ARCHIVE 405 – THE VIEW SOUTHEAST FROM EASTWATER LANE (MONO)

 

 


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Looking southeast from Eastwater Lane, high up on the Mendip plateau in Somerset; 4 Feb 2014.

In their central and western reaches, the Mendip Hills are a steep sided and formidable, west-east barrier of hard, old (Palaeozoic) rocks.  They have the Old Red Sandstone of the Devonian period in their cores, and the Carboniferous Limestone all around.  But especially in their central area, these precipitous slopes give up onto a flattish or gently undulating plateau, with sturdy farms huddling amongst windbreaks, and pubs with evocative names – names that recall my youth and things that have always been a part of my life – the Castle of Comfort, the Miner’s Arms and Hunters Lodge.

Wondering about floods, I drove up onto Mendip yesterday, and spent some time in Eastwater Lane – a favourite place because it is a dead end and so has no through traffic.  I was also around the village of Priddy.  It was a cold, damp day, initially lit by pale, glinting sun, but with dark clouds and spitting rain all too soon coming up on the gusting southerly.  There were flood warnings in several places, but the waters had either subsided, or were only thinly masking the little roads – although all of that may have changed with the storm that hit us later yesterday afternoon and overnight – and today too.

I walked along Eastwater Lane, enjoying  the sight and atmosphere of the Bronze Age round barrows on the hill crests, and seeing where streams running down from the sandstone hilltops disappear underground into caverns as soon as they encounter the far more soluble limestone.

Here was Eastwater Cavern, that I descended as a plump, pudgy teenager, and I tried to recall if I’d become stuck in it or not.  Yes, is the probable answer, as I had to be helped through many a difficult cave by my school friends – but the vast Swildons Hole, from which the Mendip Cave Rescue had to come out and extricate me, is off towards Priddy.  I made the local papers – I think I was 16 at the time.

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

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Film Noir 3 preset.

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MENDIP HILLS 42 – LANDSCAPES FOR A DEAD WIFE 3 (MONO)

 

 


Dead trees, early morning, storm

I’m remembering my dead wife, and photographing a place we shared together long ago: you can find the full context in the first part of this series, here .  The second part of this series is here .  This is the final part of the series.

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Road, speed, darkness

If you would like to see enlarged versions of these pictures, click onto each one to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it: recommended.

Technique: all pictures were taken with a Fujifilm X-T2 camera and 55-200 Fujinon lens.  All were processed in Lightroom, and then converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2.  On the edge of Priddy Mineries Nature Reserve, east of Priddy, on the top of the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 20 Sept 2018.

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MENDIP HILLS 41 – LANDSCAPES FOR A DEAD WIFE 2 (MONO)

 

 

Storm, rain, clouds

I’m remembering my dead wife, and photographing a place we shared together long ago: you can find the full context in the first part of this series, here .

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Road, speed, darkness

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Writhing trees, rain, shadow

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If you would like to see enlarged versions of these pictures, click onto each one to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it: recommended.

Technique: all pictures were taken with a Fujifilm X-T2 camera and 55-200 Fujinon lens.  All were processed in Lightroom, and then converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2.  On the edge of Priddy Mineries Nature Reserve, east of Priddy, on the top of the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 20 Sept 2018.

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MENDIP HILLS 40 – LANDSCAPES FOR A DEAD WIFE (MONO)

 

 

Occasional, dazzling sun as dark clouds stream overhead

Many years ago, and newly arrived from equatorial climes, my wife and I were on the Somerset coast, desperately seeking a hot lunch on a bitterly cold day in the middle of winter.  However, in that distinctly non-tourist season, nowhere could oblige us.  At long last, we were saved by the Blue Anchor Hotel, between Watchet and Minehead, which, at no notice, produced delicious hot food, almost more than we could eat in fact and – as if that were not enough – wonderful warm hospitality too.  Coastal erosion will soon cause that hotel to collapse into the sea, and this fact, combined with my memories of that far off winter day, has served to bring my wife very powerfully back to me.

And so to a sentimental journey, to a place nearer home where I used to walk with Juliet, my first wife, my now long dead first wife.  A journey to walk where we walked and – if only within myself – to talk where we talked.

But, when I got there, the Natural World had other ideas, with high winds, driving rain and dark clouds rolling in across this open, upland landscape – this landscape, on the top of Mendip Hills, that was the roof of the world in my childhood, sixty years ago.

And so to thoughts and memories – very many of them – and to a flask of hot coffee within the car’s warmth and shelter.  And to looking out at, and then photographing – through the car’s streaming windows – some of the frenetic and blasting natural energy that swirled around me.  Was I afraid of the raging elements?  No, because the Natural World in all its moods enthrals me – but having my valued camera gear saturated and ruined is quite another matter!  But I knew that, Julie, the daughter of a farmer, would have enjoyed the weather’s energy too; that’s how she was.

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Main road; early morning

Two things to mention.  First, these images (which will be presented in three posts) may be a little dark, but this really has no significance beyond my penchant for dark black and white, and the fact that it was a dark day.

