ARCHIVE: LEVELS 40 – 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 – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 25,600 ISO; 1/250th, wide open at f5.6; Lightroom.

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STILL LIFE 253 – THE SHADOW OF A VAN ON A SECURITY SHUTTER

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Walking past shuttered shops and looking at the shadow of a van.  The van’s tinted windows colour the warm, early morning light passing through them and the shadow of the steering wheel is ready and alert.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 6 Apr 2021.

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PEOPLE 399 – PHOTOGRAPHING A TREE

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

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 24 Apr 2021.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 39 – SWANS OVER TEALHAM

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Mute Swans about to land on flooded Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 7 Feb 2014.

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

Much against good sense, I ventured down onto the Levels recently, to my habitual haunts on Tealham and Tadham Moors.  Not daring to take my usual cross-country route because of the many places where even small amounts of flooding might cut it, I drove down the main A38 road south from Bristol to Highbridge, and then went eastwards into the flatlands along another, relatively large road.  All was well on these main roads, but as soon as I got onto the smaller lanes, problems with water appeared.

Tealham and Tadham were mostly submerged, with just just the roads sticking up above the waters and little traffic about, but the floods in this more northerly part of the Levels are nothing like those further south, south of the Polden Hills, where whole villages are being overwhelmed, main roads have been cut for weeks, cutting edge pumping technology has been brought in from Holland, and the Army has been called in to help the local people.

This image is starting to look rather unphotographic, more like a painting maybe, and I always feel good when this happens.  Henrietta Richer and Dave Battarbee have both made suggestions about this image, which I’ve incorporated.  

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 38 – THE BELLYBUSTER AT THE COTTAGE CAFE!

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The Bellybuster Breakfast at the Cottage Cafe in Burnham-On-Sea, where the Somerset Levels run down to the sea; 20 Mar 2013.

This has got to be one of the best breakfasts I’ve eaten for a long while – and perhaps the largest I’ve ever eaten!  Let’s see what’s here.

Well, a lot of very tasty food – but equally importantly all served on a warm plate – something which can make or break a meal.  Having this lot served up on a stone cold plate would have been dreadful!

And then the presentation of the food: fine by me, except for the fried bread – see below.  But then, having mentioned the fried bread, the chef was faced with the problem is how to cram as much food as this onto the plate  – even an over large plate like this one!  This presentation certainly stirred my appetite.

Then very tasty sausages containing a great proportion of meat, and sourced from a local butcher.  And more bacon than I think I’ve ever been served – that’s a stack of it and there must have been at least five tasty rashers.

The black discs at the top are Black Pudding – made from onions, pork fat, oatmeal and flavourings – and blood, usually pig’s blood (so Google tells me).  Its not something to eat a lot of, but what oh what a flavour it adds to the mix!  And beside the pudding are mushrooms, a wonderfully subtle flavour.

Then baked beans – which are always good, ALWAYS!!!

The tomatoes are canned and I’d prefer fresh ones, slightly blackened by grilling – but the combination of their taste with that of the bacon was, as always, purely magical!  Another such heavenly combination is bacon with fried egg, and that was there too.

I’m really neutral about Hash Browns.  They’re ok and I eat them, but but really quite bland and I don’t think they add much to the overall thing.  I’d rather have chips, but add chips to a breakfast this size and I might have been overwhelmed.  And underneath the egg is the fried bread, which had unfortunately lost some of its wonderfully crisp texture due to the juices of various overlying fodder.

Overall, not wildly healthy, but consumed from time to time, rather than daily >>> WOWEEE!!!

The Cottage Cafe unfortunately closed down years ago now.  I imagine that – with meals of this calibre – many of its patrons keeled over immediately after stepping out of its (necessarily wide) doors.  But, nonetheless, I value this photo, a wonderful reminder.  And a picture, I suppose, that talks about the simple pleasures and frank enjoyment of Life, a world away from Health & Safety, starvation diets, concerns about cholesterol, calorie counting, Political Correctness, body shaming and all the other sad traits that our modern society has so adeptly dreamed up.

And if you are feeling an urgent yearning to be face down and uttering little squeaks of joy in all of this moist and overt lusciousness, you can get somewhere near the effect by clicking onto it, when a larger version will open in a separate window – NOT recommended for those of a excitable disposition, as well as coming with a Government Health Warning about banging your face on your viewing device.  While admiring your boundless (and fairly mindless) enthusiasm, FATman Photos cannot be held responsible for anything untoward, although FP does not of course mind in the slightest being held responsible for anything enjoyable and deeply satisfying …

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 28mm (35mm equivalent); 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 621 – LOOKING DOWN, THIS MORNING

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Haven’t done much photography in the Outer Suburbs of late.  At this time of year, both the darkness and the sun’s rise are long gone by even the early hours when I’m about; and maybe I’m not keeping my eyes sufficiently open – familiarity breeds contempt perhaps???   And there are also the Long John Silver impressions resulting from aging legs – enhanced by last Friday’s fall on the Levels – the effects of which, I’m relieved to say, are slowly but surely diminishing >>> and so, I hope, to another early Levels morning this Friday!

But I still carry the little Olympus camera around the Outer Suburbs and this morning, warily crossing a rush hour road, I stepped off the kerb, looked down and saw this.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 43mm (equiv); 1000 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 9 July 2019.

