ARCHIVE: LEVELS 31 – KEEPING VERY STILL AND QUIET (MONO)

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A summer’s morning down on the Levels, and after a lot of early morning photography I was relaxing with hot coffee and a sandwich in a spot on Tadham Moor that I know as the Magic Carpark.  I’ve given it this somewhat strange name because, many years ago now, being in this little, quiet place helped me through terrible times in my life, and I’ve been coming here ever since.  And, after I’ve downed the very last of my very special Belgian beers, this is where my ashes will be scattered.  A wonderful and eminently simple little place.

On this particular morning, in the field next to the rough track that leads off south from the Carpark, there was a herd of cows, largely motionless, along with their calves.  And the more I looked at these cows, and at the morning’s light washing over them, the more I was drawn to them.  And so, putting down the coffee and picking up the Z 6, I walked slowly and quietly down the rough track towards them.

Arriving next to the cows, I kept very still and quiet and just looked at them.  Most were unconcerned by my presence, but this one, who had been lying down beside her calf, stood up to look at me, and advanced a few paces – and I was very glad of the water-filled ditch – the rhyne – that lay between us.  But, keeping silent and motionless paid off and, slowly raising the camera, I carefully started making images of this very placid scene.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 330mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Cool Tones 1 preset; the Magic Carpark, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 12 July 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.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 25 – RUBY RED DEVON (MONO)

 

 


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Red Ruby Devon cow on Peacock Farm, northeast of Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 21 Mar 2012.

Having large animals fill the frame has always attracted me – I like to get in close to them, usually with a sizeable telephoto and, in a way, turn them into landscapes. 

Here the accent is very much on the animal’s pale and coarsely hairy face, with its bulging eye and odd strands of pale straw.  Then my eye is taken left to its wonderfully hairy ear and then, further left again, the dark flank fades off into abstraction.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

The first Somerset Levels picture gallery, which shows the first 10 of these posts with short captions – ideal for quick viewing – can be found here .

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

Technique: D700 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 3200 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 468 – THE MORNING COUNT (MONO)

 

 


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A farmer stands in the back of his Land Rover, counting his cattle early in the morning, making sure none have disappeared during the night; on the Tealham or Tadham Moors, on the Somerset Levels; 25 July 2009.

This picture us something of an enigma to me.  Its never been filed away in the usual folders and never been posted – so, here it is!

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 8 – INQUISITIVE AS EVER (MONO)

 

 


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Inquisitive as ever, out on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 29 Aug 2013.

My ongoing warm feelings for cows.  The main subject is making a dive for my shiny lens – I fired and jumped back just before his wet muzzle engulfed it.  The expression of the next animal right is interesting – distinctly doubtful and censorious.  Maybe he read my thoughts about gravy and roast potatoes …

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

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

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 18mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Fine Art Process 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.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 3 – ANIMAL (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Cow, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 1 Nov 2013.

Animal.  Something wild, unpredictable and quite uncontrollable, calmly gazing at you with that cold eye.  Something capable at any moment of bursting into bellowing, trampling, all-crushing rage.  Something that all of the instincts and memories inherited from our forebears tell us is dangerous, and to be avoided.

I very much like the cool, measured gaze from beneath the stiletto lashes.  And to prove that I’m no hero, I have to confess that a stout farm gate was separating us.  I also like the swirling patterns in that coarse, wet hair – the eye appears to be looking out at us from within an eddy or whirlpool.

I’ve taken the image into black and white and increased contrast and structure, to bring out the patterns in the hair.  I think I added some creamish toning too – a great favourite.  And lastly I’ve added something subtle by restoring the very pale purplish colour in the eye and its surroundings.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 .  All of these links will open in separate windows.

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

Technique:  D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s 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.

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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 34 – MOMENTS OF UNEASE

 

 

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Driving eastwards on Hearty Moor on the Somerset Levels, driving towards the rising sun.  A farmer in a huge 4×4 stopped, looked down at my little car and me, and announced that his cows were on their way down the road towards me, but “just pull over to the side and you’ll be fine!”.

Well, a narrow – in fact single track – road, there was nowhere else to go.  And so to really large, living things moving slowly down the road past me, to huge faces brushing up against the car windows and, catching sight of me within, shying away in panic; and in one unnerving instance, one of their significant bulks trying to squeeze through the little gap between the car and the hedge …

Well, you say, they were only cows, but I have two takes on this.

First, and on the positive side, I used to take paying guests on safari in Kenya, and often used to stop my vehicle in front of an advancing column of elephants, telling everyone to be very quiet and to keep still, and to let the elephants bear down upon us and flow around the vehicle like water around an island in a stream – once, one took even some greenery that had become entangled in our front bumper and ate it.   These were truly wonderful experiences, the great beasts moving slowly past us, the noises, the smells – it was said that an elephant can smell each individual occupant of a vehicle and remember the smell too!  BUT I was younger and less sensible then >>> although my hand was always on the vehicle’s ignition key, and I was in a larger, safari vehicle rather than my little car!  And having been studied for many years, the elephants of Amboseli Game Reserve were very used to people.  Although, even then, getting too near a big bull was really not a good idea.

But second, on the negative side – and much nearer home too – a cow broke out of its field near Bristol a few years back, panicked and ran off down the road.  And when confronted by a small car like mine, it ran up over the bonnet and roof in its panic, killing the driver.  And so to moments of unease on Hearty Moor, though still managing to fire off a few frames.

The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives (and some new images too), I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  Earlier Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 .  Each post will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-25 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Provia/Standard profile; Hearty Moor, east of Glastonbury on the Somerset Levels; 24 May 2019.

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ARCHIVE 455 – CATTLE BESIDE THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO)

 

 


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A misty morning on the Somerset Levels, looking east along the North Drain, on Tealham Moor.  A calm scene, with the softest of light breezes, and no other sounds except the soft shuffling and snorting of a small group of cattle that have come down to the water’s edge to drink.

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; Silver Efex Pro’s High Key 2 preset; 28 Aug 2013.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 443 – EARLY MORNING, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Early morning on Tealham Moor: silent except for the soft shuffling of the cattle and the low sigh of the breeze.

There is a colour version of this image here .

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a Raw file, using the Graphite profile and in-camera cropping; further minor processing in Lightroom; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wedmore; 9 Aug 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 436 – EARTHQUAKE NEWSFLASH!!!

 

 


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Many of you probably regard the Somerset Levels as some kind of remote backwater which The FATman frequents from time to time, in the main bumbling around aimlessly, and talking quietly to the livestock.  Well, there is some truth in that, particularly with regard to the bumbling and the livestock, but the Levels have now become newsworthy too, having hosted the epicentre of an (admittedly minor) earthquake.

Late on Thurday night (5 Dec), the Earth moved at a depth of 3 miles below the village of Huntworth, near Bridgwater – the details are here .

It was only a shock of 3.2 on the Richter scale, so nothing major – as the geologist in me would see it, a slight adjustment in the Earth’s upper Crust.  But well below the thick clay and peat deposits of the Levels, so in the rocks that form the wide basin in which the flat and often muddy and waterlogged landscape of the Levels has (in geological terms, only very recently) accumulated.

And a gentle hint that we are not living on an inert world, but rather one with a decidedly active interior – for further info on this kind of thing, try googling “plate tectonics”.

(to enlarge the image, click onto it twice)

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SOMERSET LEVELS 425 – BESIDE EASTERN MOOR BRIDGE (MONO)

 

 


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Riverside reflections.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Adobe Standard v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset and adding a moderate Coffee tone; Cripps River, at Eastern Moor Bridge, on the Somerset Levels east of East Huntspill; 31 May 2019.
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