BRISTOL 130 – THE OUTER SUBURBS (MONO)

 

 


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Bristol’s city centre is actually quite small, it can be walked right across in an hour or so, but it is surrounded by suburbs that are vaster (and often wealthier) on the north, and smaller (and in many parts less well to do) on the south.  Most of my pictures of the city have been from the city centre but here is one quite far out in the southern suburbs.  This is the A37, known as the Wells Road, which is a main artery heading south out of the city towards the tiny city of Wells, and also Yeovil and – that (to me anyway) holiest of holies – the county of Dorset.

The edge of the city is not far ahead, perhaps a couple of miles or so, and beyond that are some of my favourite areas of countryside – the Chew Valley, the Mendip Hills and, of course – perhaps my spiritual home – the Somerset Levels.  This blog has image Categories for each of those areas – see the Categories drop-down list, which can be found in the sidebar, just below the gravatars of readers who have left Comments.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 129mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Provia/Standard film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset; south Bristol; 19 July 2016.
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ARCHIVE 369 – THE VIEW WEST AT SUNRISE

 

 


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Looking west along the North Drain from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels, at sunrise; 22 Nov 2013.

I’d raced to Tealham Moor to catch the sunrise, and just before the scene was blasted by the light of the rapidly rising sun (see this image), there was this beautiful soft light, with clouds that were faintly tinged pink, off to the west.

A group of three Mute Swans are on the water at lower left, and I’m pleased because this whole scene is just as I remember it.

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

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE 368 – TADHAM MOOR, WITH FRIESIANS (MONO)

 

 


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Tadham Moor, looking northwest towards Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 29 Aug 2013.

On the right, Jack’s Drove runs northwards towards the bridge over the North Drain.  Droves originated as networks of tracks that enabled farmers to access their fields without crossing those of other farmers.  A few of these droves, like the one here, are now tarmac roads, usually single track or nearly so.  The trees include many Alders, which thrive in this area’s perpetual wetness.

On the left, Willows overhang the rhyne (local dialect for a water-filled ditch; rhymes with “seen”) – they were often planted alongside these waterways to strengthen the banks.

And in the centre, the rhyne curves around the end of a field, at once helping to drain its water and also providing a fenceless barrier – the only fences being very small affairs where the fields’ gates are accessed by little bridges across the rhynes.  And, finally, the ubiquitous Friesian cattle – curious about this lensman, as always.

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

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 12mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting with the Full Dynamic Harsh preset.

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ARCHIVE 366 – POLLARD IN FLOODWATER (MONO)

 

 


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Pollarded Willow standing in floodwater on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

With its bulky, rounded crown, this tree is top heavy and well on its way to collapse.  The usually wet, peat soils provide little in the way of support.

More about the practice of pollarding can be found in my first Somerset Levels post 

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 165mm; 200 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, using the Yellowed 1 preset as a starting point.
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KENYA 80 – THE LUSH FARMLANDS OF THE WEST

 

 


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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 enlarge it yet again.

Farms between Kisumu and Kakamega in the lush and fertile, far west of Kenya; April 1979.

This western part of Kenya lies just to the east of Lake Victoria, and benefits from the big storms that form over the lake and then drift eastwards, bringing plentiful rain.  Add all this water to fertile soils and high, year-round temperatures, and this is wonderfully productive farming country.  But on the downside there is malaria here, and this is where it first got its claws into me.

The tall plants in the foreground are bananas – there were many varieties of bananas of all sizes and colours here, including simply delicious ones used for cooking.  It may be more a dish from Uganda, but I simply adored cooked banana – matoke, I think it was called – with groundnut sauce.

Some of the local people can just be seen, up to the left of the two houses with metal roofs in the foreground.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom.
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OMAN 6 – FARM IN THE MOUNTAINS

 

 


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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 enlarge it further.

Long ago – in 1975/7 – I made several visits to the Sultanate of Oman, in the southeast of the Arabian peninsula,  to carry out geological research in the interior of that then little known country.  Other pictures from those days can be found under this blog’s Oman category, and there are other pictures here and here .

When we arrived in Oman, the new Sultan was in the process of opening it up to the modern world, but these were early days in that process and, going to many places in the interior, we came upon scenes that must have remained unchanged for many hundreds of years.  We were geologists – and also enthusiastic birders and photographers – and we were working in Oman’s northern mountains, to the northwest of the capital Muscat.

And so we drove our Land Rovers into the mountains, often in areas with no roads for motor vehicles, and then we left the vehicles and walked across the hot, rough, rocky deserts of the mountains.  And as we walked we often came upon scenes like this.  What can we see here?

This is the home of a small group of people, a family probably, and two of the women can be seen immediately above the bright patch of green at lower left.  And the contrast of that little patch of green – which is probably something grown by these people – with the rest of the picture shows one very real aspect of working in these mountains.  Everything, all around you, everywhere you looked, was either brown or maroon, with only a few pallid green thorn bushes (as can also be seen here), and brighter, lusher greens only around rivers and oases.  Spending time in these mountains, and coming from UK landscapes dominated by shades of green, these interminably brown and maroon landscapes has a definitely depressing effect – and the rare glimpses of green were all the more startling to our eyes.  Equally startling was the return trip to the UK, flying in over the green fields of Kent.

