ARCHIVE: LEVELS 23 – MEADOW WITH WILDFLOWERS (MONO)

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Meadow with wildflowers beside North Chine Drove, southeast of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 27 Jul 2011.

The uncut grass with its abundance of tall yellow wildflowers first caught my eye and, and I was looking at how it might best be photographed when the sun broke through the clouds, producing this beautiful (and very lucky) shaft of light across the scene.

The photo is in three layers.  In the foreground there are more of the yellow flowers, but in the shade and unfocused.  Above this, the shaft of sunlight cuts across the shot, illuminating both the tall grasses and another grove of the wildflowers.  Finally, the third and upper layer contains the trees and bushes behind the field which (luckily again) are partly caught by the sun’s rays, so that this background is not wholly dark.

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 .  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 – certainly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; converted to monochrome, and slightly tinted very pale yellow, with Silver Efex Pro.

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 605 – THREE FLOWERS

 

 


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Three flowers. 

One up close and personal: solid, real, in our world, in our face too maybe but, in any case, in the way we see things. 

The other two are hazy, more remote; vague, they are imperfect impressions of reality, such as might appear in our dreams, or under the influence of myopia or intoxication.  And yet these vague impressions reflect the human condition if not visual reality – one is damaged, wounded; the other marginalised and only partly seen.  

And all are pallid, desaturated; they are pale representations of how the world ought to be.

Technique: this effect has been produced in Lightroom, by setting Vibrance to -100 and reducing Contrast.  Today there’s mostly a trend towards either bright, attention-grabbing, vivacious colours or no colour at all – black and white.  But between the two lie many possibilities – possibilities that I for one frequently forget to consider.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Stanton Drew, south of Bristol; 4 May 2018.

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ARCHIVE 551 – WINDOW BOX

 

 


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Window box in Christmas Steps, a narrow and ancient alleyway in Bristol city centre.

May sunshine was flooding across Bristol, but one side of the deep cleft of Christmas Steps was still in deep shadow.  I’m not usually someone who waits around for photos to happen, I’m usually on the move, if only slowly.  But the sunlight was inching its way around towards the Steps’ northeastern side – you could almost see the light creeping across the masonry – and I decided, this once, to be patient, because I wanted to see the light flooding across the textures of the buildings’ facades.

It seemed like an eternity, but a cat came over to see me and that passed some of the time.  And then the blazing light hit a window box, with the wall behind it still in deep shadow, and I took this picture.  The slightly open window frame is glowing in light reflected from a shop sign just out of shot on the left.

What does this picture do for me?  Well, it talks to me about peace – something not in limitless supply in the UK on this particular Sunday morning – and quiet; it talks about warm air, warm breezes and warm shadows to relax in, and some release from the pace, stresses and lowered quality of modern life.  It reminds me of pictures from more southerly climes, there’s something Mediterranean here perhaps, something not experienced over large parts of the year by us relative northerners.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 195mm (equiv); 200 ISO; spotmetering for highlights; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Christmas Steps, central Bristol; 26 May 2017.

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ARCHIVE 518 – MY GARDEN AND ME

 

 


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“My Garden and Me”; 4 May 2008.  Cowslips and Forget-Me-Nots, which are always left to go completely to seed before being mown, form a glowing and increasingly large patch of yellow and blue in our garden each spring.

The apparent falling away of the ground around my feet is due to the distortion produced by the fisheye lens when it is pointed away from the horizontal.

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

Technique: F6 with Sigma 15mm full frame fisheye; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide film, rated at 500 ISO.
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THOUGHTS 11 – WALKING THIS MORNING (MONO)

 

 

Walking in the lockdown, early today. 

And finding myself below these two flowering trees,

looking up at them and enjoying their size, stillness and beauty,

taking reassurance in these troubled times from their natural world.

And finding too that I was amidst a soft, white rain

as the tiny petals of their flowers slipped and twirled,

gently down through the still air,

before coming to rest, silently, on the grass below.

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OUTER SUBURBS 126 – OUT WALKING, AND LOOKING DOWN

 

 


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Out walking: early morning sunlight on flowers beside the path.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 49mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 29 July 2019.
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ARCHIVE 415 – TABLE AND CHAIR, WITH DAFFODILS (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Table and chair, with daffodils, in the William Bray, a restaurant and bar in the village of Shere, Surrey; 24 Mar 2012.

