ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 20 – BIRD RINGER


A german ornithologist extracts birds from mist nets at Ngulia Lodge, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya; November 1979.

In the autumn, millions of small birds migrate from Europe and Russia southwards into Africa to escape the harsh northern winter.  They fly at night for safety, and navigate by the moon and stars. A stream of these nocturnal migrants passes over Tsavo and, on moonless nights in the autumn, they become disorientated when caught in the fog and low cloud that often occurs in this area in the rainy season.

Ngulia Lodge is built high up on a ridge, and it has game viewing lights which are left on all night.  The migrants are attracted by the lights’ glow in the mist, and many tens of thousands of birds can descend on the lodge from out of the murky night skies.

The birds fail to see the very fine mist nets and fly into them, becoming entangled in the fine mesh. They are manually extracted from the nets and ringed (i.e. they have a small, engraved metal ring wrapped around one of their legs). Birds ringed at Ngulia have been found in many areas of eastern Europe and Russia, east to Siberia.

The mist nets’ fine mesh can be seen against the ringer’s red shirt; the bags around his waist contain birds already extracted from the nets and awaiting ringing.  The bird is some kind of warbler – but warbler identification was never one of my strengths!

This is a flash picture, but what did I know about using flash in those far off days?  But, as far as I remember, the OM-2 was unique at that time for setting the duration and intensity of the flash by monitoring the amount of light reaching the film during the flash – to which I can only say “Wow!!!”.  The OM-2 was as wonderful to use as its forebear, the OM-1, but whereas the OM-2 broke down during its use in Kenya, the OM-1 keep going.  I still have both of these two cameras, infected with mould now, in a display cabinet in our living room.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; automatic flash.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 37 – SWAN (MONO)


Mute Swan in low key – an avian still life, posing for me or, rather, probably threatening me.  Swans are worthy of great respect.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 88 – SWANS OVER TEALHAM (MONO)


Mute Swans on the wing over the northern edge of Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 31 Mar 2014.

These great birds are flying low over typically flat and rough Levels pasture, with the characteristic shapes of pollarded willows – like huge lollipops stuck stick first into the wet ground – immediately behind them.

But further back is a sharp and immediate change in the landscape – much older rocks are sticking up through the flatlands’ wet clays and peats, and there is at once a hillside with houses, tidy fields and sheep.  This is the southern edge of the high ground around Wedmore.

This high ground gives the impression of an island set amongst the Levels’ wetness and, only some hundreds of years ago, not very long ago at all really, this is exactly what these high lands were.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Yellowed 2 preset.

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 36 – FISHERMAN (MONO)


Fisherman in early morning mist, Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, near Bristol; 6 Apr 2015.

The morning was very misty but, in pursuit of Minimalism, I’ve added a pale vignette to further reduce detail.

And this all enfolding mistiness also serves to enhance the impression of a lone individual pursuing his passion early on a calm morning, surrounded by the gentle sounds of water, birds, and the lightest of breezes.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Classic Portrait 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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 85 – LOOKING WEST, TEALHAM MOOR


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.

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 – 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.

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 34 – MALLARD


Female Mallard, resting but alert as I edge closer.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 82 – STARLINGS (MONO)


Large flocks of Starlings roam the flatlands of the Somerset Levels in autumn.

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

Technique:  Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Dramatic profile; Court Farm, southeast of East Huntspill, on the Somerset Levels; 25 Oct 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: LEVELS 80 – LAPWINGS, TEALHAM MOOR


Driving westwards across Tealham Moor, and a long line of birds, high up above, caught my eye.  There was no traffic on the narrow road, so I stopped, watched and waited, wondering where they might be headed.  They came lower and wheeled about overhead, and I saw them to be Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), a type of large plover, that form large flocks in winter.  I started taking pictures.

Here, the flock is flying across in front of a bare, winter tree, and there are a few smaller, darker birds below them, which are Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).

Compositionally, the flock is almost “resting on top” of the tree, the combination of the birds and tree making a ‘T’ shape within the image.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 30 Nov 2018.

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 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.



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