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ANNIVERSARY – FATMAN PHOTOS IS 10

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Great Grey Owl at the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP), near Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

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Well, 10 years, quite an anniversary.  And, as always, I want to thank all those who have looked at my blog, and those too who have left Likes, Comments and/or Follows on my blog, over the past turbulent and very uncertain year.  Its always good to be appreciated, and these signs of appreciation serve to encourage me, and to give me the motivation to keep on blogging.  I’m primarily a photographer, and very interested in images both for what they portray and the ways that can be used to better convey what is being conveyed – if that makes any sense 😎 !!!   And, in addition to the photography, I also enjoy writing on my blog almost as much.

I have two other things to say, one good, the other not so good.

Having trained as a geologist, I have been interested in – and looking at – birds since 1967; I was a professional  bird and wildlife safari leader in Kenya in the 1980s.  I’m not really a birder as such any more, but I do retain a great love for and interest in birds (and for the natural world in general too), and so the images on this post today are of birds, and I’ve tried to choose a variety of styles from my archives.  I hope you will like them.

The other thing to mention is WordPress’s new Block Editor.  A year ago I said that it would be nice to get to this blog’s 10th anniversary but that, in the opening months of the pandemic, nothing could be certain.  However – and here I suppose I must smile ruefully to myself – of all the things that have been thrown at us over the past 12, dreadful months, I had not counted on also having to cope with such an awkward obstacle to post writing!  Others have said that I’ll most probably get used to this new editor after I’ve used it for 20 or so posts and I can already see that they’re probably right – and I’m grateful for their encouragement.  But there is no escaping the fact that post writing is now a substantially more tiresome and less enjoyable, intuitive and efficient experience than it once was.   Keeping to the (new version of) the Classic Editor whenever possible and avoiding the Block System whenever possible seem to be the ways forward for me, though I am as yet by no means proficient.  To end on a positive note,  I am just so profoundly grateful that it is still possible to access the HTML code that underlies the posts, and I know I’m very much not alone in this view.

Anyway, to gush forth further positivity(!), thank you all again for looking at my blog – and I hope you enjoy these bird pictures – clicking onto to them will open larger versions in separate windows – recommended in many instances.

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Robin in our front garden; Bristol, Sept 2020.

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Dawn mists rise above Lake Nakuru, central Kenya; January 1978. The large, white birds with huge bills in the foreground are White Pelicans. In the lake behind them are the trunks of trees that, flooded by the lake, have been killed by the high concentration of sodium bicarbonate in its waters. Cormorants (the same species as in the UK) perch on these dead trunks, and a nest of sticks is also visible.

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Turnstone in winter plumage, on the West Pier at St Ives, Cornwall; Sept 2016.

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Starlings scatter as a Carrion Crow flies in amongst them; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; Nov 2013.

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Up close and personal – who says I’m chicken?! 😎 –  Stanton Drew, near Bristol; Nov 2017.

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Sunrise at the mouth of the Njoro River at Lake Nakuru, Kenya; Jan 1978.  Cormorants spreading their wings to dry, and a scrum of White Pelicans at the water’s edge.  The trees have been killed by the lake’s rising, highly alkaline waters.

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Black-headed Gull, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; Dec 2020.

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Flocks of Starlings roam the Somerset Levels in autumn; Oct 2019.

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Lanner Falcon at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, at Newent, Gloucestershire; July 2014.

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Feral Pigeons – town pigeons –  Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; Jan 2020.

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Mallard in Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; Apr 2015.

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Herring Gull in typical habitat, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; Nov 2019.

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Young gull beside the harbour in St Ives, Cornwall; Oct 2016.

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Mute Swan, very much keeping an eye on me, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; Oct 2019.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 37 – QUEEN’S SEDGE MOOR, MORNING LIGHT 2

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Driving on the eastern reaches of Queen’s Sedge Moor, heading for the little hamlet of Barrow; and, suddenly, the road overshadowed by a giant – an oak I think – backlit from the east.

And so to standing back as far as the narrow lane permitted, looking up through a very wide angle lens; and to overexposing the scene – avoiding a pure silhouette – to retain some colour in the tree’s leaves and some detail in its trunk, while letting the rising sun’s glare burn out much of the backdrop.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 24 May 2019.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 36 – THE RISING SUN THROUGH TREES, DE-FOCUSED

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The rising sun through trees, de-focused; seen from Hurn Drove, northeast of Godney; 28 Oct 2014.

Driving into the Levels early in the morning, when the sun started blasting over from the left. So found a place to get the car off the single track road, and ran back up the road to catch our star shining through a small copse. And so to spot metering for the sky next to the blazing disc (which is out of view, just left of this photo), focusing the lens on the ground at my feet, and taking this out of focus shot of the warm light streaming through the distant mesh of branches.

Fanciful maybe, but this reminds me of subdued detail in an Old Master painting and I like that effect. And yet another foray into the debate about photos necessarily needing some sharp detail.

This image looks better on a black background but my blog is white – and so to a thickish black border.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 62 – RAINY NIGHT

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In my opinion (with which you may not agree), this is a picture to look deeply into, to get right in there with the darkness, the rain and the bright lights.  Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Sitting in my car, waiting, a little nervously I suppose.  I mean, there may be people like me about.  And its just before dawn, on a rainy night.

Technique: TG-5 at 61mm (equiv); 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; south Bristol; 16 Jan 2019.

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