ARCHIVE: LEVELS 39 – SWANS OVER TEALHAM

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Mute Swans about to land on flooded Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 7 Feb 2014.

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

Much against good sense, I ventured down onto the Levels recently, to my habitual haunts on Tealham and Tadham Moors.  Not daring to take my usual cross-country route because of the many places where even small amounts of flooding might cut it, I drove down the main A38 road south from Bristol to Highbridge, and then went eastwards into the flatlands along another, relatively large road.  All was well on these main roads, but as soon as I got onto the smaller lanes, problems with water appeared.

Tealham and Tadham were mostly submerged, with just just the roads sticking up above the waters and little traffic about, but the floods in this more northerly part of the Levels are nothing like those further south, south of the Polden Hills, where whole villages are being overwhelmed, main roads have been cut for weeks, cutting edge pumping technology has been brought in from Holland, and the Army has been called in to help the local people.

This image is starting to look rather unphotographic, more like a painting maybe, and I always feel good when this happens.  Henrietta Richer and Dave Battarbee have both made suggestions about this image, which I’ve incorporated.  

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 33 – POLLARD IN FLOODWATER (MONO)

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Pollarded Willow standing in floodwater on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

With its bulky, rounded crown, this tree is top heavy and well on its way to collapse.  The usually wet, peat soils provide little in the way of support.

More about the practice of pollarding can be found in my first Somerset Levels post 

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 165mm; 200 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, using the Yellowed 1 preset as a starting point.

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 29 – FLOODED FIELD

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The tips of coarse marsh grasses protruding from floodwater on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

Click upon this image to open a larger version in a separate window – certainly recommended.

I’d had thoughts about cropping in more closely on this image, to better show the grasses, but I’m sticking with this version because I think that the surrounding negative space gives the image “room to breathe” – ie it is not cramped, and it gives more of a sense of the isolation and desolation that the floods have brought.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO.
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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 16 – FLOODING, TADHAM MOOR

 

 


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Floods on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 20 Jan 2008.

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 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

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

Technique: F6 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide film rated at 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.

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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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ARCHIVE 456 – SWANS OVER TEALHAM

 

 


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Mute Swans about to land on flooded Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 7 Feb 2014.

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

Much against good sense, I ventured down onto the Levels recently, to my habitual haunts on Tealham and Tadham Moors.  Not daring to take my usual cross-country route because of the many places where even small amounts of flooding might cut it, I drove down the main A38 road south from Bristol to Highbridge, and then went eastwards into the flatlands along another, relatively large road.  All was well on these main roads, but as soon as I got onto the smaller lanes, problems with water appeared.

Tealham and Tadham were mostly submerged, with just just the roads sticking up above the waters and little traffic about, but the floods in this more northerly part of the Levels are nothing like those further south, south of the Polden Hills, where whole villages are being overwhelmed, main roads have been cut for weeks, cutting edge pumping technology has been brought in from Holland, and the Army has been called in to help the local people.

This image is starting to look rather unphotographic, more like a painting maybe, and I always feel good when this happens.  Henrietta Richer and Dave Battarbee have both made suggestions about this image, which I’ve incorporated.  

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO. 

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ARCHIVE 425 – FLOODS ON TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Floods on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 20 Jan 2008.

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

Technique: F6 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide rated at 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Tin Type preset.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 324 – FLOODED ROAD (MONO)

 

 


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Exploring out on Queen’s Sedge Moor, not far south of the tiny city of Wells, in filthy conditions – rain falling from grey overcast, lots of surface water and simply heroic amounts of mud.  And then onto this little single track road heading for the tiny village of Barrow – when a van, obviously driven by a local, someone who knows the place – rounded a corner and came straight at me at speed.  There was no danger, this image was taken with a 450mm telephoto, which gives x9 magnification, and so it was still quite far off – but it put on speed through the surface water and spray flew everywhere.

Lots of familiarisation with this new camera paid off: I just had time to engage Continuous Autofocus, focus onto the number plate, hold down AF-ON and start firing – three frames and then the vehicle was on me and I was off into the (very soggy) roadside grass.  But, as is often the case down there, a cheery wave from the driver – after all, if I choose to stand in the road, its my lookout!

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 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (APS-C) format to give 450mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 Picture Control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset; Queen’s Sedge Moor, south of Wells, on the Somerset Levels; 5 Apr 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 317 – FLOODS, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Flooding on Tadham Moor.  Early morning, looking northeast, with the much higher ground of the Mendip Hills just glimpsed, far away on the horizon.

Composition: the frame is crossed by paler and darker bands which, apart from that in the foreground, are more or less horizontal – the land, still dark on the early morning; and the paler water and sky.  The more sloping band of water in the foreground adds a dynamic – its almost coming out to meet us – and its animated by its small, bright reflection.  To me, the sky’s bright reflection in this foreground water brings the scene to life: it was moving as the clouds moved and, valuing it, I chased it up the road to get it into the frame.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dark Sepia preset;  Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 11 Jan 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 301 – FLOODS: AN OLD COLOUR TRANSPARENCY

 

 


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This picture is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Soon after I started digital photography, I scanned a lot of my colour slides and many of these scans have appeared here.  Just recently I’ve been looking back through these hundreds of scans, searching mainly for unposted images from Kenya, but other images have resurfaced too.  And I’ve also found Lightroom to be adept at processing these scans – and so to some “pictures from the past”.

I take very few pictures on the Somerset Levels these days because, having taken so very many in the past, most subjects feel like I’m “just doing it all over again”.  Instead, the Levels are more for birding and walking now – and for simply being out in calm, quiet, out of the way countryside.  But here is a scan from my film days that I chanced upon, and which instantly caught my eye.  It shows a flooded track (drove) on (I think) Tealham Moor, and I’m attracted by both the colours and the composition.

The colours are a little different from the original, especially in the sky, and I’d guess that this image has already received some processing in Nikon’s Capture NX2.  The composition is dominated by the flooded track which disappears off towards the horizon, and (more so) by its emergent right bank, which starts off up towards upper left, and which then cuts right down across the image into the lower right corner.  This picture has evidently been taken with a strongly wide angle lens.

 

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