OUTER SUBURBS 274 – TREE AMONGST DEAD GRASSES (MONO)

 

 


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

Technique: TG-5 at 46mm (equiv); 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom. starting at the B&W Green Filter profile; south Bristol; 11 Aug 2020.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 51 – DAWN MISTS AT LAKE NAKURU (MONO)

 

 


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Dawn mists rising from Lake Nakuru in central Kenya; Jan 1978. 

The large birds with huge bills in the foreground are White Pelicans.  In the lake behind them are the remains of trees that, flooded by the lake, have been killed by the high concentration of sodium bicarbonate in its waters.  Cormorants  perch on these dead trunks, and there is also a nest of sticks.  Around the bottom of these trees, three flamingos are feeding, heads down in the water.  More pelicans are further out on the lake, fading into the haze.

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: Vivitar 400mm telephoto on Olympus SLR, mounted on a tripod.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 48 – THE SHORE AT LAKE NAKURU (MONO)

 

 


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Dead trees on the shore of Lake Nakuru, in central Kenya; 27 Apr 1980.  These trees grew beside the lake, but then were killed when the lake’s highly alkaline waters rose and flooded their roots.

Despite the fact that its over 40 years ago now, I can still remember taking this shot, which was originally in colour.  I remember placing the nearest tree on the right of the frame, and liking it because it was partially sunlit, and because it was leaning into the frame.

Looking at it now, my eye is taken from this leaning tree, out across the bright sky reflections in the shallow pools of water, to the tree with a dense canopy, which looks rather like an upside down ice cream cone.  This tree is also leaning into the frame, while being silhouetted against the bright sky, and just about at a compositional strong point in the picture, on the junction of the upper third and the left hand third.

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

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

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya

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OUTER SUBURBS 215 – WALKER IN THE SUNRISE

 

 


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Walking – exercising –  in the lockdown as the suns comes up – bright, clean, beautiful light, and a solitary, somewhat rotund walker in broad, silent, empty streets.  Walking for 105 minutes, I encountered less than 10 others on foot, half of whom were running for exercise; I gave them all a very wide berth.  These walks in the early morning are wonderful, both as physical exercise and for metal health – it feels good to be out!  But for how much longer this will be possible is uncertain because, as some are still flouting the social distancing regulations, a complete ban on physical exercising outdoors may be brought in.

It is incredible that some are still congregating in groups and so contributing to the spread of a virus that continues to kill hundreds every day, but that is (a minority of) the human animal, here at least.  To me, this seems something like an uncaring or irresponsible version of the crime Manslaughter.

The UK is a liberal Western democracy and of course we all believe in that status very much, i.e. the right to do (more or less) as we please, within our laws.  But given this current flouting of social distancing laws, I cannot help but look at more dictatorial regimes, and wonder if we here in the UK have given liberalism too free a rein.  I remember talking about this sometime back with a friend from another European country, and he thought his country would have less trouble containing the virus as “people there are more used to doing what they are told”.  Coronavirus is of course – hopefully, at least! – a once in a lifetime event, so that extraordinary conditions apply, but I still wonder if, in ordinary, everyday life, we have got the balance of personal freedoms against the good of society as a whole exactly right.  Thought provoking times …

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); 500 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait profile; south Bristol; 5 Apr 2020.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 437 – THE VIEW SOUTH, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Looking south on a wet morning in early winter, with a wide angle lens on the camera, and a split tone added in post-capture processing.

Compositionally, the lines of the track, the banks of the water-filled ditch to the left of the track, the horizon and the cloud formations all draw my eyes down past the large tree.  A tree that is certainly valued, perhaps even loved –  I never come to this very special place without touching it and talking to it, as it clings stoutly to the steep bank of yet another water-filled ditch, always in danger of toppling over, as three other long-known willows behind the camera have already toppled.

Over the years, and in terrible times now quite long past, this very open and simple spot has helped me to keep going, to keep on keeping on, and I am very much attached and indebted to it.  To the extent that, when the time comes, my ashes will be sprinkled down there, down along this track, beyond the tree and the large puddle beside it.  Knowing that that is going to happen always affects my visits here, but never I hasten to add in any sad or bad way, but rather serving to imbue me with a sense of certainty, and of belonging too, which gets into my photos sometimes and which I value.

And with global sea levels rising as they are, and the land hereabouts already being below the height of the Bristol Channel’s tall tides – tides with ranges of up to nearly 50 feet – it may not be too long before these flatlands are inundated once more.  So, yes, a temporary place, then – but to a geologist like me every place is temporary after all.

However – the bottom line – a very simple place, vastly attractive to my “less is more” eyes and mindset – and very special to me in my thoughts too.

Click onto the image twice to open an enlarged version: recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 12 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset and adding a split tone; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 6 Dec 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 427 – THE END OF THINGS (MONO)

 

 


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Death and decay on an urban pavement: the year closes down, and trees prepare for the dark, cold months ahead.  But, as always, with the knowledge that Spring’s brightenings and warmths are drawing ever closer too.

