ARCHIVE: LEVELS 92 – FENCE AT A GARDEN CENTRE (MONO)


A photo from sometime ago, using a technique that now seems to me to be from another age.  The camera was a Nikon F6, a simply wonderful film SLR of great quality, and the last of the professional range SLRs that Nikon made prior to the market being taken over by digital cameras.  But the real point of interest here is the film.  Most of us – or perhaps the more senior of us … –  will have shot colour transparency film – colour slides, those little pictures in cardboard or plastic frames that could be looked at through a viewer, or far better viewed using a slide projector and screen.  But Agfa Scala was a wonderful, 200 ISO black and white slide film that could be push processed to 1600 ISO, 3200 ISO and beyond, and which was simply, well, exciting, to use.  Also, in those far off days, I used a tripod for shots like this, whereas in these days of excellent quality image stabilisation and image sensors that give very acceptable results at high ISOs, my tripod stays in the boot of my car.

Also, I avoid garden centres like the plague, but the former Willows Garden Centre was something quite different – it was just what I like, tatty around the edges; and it also sold good local produce; and it employed disabled people in a very basic, down to earth cafe that, amongst other things, could whip up wonderful, large Full English Breakfasts, and tea/coffee strong enough to make your hair stand on end, at the drop of a hat >>>> just the thing for very early, very cold winter mornings!

The picture shows one of the fence’s stout uprights, to which panels of withies – pliable Willow stems – are tied with string.

But, gentrification is occurring even on the Levels, and what has this tatty, much loved, down at heel garden centre become?  Well, its now an art gallery.  Yes, well, enough said.  And the food available is simply not what it was, and so I no longer call in there.  Well, that’s how it is.  Life moves on … and, as I’ve often quoted, “Time passes.  Listen.  Time passes.” (Dylan Thomas).

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

Technique: F6 with 80-200 Nikkor lens at 200mm; Agfa Scala monochrome slide film rated at 400 ISO; tripod; the former Willows Garden Centre, near Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 8 Mar 2005.

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: LOOKING AT CARS 78 – CAR BEHIND A WIRE FENCE


Brooding in the shadows just before dawn and all too beautiful; tantalising, seductive even; and prudently fenced off from those who might want – or perhaps even, desire – to take too close a look.

But a cold beauty now, dumb, metallic, inert, just a work of modern sculpture or an overlarge paperweight, even if all of that can be changed in an instant by the arrival of – no, not something with the elegance of Cinderella’s slipper – but more prosaically, in this mass-produced, machine-driven world: an ignition key.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 200 ISO; spotmetering for highlights; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; car park beside Temple Meads station, central Bristol; 26 May 2017.



STILL LIFE 263 – WALL OF CONCRETE BLOCKS, DEFACED BY RED LINE


 

Strolling down tatty back alleys behind a row of small shops in the blazing summer’s sun, and reveling in the burgeoning and totally uncaring unkemptness of it all.  The shops’ fronts might look alright, but back here behind the facades there is only sordid and refuse strewn reality – what you see is very much what you get, and what you get is pure, artless, drab functionality, bereft of all thoughts of beauty or attractive design.

And I found a wall of made of concrete blocks – breeze blocks as we Brits call them – on which some bright young thing had scrawled a long red line.  Up behind the wall was a fence of crudely painted and rusting metal panels.  And in the foreground, parked up close and personal against the wall, a car, patterned by the bright reflections of its stark backdrop.

And – rather an epiphany I suppose – I realised that, should I linger too long in these scruffy and unkempt surroundings, anyone passing by might think me a very real part of them.  So I hastened swiftly on, anxious to give a better – if false – impression elsewhere.

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

Technique:  TG-5 at 49mm (equiv); 200 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 01 profile; south Bristol; 1 June 2021.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 46 – NEW FENCE, ROTATED


Fence at the former Westhay Garden Centre; 30 Mar 2005.

A newly erected fence, still with its panels clean, fresh and roughly edged.

Even when I used to project this colour transparency in slideshows (anyone remember slideshows???), it was always rotated anticlockwise as shown here.  The direction of rotation can be seen from the shadows on the panels’ right edges.

