Floating vegetation below the Jack’s Drove bridge, on Tealham Moor; 26 Aug 2012.

Jack’s Drove is a tarmac road that extends northwards from Tadham Moor up to the edge of the low hills around Wedmore.  It is a very special place to me – fresh, re-vitalising, wild, open –  and I always spend some time there when “out and about” on the Levels.

There is a little bridge on Jack’s Drove where it passes over the North Drain, and the top of this tiny edifice provides a good lookout across these flatlands, parts of which are below sea level.  Back in August, I walked up to the top of this bridge, looked down and, “seeing at 300mm” as I often do, there were these wonderfully curving, bright green shapes afloat on the dark water.

I’ve converted the image to mono and then re-coloured it, to produce something that is not reality.

The arcing greens are the subject here, and I’ve darkened the water and reduced its structure, to provide a completely non-distracting backdrop.

Looking at it now, the principal compositional elements here are the two curves that enter the frame top right, and then slice down to just about center stage – at a point that I call the “junction” – before having their direction taken over by another bright frond, that continues their trend down towards lower left.

Two other, rather dimly seen leaves splay off towards bottom right from the junction, balancing the composition a little.

Further left, other fronds provide more balance, the brighter of them echoing the main, upper right to lower left trend.  A carpet of floating waterweed brings different textures, and darkens towards the left.

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

Technique: D700 with 70mm-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; converted to mono, and re-coloured, with Silver Efex Pro 2; other manipulation in Capture NX2.


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.


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