided tour there awhile back and may go again – recommended.

            Yes, with experience of true Big Cats I ought to be ok – except that I may be out of the vehicle this time … 🙂

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            • Meanderer says:

              I saw the owners of Coates on BBC breakfast a couple of days ago. The reporter had gone to their willow wood to show how the floods had stained the willow, making it all but useless for their usual market. They said it would be used for more industrial purposes rather than basket making because people don’t like the white markings.

              Like

  5. karijeppesen says:

    Just wonderful, Adrian!(…smiling…)
    I hope you have a lovely day…

    Like

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