SOMERSET LEVELS 318 – LOOKING TOWARDS GLASTONBURY TOR

 

 


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A very muted winter sunrise, and the view from Tealham Moor towards the iconic landmark of Glastonbury Tor, topped by its ruined church tower.

What can we see?  The water-filled ditch in the foreground is known locally as a rhyne (rhymes with seen); rhynes pervade this wet landscape, and act as liquid fences to the fields.  Follow the line of the rhyne off into the distance and, just right of where it disappears, are two Mute Swans, visible only as two white dots, and these great white birds pervade this landscape too.

And, as already mentioned, off at top right is Glastonbury, instantly recognisable by its Tor.  When these wet flatlands were actually lakes and marshes, the high ground of Glastonbury was an island.  The Romans had a harbour there: Glastonbury is 14 or more miles inland now, but in those far off times seagoing ships could still reach it.  And in addition to its world famous pop music festival, it is the centre of a vast mythology which, amongst other things, encompasses King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, the Holy Grail, the Isle of Avalon and other medieval stories.  I dearly wish that each and every one of the Glastonbury legends were true, that would truly be wonderful, and so it saddens me that I cannot find it within myself to believe them.  That said, this small town really is a unique place, and I feel very fortunate in not living far from it.

And finally, if you look very carefully, you’ll see a line of tall electricity pylons marching across the horizon, on either side of Glastonbury’s high ground – evidence that, here, we are not that far from the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, which is something somehow highly incongruous in this flat, quiet, peaceful landscape.

Composition: the bright line of the rhyne takes my eye straight up to the top left of the frame, and less prominent pale and dark, horizontal lines come across the frame (just below the Tor) from the right margin to meet the rhyne’s vanishing point.  Hence everything drags my eye to upper left, but the Tor is such a strong feature (to me, a local, at least) that my eye swings to upper right too, so that there is a dynamic here.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 143mm (equiv); 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 11 Jan 2019.
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STANTON DREW 61 – WINTER SCENE (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.

Gull flock amongst the prehistoric standing stones at Stanton Drew.  Such flocks are a common sight on pastureland during the winter: this one consists mostly of Black-headed Gulls (lacking the dark heads of their breeding plumage), but there are a few Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls in there too.

Tall, dark stones, sombre sentinels (sombre sentinels??? >>> what on earth am I on???) overlook the scene, and bare winter trees form the backdrop.

Already posted images from this early morning shoot are here: 1 (with context) 2 3 4 5 6 7 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting  at the Underexpose EV-1 preset and adding a light Selenium tone; Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol; 14 Dec 2018.
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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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STANTON DREW 58 – THE VIEW NORTHEAST FROM THE STANDING STONES (MONO)

 

 


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

A view from the prehistoric standing stones in Stanton Drew .  What can we see?  Two of the standing stones are on the right of the image, with another, now toppled, off to the left.  Behind these are a line of trees and dark undergrowth, along the banks of the little River Chew.  Beyond this, some farm buildings can just be seen, and there is a flock of sheep up on the slopes in the distance.

A very tranquil scene: this is in fact (originally) the biggest prehistoric henge in the country, but it has none of the crowds and commercialism seen at the far better known sites at Stonehenge and Avebury.  This is a wonderful place to come for a quiet walk, in open and relatively unspoilt English countryside – and it is adjacent to the similarly quiet and peaceful churchyard, another wonderful spot for peace and quiet reflection, from which I have posted many images (you can find them under this blog’s Stanton Drew category >>> use the drop down Category list in this blog’s sidebar).

Earlier images from this early morning shoot are here: 1 (with context) 2 3 4 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 111mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset and adding a light tone; Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol; 14 Dec 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 316 – LOOKING EAST, TOTNEY DROVE 2

 

 


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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.

Looking eastwards along Totney Drove, a single track, tarmacked lane, as the sun rose through the mists on this autumn morning.

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 315 – TADHAM MOOR, LOOKING SOUTH (MONO)

 

 


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Out on the Somerset Levels, I walked down the single track lane known as Jack’s Drove and, ahead of me, this rough track carried on southwards across Tadham Moor.  In the far distance, the long line of the Polden Hills, which stood high and dry when this whole flat landscape was one of lakes and marshes.  In those days, the Romans kept to the high ground: they built a road along the top of the Poldens, which led westwards to a harbour down on the coast.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Expressive Portrait preset and adding a light Selenium tone; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 30 Nov 2018.
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OUTER SUBURBS 48 – MODERN HOUSING 6 (MONO)

 

 

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Modern housing near the school mentioned in the previous post – number 47 in the list below.

This may possibly be meant to be a pedestrian lane, but the nearest road access to the front of the first few houses on the left seems to be by the white house in the far distance, and there is a vehicle just visible in the front garden of the first house on the left.  The stout, uncompromising metal bars in the foreground stop four-wheeled motor vehicles (at least) from accessing a green space and children’s play area behind the camera: all entrances to this green space are protected in this way.

