ARCHIVE: LEVELS 73 – SWEETS TEA ROOMS (MONO)


 A busy morning in the kitchen at Sweets Tea Rooms, on the Blakeway between Bleak Farm and Turnpike House, on Westhay Moor; 25 July 2009.   Note the still warm rock cakes on the tray-  absolutely delicious!  There are three tearooms in this area and this is the one I know best – friendly owners, excellent, simple food and drink, toilets, parking – and an intriguing Peat & Science Museum in the adjoining building. 

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

Technique: D700 with 24mm Nikkor lens; 1600 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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 71 – THE BRIDGE OVER THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO + COLOUR)


 

The bridge over the North Drain, on Tealham Moor; 30 Oct 2014.

The little bridge on Tealham Moor, with its guard rails hanging on for dear life.  The area is below sea level, this bridge is the “highest” thing around – and the little, single track roadway of Jack’s Drove hurries us on northwards towards the safety of the higher ground up ahead, the low hills of the Wedmore ridge. 

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

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 12mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset and selectively restoring colour.

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: LEVELS 69 – PAINTED LADY


Painted Lady beside the South Drain, on Shapwick Heath, south of Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 26 Oct 2009.

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

An absolutely beautiful and highly informative book which I recommend to anyone interested in butterflies and/or wildlife art is The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland, by Jeremy Thomas (a butterfly specialist) and Richard Lewington ( a very skilled artist); 1991; ISBN 0-86318-591-6 – highly recommended.  From this book I learn that this species is probably not permanently resident in any part of Europe, because it does not hibernate and  its caterpillars perish at any temperature below 5 degrees C.  Instead, the Painted Ladies that we often see in parks and gardens and in the countryside have probably bred around desert edges in Africa and Arabia, and then moved north up into Europe in huge numbers – something which I find impressive.

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: LEVELS 68 – HILLSIDE WITH SHEEP AND TREE (MONO)


The eastern slopes of Barrow Hill, Panborough, to the north of Godney Moor; 11 May 2015.

A Minimal image, with little detail; and almost entirely – apart from that woolly beast –  a silhouette.  And did I imagine it ending up this way when I took it?  Yes, that it might look like this did come to mind.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset; further processing with Capture NX2.

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: LEVELS 61 – FANTASY IN INFRARED


Mist on Tadham Moor, and the road past the Magic Carpark given the look of colour infrared film, courtesy of Nik’s excellent Color Efex Pro 4 image editing software.

One of my aims with this blog is to present a variety of imagery.  This is both to stimulate and perhaps even enthrall those looking at these posts – and also to keep myself on my toes in terms of imagination and creativity.  Producing a blog with a constant theme might be a way to attract a large and loyal number of viewers who enjoy that theme, but I have to hold up my hands and admit to not being able to resist going here and there, following where my imagination takes me, and here is an example.

Its a core belief of mine that its always worth looking long and hard at images – and I (and many others too) have found that returning to an image weeks, months or even years after it was captured can and does inspire new ideas and new ways of looking at it.  Indeed, some photographers make a point of never working on their images soon after they have been taken but, instead, of always coming back to them some days or even weeks after the event – with fresh minds and well rested eyes.

I am not returning to this particular image long after it was taken, but I have subjected it to another of my core routines, which is to look at it long and hard before deciding upon what, if anything, to do with it.  What sorts of things to I think about in this situation? – well, colour/mono/both, possible types of crop, potential for rotation/flipping, effects of various software edits, etc.

And experimenting (which is another way of saying “playing around”!) in Color Efex Pro 4 I came upon this infrared colour film filter, and was instantly attracted by its effect here.  There are of course the mysterious silhouettes and the warm orange glow, but this is not like simply using some kind of orange filter because the colours of the tarmac road and its grass verges are still faintly visible.  Whether this image will stand the test of time – whether I’ll still like it in a month’s or year’s time – is another matter but, for now, here it is.

Other thoughts.  Does it represent reality?  No, of course not but, as I say, I like the look of it, and if I like the look of it – its in! 🙂  

And fantasy – well, ok, what’s out there beyond those “last two trees”?  If you’re a TOLKIEN fan, are we standing on the edge of the desolation wrought by the dragon SMAUG, looking out on a land ravaged by his fire and covered by rolling clouds of glowing smoke?  I’ll go along with that.  And who, or what, is going to appear in all that smoke, dimly seen at first but growing ever more stark, as they trudge up this road trying to escape a vast and monstrous foe that, for all of their lives, has just been an old and half-forgotten legend, the stuff of childhood nightmares, the stuff of fireside tales?

