SOMERSET LEVELS 300 – LOOKING WEST, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 


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Something of a milestone, I suppose, my 300th post from these lush, wet (often very wet!!!) flatlands.  What can I say?  I love the place.  I love the very basic, what-you-see-is-what-you-get simplicity of the place.  There is no advertising hype here, no marketing, no tourism, just a flat landscape, the local farmers, the occasional person walking their dog, the occasional person simply walking, the occasional birdwatcher or photographer, and that’s it.

Many years ago, I recall going into the single shop in Westhay (which has long since closed down) and saying to the shopkeeper “There aren’t many people about this morning”, to which I received the somewhat mournful response “There are never many people about round here”.  Bring it on!  The place is not of course immune from the noise of motor vehicles, but sometimes there are just the sounds of the wind, the birds, the cows, and the soft lapping of water.

And here on Tealham Moor, and on the nearby Tadham Moor too, great big open skies which powerfully remind me of the vast open skies above Africa – actually, more specifically, the skies above Kenya. For me, there are far too many people in England, but that’s not the problem it might be because in the main, and especially so away from tourist areas, most people stay relatively close to their cars.

So, what is pictured here?  Well, flat land, land at or just below sea level, that was underwater in the geologically extremely recent past – I’m talking of only a few hundred years ago – and which will be underwater again in due course, when the coastal defences along the nearby Bristol Channel can no longer totally hold back the sea.  In Roman times, seagoing boats regularly crossed this area, inland to Glastonbury.

As we look at this view, there is slightly higher ground up on the right.  Not long ago, that was an island.  And the dead straight waterway disappearing off towards the horizon on the left is the North Drain – a totally man-made channel vital to the drainage of the area.

The large white birds are Mute Swans, a species whose wings make a beautiful, rhythmic singing sound in flight – birds which I recently portrayed at far closer quarters here and here.

And finally, not far beyond the horizon, along the muddy shores of the Bristol Channel, well, that’s where I come from.  If I have one, that’s my homeland.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to open it still further – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 24 June 2016.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 299 – MISTY MORNING, ALLERTON MOOR 3

 

 


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Looking into misty light, early in the day.

You can find other images from this dark and mysterious morning here and here.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Allerton Moor;  22 Aug 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 298 – WINTER MORNING, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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The view eastwards towards Tadham Moor, just before sunrise on a morning in winter.

Two pale lines arrow off into the distance.  On the right, a single track, tarmac road, covered in frost: Totney Drove.  And in the centre of the shot, the silvery gleam of a water-filled ditch, a rhyne (rhymes with seen), between the drove and the dark, rough pasture off to the left.

The background is the essence of the Levels: flat, misty, partly flooded country, waiting mutely and sometimes mysteriously in the dawn.

And finally, right below the camera, right in the foreground of the shot, are some upright sheets of corrugated iron.  Both the road and the rhyne turn sharply off to the left here, and the corrugated iron has been installed to strengthen the low bank on which the road sits, to try to stop it collapsing into the rhyne under the weight of passing vehicles.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that version to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 84mm (equiv); 12,800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset; 27 Jan 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 297 – RIVER BANK 2

 

 


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Bank of the River Sheppey, beside Hurn Drove, northwest of Polsham.

A picture taken from the opposite bank of this little river, and rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise.  The plants on the left are on the river bank, while those on the right are in the river and aligned with the water’s gentle flow.

The first of these river bank pictures is here.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click upon that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 215mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; rotated; 18 Aug 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 296 – MISTY MORNING, ALLERTON MOOR 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Mute Swans in the water-filled ditch – the rhyne (rhymes with seen) – that runs along beside the mostly single track road across Allerton Moor.

A misty morning.  The rhyne, which does duty as the field’s fence in this wet part of the world, runs on off into the distance before starting to bear off to the left, where a faintly seen fence beside the road keeps the unwary traveller from the deep and glutinous clutches of the dark water and ooze. 

Up right of the swans, cattle at the rhyne’s edge: there may be a place there where they can get down safely to the water’s edge to drink. And behind the cattle, in the murk, farm buildings.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film preset; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at Janice’s Infrared preset; Allerton Moor, west of Chapel Allerton; 22 Aug 2017.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 295 – HILLTOP (MONO)

 

 


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Hilltop; a Levels skyline; Minimalism.

The Somerset Levels are just that – level, flat, flat and flat again.  But just north of the area that I usually infest, they are cut by a long line of low hills – the high ground around Blackford, Wedmore and Wookey – that well within historical times formed islands in the vast morass of lakes, swamps and thickets that were the Levels in their original form, before they were drained for agriculture.

I’d driven down early from Bristol, and was sipping hot, sweet coffee in the little layby beside the willows in Swanshard Lane, and there was low cloud drifting by, almost brushing the hilltops.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; processing, and conversion to mono, in Lightroom; Swanshard Lane, north of Polsham; 18 Aug 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 294 – MISTY MORNING, ALLERTON MOOR

 

 


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Cows in the mist: early morning on Allerton Moor, west of Chapel Allerton; 22 Aug 2017.

Another early visit to these flatlands, with rolling banks of mist looming and vanishing with disconcerting rapidity.  Someone had just seen otters in a roadside ditch.  I couldn’t see them but then, driving on towards the village of Mark, cows were grazing in a rough field on my left and there was light seeping uncertainly through the mist.

Little colour: this reflects the original scene, and the Pro Neg Hi film simulation helps too.  The animal on the left is identifiable, but the two further off could be rocks or some derelict piece of farm machinery.  I really enjoy such lighting conditions.

I’m heading in towards minor surgery this coming week, and have much to do before I’m temporarily physically curtailed.  Hence I’ve not been able to give others’ blogs as much attention as I’d like – apologies for this.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Pro Neg Hi film simulation.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 293 – RIVER BANK

 

 


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Bank of the River Sheppey, beside Ashmoor Drove.

I was standing above the river on a little bridge that farmers use to access their fields.  I looked down, and the big, spikey leaves sticking out from the Sheppey’s bank caught my eye.

As is often the case, this could so easily have ended up in black and white, but the faint colours add something.  And there are lots of shadows, lots not on view, but the picture was always going to centre around the (slight!) colours and textures of the water’s surface, and the silhouettes of those plants against the water’s brightness.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto the enlarged image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 238mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film preset; Ash Moor, Somerset Levels; 18 Aug 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 292 – EARLY IN THE DAY, JUST BEFORE MIDWINTER

 

 


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The first flushes of sunrise on 16th Dec 2016 –  just before the shortest day of the year.  I was heading towards the village of Mark, and looking eastwards across Binham Moor.

Composition: a noisy, grainy, blurry image – no more than an impression of what it was like being there.  And what was it like being there?  Well, it was ******* cold and, despite 1/250th and image stabilisation, I was lying across the outside of the car, hoping to high heaven that, shivering as I was, I could still hold the camera steady.  Did I have a tripod with me?  Yes.  Could I be bothered to use it?  Nope – but then that’s always the case!  This image is very much a series of horizontal layers, one on top of the other, the darkness of the ground moving up, in a series of discreet steps, into the first welcome tints of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto this enlarged image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 25,600 ISO; 1/250th, wide open at f5.6; Lightroom.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 291 – TADHAM MOOR, LOOKING EAST

 

 


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The day starts: star-rise, Our Star rising, Tadham Moor.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto the larger image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom; 27 Jan 2017.
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