Then, to the right of the women, there are small buildings, made of low stone walls and palm fronds.  Further right, there are paddocks, also bounded by low freestone walls, and I’d guess that this family had a herd of goats, and some donkeys.

And then there are small, smooth, meandering paths used by the people, and maybe some of the stock too, to cross the rough rocky terrain.  After all these years, I can’t recall if this settlement was anywhere near a track wide enough for a 4×4 vehicle – I seem to recall walking quite a distance to arrive here.  And finally, these people must have some source of water: maybe there’s a well beside that little patch of bright green.

Technique: way back then I had a Praktica LTL SLR, and this would have been taken with a Pentacon 29mm wide angle lens; it was shot on colour slide film, either Kodak or Agfa; Lightroom.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 301 – FLOODS: AN OLD COLOUR TRANSPARENCY

 

 


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

Soon after I started digital photography, I scanned a lot of my colour slides and many of these scans have appeared here.  Just recently I’ve been looking back through these hundreds of scans, searching mainly for unposted images from Kenya, but other images have resurfaced too.  And I’ve also found Lightroom to be adept at processing these scans – and so to some “pictures from the past”.

I take very few pictures on the Somerset Levels these days because, having taken so very many in the past, most subjects feel like I’m “just doing it all over again”.  Instead, the Levels are more for birding and walking now – and for simply being out in calm, quiet, out of the way countryside.  But here is a scan from my film days that I chanced upon, and which instantly caught my eye.  It shows a flooded track (drove) on (I think) Tealham Moor, and I’m attracted by both the colours and the composition.

The colours are a little different from the original, especially in the sky, and I’d guess that this image has already received some processing in Nikon’s Capture NX2.  The composition is dominated by the flooded track which disappears off towards the horizon, and (more so) by its emergent right bank, which starts off up towards upper left, and which then cuts right down across the image into the lower right corner.  This picture has evidently been taken with a strongly wide angle lens.

 

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KENYA 76 – IN THE DIDA GALGALLA DESERT

 

 


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The view south in the rocky Dida Galgalla Desert of northern Kenya, with the volcanic highlands of Mt Marsabit on the horizon – each one of those far off peaks is a volcano – the picture can be clicked on and enlarged to show these a little more clearly.  Photographed in the late 1970s.

Having worked as a geologist in Arabia, and also being a naturalist, I have a great affinity for deserts – their often harsh and desolate emptiness, the huge skies, the intriguing wildlife.  Those familiar with pictures of the sand seas of the Sahara will find none of that here – this is a rocky desert – and its more of a semi-desert >>> sparse and bleached plant life can be seen, and after rains the whole area will briefly become green, but briefly is the operative word here, most of the time it looks like this.

One other thing to mention.  Look at the small rock outcrop close to the camera, and just above the centre of the picture – and then look just to the left of it.  That glimpse of a far off, twisting, sandy (and rocky too!) track is in fact the A2, the main road through this part of northern Kenya up to the Ethiopian border at Moyale.  How I remember bouncing and crashing around on that road, as we went north looking for desert birds on fascinating and exciting journeys.  But I never drove the whole way to Moyale.  Instead, intent on gathering data for a bird atlas, we flew in, twice, from Nairobi I think.  And I seem to remember our little aircraft landing in Ethiopia but coming to a halt in Kenya – but that may just be a fanciful thought from long ago.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended – except that this is a very old colour slide that has spent years in the tropics >>> and parts of the sky in particular say as much!!! 🙂

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom.
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ARCHIVE 359 – SWANS OVER TEALHAM

 

 


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

Mute Swans about to land on flooded Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 7 Feb 2014.

Much against good sense, I ventured down onto the Levels recently, to my habitual haunts on Tealham and Tadham Moors.  Not daring to take my usual cross-country route because of the many places where even small amounts of flooding might cut it, I drove down the main A38 road south from Bristol to Highbridge, and then went eastwards into the flatlands along another, relatively large road.  All was well on these main roads, but as soon as I got onto the smaller lanes, problems with water appeared.

Tealham and Tadham were mostly submerged, with just just the roads sticking up above the waters and little traffic about, but the floods in this more northerly part of the Levels are nothing like those further south, south of the Polden Hills, where whole villages are being overwhelmed, main roads have been cut for weeks, cutting edge pumping technology has been brought in from Holland, and the Army has been called in to help the local people.

The image is starting to look rather unphotographic, more like a painting maybe, and I always feel good when this happens.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 355 – LOOKING SOUTHEAST FROM EAST WATER LANE (MONO)

 

 


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Looking southeast from East Water Lane, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 7 Aug 2014.

The eastern side of the lane, with a line of Hawthorns rising above a dry stone wall of the local limestone.  In the distance, trees line the road that continues on eastwards towards the Hunters Lodge Inn, Green Ore, and the main highway that runs down the Mendips’ steep southern slopes into the tiny city of Wells.

Back beyond the nearest tree, to its left, several other low trees are faintly seen out in the field.

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

Technique: D800 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 12mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Cool Tones 1 preset.

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