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 230mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4; the Somerset Levels; 8 Apr 2015.

UPDATE 2021: well, its considerably more than a year after this image was posted, and yes I certainly do still like it >>> and I am certainly still a fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings!

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: LEVELS 59 – TREES IN MIST (MONO)


Trees in mist on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 27 Oct 2011.

Today was filthy weather down on the Levels – rain and more rain, and mud and water everywhere.  I tried to wipe the condensation off the inside of the windscreen but it remained wet, and the camera managed to focus through both this condensation inside the car and the mist and pouring rain outside.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 116mm; 3200 ISO.  The shot has been converted into mono in Silver Efex Pro 2:  I applied this software’s Antique Portrait preset, and reduced its pale vignette a little.

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: LEVELS 58 – THE ROAD SOUTH ACROSS TEALHAM MOOR


 

Jack’s Drove, arrowing southwards across Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 30 Oct 2014. Water-filled ditches (rhynes) covered in green waterweed accompany the drove on its journey south.

My heartland, where I like to be  And this was a dark morning, the sun up but really not making itself felt; and occasional spots of drizzle falling through an unseasonally soft mildness.  Nothing but the sounds of the breeze and the birds – wagtails coming to look at me, a meadow pipit briefly by, lapwings overhead, mallards in a ditch – and always the great, arch-winged herons, splitting the morning with their rough and far carrying barks.

But there was excitement too, a missed opportunity perhaps.  I was in the Magic Carpark,  leaning against the car, sucking down hot, sweet coffee, when there came a noise that really ought to have immediately meant more to an ex-birder.  A rushing and thumping, something like an old steam train off in the distance.  I moved away from the car, turned questioningly and there, pounding up the rhyne for all they were worth, were a family of five swans, running on the water, intent on getting up into the air and very nearly there – wingspans upwards of 7 feet and each hurtling body weighing at least 20 pounds – and all headed straight at me!

I don’t know who was most surprised.  I remember standing there, clutching my coffee, “Oh ************ ….!!!!”.   And, as I’d come out from behind the car, they’d seen me too and then they were suddenly up above the water and desperately veering and swerving off to either side.  It was like standing in a shooting gallery – like the scene in Ghostbusters 2 where Winston Zeddemore has the spectral locomotive go right through him on the old disused underground railway. 

And one moment they were there, the next they were streaming past either side of me at shoulder height – and the next they were gone.  Leaving me, frozen to the spot, with my coffee spilled.

Oh if I’d only had the camera around my neck!  But what if I had?  What would there have been time for?  Lifting and switching it on in one often used motion, and frantically thumbing the (absolutely wonderfully useful) AF-ON button.  I always leave the camera with the zoom back at 70mm and Matrix metering set, so that would have been just the job but, really, three seconds of frantically blasting away, if that – to produce at best … “artistically blurred creations” …  in the heat of the moment, the wide angle zoom, as used in the landscape above, would have been a better bet.

I love wild things and I loved that encounter.  It was far better to be full on in the middle of it than to try and photograph it.

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

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 12mm; 1600 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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: LEVELS 57 – TEASEL ALONG TRIPPS DROVE (MONO + COLOUR)


Teasel along Tripps Drove; Godney Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 26 Jul 2012.

I don’t take many pictures of flowers, but early one peaceful and gorgeous morning along Tripps Drove I saw these Teasels beside a water-filled ditch – just before, my attention distracted, a horsefly had his fill from me.

And here, for once, I’ve given SEP2 its head and followed where it led – the Yellowed 2 preset looked good and here it is border and all, along with some minor adjustments, and also extensive restoration of colour.

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; converted to mono and re-coloured using 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.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 16 – TEASELS (MONO + COLOUR)


Teasels, Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley, south of Bristol; 1 Aug 2013.

I’ve restored the pale blues of the few petals remaining at the apex of the left hand flower, but I think a larger image is needed to fully appreciate this.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 260mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Pinhole preset, and selective restoration of colour.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 12 – DUSTBIN AND BLUE CORD (MONO + COLOUR)


The lid of a black plastic dustbin, in a churchyard, tied to the rest of the bin by blue cord.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 95mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 2 preset and selectively restoring colour; Stanton Drew, near Bristol; 22 Oct 2014.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.

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