SOMERSET LEVELS 356 – IT FELT GOOD TO BE ALIVE

 

 

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I’d driven down to the end of the little, single track road – Allermoor Drove – that runs out westwards onto Aller Moor, on the Somerset Levels.  It wasn’t actually the end of the drove as that continues onwards as a rough track, but my days of driving saloon cars off-road are long past and, indeed, far away, on another continent.  But, anyway, I’d turned the car around ready for departure, and was downing hot, sweet coffee while demolishing a thick, brown, bitter marmalade sandwich.

And beside me was a water-filled ditch – a rhyne – dense with summer’s lush growth.  And from that ditch was coming the loud, reeling song of a Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus if you want to know.  That small bird had flown – probably mainly by night – all the way from sub-Saharan Africa to breed in this little, wet ditch in Somerset.  Probably, it had bred in this ditch last year too and, if it survives, it will be here next year to do so again.  The Germans have a word for this, it is ortstreuer, this almost fanatical attachment to one small breeding site on a vast continent.

And as I stood there listening to that loud, reeling song, the bird shot up into the air several times in his fierce, hormone-driven, territorial frenzy, before dropping back once more into the safety of the ditch’s lush green depths.  And of course I know Sedge Warblers from before – those I encountered seeing out the northern winters in Africa’s warm, dense, insect ridden lushnesses – and those long before that, 50 years and more ago now, when I first started looking at birds, here in Somerset.

And as I stood there listening to that loud and lusty song, it felt good to be there with that bird, it felt good in fact to be alive, and I found myself talking to him – “Yes, come on, do it, go for it, go for it!!!”.  And that felt good too.  But then I often do such things when anything like in contact with the natural world.

Beside the ditch there was a field gate, with a long strand of orange bailer twine hanging from it, being blown about by the breeze, and a carpet of white wildflowers stretching out beyond.   And as I photographed that gate, the first, uncertain splashes of rain were cool on the back of my neck, and suddenly they were a downpour.

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I ran for the car, hunched over the camera, trying to shield it from the streaming water.  And so into the car, slamming the door, but the ******* electric window was down and I couldn’t find the car keys to switch the ignition on to raise it again – a plague on electric windows!!!  The rain poured into the car.  I cursed savagely and pulled my backpack over the two cameras on the seat beside me, trying to keep them dry.  The keys appeared, the window closed, I cursed some more, and the downpour drummed on the car.  And as I looked out through the streaming windscreen, the view before me – the trees, the sky, the little road – came alive and dissolved into a living, moving mass, and picking up the X-T2, I photographed that too.
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And, amongst all of that Nature, raw and real, it continued to feel good to be alive.
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Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens; 100 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Aller Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 14 June 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 354 – AT ROSE FARM, LOOKING EAST 3 (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.

The view out across a misty landscape, early in the day.

Silver Efex Pro 2, which I always wholeheartedly recommend for black and white processing, gives the resulting image its take on the look of a Tin Type photograph.

There are earlier shots in this series here: 1 2 .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 116mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid v2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Tin Type preset; at Rose Farm, on the Somerset Levels south of Tarnock; 3 May 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 351 – QUEEN’S SEDGE MOOR, MORNING LIGHT (MONO)

 

 


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Morning light on Queen’s Sedge Moor, with the higher, more thickly wooded ground around Launcherley rising in the background.

This picture, well, this picture …  It was a beautiful place on a fine morning and it reminds me of being there, but I just don’t have any deep feelings about it.  To me its getting over a little bit too much towards the picturesque – it could be a postcard.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Centre Focus preset and adding a split tone; Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 May 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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SOMERSET LEVELS 347 – LANDSCAPE 2 (MONO)

 

 


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The rising sun, at Rose Farm.

There is an earlier Landscape image here: 1 .

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 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation;  Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Green Filter preset; at Rose Farm, on the Somerset Levels south of Tarnock; 3 May 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 346 – LANDSCAPE (MONO)

 

 


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Landscape with trees. 

Can you see the birds’ nest, high up in a fork?  From size and position, I’d guess nesting crows.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Harsh preset and adding a split tone; west of Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Westham; 12 April 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 345 – MALLARD ON THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO)

 

 


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A pair of Mallard, a very common duck, on the calm waters of the North Drain, on Tealham Moor.  The more ornate male is on the left, and the far more camouflaged female on the right.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 500 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Flat V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Underexpose EV -1 preset and adding a strong coffee tone; the North Drain on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels, seen from the Jack’s Drove bridge; 12 Apr 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 344 – MORNING LIGHT, LOOKING EAST ACROSS THE NORTH DRAIN

 

 


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Morning light on the North Drain.  This is not a river, it is a totally man-made waterway that helps drain these lush and often wet flatlands.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 125mm; 500 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Landscape V2 picture control; looking east, early in the day, from the Jack’s Drove Bridge across the North Drain on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 12 April 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 343 – SWANS ABOVE TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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This image contains a lot of detail and 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.

Looking eastwards across Tealham Moor at 7am, with the sun risen and mist rising into the cool air.  There are no sounds, save for those of the light breeze and, as is so often the case here, gently running water.

And then the singing of Mute Swans’ wings, and three of them, flying quite low, heading north across the moor.

(And another bird to see: a Rook, one of the crows, perched on the dark fencing at lower right; its looking towards the camera, and can only be seen as a dark bird with a pale face – the latter in fact being the pale grey bill and the bare, pale grey skin on the face – the bird uses its longish (for a crow) bill for probing into turf and earth, looking for worms, insects, etc, and its bare facial skin is presumably less soiled (every pun intended!) by the dirt than facial feathers would be.)

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 640 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Green Filter preset and adding a medium coffee tone; looking east across Tealham Moor from just south of Westham, on the Somerset Levels; 3 May 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 342 – AT ROSE FARM, LOOKING EAST 2 (MONO)

 

 

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Mist and spring lambs, early in the day, across the road from Rose Farm.

There is another image from Rose Farm here: 1 .

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 at 300mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset, and adding a split tone; at Rose Farm, on the Somerset Levels south of Tarnock; 3 May 2019.
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