But, second, this post’s stark title may come as something of a shock to some.  But, while not especially looking forward to it, I feel more or less at ease with death, not least I suppose because I know that it is an inevitable reality.  But I know too that some in our advanced and civilised societies avoid mentioning The Big D, that some regard allusions to it as being in poor taste, and that some even regard it as some sort of taboo subject.  And I suppose that I find it strange that with all the imagined realities and social constructs with which we fill our heads and in which we so ardently believe, that some of us remain averse to contemplating and discussing all Life’s single, solid, and only too real destination.

Anyway, these are photos of a stormy day, taken with Julie on my mind.

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Dead trees, rolling clouds, ghostly skyline

.If you would like to see enlarged versions of these pictures, click onto each one to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it: recommended.

Technique: all pictures were taken with a Fujifilm X-T2 camera and 55-200 Fujinon lens.  All were processed in Lightroom, and then converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2.  On the edge of Priddy Mineries Nature Reserve, east of Priddy, on the top of the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 20 Sept 2018.

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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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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 .

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 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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PEOPLE 324 – GOING TO WORK 56 (MONO)

 

 


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Nearly all of my Going to Work images have been captured in central Bristol and many of them have been early on cold, dark mornings – well, its a FATman thing …  But the rush hour also occurs far out in the countryside, as the city sucks in labour from its surrounding towns and (often gentrified) villages.

The Old Bristol Road across the top of the Mendip Hills and does exactly what it says on the packet, apart from arriving at a (more or less) modern city.  It may not be an A road or a motorway, but it brings people from the Mendips and further south in towards the city.  And, because it is a open and clear road, with fairly long, straight stretches, these commuters in their modern vehicles often cover it at considerable speed.  Twice a day, the relative peace of these hills is shattered by the roar of powerful engines, and road accidents – often at road junctions – can be serious affairs.

Another image – here – shows the “rush hour” away from the city centre, and the image below also shows cars speeding along these Mendip roads.

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Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the images to open a larger version in a separate window and, for the upper image,  click onto the enlarged image once more to enlarge it further.

Technique (upper image): X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 234mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Holga preset and adding a tone; the Old Bristol Road, east of Priddy, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 16 Feb 2018.
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ARCHIVE 341 – BLACK BULLOCK STANDING ON WHITE GRASS (MONO)

 

 


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Black bullock, finely speckled by some flies, standing on white grass in a field at the bottom of East Water Lane, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 7 Aug 2014.

When I’m out taking photographs I find that I often forget things, including any ideas that I had beforehand as to the sort of pictures that I’m going out to hopefully capture.  It all just goes, and I either get caught up in the moment, photographywise or otherwise – just enjoying the moment – or I’m drifting off into daydreams and other wonders.

But SEPs’s infrared presets have been getting to me, and I took some shots up on Mendip recently, with the possibility of IR glimmering, at least dimly, in the back of my mind.  I’m not yet going as far as a blogging friend of  mine, Lisa Kimmorley, who has had a DSLR modified for IR photography, but I have had thoughts in that direction.

Anyway, here is an example of using SEP2 for something like IR effects – a black bullock standing on green grass while chewing something.  I had thoughts about trying to clone out the spiky white grass around its hooves, but I’ll never be able to restore the full structure of the hooves and, in any case, I think leaving it as it is adds to the unreality of the scene.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 250mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Infrared Film Soft preset.

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STILL LIFE 208 – TREES BESIDE A LAKE 2

 

 


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A second look at the trees reflected in the lake in the Priddy Mineries Reserve.  Rather than viewing them at an angle along the lake’s shore as I did in the previous image (3, below), I’m using a longer telephoto here to look straight at them from the other side of the lake, and this version omits the bright blue reflection of the clear sky.

Once again, the rising sun is lighting up the rising ground behind the lake shore, and the reflection of this colouration is seen in the shot’s foreground.  Just above the centre of the shot is the lower ground along the lake’s shore, which has yet to be illuminated by the sun, and which is receiving its light from the clear blue sky.  The reflection in the lake of this band of colour is seen just below the image’s centre.

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

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 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Priddy Mineries Reserve, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 16 Feb 2018.

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STILL LIFE 207 – TREES BESIDE A LAKE 1

 

 


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The Priddy Mineries Nature Reserve is found on the Mendip Hills, south of Bristol.  It is an area of open ground made rugged by lead mining, and it includes a small lake.  I’ve done quite a bit of photography here over the past 15 years, including recently on a very cold, early morning.

Other images from this early morning shoot, already posted, are here: 1 2  .

What is this image looking at?  Well, I am standing on one side of the small lake, looking across it towards some small, bare trees on the opposite shore.  The sun is just rising behind me, and the lower parts of the trees and the ground around them are still in shadow but, above the shadow, the golden, low angle sunlight is bathing both the upper parts of the trees and the pale brown vegetation on the hillside behind.

It is a very still morning, with barely a ripple on the lake’s surface, and this liquid mirror is reflecting the hillside’s warm, sunlit browns, the bright blue of the clear sky, and the trees’ upper branches.

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 106mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Priddy Mineries Reserve, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 16 Feb 2018.
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