Cow, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 1 Nov 2013.

Animal.  Something wild, unpredictable and quite uncontrollable, calmly gazing at you with that cold eye.  Something capable at any moment of bursting into bellowing, trampling, all-crushing rage.  Something that all of the instincts and memories inherited from our forebears tell us is dangerous, and to be avoided.

I very much like the cool, measured gaze from beneath the stiletto lashes.  And to prove that I’m no hero, I have to confess that a stout farm gate was separating us.  I also like the swirling patterns in that coarse, wet hair – the eye appears to be looking out at us from within an eddy or whirlpool.

I’ve taken the image into black and white and increased contrast and structure, to bring out the patterns in the hair.  I think I added some creamish toning too – a great favourite.  And lastly I’ve added something subtle by restoring the very pale purplish colour in the eye and its surroundings.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 .  All of these links will open in separate windows.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – certainly recommended.

Technique:  D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Yellowed 2 preset.


And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.


About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. bluebrightly says:

    Another nice portrait and a useful bit of vocabulary tutorial. 🙂 There is a lot of information there and it’s very helpful for understanding the terrain in your area. Note that in the paragraph about droves you mention “metalled” roads, which is a term we don’t use over here. I assume it means paved but I wonder where metalled came from. And why is called Somerset Levels – just because it’s flat? Or because farmers leveled it long ago?
    Also, “stiletto lashes” is wonderful.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, metalled means paved, ie with a surface of tarmac; I have no idea about the origin of the term. Yes, Levels because they’re flat, and naturally so, there has been no “leveling”!!! Essentially they are a very young landscape, deposited between various areas of higher ground eg the Mendip and Polden Hills. For more info, I recommend the link to my first ever Levels post, which is given in this post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane Lurie says:

    Love the details and contrasts, Adrian. Those lashes…. 😉


  3. Meanderer says:

    Really love the textures here. The image makes me feel sad; the markings below the eye makes one think of tears.


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