I lived on the equator, in Kenya, for some years.  In those parts, day lengths are always about 12 hours, the sun is always more or less overhead, sunrises and sets are always quite high speed affairs, and rather than summer, autumn etc, each year has two wet and two dry seasons.  When I eventually returned to England, just about 30 years ago, I was at first appalled by the winter sun sitting so low in the sky, and the cold and wet of the grey winter days – but there was no option but to make the best of things and get through them.  In the long years since then, however, I have come to appreciate all of the seasons (I suppose autumn is my favourite, just) and, in particular, to be out and about – with a camera – when light levels are subdued.

There is an earlier post on this theme of death and decay here .

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

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 3200 ISO; in-camera processing of the raw file, including use of the Graphite profile; further processing in Lightroom; Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 8 Nov 2019.
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PEOPLE 376 – YOUNG PEOPLE AND FALLEN LEAF (MONO)

 

 


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Young people walking – briskly, spritely, full of life – on their way to college, I think.  And a large, dead, autumn leaf, lying on a low flight of steps – its that time of year, after all.

And even as I took this picture I felt the contrast here, between the energies of youth, of people who may think they’ll always be young (if they think about such things at all), people who have scant awareness of ageing (which is a very pleasant and worthwhile mindset to be in, by the way, let’s be very clear about that!!!) >>> and I felt the contrast between these youngsters and the incontrovertible evidence of Life’s eternal cycle, lying mute and unnoticed on the steps beside them.

Can’t remember what I was on in Weston – maybe I was just running on hot coffee and enthusiasm! –  or maybe it was just an effect of being back where I grew up, prior to setting off into the outside world in 1968 – maybe all of that Life, all of the times and experiences since then, were getting to me.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 180mm; 1600 ISO; in-camera processing of the raw file, including use of the Graphite profile; no further processing;  High Street, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 8 Nov 2019.
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PEOPLE 370 – DAME JOANE YOUNG

 

 


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This picture is certainly best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

This is a picture of a tomb in Bristol Cathedral, which was founded in 1140, not long after the Norman invasion of 1066 had put an end to England’s Anglo-Saxon monarchy – in the person of King Harold, killed by an arrow in the eye at the Battle of Hastings.  I’m posting this picture – and posting it in this blog’s People category –  because, for me, it evokes various emotions.

Firstly of course, its quite picturesque – it could be a tourist postcard – and the picturesque is not what I usually photograph.  But, then again, I’m conscious of being lucky to live in England, where many such relics of former ages can still be seen.  There are, after all, many places in the world where this is not the case, or where such remains are purely prehistoric – so that although they are notable treasures, they do not give the almost intimate picture of a former life seen here >>> which is why I urge you to enlarge this image.

Joane’s history, related above her hands held devoutly in prayer, is interesting for its content – and for its spelling.  From it we learn that she was born in 1533 – King Henry VIII was on the throne, and the threat of the Spanish Armada still in the distant future.  Joane died in 1603, the same year as Queen Elizabeth I, one of Henry’s daughters.

So I look at her effigy and wonder what sort of world she lived in – what she thought, what she believed in, what she knew of the world.  Well, she was an aristocrat and thus insulated from the poverty and other privations that affected much of the population.

Google tells me that Elizabethan scientific advances were mainly in the fields of astronomy, maths, human anatomy and marine navigation.  But most people would have been in the thrall of religion and superstition, and all of the grey areas between the two.  To put her world more into context, Joane died in 1603, but it was not until nine years later that the last person was burnt at the stake for heresy – while the hunting and execution of witches in England peaked around 1645.

Joane’s  was a very different world to the England we know now –  and a world in which the people were kept very much in order by the combined attentions of monarchy, church and army – you owed loyalty and obedience to the monarch, the church had your sinner’s soul but could save it from Hell, and the army provided the muscle if muscle were needed.  The influence of two of these institutions is now in decline, while the use of the army is a huge political hot potato – indeed as I write this, British soldiers are now on trial for civilians killed in Northern Ireland in the 20th century.

And lastly, looking at the monuments and fabric of Bristol Cathedral, I cannot but think that it reflects the “have’s” in society, like Joane, rather than the great mass of the population of the time, who lived in far humbler circumstances, perhaps not that far removed from what we now call Third World Poverty.

Joane’s tomb is a wonderful artefact from another age, something certainly worth preserving, but it makes inevitably makes me think of the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister, which cost £500,000, with an additional £3.1 million for security.  I’m living in a country with increasing social inequalities, an increasing gap between the “have’s” and the “have not’s”, and I’m wondering where we are headed.

And I leave you with this link, in which Raghuram Rajan, an Indian banker and former International Monetary Fund economist, looks at today’s world and says “I think capitalism is under serious threat because it’s stopped providing for the many, and when that happens, the many revolt against capitalism,“.  I urge you to look at this link, its not a long read.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Natural film simulation; Bristol Cathedral; 12 Feb 2019.

