STANTON DREW 37 – VILLAGE LIFE 4

 

 


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A picture from the edge of Stanton Drew, looking in towards the village from the surrounding fields.  And a picture very immediately depicting two very different ages of Man.

In the foreground, prehistoric standing stonespresumably erected for some ceremonial purpose, four or five thousand years ago.  Whereas in the background, and only 700 or less years old, is the Christian church of St Mary the Virgin.  Its intriguing (but by no means unique) to see Christian structures so close to far more ancient ceremonial sites.

Seeing these prehistoric stones at Stanton Drew positively does me good, just knowing that they are there does me good.  I do not of course have any concept of the rites or religion(s) that were practiced here in those very far off days, but if I find anything spiritual at Stanton Drew – and I do – it is without doubt amongst these very ancient standing stones.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1 .  Further images are here: 2 3 .

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 155mm; 200 ISO; Lightroom; Stanton Drew; 1 Aug 2013.

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STILL LIFE 158 – BEACH SCENE (MONO)

 

 


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Rocks on the beach.

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 186mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset; The Lizard, Cornwall; 19 Oct 2016.
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PEOPLE 294 – FARMER (MONO)

 

 


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Farmer and his sheep, northeast of West Littleton, South Gloucestershire.

Other images from the West Littleton area – the Outlands images – are here: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89,  1011, 12, 13, 14,  15, 16, 17 Each will open in its own window.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Fine Art Process preset; 12 Apr 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 299 – MISTY MORNING, ALLERTON MOOR 3

 

 


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Looking into misty light, early in the day.

You can find other images from this dark and mysterious morning here and 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 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Allerton Moor;  22 Aug 2017.
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ARCHIVE 323 – A CONTINENT SPLITS APART

 

 

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In today’s cheap and superficial hype – too often the triumph of style over substance –  many things are marketed as having various specified advantages “and so much more”.  Well, here is a photograph that really does have “so much more”.  It was taken from the eastern wall of the rift valley, near Kijabe in Kenya, looking down westwards towards the rift’s floor, sometime in the late 1970s.  The rift wall here is not a single escarpment, but a series of small escarpments that gradually descend to the rift’s floor like a flight of huge steps.

This photo was taken from the top of the escarpment, looking down upon the top of the first of these steps which, because it still has sufficient altitude to attract rain and mist, is green and fertile.  This green but restricted area of land is covered in a close patchwork of cultivated plots, and dwellings roofed with thatch or corrugated iron. Beyond this step, the floor of the rift can be seen, browner and drier, many hundreds of feet below. Rising from these pale, dry lowlands is the dark and jagged bulk of Mt Longonot, a dormant volcano which last erupted around 1860. In the far distance, behind Longonot, the abrupt line of hills is the rift valley’s western wall.

So far so good, but there really is so much more here, for the fact is that the eastern edge of the African continent has been breaking apart for a long time.  The island of Madagascar broke away from the rest of Africa many millions of years ago and, during this lengthy isolation from the mainland, many unique (i.e. endemic) forms of life have evolved there, e.g. the Lemurs.

But that is not all. The Eastern Rift Valley (the one in Kenya) and and the Western Rift constitute further incipient splits in the eastern side of the African continent and, as I took this picture, I was standing on the western edge of another part of the continent that may split away to become an island like Madagascar in (the millions of) years to come.  The rift’s western wall, that misty escarpment in the background of the shot, might then become Africa’s east coast.

The floor of the rift is new crust that has moved upwards from the Earth’s extremely hot interior to ‘seal up the cracks’ in the disintegrating continent.  And hence the reason for the many volcanoes (including Mt Longonot) in this area – these were formed where the molten rock (magma) moving up from the Earth’s interior burst out (erupted) onto the Earth’s surface, as lava.  There are also numerous natural steam vents on the rift valley floor – these are the result of rainwater and groundwater coming into contact with the extremely hot rocks present not far below the surface of the ground.

