ARCHIVE: LEVELS 74 – MISTS RISING, QUEEN’S SEDGE MOOR (MONO)


This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

With these spring mornings getting light earlier and earlier, I left home at an even more gruelling(!) hour and, hammering steadily but speedily down almost empty main roads, was soon up on the top of the Mendip Hills – very much the uplands of my childhood – and looking down on the Somerset Levels laid out flat as a pancake far below.  The sun was already up and, although sunshine bathed most of the flatlands, there were still pools of mist lingering here and there.  I thought how wonderful it would be to get into one of those mist pools but, far away and far below as they were, I wasn’t able to identify any of their locations exactly, so I just put my foot down and hurtled onwards >>> lol! onwards and downwards!!! >>> towards the diminutive city of Wells, one of the many gateways to this flat and wet countryside.

So, through Wells and immediately out onto the Levels, heading for the truly long, Long Drove, a single track, tarmac lane that cuts right out across the middle of Queen’s Sedge Moor.

I reached the junction, turned left off the main A39 road onto Long Drove and, really, was just smacked – visually – right across the face!  I just couldn’t believe it, I just gaped.  For there was the long, dead straight drove, arrowing out ahead of me, but mist was rising from the water-filled ditch (the rhyne) on its left, and this narrow ribbon of slowly rising vapour was bring caught by the rays of the still low sun.

And thence to dangerous comedy >>> pulling over wildly over onto the narrow lane’s precarious grass verge and feeling the car slide and tilt ominously.  Then, camera in hand, tumbling out of the car and running out in front of it, to get a view looking straight up the ditch – and almost sliding into the ditch’s chill embrace in the process – there are times when I think I’m getting too old for all this!!! 🙂

And then, having just managed to stay safe, I came to a feature of the new camera which is really starting to get to me – the work literally of a second to convert the 300mm reach (= x6 magnification) of my telezoom to 450mm (= x9 mag), and I was suddenly looking up the rhyne at x9 magnification and, quite simply, gasping.

And so to taking pictures, followed by another few, high speed moments on the car to reach another promising viewpoint, and more pictures – and the mist was gone, dissolved in an instant by the sun’s slight warmth.  And the time between my first seeing this mist and its almost instantaneous disappearance???  Well, at most 10 minutes.  Quite simply, an incredible visual adventure.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 250 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Orange Filter, and adding a light coffee tone; looking eastwards along Long Drove, on Queen’s Sedge Moor, south of Wells; 26 Apr 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: LOOKING AT CARS 74 – FROSTY MORNING, MELTING


After a cold night, still icy in the shadows.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 70mm (equiv); 160 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; Hart’s Bakery, Temple Meads, Bristol; 8 Nov 2017.

ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 73 – GOING TO WORK 29 (MONO)


 

Going to work.  The bike beats the jams but he’s jammed in – anonymous, wary, vulnerable, claustrophobically picking his way between shifting walls of gleaming metal and glass; lungs poisoned by fumes, ears blasted by engines and horns, and always the thought that he’ll fare worst in any tussle with these mechanised beings.

Oh come, you’ll say, mechanised beings? – each has a human driver!  Well, the way things are going, that will not be true for too much longer – so, thinking of the Terminator films – is this Rise Of The Machines???

Technique: this is tight crop, aimed at accentuating how the cyclist is being hemmed in, to accentuate how the “mobile metal monsters” are queuing up to squeeze closely past him.  And these feelings of claustrophobia are (hopefully!) added to by cropping The Man Himself; and especially so his eyes, which at once renders him anonymous and unknown; leaving only his mouth, which looks rather taut, stressed and ready for the worst.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 400 ISO; LightroomCapture NX2; Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 19 July 2016.



ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 72 – DRIVER IN THE MODERN WORLD


She is at the wheel – and on wheels too – comfortably cocooned in metal, plastics and glass, all powered up and ready to go. 

