SOMERSET LEVELS 365 – THE ROAD NORTH TOWARDS GODNEY (MONO)

 

 


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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 further enlarge it – recommended.

A dark, wet morning on the Somerset Levels, looking back up the road to the village of Godney, on the horizon. 

On the left, the stump of a heavily pollarded Willow, crowned by a few new leaves but close to collapse.

You can find out more about pollarding trees, and about the Somerset Levels too, here .

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 03 profile; Godney Road, looking north towards the village of Godney, northwest of Glastonbury, on the Somerset Levels; 14 June 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 358 – GODNEY ROAD, LOOKING SOUTH (MONO)

 

 


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

The single track Godney Road makes off southwards from the village of Godney, heading towards Glastonbury.  On either side are the pollarded stumps of Willows which, now that summer is here, are starting to grow new twigs and leaves.

You can find out more about the pollarding of trees, and the Somerset Levels too, here .

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Funijon lens at 15mm (equiv); Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Landscape preset and adding a split tone;  Godney Road, south of Godney, on the Somerset Levels; 14 June 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 357 – POLLARDED WILLOW, SOUTH OF GODNEY (MONO)

 

 


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These two images – especially the second one –  are best viewed enlarged: click onto them to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Pollarded Willow beside Godney Road, south of the village of Godney.

You can find out more about the pollarding of trees, and the Somerset Levels too, here .
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Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens. Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2; beside Godney Road, south of Godney, on the Somerset Levels; 14 June 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 311 – SCHOOL BUS OUTSIDE GODNEY

 

 


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The images in this short series from the Somerset Levels were taken on an absolutely beautiful morning, when the sunrise coincided with banks of thick fog.  Most if not all of the other images celebrate the natural beauty of that early morning, but here is one that simply looks at a facet of Levels life.

There is no school in the village of Godney, and so those who are not taken to their schools by other means go via the school bus, which is seen here waiting on the outskirts of the village early in the morning, prior to going into the village to pick up the children.

What can we see in this picture?  Well, obviously, the bus waiting amidst open farmland – it’ll be in a place where it does not block the single track road.  And the red triangle of the road sign to the right of the bus warns drivers that this narrow road is about to enter a series of sharp corners: the road is following the bends of the little River Sheppey – the raised river bank can be seen immediately behind the bus.  Then there is a telegraph poll, carrying landline phone cables.  And right of the road sign, part of the inverted umbrella shape of a pollarded willow tree.

A short while ago, my blogging colleague Harrie Nijland was talking to me about two distinct types of photography.  The first type of photo is simply a straight, factual representation of something, a record shot perhaps, or documentary photography.  This is such a shot, showing an everyday facet of Levels life, without any artistic ambitions or endeavour whatsoever.  But the second type of photo Harrie mentioned does use artistic / compositional / etc devices in an attempt to make images more attractive to the eye: and, for better or worse, the other images in this short series are all of this type.

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Godney, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 307 – THE POPLARS AT GODNEY

 

 


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Sunrise over the group of trees – Poplars, I think – on the outskirts of Godney village.  Sited as they are on a small rise in the ground, these tall and slender trees are something of a landmark in this ultimately flat countryside.

And this small rise in the ground is important too.  For, according to a 1991 book on place names, Godney refers not to a god, but to an Anglo-Saxon named Goda, who presumably had some sort of settlement / farm on this hill, when it was a small island in the vast area of marshes and lakes that occupied the Somerset Levels before they were drained for agriculture – “ney”, in Old English, means island.  In AD 971, a manuscript named this place as Godeneia.

I grew up not far from here and, for most of my life, the place names were just, well, place names.  So that it came as a real revelation to find out that the majority of these names originated in Anglo-Saxon times (c. AD 410-1066) and they in fact actually mean something, as in Goda’s island.  It helps to bring this simple but intriguing landscape to life.  There are newer names too, which result from the Norman invasion in 1066.  And, more fascinating to me, there are also older, Celtic names, ie pre-dating the Anglo-Saxons: eg river names like Avon and Severn.

The pure naturalness of this image may be reduced by the telephone wire, which I may have been able to remove post-capture but, really, my aim is to show this area as it is, rather than as some manicured ideal.

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

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Godney, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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ARCHIVE 267 – POLLARDED WILLOW (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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An ancient, pollarded willow by the side of Godney Road, west of Batch Farm, on the Somerset Levels; 29 May 2014.

Often when selectively restoring colour to a black and white image, I heave the slider all the way over and am in danger of producing what that glorious song terms a “technicolor yawn”.  But here the colours are muted.  The ancient tree is not too far off what it should be colourwise, but the leaves to the right are pale and with low colour saturation.  To the left of the tree there is almost no colour at all.  And thanks to the wideangle lens, the view stretches off across a grassy field to some other low trees, which are no more than faint impressions on the horizon.

This is a Minimalist image, perhaps – not in terms of actual content as it contains masses of intricate detail – but, rather,  in terms of its portrayal of colour.  What do you think?