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OUTER SUBURBS 53 – VENUS, AND WHAT IMPRESSES ME THESE DAYS

 

 


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This is a poor quality picture of what I think is Venus, the so-called Morning Star, which is the next planet in from the Earth towards the Sun.  It’s been a constant companion on my dawn walks of late.  But trying to photograph it with a lens which has a maximum x2 magnification, and with a camera with a very small sensor (only 6×4.5mm!!!), is at best a little optimistic (ah, great British understatement…) >>> so why am I attempting it?

Well, in the first place, as you may know, I love the Natural World, I am downright enthusiastic about it and, if nothing else, I wanted a record of this aspect of these early morning strolls.  Strolls?  Well, OK, route marches …

But in the second place – and there is a second place – there is something else.  Some years back, a good friend of mine succumbed to cancer, after 10 very difficult years.  Paul was certainly amongst the most talented and intelligent people I’ve ever known, and he had also been my senior manager at work.  As his condition worsened and death loomed ever closer, we talked a lot about Life, the Universe and Everything, and one of the things that he came out with was that most of humanity’s achievements had ceased to enthuse him – with the very notable exception of space exploration.  He was of course highly educated and a talented musician and many things still interested him, but what really excited him were our efforts to reach and explore further and further away from our planet.

And I’m writing this both to remember him – his grave is not far from here – and because I increasingly identify with his attitude.  I’m a naturalist and, after all, space, the planets and the stars are the natural world too, they’re just not on this planet.  I don’t keep any detailed list of which space probes are currently headed where, but I do remember that lander that was recently put down on a comet (what an achievement!), that another lander is currently working on Mars, and that a probe is currently heading towards the Sun.

And, in the Festive Season as we are, we are close to another historic encounter, which will occur on New Year’s Day.  NASA’s New Horizons probe, which flew past the planet Pluto in 2015, will have travelled another billion miles into space to reach the vicinity of Ultima Thule, which is a 23 mile wide space rock: the probe will pass within 2,200 miles of Ultima Thule, far closer than it got to Pluto, and it will be travelling at 20,000 mph.  No question, I am impressed – both with actually managing to get that far out into space, and with being able to plot courses/trajectories at such distances to reach such small objects.  There is more info here and here .

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images 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 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 .  Each will open in a separate window.

You really want to enlarge this image?????  Not recommended!!! … unless you have a thing for noise, pain and grain …

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Natural film simulation; south Bristol; 12 Dec 2018.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 308 – THE VIEW SOUTH, TADHAM MOOR

 

 

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This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

So, where are we?  Well, early on a misty day, I’m standing on a rough track that goes off southwards across Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels.  The place that I’m standing in looks nondescript, but it is very special to me, it helped me through truly dreadful times long ago, and I call it the Magic Carpark.  There are four things to see.

First, there is on the left a bank of dark green, spikey grasses, grasses which love to grow in damp, marshy places.

Then, the rhyne (rhymes with seen), the water-filled ditch, which makes off straight as an arrow southwards, and which acts as the fence for the field on its left.  I’ve talked about rhynes in earlier posts in this little series.  There is another such waterway, out of sight, immediately right of the large tree on the right: this little, dark track goes off southwards between these two, thin, flanking bodies of water.

Thirdly, the large tree on the right, a Willow, is very special to me.  Following the fairly recent (natural) toppling and deaths of three others behind the camera, it still stands proud but, perched right on the edge of one of these water-filled rhynes, it too could topple in at any time and, arriving here, I’m always relieved to see it still standing tall.  Furthermore, on these visits, I never fail to go over to touch and talk to it, though never knowing if I’m heard, or felt, or mad.

And, on a purely practical note, since Somerset County Council have not been idiotic enough to install a nice, completely incongruous, modern toilet block here in this simple, rural setting, standing on the far side of this Willow is a very good place to, as our American cousins so succinctly put it, take a leak.  Behind this big tree, after all, being out of sight of passers by along the nearby lane … although not out of sight of the farmer and his wife as they drive slowly down to check their stock in the early mornings.  But then, you can’t have everything.  And they do always smile and wave.

And the fourth thing about this totally simple and nondescript little place is that – along this track – is where an old and valued friend is going to sprinkle my ashes when I finally, as the phrase so happily puts it, snuff it.  And what will happen after that?  Well, the feet of the cattle, the sheep and the farmers’ dogs, the wheels of the farmers’ Land Rovers, the boots of walkers and the torrents of rain, will press and flush what’s left of me further and further into this ground, a fate which, when I think about it, is just fine with me.  And, since this ground is just about at or even a little below sea level and sea levels are rising, there will come a time when these Levels return to the marshes and inundated areas that they once (not so long ago) were, and that’s fine with me too.  Even though I can’t swim.

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 .

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.

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