OUTER SUBURBS 310 – LOOKING INTO A HAIRDRESSER’S

 

 


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Visual confusion: the view into the window of a hairdresser’s salon, currently closed in the covid lockdown.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 400 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 6 Mar 2021.
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OUTER SUBURBS 309 – TREE SHADOW ON LOCKED DOWN RETAIL

 

 


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Sunrise, and the shadow of a bare winter tree is thrown onto the security shutters of a shop closed for the duration of the current covid lock down.

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.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 320 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 01 profile; south Bristol; 26 Feb 2021.
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THOUGHTS 13 – COVID NEWS, AND AN UTTER DISGRACE

 

 

Skyline, early morning

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I don’t usually do posts like this, but a couple of covid-related things have come up that I want to talk about.  Before I get to those things, I can say that the pandemic in the UK is subsiding, although whether this will be just another temporary lull due to the current lockdown is unknown.  Numbers of new cases and numbers of deaths are down, and increasing data are showing that the vaccines are having a very positive effect.  However, having a scientific background, I am taking absolutely nothing for granted with this elusive and now shape-shifting adversary.  It is simply a case of keeping informed about how things are progressing, and taking precautions accordingly.  However, two things to mention.

First, covid came distinctly closer to us when we learned that two of our close neighbours have contracted it since New Year – a disabled woman in her 80s, and a younger woman who lives only two houses away from us.  Both have survived thankfully, and we are all very much keeping up our guard.

And second, I am ABSOLUTELY APPALLED to learn that our truly inept “government”, who are guilty of so much mismanagement of the pandemic in this country, are now about to offer our National Health Service (NHS) staff a pay rise of only 1%, which for lower paid workers is less than £4/week, and which will probably not cover the rise in inflation.  To put this £4/week into context, a single bus fare from where I live into the city centre costs £2.50.

I really struggle to understand how NHS staff have kept going over the past 12 months.  Quite a few have been killed by covid, and the day in, day out strain and mental toll on those remaining must be intense.  Last year, the “government” instigated thanks for the NHS by asking us all to stand outside our front doors at a set time and applaud them.  Even then that seemed a cheap gimmick – NHS staff cannot after all live on clapping alone – but this recent pay offer shows just how little concern and regard for the already poorly paid NHS and for the health of the British public the “government” really has. 

This is simply an utter disgrace.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 1 – THE VIEW EAST FROM THE JACK’S DROVE BRIDGE (MONO)

 

 

The view eastwards along the North Drain from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor; 17 Sept 2010.  Early morning mists above the rhyne (see below) starting to be dissolved by the rising sun, just after 7am.   Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

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The Somerset Levels are an area of wet flatlands mainly to the south of the Mendip Hills, in the county of Somerset.  I grew up in a seaside town on their northern reaches, I cycled around them in my youth, I have very frequently visited them since 1994, and my ashes will be scattered in a wild but really nondescript and unremarkable spot out in their rough and wet fastnesses when the time comes.  Although the Levels are not my real “home” but they are near enough to that “home” and, after many years away, often very far away, it feels very good to be back “home” now.

The Levels hold truly vast interest for me in terms of their geology, archaeology, birds and other wildlife, and their landscape and scenery.  Also there is the point with the Levels that what you see is what you get, quite rough, very flat and wet pastureland, simple, working agricultural countryside.  Some neatness and gentrification is inevitably creeping in, but I tend to frequent the rougher and more real areas, like the Tealham and Tadham Moors, west of Glastonbury and southwest of Wells.

So, presenting this archive series is a labour of love for me, made all the more meaningful by the fact that, in these pandemic times, I may not get to complete it – although I am in an age group that ought to be getting their first vaccination quite soon.  The Somerset Levels category on this blog has reached 467 posts, but I have not been down to the Levels (about an hour’s drive away) since before the first pandemic lockdown started in March last year; I don’t seem to have quite the energy that I once did, although whether this is due to increasing age or the trying nature of the current times I don’t know.  Many of the images will be landscapes but, having forgotten just what is available to post, it will be enjoyable ferreting  around to see what is there although, as of now, I haven’t the faintest idea where to start!