There are earlier Modern Housing posts here: 1 2 3 4 5 : each will open in a separate window.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 .  Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Monotone film simulation; south Bristol; 4 Oct 2018 >>> I must be slipping, using Lightroom to produce black and white when I have Silver Efex Pro 2 available!  But Lightroom does a job for basic things like this, although I don’t rate its black and white presets at all.  I’m sure I’m guilty of a certain amount of snobbishness here, and laziness too, but for me SEP2 gives such a raft of possibilities that, in the great majority of cases, its unthinkable to use anything else.  That said, Lightroom does have the various Acros black and white film simulations for the Fujifilm X-T2 and they’re quite good.

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OUTER SUBURBS 47 – THE PATH TO SCHOOL (MONO)

 

 


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The path to school, one of Life’s Paths, one of the paths that we all tread (assuming we are lucky enough to attend a school, or are not schooled at home).  This particular path is through a rather utilitarian landscape.  Utilitarian? Google tells me it means “practical rather than attractive” which is perhaps a little hard; whereas picturesque might be a little charitable.

So what’s here for the children, on their daily walk towards learning?

Well, the wall on the right protects private properties: if they want to go in there (assuming they don’t live there already), they either have to go in for trespass and burglary (which might lead to far-reaching Life changes) or, later in life, get onto the housing ladder, as the phrase so happily puts it.  Getting onto the housing ladder?  Well, it means scrimping and saving to buy nicer and nicer homes for themselves, and thus getting themselves further and further into debt; prior to (at least partially) bankrolling their children to repeat the process.

Then straight ahead, at the end of the path, is the primary school: a state school, funded by taxes, with the wonderful aims of education, and of preparation of the young people for Life In The Outside World.

And to the left of the path, out of shot, is a church which, if at all possible, would like their souls.  Assuming, that is, that they – or indeed anyone else – in fact has a soul, which has long been a matter for speculation.  However, since the possession of an immortal soul is a cornerstone of this particular religion’s mythology, embarking on such speculation to the left of the path may become a little contentious.

So, looking at the options, I think that if I were the children, I’d stay on the path, I’d keep on walking straight ahead, at least until I’m old enough to make more informed judgements on both the worldly to the right and the divine to the left.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 .  Each will open in a separate window.

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 25mm (equiv); 640 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Landscape preset; south Bristol; 2 Oct 2018.
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ARCHIVE 391 – DARK, BROODING GIANT ALONG CHASEY’S DROVE

 

 


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A misty early morning along Chasey’s Drove, Common Moor, just north of Glastonbury, on the Somerset Levels; 10 Aug 2003.

I have an ongoing love affair with the big, bold, black silhouettes of trees.  I probably find them very powerfully graphic, I don’t know, but I do know that they never cease punching me right in the eye – I can’t get enough of them – as witness some of the Mendip Hills posts.

I like this one particularly – the tree’s black bulk rises just about on the left vertical third and to the right of its vast trunk is a glimpse of misty, early morning countryside which, compared to this brooding, masterful giant, is insignificant, blurry backdrop, a pale contextual glimmer.

Technique: tripod-mounted OM-4 with 85mm-250mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.

UPDATE: an image from what seems a long, long time ago, when I was using film – and when I was determined NEVER, EVER to change to make the change to digital.  How times change!  The appearance of Nikon’s “budget” full-frame D700 DSLR brought me over to digital at a stroke, and it is a change I have never, ever (those two words again!) regretted. Indeed, I feel incredibly fortunate, after 45+ years of film photography, including wet darkroom use, to be still photographing during the advent of the digital age: for me, the creative potential of photography has simply mushroomed. 

But now, having used optical viewfinders on Nikon’s superb D700 and D800, but then started using the really very good electronic viewfinders on Fujifilm’s X-T1 and X-T2 compact system cameras, I have a feeling that its electronic viewfinders that I want to continue with – and so to Nikon’s new Z series.  The 45MP of the Z7 are really far, far more than I need, and (with the experience of using the high MP D800) I know that using such high megapixel cameras need very careful camera technique – such cameras show ever little mistake you make!!!  So the 24MP Z6 might be far more my style – and then there’s just the “minor” problem of raising the necessary cash!!! 🙂

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SOMERSET LEVELS 314 – LOOKING EAST, TOTNEY DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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Looking eastwards along Totney Drove, a single track, tarmac road on Tadham Moor.  Tall Willows are silhouetted by the sunrise, and water-filled rhynes (ditches) flank the road on either side.  The distance is shrouded in fog, but the ghosts of cattle can just be made out in the background on the left.

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

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Tin Type preset; Totney Drove, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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