ARCHIVE 353 – CATTLE BESIDE THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO)

 

 


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A misty morning along the North Drain, looking east from the Jack’s Drove bridge; the Somerset Levels; 28 Aug 2013.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 270mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro’s High Key 2 preset.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 300 – LOOKING WEST, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 


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Something of a milestone, I suppose, my 300th post from these lush, wet (often very wet!!!) flatlands.  What can I say?  I love the place.  I love the very basic, what-you-see-is-what-you-get simplicity of the place.  There is no advertising hype here, no marketing, no tourism, just a flat landscape, the local farmers, the occasional person walking their dog, the occasional person simply walking, the occasional birdwatcher or photographer, and that’s it.

Many years ago, I recall going into the single shop in Westhay (which has long since closed down) and saying to the shopkeeper “There aren’t many people about this morning”, to which I received the somewhat mournful response “There are never many people about round here”.  Bring it on!  The place is not of course immune from the noise of motor vehicles, but sometimes there are just the sounds of the wind, the birds, the cows, and the soft lapping of water.

And here on Tealham Moor, and on the nearby Tadham Moor too, great big open skies which powerfully remind me of the vast open skies above Africa – actually, more specifically, the skies above Kenya. For me, there are far too many people in England, but that’s not the problem it might be because in the main, and especially so away from tourist areas, most people stay relatively close to their cars.

So, what is pictured here?  Well, flat land, land at or just below sea level, that was underwater in the geologically extremely recent past – I’m talking of only a few hundred years ago – and which will be underwater again in due course, when the coastal defences along the nearby Bristol Channel can no longer totally hold back the sea.  In Roman times, seagoing boats regularly crossed this area, inland to Glastonbury.

As we look at this view, there is slightly higher ground up on the right.  Not long ago, that was an island.  And the dead straight waterway disappearing off towards the horizon on the left is the North Drain – a totally man-made channel vital to the drainage of the area.

The large white birds are Mute Swans, a species whose wings make a beautiful, rhythmic singing sound in flight – birds which I recently portrayed at far closer quarters here and here.

And finally, not far beyond the horizon, along the muddy shores of the Bristol Channel, well, that’s where I come from.  If I have one, that’s my homeland.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 24 June 2016.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 271 – WATER LILIES, CLOUDS AND SWANS, ON THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO)

 

 

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The view westwards along the North Drain, on Tealham Moor; 24 June 2016.

Standing on the bridge over the North Drain, looking westwards along this dead straight, manmade waterway.  Here the Levels are below sea level, and this little bridge is the highest vantage point around.

The Mute Swans are always here, and the air often echoes with the shrill singing made by their wings in flight. 

And the water lilies are in all of these placid waters, as too – often – are the reflections of clouds.

X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Wet Rocks preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 250 – RISING SUN WITH FOG, TEALHAM MOOR 2 (MONO)

 

 

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Rising sun behind fog, Tealham Moor; 8 Apr 2015.

The view eastwards from the top of the low bridge over the North Drain (the waterway on the right), on a cool and still, April morning.

Another version of this scene can be found here.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 70mm; 200 ISO with 1 stop underexposure; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset and adding a tone.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 185 – THE BRIDGE OVER THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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The bridge over the North Drain, on Tealham Moor; 30 Oct 2014.

The little bridge on Tealham Moor, with its guard rails hanging on for dear life.  The area is below sea level, this bridge is the “highest” thing around – and the little, single track roadway of Jack’s Drove hurries us on northwards towards the safety of the higher ground up ahead, the low hills of the Wedmore ridge. 

D700 with 12-24 Sigma at 12mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset and selectively restoring colour.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 128 – DUCKS ON THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO)

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Ducks, loafing quietly, on the North Drain; 22 Nov 2013.

These ducks – probably Mallards – aren’t doing anything.  They’ve had enough to eat and food is all around, thoughts of breeding are not urgent  in the cold air of mid November, and they’re not aware of any imminent predator – they’re just floating there.  “Loafing” is a term used, especially re ducks, for doing just this sort of thing.

These few, small ducks are the subject here, and I’ve reduced everything to a very few tones – no point in having lots of extraneous detail if the ducks are what I’d like you to look at – the rest is backdrop.

The shot is lightly toned, so that the highlights are not white, and, since my blog’s background colour is white, I’ve added a thin black border to precisely outline the image.

Forgetting the ducks, the image consists of two light areas, separated by a dark area that meanders thinly and thickly across the frame.  A Minimalist look.

D800 with 80-400 Nikkor at 360mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Floral Style preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 117 – THE VIEW WEST AT SUNRISE

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Looking west along the North Drain from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor, 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. 

D800 with 80-400 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 110 – CATTLE BESIDE THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO)

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A misty morning along the North Drain, looking east from the Jack’s Drove bridge; 28 Aug 2013.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 270mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro’s High Key 2 preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 106 – THE VIEW EAST FROM THE JACK’S DROVE BRIDGE

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Looking east along the North Drain, from the Jack’s Drove bridge; 29 Aug 2013.

Jack’s Drove is the single track, tarmac road that runs north-south across one of the loves of my life, Tealham Moor.  This little byway rises over the great east-west waterway of the North Drain on a low bridge – and on this dead flat moor, much of which is at or below mean sea level, this little bridge is a real highpoint.  Its sobering to recall that, standing here, I’m well below the level of the high tides that lap the promenades at nearby Weston-super-Mare and Burnham-on-Sea.  But for the network of sea defences, and also the sluices on the tidal rivers, this area would be open to inundation by the sea.

Here are Water Lilies floating placidly on a still day, in waters alive with the reflections of the sky, and this for all the world looks like a river – except that, of course, it is a little too straight.  Its name is also rather a giveaway.  For this is an entirely artificial water, excavated by human hand to help drain the sodden clay and peat soils hereabouts.  It is part of a great network of manmade waters that cover this area and ensure – for the moment at least – that it doesn’t return to the marshes and brackish waters of not that long ago.

Standing here on this little bridge and looking east towards the lightening sky, I feel a great sense of peace and, after a life of many wanderings, I feel at home.

Nikon D700 with 12-24 Sigma zoom at 18mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at High Structure Harsh.

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ARCHIVE 11 – MINIMALISM 3

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Water Lilies in the North Drain, Tealham Moor, Somerset Levels; 25 July 2009.

I like the Minimalism here – just thin, green plants against the dark background of the peaty water – looking almost as if they are floating up into the air on a dark night!

And then there is the way the leaves weave a sinuous line back through the picture, and the increasing dimness of the stems of those further away.

Nikon D700 with 24mm-120mm VR Nikkor at 120mm; 200 ISO.
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