To get more info on the Levels I suggest you look at my first Somerset Levels post – which you can find here – which amongst other things contains a truly appalling sketch map of the area.  This post will open in a separate window … as will the appalling map … should you wish to be even more appalled …

And finally – SOME LEVELS 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.

I hope you will enjoy this archive.  Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day. 

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ARCHIVE AT 600

 

 

Shop window mannequin: Truro, Cornwall; 15 Sept 2011.

(Clicking onto any image here will open a larger version in a separate window – particularly recommended for the 3rd image, the flowering Blackthorn).

After nearly 10 years of FATman Photos, the Archive series has now reached 600 posts.  In the “early days” I can remember some surprise that I was posting images for a second time but, to me, this is fine so long as a reasonable interval has passed since the previous posting – after all, few want to see the same picture reposted in rapid succession.  To ensure that such rapid reposting does not occur (and as perhaps the single positive spin off from my 20 OMG!!! years in data analysis), I log the date of each posting onto an Excel spreadsheet, which gives me instant feedback.  The photos used in each post are stored in their own separate folder on my PC and backups, so that relocating them is never a problem.

There is also the important point that reposting of early images makes them easily accessible to recent followers of my blog who may otherwise never see them at all.

I am also posting two more specialised Archives now.  One (nearly completed) presents film images, taken in Kenya from 1977 to 1989.  And the other (which also includes some new images) looks at cars in a range of ways.  Another specialised archive, on the Somerset Levels – one of the loves of my life – is planned.

Due to the dangers and restrictions of the covid pandemic, I’m not taking so many new photos at present, but I have found the compact Olympus TG-5 camera very easy to carry in my pocket while out walking the streets for exercise – most of these photos from these walks can be found in the Outer Suburbs series.
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Windblown poppy; Newquay, Cornwall; 11 Sept 2013.

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Flowering Blackthorn (aka Sloe) at the bottom of our garden; 14 Apr 2010 (best viewed enlarged).

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Geoff was a good friend and neighbour who each summer gave us fruit and vegetables from his immaculately kept garden.  Here is one of his delicious apples.  I post this with sadness because Geoff died sometime back, and we no longer have the warm friendship and neighbourliness of this real English Gentleman of the old school –  nor his tasty fruit and veg.  27 Sept 2008.

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Saker, a falcon, at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

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Quite early on a morning in spring, and Jack’s Drove, the road north across the Tadham and Tealham Moors, on the Somerset Levels, is blocked; 10 Apr 2014.  The jet black area that cuts horizontally through my shadow is the water-filled ditch that separates the rough pasture of the field at the top of the frame from the road on which I’m standing. 

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OUTER SUBURBS AT 300

 

 

Walking the roads at night’s end
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I started the Outer Suburbs posts on 25 Aug 2018, carrying the little Olympus Tough TG-5 camera in my pocket on the long, early morning walks (LOL! >>> maybe I should say route marches!) that I take around Bristol’s outer limits, in vain pursuit of a slimmer waistline.  In that first post over two years ago, I said that I had no idea of how the series might progress – and with hindsight I certainly had no idea of how a disease emanating from a “wet” market on the other side of the world was going to affect my life and the lives of vast numbers of other people across the world, and end so many peoples’ lives too.

But solitary, early morning walks have proved a good way of getting the exercise that brings real mental and physical benefits in this strange, new reality – while keeping away from the crowded and indoor spaces where the virus continues to thrive.  This series of posts has photographed many things, and I’m rather taken aback to have reached number 300.  Via the vaccines, there is the possibility of some light at the end of the tunnel now, although I harbour absolutely no illusions about a speedy return to normality.  It is simply a case of keeping well informed about what is going on with the virus, taking all the precautions, and seeing what materialises.

Below are some earlier pictures from the series.  Clicking onto any of the images here will open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Take care – and stay safe – everyone!

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Early morning 6

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Car beside fence, early light

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A good plateful

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Early morning mist, main road

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Autumn

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Bus shelter, early morning light

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Early morning 41

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Modern life 8

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Path through modern housing 4

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Soda water with ice and a slice of lemon 3

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Symbols of division and the shadow of a car

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Photographing a tree’s shadow on the wall of a house, at sunrise

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HOME 4 – MY FAVOURITE TIPPLE!