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

UPDATE: I became an enthusiastic collector of rocks, minerals and fossils from somewhere around the age of five and went on to become a professional geologist – lecturing and research.  I’m very grateful for that background because it has given me a very solid idea of who, where and what I am in what might be termed “The Grand Scheme Of Things”.  To put it another way, if I’ve reached the “grand old age of 67”, then the Earth’s lifespan of 4,500,000,000 years make my lifetime seem like less than the blink of an eyelid – which is exactly what it is.  A knowledge of geology  also makes for new insights into landscapes.

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ARCHIVE 321 – LAGOON AT MAGADI (MONO)

 

 


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Alkaline lagoon at Lake Magadi, on the floor of the rift valley in southern Kenya; Nov 1977.

The water is made alkaline by high concentrations of sodium bicarbonate which have been leached out of the rift valley’s volcanic rocks.   This water is so alkaline that it feels soapy to the touch, i.e. it starts to dissolve skin on contact, and its high soda content gives it an awfully rank, chemical odour.  Add to that the fact that this is a very hot, low lying area of the rift, and Magadi becomes something of an acquired taste.  But, to anyone interested in the Natural World – wildlife, geology, landscape –  it is also a fascinating place.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens;  Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO;  converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 298 – WINTER MORNING, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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The view eastwards towards Tadham Moor, just before sunrise on a morning in winter.

Two pale lines arrow off into the distance.  On the right, a single track, tarmac road, covered in frost: Totney Drove.  And in the centre of the shot, the silvery gleam of a water-filled ditch, a rhyne (rhymes with seen), between the drove and the dark, rough pasture off to the left.

The background is the essence of the Levels: flat, misty, partly flooded country, waiting mutely and sometimes mysteriously in the dawn.

And finally, right below the camera, right in the foreground of the shot, are some upright sheets of corrugated iron.  Both the road and the rhyne turn sharply off to the left here, and the corrugated iron has been installed to strengthen the low bank on which the road sits, to try to stop it collapsing into the rhyne under the weight of passing vehicles.

Click onto the image to open a larger 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 84mm (equiv); 12,800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset; 27 Jan 2017.
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ARCHIVE 317 – SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BLUE LORRY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Self-portrait with blue lorry, near Peacock Farm, Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 Jul 2012.

I’m sitting very upright in the driving seat of my car, using a wideangle zoom to record both the scene in the rear view mirror, and the road ahead as seen through the windscreen.  Back home, I’ve converted the shot to mono using Capture NX2, but retained original colour – and added some brightness too – for the scene in the mirror.

The rows of small dots above the mirror are a device to help prevent dazzle when looking up at the mirror.

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

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 800 ISO; manipulated with Capture NX2.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 296 – MISTY MORNING, ALLERTON MOOR 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Mute Swans in the water-filled ditch – the rhyne (rhymes with seen) – that runs along beside the mostly single track road across Allerton Moor.

A misty morning.  The rhyne, which does duty as the field’s fence in this wet part of the world, runs on off into the distance before starting to bear off to the left, where a faintly seen fence beside the road keeps the unwary traveller from the deep and glutinous clutches of the dark water and ooze. 

Up right of the swans, cattle at the rhyne’s edge: there may be a place there where they can get down safely to the water’s edge to drink. And behind the cattle, in the murk, farm buildings.

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-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film preset; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at Janice’s Infrared preset; Allerton Moor, west of Chapel Allerton; 22 Aug 2017.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 295 – HILLTOP (MONO)

 

 


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Hilltop; a Levels skyline; Minimalism.

The Somerset Levels are just that – level, flat, flat and flat again.  But just north of the area that I usually infest, they are cut by a long line of low hills – the high ground around Blackford, Wedmore and Wookey – that well within historical times formed islands in the vast morass of lakes, swamps and thickets that were the Levels in their original form, before they were drained for agriculture.

I’d driven down early from Bristol, and was sipping hot, sweet coffee in the little layby beside the willows in Swanshard Lane, and there was low cloud drifting by, almost brushing the hilltops.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; processing, and conversion to mono, in Lightroom; Swanshard Lane, north of Polsham; 18 Aug 2017.
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