STANTON DREW 41 – VILLAGE LIFE 8

 

 


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This series of posts – looking again at Stanton Drew – is entitled Village Life, and really I suppose its just that, looking at little scenes and details around the village, trying to give a flavour of its life.  But there’s no getting away from the fact that this village is sitting on the immediate edge of a major stone age site – there are actually standing stones in the pub’s back garden.  I’ve already mentioned this in this post.

Two things get to me here.  Firstly – and delightfully! – although this is certainly an important Stone Age site, spatially at least on a par with the far more well known Stonehenge and Avebury, it is far from all but the most specialist tourist trails.  It does have much meaning for the local Pagan community, something which I respect and identify with very much, but the really lovely thing about these standing stones is that, most often, there are no other visitors at all, so that there is every chance to experience and savour them in peace, quiet and solitude – so different from Stonehenge and Avebury, and truly a wonderful gift.

I’m a geologist, with all that entails about understanding and being at ease with vast periods of time, and I also have a great interest in history, not least ancient history.  And the second thing that gets to me about the Stanton Drew standing stones are the great time periods involved.  The stones were laid out and erected around 4,000 or 5,000 years ago, in Neolithic times.  A line of low hills can be seen in the photo here, and up on those hills is the Iron Age camp of Maes Knoll, which is thought to have been built around 250BC – so the stone circles at Stanton Drew were already two or more thousand years old before that Iron Age encampment – itself remote in age to our eyes – was built.

Later in history, the Anglo-Saxons arrived.  I don’t have an exact date here, but somewhere around 650AD may be right.  And I mention them not only because of my great interest in their history, but also because the name Stanton Drew derives in part from their time – stanton – some sort of settlement or enclosure in the vicinity of the standing stones.  And so to the Christian church, parts of which date from the 13th century, ie some time after 1200AD.  I like Stanton Drew as a place, but the great, visible length of history here considerably adds to it for me.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1Further images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 .    Each will open in a new window.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STILL LIFE 166 – THREE WORLDS

 

 


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Looking up on a frosty morning: fluffy clouds, our planet’s Moon, a jet.

The clouds are just starting to take on the first hues of the sunrise.  The Moon looks hard, pale, uncompromising.  And the aircraft arrows upwards between them, a tiny dot relentlessy pursued by a vast contrail.

Three worlds.

The Moon is another world and the clouds belong to our world, so that’s two accounted for.  But the Moon and the clouds are both Natural phenomena, produced by the same universal processes that have produced ourselves – thousands of millions of years before those processes produced ourselves, of course.  We are new kids on the block.

The Moon and the clouds are indifferent to our presence.  Were we not here, they would most certainly continue to exist.  But were they not here, our lives would be severely impacted, if not impossible.

And so to the aircraft.  This is the third world here.  It is the product of the natural resources of our world, which we have used to build a machine to take us at great speed across our world’s surface.  So far so good.  The problems come, of course, when it emerges that our world’s natural resources are not infinite, and that the lovely fluffy white contrail is not the healthiest thing around, both for ourselves and for our climate.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 206mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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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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ARCHIVE 321 – LAGOON AT MAGADI (MONO)

 

 


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Alkaline lagoon at Lake Magadi, on the floor of the rift valley in southern Kenya; Nov 1977.

The water is made alkaline by high concentrations of sodium bicarbonate which have been leached out of the rift valley’s volcanic rocks.   This water is so alkaline that it feels soapy to the touch, i.e. it starts to dissolve skin on contact, and its high soda content gives it an awfully rank, chemical odour.  Add to that the fact that this is a very hot, low lying area of the rift, and Magadi becomes something of an acquired taste.  But, to anyone interested in the Natural World – wildlife, geology, landscape –  it is also a fascinating place.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens;  Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO;  converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro.

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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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ARCHIVE 315 – DAWN AT BARINGO

 

 


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Dawn at Lake Baringo, a freshwater lake in the rift valley, Kenya; June 1980.

In the foreground the lake shore, with the faintest of wavelets on the water behind.

And above that, large areas of diffuse colour and shadow, more an impression of things really, rather than an accurately representative image.

Our star, still not risen, starting to assert itself on the look of things.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE 305 – SUNRISE WITH THREE DUCKS (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Three ducks and the sunrise over Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

As with my pictures of crows aloft , the birds are dwarfed by the immensity of their element, yet quite at one with it.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; conversion to mono and colour restoration in Silver Efex Pro 2.

UPDATE: Minimalism once more, and the slightly unreal look of colour restored to a black and white image.

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ARCHIVE 290 – THE VIEW SOUTH FROM BABOON CLIFFS

 

 


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The view south from Baboon Cliffs at Lake Nakuru, Kenya; 27 Apr 1980.

Looking out across the lake on a calm day – which, in this area of convectional rainfall, can often turn into a towering thunderstorm later in the afternoon.

Nakuru is a soda lake in the rift valley’s floor and this view looks southwards down the rift.  The hills on the horizon, below the white clouds, are a group of small volcanoes, and the freshwater Lake Naivasha is just over the horizon to the left of them. 

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens and polariser; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

UPDATE: the polarising filter – arguably the most useful filter of them all in these digital days – produces the very deep blue of the sky at upper right, the good definition of the clouds below that blue and (even in this ancient, scanned slide), good clarity of view off into the distance. 

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OUTLANDS 13 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON 2

 

 


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Something Minimal, there’s really not much here, both in terms of content and colour, but straight black and white would lose a little I think.  And the bird – and getting focus on the bird – were fortuitous!

Context about this second Outlands trip can be found here, and there is another image here: 12.

Click onto this image to open it in a separate window, and click onto it again to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; near West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.
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OUTLANDS 12 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON (MONO)

 

 


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Early in the day: above the byway, east of West Littleton; South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.

More context on this second visit to the extreme south of the Cotswold Hills, and more images, can be found here.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 206mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset.
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