 

 


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As you may be aware, The FATman is an inveterate imbiber of top quality Belgian beer.  I have tasted many Belgian brews, but for some years now have (delightedly and enthusiastically!) standardised on Duvel, which is an absolutely glorious Belgian strong blond ale – with taste, after-taste, texture and … 8.5% alcohol – so, not something you pour down your throat with gay abandon, unless you have a desire to become senseless and horizontal quite speedily.

Shown above, here is golden Duvel in its own, large, tulip-shaped glass, which has been specifically designed to contain this beer’s often towering white head.  Its can be unwise to whip the tops off bottles of Belgian beers as they will often enthusiastically come out to meet you, to say hello, and to end up all over your clothes and the floor.  And Duvel is absolutely no exception, caution is needed and, after the bottle’s top is off, then the correct pouring angle is needed –  if only to avoid my wife’s comments when I emerge from an accident with perhaps one centimetre of golden ale in the bottom of one of these huge glasses – and the rest filled with bright white foam …

Since 1871, Duvel has been made by the Moortgat Brewery in Puurs – and this town has now achieved even more fame by also containing the Pfizer lab that has started producing vast amounts of covid19 vaccine.

And if all this were not enough, Moortgat Brewery now also produces the simply sublime Duvel Tripel Hop Citra, which is stronger (9.5%) and even more delicious!

I’m being spoilt: both of these wonderful beers are available in our local supermarket >>> but whether this will continue after the current acrimonious Brexit trade talks is anyone’s guess!

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

Technique: TG-5 at 38mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Natural profile; my favourite armchair; 18 Sept 2020.
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HOME 3 – THE BATHROOM WINDOW

 

 


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Looking at the inside of the bathroom window.  The handle of the window’s latch is in shadow, and is seen only as a thin pale line.  To either side, the warm light of the rising sun reflects from the wall of the house next door and lights up the bathroom window’s frosted glass.

The window frame and handle are white, but the early light has given them a blue tinge, which I’ve left uncorrected: I like this addition to the picture’s colours.

And, in these pandemic days, this is the first X-T2 image for many months, which has to be a step forward.

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.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 223mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Velvia/Vivid profile; Bristol; 26 Nov 2020.
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OUTER SUBURBS 296 – TORMENT

 

 


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Something convoluted, something for modern times perhaps.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 10 profile; south Bristol; 22 Nov 2020.
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GARDEN 72 – A WONDERFUL ENCOUNTER

 

 


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Out doing a bit of gardening, cutting our “front lawn” (aka The Dandelion Patch – I like Dandelions!).  And I kept getting the impression out of the corner of my eye of something darting swiftly by – until at last there came a beautifully warm red-orange glow from the bottom of a dense bush, and there was a Robin, a fairly small type of thrush.

And as I raked the grass and so laid bare more and more food items for him, he darted out more and more and dutifully gobbled them all down.  And knowing birds a little, I kept fairly still and started talking to him in much the same way that I talk to cats – quietly, softly and low.  And, looking up at this giant towering over him, he came closer and closer, to within a couple of inches of my feet I suppose, and I did wonder whether he might hop up onto the top of my shoe.

But he hopped away again, though not far away – and I started thinking about a photograph.  So, very quietly and slowly, keeping my eyes on him, I backed away into the house where I knew the Z 6 with a telezoom attached and a charged up battery were ready and waiting.  Creeping back out into the garden again I was sure he’d have disappeared – but no, he was still there, looking me.  So I carefully braced myself against the wall of the house and managed a few pictures.

Trouble was, I’d hardly used the Z 6 since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March – I’ve been almost entirely photographing with the Olympus TG-5 – and so I’d forgotten exactly how the ***** Z 6 works!!! >>>> and so to several failed shots!

But a couple of the frames came out ok – and so to a record of a really wonderful close encounter, just the thing in fact to lift the spirits in these very sad and trying times.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 3200 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; south Bristol; 22 Sept 2020.

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