PEOPLE 348 – SOMEDAY THE FLOWERS STOP

 

 


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As George Harrison put it: All things must pass, all things must pass away.  And as a geologist, especially, that really resonates with me, it is a very basic part of my core knowledge and certainties.

And I visit this rural cemetery from time to time.  It is the cemetery of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, in Stanton Drew, not far from Bristol.  And while I do not identify in the slightest with the religious aspects of this place, I do find its cemetery a wonderfully peaceful and quiet place to wander in.  Being there instils me with a great feeling of peace, as well as being a great stimulus to reflection.  And I have never met another living soul there although, for all I know, I may always be surrounded by innumerable departed ones, which is certainly fine by me.

Most of the graves in this cemetery have no flowers on them, and that is the way of things.  There can of course be many reasons for this.  For example, there may be no one left to bring flowers, or those who would like to bring them live too far away or, then again, while bringing flowers has helped the grieving process, the survivors may have moved on, preferring to keep their departed ones in their minds, photographs and keepsakes.  I know this is the case with me.  I have lost two very close family members, both younger than myself,  and I no longer visit their grave, but no day passes without their presence, repeatedly – and often without sadness – in my thoughts.

I shall continue to walk in this churchyard.  It is by no means an exciting or exotic destination, there is not a trace of the “wow factor” in sight, but it has a very deep sense of peace, and of fundamental reality, which makes simply being there a deeply meaningful and thought provoking experience.  Does it, perhaps, provide some measure of respite from the rush, materialism, competition and aggression of the modern world?  That may well be the case.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 87mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Stanton Drew, near Bristol; 6 July 2018.
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STILL LIFE 209 – COLD MORNING WITH CIGARETTE PACKET

 

 


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A wild walk, high up on the Mendip Hills, one of the (treasured) landscapes from the days of my youth, those 50+ years ago.  And wild is italicised because although this is countryside, indeed a nature reserve, the whole landscape bears the imprint of ourselves, from the prehistoric burial mounds high up on the skyline, to the old lead mines that were beneath my feet as I took this shot, and to the farmland and forestry plantations all around.  And also of course to sights like that shown above.  But, the fact remains that, had I been stranded out here overnight – a broken leg, perhaps, and my phone unable to find a signal – I should probably have died of hypothermia.  So that, in that sense at least, yes, a wild place; and, as such, somewhere to be treasured and, equally, treated with respect.

And so to what we Brits call the fag packet.  Well, no sermons here.  That some people drop litter is a Fact of Life, and probably always will be.  Were I feeling fanciful, or perhaps romantic, I might suggest that the grass on the left seems to be reaching out towards the offending object, endeavouring perhaps to remove or conceal it.  But neither of those emotional responses are in my mind today.

Two points about the packet do merit a comment however.  First, at the top, a woman comforts a prostrate man who has presumably been struck down by one of smoking’s certainly dire side effects, and the government has no doubt insisted on this image being shown on the packet, as a usefully visible alternative to the politically uncertain consequences of banning cigarettes altogether, e.g. of driving them down into the same thriving underground market as that which markets illicit drugs.

And then PAID demonstrates that the same government is taking its cut (via duty) of the death sticks’ bounty too – probably making the point that rises in such duty are aimed a reducing the numbers of smokers, while ignoring the points that “the poor” may well go without other things to fund their enjoyment / craving, or then again turn to crime to make ends meet, while those better off will simply ignore the price rises.  I’m cynical?  Oh yes, I am.  But I’m also doing my best to see things realistically.

Context from this shoot is here: 3Other photos are here: 1 2  4 .

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Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Priddy Mineries Reserve, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 16 Feb 2018.

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STILL LIFE 167 – FROSTY MORNING

 

 


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Early on a frosty morning, in autumn.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 168mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STANTON DREW 36 – VILLAGE LIFE 3

 

 


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Old gravestones, barely legible now, in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, the parish church.

A lovely, tranquil rural churchyard, the church being in fact at the top of a dead end (ohhh, no pun intended!) road, next to a farm.  Wandering quietly in the churchyard – where I can’t recall ever encountering another soul – is a wonderful stimulant for reflection.  Inevitably, my mind turns, not unpleasantly, to thoughts of mortality; but then, I’m a geologist, and if I can’t be at one with life, death, extinctions and eternities, who can?