But glancing around, perhaps for some human contact, for some respite from this purely blank, mechanically mobile world, the view outside – as inside – is only of endless artificiality, only of yet more, transient cocoons, passing on anonymously by.

Click onto the image twice to enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 6400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Dramatic profile; Bristol city centre; 29 Nov 2019.


STILL LIFE 263 – WALL OF CONCRETE BLOCKS, DEFACED BY RED LINE


 

Strolling down tatty back alleys behind a row of small shops in the blazing summer’s sun, and reveling in the burgeoning and totally uncaring unkemptness of it all.  The shops’ fronts might look alright, but back here behind the facades there is only sordid and refuse strewn reality – what you see is very much what you get, and what you get is pure, artless, drab functionality, bereft of all thoughts of beauty or attractive design.

And I found a wall of made of concrete blocks – breeze blocks as we Brits call them – on which some bright young thing had scrawled a long red line.  Up behind the wall was a fence of crudely painted and rusting metal panels.  And in the foreground, parked up close and personal against the wall, a car, patterned by the bright reflections of its stark backdrop.

And – rather an epiphany I suppose – I realised that, should I linger too long in these scruffy and unkempt surroundings, anyone passing by might think me a very real part of them.  So I hastened swiftly on, anxious to give a better – if false – impression elsewhere.

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

Technique:  TG-5 at 49mm (equiv); 200 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 01 profile; south Bristol; 1 June 2021.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 62 – EARLY MORNING MIST, TEALHAM MOOR


Early morning mist, Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 8 Apr 2015.

The old and the new.  A smart new vehicle coming south down the tarmac of Jack’s Drove at a good pace and, next to it,  the water-filled ditch (rhyne) which has been here for a century or two, well back into the times when the only vehicles along here were horse drawn.

The rhyne acts as the fence around the field of pasture visible on the right, the gate of which is accessed from the drove via the little bridge.  The metal gate, which is hardly visible on the right, has wooden rails at its sides to stop ever venturesome cattle from trying to squeeze around it and escape.  The droves are tracks between the fields which allow farmers to access their land without crossing that of others.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 270mm; 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.



STILL LIFE 262 – BARBERING LOUNGE


This car’s driver?  He’s inside, having his hair cut.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 320 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 01 profile; flipped; south Bristol; 1 June 2021.

ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 71 – PARKED CAR 3


Using a long telephoto close in to pick out details, to look at just parts of the cars; and then reducing both Texture and Clarity in Lightroom to unnaturally smooth the metallic surfaces.  Using long telephotos at close range can have creative potential over a wide range of subjects/genres.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid v2 profile; beside Temple Meads railway station, in central Bristol; 10 May 2019.



ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 70 – GOING TO WORK 10


Something from the Going to Work series, which seems a long time ago now:

He’s giving me a rather fixed stare.  I’m glad we weren’t sharing the back seat ……..

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; morning rush hour, Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 5 Aug 2016.



ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 69 – PARKED CARS


Looking along a line of parked cars, Lower Maudlin St, central Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.

Composition: I have a visual fetish for looking along lines of objects – vehicles, buildings’ windows and facades, trees and so on – that recede into the distance.  I suppose this is something to do with the convergence of such views, and the apparently diminishing scale of the objects.  In this case there was a building site on the right, with a big, pale, solid wooden fence between it and the pavement.  In the bright sunlight, this stockade was reflecting a lot of light onto the line of closely parked cars – and so to focusing on the mirror of the nearest car to establish a prominent, solid object to tie the rest of the composition to, and then letting the camera look on down the jumbled line of metallic shapes, with empty, sunlit pavement relatively featureless on the right.  The X-T2’s APS-C sensor gives greater depths of focus than full frame sensors, but even on f8 the close-in use of a long telephoto narrows the zone of sharp focus considerably, rendering the more distant cars as increasingly vague shapes and impressions.  A couple more car mirrors add some structure to that receding line of metallic chaos, and two red brake lights add welcome hot colour.

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

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



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