And ever since I first rotated this photo, which is (UPDATE – far more than) 10 years ago now, it has always reminded me of three people in a procession, moving towards the right.  Religious people, monks in habits perhaps, with the whitish areas either portraying their hands clasped in prayer, or their devout, uplifted faces.

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

Technique: OM-4 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 120mm; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide push-processed to 100 ISO; tripod; rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise.

UPDATE: well, 16 years ago, that is a long time.  But what really gets to me here is not all the years that have passed, but the technique used – push processing of colour transparency film!!!  That really takes me back.  And of course I didn’t do the push processing myself but, rather, I exposed this 50 ISO film as if it were a 100 ISO film, and then informed the (commercial) processors to develop it as such.  

And also – wow! – Fuji Velvia 50, the absolute must have emulsion for all “serious” landscape photographers.  But push processing that most sacred of films?  Most would have probably considered that photographic heresy!  Hope so, anyway …  😎 …

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 7 – RURAL IDYLL (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Roadside fence on Walton Hill, on the top of the Polden Hills; 13 Jan 2016.

The title of this post is just what this isn’t, if you see what I mean – but then what farmer wants people spilling over onto his fields from a small car park beside a busy main road?

The rotation of the image brings side lighting from the right which ups the atmosphere.  The wooden elements are vaguely cruciform, the yellow lichen takes on the mantle of some creeping disease or disfiguration, and the snaking barbed wire speaks to me of naked (and industrialised) pain, persecution and exclusion.  Looking at this, I can’t help but think of a crucifixion, albeit not one with any religious connotations. 

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 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset and selectively restoring colour; rotated 90 degrees clockwise.

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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OUTER SUBURBS 279 – MORNING SUNLIGHT ON GRASS

 

 


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Standing on a lawn, beside a fence, as the sun rose.

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 – recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 46mm (equiv); 400 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 01 profile; south Bristol; 27 Aug 2020.
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ARCHIVE 547 – TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 

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Floods on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, using the High Key 2 preset as a starting point.

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OUTER SUBURBS 233 – SYMBOLS OF DIVISION AND THE SHADOW OF A CAR

 

 


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Fences and flags, keeping people apart – physically, mentally – separating “us” from “them”, creating division, creating alienation.

Flags, bestowing an often dubious identity and sense of unity.  Heroes fight for their flags, traitors fight for others’ flags, and mercenaries fight for, well, what makes the world go round.  And never forget, whoever wins the war will write the history.

And then fences: keeping some people out, keeping others in.  And if you can’t decide whether you’re being kept out or kept in, well then maybe you’re sitting on the …

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

Technique: TG-5 at 28mm (equiv); 400 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 07 profile; Capture NX2; south Bristol; 30 May 2020.
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ARCHIVE 496 – MAGPIE, BARBED WIRE FENCE AND TREE (MONO)

 

 


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Magpie flying over farmland beside East Water Lane, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 7 Aug 2014.

I had in mind a Minimalist composition consisting only of the tree and the barbed wire and its fence posts, when a noisy group of Magpies appeared and by luck I caught this one.  The pale areas of its plumage merge with the backdrop, eating into its outline.  But it is flying towards the left, with the black cone of its head, neck and breast on the left, and its long, thin, black tail stretching out behind.  Its wings are frozen by the high shutter speed, held up above its body.

One way of looking at this: of the three elements in the composition, the tree and the fence are static, with the third element flying into their space / surroundings.  Then again, the fence may be marching out towards the right, with its posts roped together for safety, and gradually disappearing down into a dip in the ground, or vice versa.  Everything is what it seems, until we start thinking about it.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset.

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OUTER SUBURBS 228 – CAR BESIDE FENCE, EARLY LIGHT 2

 

 


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Walking in the lockdown, and – deja vu – finding another car beside another new fence lit by the bright, early morning sun; this one had just been sprinkled by a light rain shower.

The earlier post is here .

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 – recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 1 May 2020.
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