But I like this photo for two reasons.  First, the leaning, weathered, lichen-encrusted nature of the old stones, quite far from the ordered and sterile gentrification of modern days.  And secondly for the long, lush grass sprouting up around them: yes, mortality for sure, this exuberant grass is saying, but Life goes on.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1Further images are here: 2 .

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 195mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Stanton Drew; 7 June 2016.
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ARCHIVE 306 – EARLY MORNING GARDEN: SUNLIGHT

 

 


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Early morning sunlight in our back garden; 9 Jul 2013.

Looking down the garden through a thin screen of tall grasses.  A very shallow depth of field, produced by using a long telephoto at close quarters, has thrown nearly everything except the closest grasses far out of focus.  This is not an accurate representation of the scene, but rather an impression of how it looked.

The line of dark tones at the top of the frame are the shadows below the hedge at the bottom of the garden.

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Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE 236 – SAVANNAH GRASSLAND

 

 

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This image is best viewed enlarged, there’s a lot of detail here – when in my blog, click onto this picture to open a larger version in a separate window.

Savannah grassland with scattered Acacia thorn bushes in the south of the Maasai Mara Reserve, Kenya; April 1979.

The small thorn bushes in the foreground are probably Whistling Thorns.  These bushes have swollen, hollow bases to some of their thorns, in which live symbiotic ants.  The ants make holes in the swollen thorns to get in and out, and the wind blowing through these holes produces a whistling sound that gives the plant its name.

There is some thicker and darker bush just right of centre, along a small and probably seasonal watercourse.

This picture was taken in southern Mara, in extreme southwestern Kenya, and the distant hills are in Tanzania’s Serengeti Reserve.

Use of a polarising filter has greatly increased the definition of the clouds but caused the few patches of visible sky to be an unnaturally dark blue.  I loved using the Olympus OM-1 SLR.  It was light and compact, as were its Zuiko lenses, and the three that I always carried with me – 28mm f3.5, 50mm f1.4 and 75mm-150mm f4 – all used screw in filters of the same diameter – a wonderfully handy, compact and lightweight arrangement!

OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko; polarising filter; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE 199 – TERRACETTES AT UP SYDLING

 

 

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Terracettes at Up Sydling, near Cerne Abbas, Dorset; 3 Jul 2003.

Terracettes are step-like features formed on steep slopes, when the soil detaches itself from the underlying rock and moves very slowly downhill under its own weight; this is soil creep. The steps mimic the puckering up of a loose table cloth being pushed across a table top.

Here, at Up Sydling, high angle summer sunlight catches just the outside edges of the steps.  The many pale and apparently floating flecks in the deep shadows are the seed heads of grasses caught by the sun – the grass stems are mostly in shadow.

For me, two things contribute to this picture: the dark, massive, frame-filling hillside with its four bright green layers that contrast with the angle of the more fully illuminated grassy ridge at the bottom right of the photo.

And then the brightly illuminated thistle with its tiny spot of bright colour, which is just about on the intersection of the lower and left thirds of the composition.

Clicking onto the image opens a slightly larger version in a separate window.

OM-4 with 85mm-250mm Zuiko; tripod; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 241 – THE FLOODED GRASS: MONO AND COLOUR VERSIONS

 

 

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These images are best viewed enlarged – click onto them to open larger versions in separate windows.

This is a shot of the tips of coarse marsh grasses protruding from floodwater in a field on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.  I recently posted this image in colour, when Gary Bolstad suggested that it might also look good in black and white – so here is a mono version, created and lightly toned in Silver Efex Pro 2.  The colour version is also presented again for direct comparison.

Presentation in mono certainly enhances the Minimalist qualities of this picture and, ro me, the addition of a thin black border helps it too.  So I think Gary is absolutely right.  Anyone got any views?

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 181 – FOLLOWING A SUGGESTION BY GARY BOLSTAD

 

 

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My previous Archive post showed grass sticking up through floodwater on the Somerset Levels.  The image is in colour, but my good and long-time blogging friend Gary Bolstad suggested that it might also look good in mono – and I intend following his advice.

However, I had quite forgotten that such a mono (if more abstract) shot of grass amongst floodwater has already been posted, and here it is.

The original text for this post was:

Marsh grass sticking up through floodwater on Tadham Moor; 23 Nov 2012.

This could be some character from a Far Eastern language, or perhaps a winged insect (head uppermost) taking flight.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 270mm; 200 ISO; converted to mono and rotated in Capture NX2..
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ARCHIVE 180 – FLOODED FIELD

 

 

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

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

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.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO.
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