Another image in this series, along with information on pollarding, is here.

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

D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 16mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Triste 1 preset and restoring colour.

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ARCHIVE 261 – LOOKING TOWARDS THE EAST AND WEST WASTES (MONO)

 

 

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Looking towards the East and West Wastes, south of Godney, on the Somerset Levels; 29 May 2014.

I thought that they are just names on a map but, as I was pulled over in the entrance to this track and sucking down hot coffee in the rain, a farmer appeared and told me that the people around here call the flatlands out there the Wastes, the East and West Wastes.  And perhaps grateful for someone to talk to in this desolate spot on this wet and early morning, he started telling me about the big cats that roam this area – and another day I made an abortive attempt to find them.

There are several converging lines in this picture – the rough track (known as a drove hereabouts), the water-filled ditch (known as a rhyne), the horizon, and the pale wedges of pasture on either side of the rhyne and drove.  All of these linear features converge on that large and isolated tree, the nearest tree to us, which is the focal point in the composition.  For quite some time now, I have seen that rounded, dark mass not as a tree but as an explosion, as a shell or bomb landing maybe.  But how that interpretation fits in with this most tranquil of rural landscapes I cannot explain.

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

D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 18mm; 800 ISO;  Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 274 – SHEEP, EARLY IN THE DAY, UPPER GODNEY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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Rising at 0430 yesterday, I drove on quiet, early morning roads through the valley of the River Chew and up over the Mendip Hills, and fetched up a couple of hours later beside the river, near the Somerset Levels village of Upper Godney.  And, as I backed the car off the narrow road, next to a little bridge, I found myself next to a field with sheep and their lambs.

I’d reversed the car quietly and slowly and, although regarding it with curiosity, the sheep had made no attempt to move.  But, thanks to a fence and vegetation, photographs from within the car were an impossibility and I knew that, once I emerged from the car, I’d be in a very different ball park indeed – the sheep would in all probability disappear over the horizon!

So everything was done very, very quietly and in extreme slow motion.   The car door was edged open a little and then a little more.  And then, the camera set up and ready, I inched – literally – out of the door, my eyes constantly searching the animals for the slightest sign of alarm.  Luckily it was an overcast but still and humid morning, and mild enough to walk around without a coat or sweater – it was a delight just being there.

The sheep glanced at me, stirred a little, and I froze.  Moving into a shooting position, a matter of a few feet, took over 10 minutes.  And I started very carefully taking pictures – wishing that the D800’s shutter didn’t make so much noise!

And here’s a first interpretation, heavily cropped, of one of the pictures.  As always, I like getting in close for animal portraits, but my 300mm telephoto didn’t get me right in there.  So I used the D800’s facility for producing APS-C sized images from its full frame sensor, a process which magnifies the focal length of lenses by 1.5 .  Nikon calls this DX format, as opposed to FX, which is full (35mm) frame size.

Click onto this image to open an enlarged version in a separate window.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor used in DX format to give a focal length of 450mm; 3200 ISO; Capture NX2; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Triste 2 preset, selectively restoring colour to the eye, and adding a heavy cyanotype tone; 8 July 2016.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 263 – DEATH OF A FRIEND 2 (MONO)

 

 

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Early morning, and a fallen willow lies beside the misty River Sheppey in Upper Godney; 1 Apr 2016.

Another take on this scene, and more context, can be found here.

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

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 6400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Triste 2 preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 262 – DEATH OF A FRIEND

 

 

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This image is best viewed enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window.

Fallen willow, a casualty of the recent storms, on the banks of the River Sheppey at Upper Godney; 1 Apr 2016.

A cold early morning, the frost still on the grass on the other side of this little river, but only a breath of breeze to make more penetrative the already incisive chill.  And an old tree, one I’ve known well, out for the count as they say.  Well, everything changes, nothing ever stays the same, and we must make the best we can of that “Fact of Life”.

The conventional thing would of course be to have had this image “the right way up”, in portrait orientation, and I have tried that.  But, although this is a picture of (more or less) reality, and a sad reality at that, I prefer it like this, to me it has more feel and impact to it in this orientation – and after all, if I’m going to show a sad event, let’s get something else out of it too – death can have its beauty too.

How do I see this image in my mind’s eye?  Well, if I let my mind go loose, that great, frosty wedge of grass on the opposite bank of the river looks like a sharp fang that is biting down deep into the picture’s heart; it is counterbalanced to some extent by the triangle of dark greenery at bottom right.  And, in this orientation, the tree is really not in too bad a position to be admired, not so flat out and fallen as it is in cold reality.

And finally, that great green fang biting down from the top of the picture has realities on either side, one real, one reflected – there are two cloudy skies and two trees down, and between them that great fang seems to me far nearer and more solid than either – its seems almost to be lifting up out of the image, almost as if it is biting down in front of the image.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 70mm; 3200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4; 90 degrees’ anticlockwise rotation.
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