ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 30 – LOOKING UP


 

Another early bus ride into the city, another second breakfast at first light in Hart’s Bakery  – and as I lurched out of that warm, friendly and bustling establishment, the tints of sunrise were above and, looking up, I saw this.

The bird is a gull (aka seagull), and just about to leap off into the air to scavenge the city’s no doubt enticing refuse.  I have Hart’s Bakery, (s)he has Bristol’s rubbish bins.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; beside Temple Meads railway station; 9 Dec 2016.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 25 – JACKDAW WITH ELECTRICS (MONO + COLOUR)


Jackdaw near Perranporth, Cornwall, 14 April 2016.

What do I think about this image?  Well, to start with, it looks odd, and the more so perhaps because I’ve re-coloured the more colourful elements after taking the whole thing into slightly toned black and white.

Then there is a disparate assemblage of elements here, the living, natural bird on the one hand and all those decidedly non-natural electrics on the other – and those electrics are held up in the air, safely away from the likes of you and me, on wooden poles – which are formerly living (and now rounded for purpose) natural things.

And the bird is looking out of the picture, away from all the technology.  Is there disdain there, in that averted gaze, for the immobile, Unnatural World?  Or maybe there is the knowledge that that World has certainly, by one means or another, significantly reduced the numbers of this country’s wild birds within the lifetime of the FATman who, out of frame, is standing below this tableau and looking up.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Yellowed 1 preset and selectively restoring colour.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 24 – TWO WOMEN IGNORING A PIGEON (MONO)


Two women in Bristol city centre purposely ignoring a pigeon that, after all, was only trying to be friendly; photographed from the upper deck of a bus, 24 Apr 2013.

And before you ask – this outcome was not in my mind when I took the shot.

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

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 140mm (35mm equivalent); 200 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, jumping off at the Silhouette EV +0.5 preset.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



BIRDS 137 – EURASIAN COOT (3): THREAT DISPLAYS


 

Spring at Chew Valley Lake, just south of Bristol, and the breeding season well underway for many birds.  On open water near the lake’s edge, aggressive male Coots were fiercely defending their territories against each other.

The upper photo shows the start of such a display, with the bird flat on the water, about to rush forward in a charge towards another male.

The lower photo shows the charge, with the bird pushed down into the water by the force and speed of his advance, and his bill open as he accompanies his rush forwards with loud calls.

Click onto the images to open larger version in separate windows – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format at 450mm; 500 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 5 May 2021.

 



BIRDS 136 – FEMALE TUFTED DUCK


Common and well known, mostly on freshwaters, and with the small tuft of feathers on the back of the head.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format at 450mm; 500 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 5 May 2021.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 50 – GLASTONBURY TOR


Sunrise over Glastonbury Tor; 23 Nov 2012.

As I’ve most probably made clear by now, the Somerset Levels are just that – level.  The areas that I frequent have hills on the horizon –  the Mendips to the north, the Poldens to the south – but essentially they are flatlands.  And usually damp or downright wet flatlands at that.

But, that said, there are isolated small hills in this area which were islands when these flats were marshlands and open water.  And at the eastern end of the Levels that I visit most frequently, there is one hill that is truly iconic, Glastonbury Tor.

Why iconic?  Well, it is a real landmark, visible from far around, and the ruined church tower on its summit, seen here, makes it instantly recognisable, even from far away.   And it has a vast and intriguing history, certainly going far back into the Anglo-Saxon era.  At the time that King Henry VIII destroyed the Catholic monasteries and founded the Church of England, the monastery at Glastonbury was second in terms of power and prestige only to the church’s spiritual centre, Canterbury.

And, in addition to all of this solid history, Glastonbury has a vast swathe of associated myths and legends – as the last resting place of the little known King Arthur, for example.  And then the supposed associations with Joseph of Aramathea and the Holy Grail.  And there is of course its current status as a centre for spirituality and New Age beliefs and, as the site (not far from the town) of Britain’s most famous music festival.

I feel truly grateful to live not distant from this enigmatic and fascinating place.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 49 – CROW ON FALLEN TREE (MONO)


Carrion Crow perched on a fallen tree; Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 31 Mar 2014.

Early in the day, I pulled bleary eyed into the Magic Carpark, stumbled out of the car – and saw this crow.  Praying that it wouldn’t move, and all fingers and thumbs, I readied the camera, turned and – it was still there!  In fact it stayed there for sometime.

The tree is a casualty of the recent severe flooding.  It was probably not standing vertically before, but then its roots had been able to find sufficient purchase in the soil.  But, saturate that soil with floodwater for many weeks and turn it into something like blancmange or wet rice pudding, and the roots were simply not up to the task of keeping the great bulk of trunk and branches above them upright.

I went for a pure silhouette, with the sky completely burnt out, for simplicity – a Minimalist approach.  To me, the few branches entering the frame at upper right serve to balance the composition.  The adding of a blue tone takes the scene further away from reality.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Classic Portrait preset, and adding a Cyanotype tone.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 47 – EARLY MORNING 4


Looking into the distance as a day begins.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; looking out towards Hay Moor from Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 2 Aug 2019.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

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.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 4 – THREE HERONS (MONO)


Left to right, a Little Egret and two Great White Egrets – three herons – processed with Silver Efex Pro 2.

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

Technique: the X-T2 firing at 200 ISO, and really quite a tribute to what this APS-C format camera can achieve with distant subjects.  X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset; Capture NX2; Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake; 24 Nov 2017.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.

BIRDS 135 – EURASIAN COOT (2)


Walking on the lake shore, showing the characteristic long, lobed toes.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format at 450mm; 500 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 5 May 2021.

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