This restaurant is on different levels, and I was able to get up onto one floor and look down on the one below.  The wonderful lines and forms made the by the chairs, tables and floorboards – and the colourful flowers –  caught my eye, and I took several photos, none of which were “THE ONE!”, to work on later.  With all these lines and textures, I knew that there was something there – and that it was screaming out for mono conversion, with the plant’s colours restored.

It took quite a time to find this crop, but it has what I searched for – the lines and textures, the great contrast between the wooden and metallic structures, and the great contrast between the daffodil’s leaves and flowers and everything else.

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 6400 ISO; converted to mono and manipulated in Silver Efex Pro 2, and then manipulated further in Nikon’s Capture NX2.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 366 – SPRING MORNING (MONO)

 

 


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A rather unusual picture from these mostly open flatlands: my car surrounded – besieged  almost – by spring flowers and pollarded Willows.  It was early in the morning and I was driving out onto the Levels from the north – on the road from Blackford to Westhay as the wonderfully aslant SCC (Somerset County Council) signpost informed me.

And I’d pulled into the open entrance of a rough track called Tealham Moor Drove, to drink a cup of coffee, savour the quiet of the early morning, and just take a look at anything and everything.

And so to peace, quiet, flowers with a shadowed field gate on their left, the leaning and wonderfully unModern signpost, dense trees – and my small, old, battered and dirty car, bedecked with lichens, spiders’ webs, mud and other less mentionable substances.  A simple scene, and an at once wonderful and very ordinary little place to be.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used (mistakenly!) in DX (= APS-C) format to give 105mm; 640 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Center Focus preset and adding a light Ambrotype tone; at the western end of Tealham Moor Drove, on the Somerset Levels south of Blackford; 3 May 2019.
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BRISTOL 138 – SHAFT OF SUNLIGHT, IN A GRAVEYARD (MONO)

 

 


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This picture is 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.

A day out together photographing in Bristol: Paula and I walked up the narrow St John’s Steep, heading into the Old City.  Street art and interesting facades and alleyways were all around, and on our left was a fenced and partly overgrown area with several obviously old graves – it was part of an old, disused graveyard.

A shaft of brilliant sunlight lit the scene, illuminating hosts of flowers that had run wild, and also some of the greenery around them. 

Then, a pigeon walked into the scene and was – for an instant – silhouetted against the glare.

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 180mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Yellow Filter and adding a moderate Coffee tone; St John’s Steep, in Bristol city centre; 3 June 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 348 – LOOKING ALONG THE LANE BELOW THE WHITELAKE BRIDGE

 

 


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Looking south from the Whitelake Bridge, on Hearty Moor.  A single track lane, its surface muddy and gently (i.e. characterfully!!!) undulating, disappears off amongst the shadowy trunks of trees.  Spring flowers line the sides of the lane, and trees bright with fresh, pale foliage overhang it.  A simple little scene, a lovely little place, a place in which to feel uncomplicated, quiet and at peace – except when the farmer comes through with his tractor or cows.

I’m not too sure where the point of focus is here, it may be down near where the road disappears, as the roadside flowers seem a little soft – but, well, you know, go with the flow.  If I’m trying to get myself off the hook, I suppose I could call this an impression of the scene and, in any case, I’m glad to have the picture.

A further point is that, much as I like mono, I had trouble here deciding on mono or colour >>> and so to both.  I think the mono has it >>> but what do you think???????

Particularly as, in the mono version, in my mind’s eye, I see that great bank of pale foliage on the right as the crest of a huge wave that is about to engulf this tranquil scene.  And although this may seem a rather fanciful vision (I never restrain my imagination), the latest forecasts for sea level rise due to global warming by the end of this century are two metres (about 6 feet), and if that happens then the Somerset Levels will be squarely in the firing line.  The Romans used to be able to get into the vicinity of this picture in sea-going ships, after all, so this is not science fiction.

Both of these pictures can be enlarged by clicking onto them to open a larger version in a separate window, and then clicking onto that picture to further enlarge it – recommended, especially for the mono version >>> those shadowy tree trunks just where the road disappears, to me there’s something from Lord of the Rings down down there!

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Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 210mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Landscape V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset and adding a moderate Coffee tone; Hearty Moor, northeast of Glastonbury, on the Somerset Levels; 26 Apr 2019.
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