ARCHIVE 577 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON (MONO)

 

 


.

Early in the day: above the byway, east of West Littleton; South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.

More context on this second visit to the extreme south of the Cotswold Hills, and more images, can be found here.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 206mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE 568 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON

 

 


.

Something Minimal, there’s really not much here, both in terms of content and colour, but straight black and white would lose a little I think.  And the bird – and getting focus on the bird – were fortuitous!

Click onto this image to open it in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; near West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE 472 – WINTER LANDSCAPE (MONO)

 

 


.

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

I’m A Creature Of The South.  Born and brought up in Somerset, I lived in various places before putting down roots (for longer than I have ever stayed anywhere else in my life) in Bristol.  And whenever I go outside of Bristol – for holidays, photography, birding, whatever – I almost always go south, down into Somerset, Dorset (ahhh, Dorset …), Devon or Cornwall.  Why is this?  Well, somehow I just don’t feel at home going northwards, its not my country, I just don’t feel that I belong there – and so to the south, towards the sun and the soft accents, perhaps.

But en route to the M4 motorway, usually on family business, I pass through the southern end of the Cotswolds, a low line of limestone hills, and there I see attractive open, rolling farmland with freestone walls.  I’ve long thought about gently exploring this quiet and rural area with a camera – and thinking about it, as with many things, is as far as I’ve got.

But, last week, on 7 Dec 2016, and with 2.5 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map firmly in hand, I at long last drove up into this countryside – and promptly found myself on a little road bordered by the counties of Wiltshire on my right and South Gloucestershire on my left.  I had a good day.  The place is simple and beautiful, always good attributes to my mind.  Whether I will venture there or indeed anywhere else outside my usual haunts again is another matter altogether, but who knows?  And so, a new Category for my blog – Outlands; new places, seeing what I can find.

And the image above?  Well, I’d planned where to go.  I left Bristol after the morning rush hour but still encountered appalling amounts of traffic speeding up towards the motorway.  There was nothing else to do but stay amongst all these hurtling vehicles but, just before hitting the motorway itself, I saw the Tolldown Farm crossroads in the distance, felt eternally grateful for a right filter lane, turned right from that filter lane – and was instantly on a little, more or less single track road making off eastwards through open farmland.

This was the sort of quiet country road I like, with plenty of places –  albeit quite muddy places – to pull the car over and get out and walk around.  So, pulling on the Wellington boots that are a fixture in my car, I did just that – while trying to keep a completely open mind about what I might photograph.  Winter landscapes came to mind, but how best to portray them?  I had the Fujifilm X-T1 camera with me, along with my two lenses (wide angle and telephoto zooms) and a spare battery, and so many things were possible – but what to do?

I looked right, into Wiltshire, and immediately recoiled from a great line of pylons marching along beside the road, with the knee-jerk thought that these metal monstrosities must at all costs be excluded from the rural idylls(!) that I had in mind to portray – but then why exclude them, why not make them a part of things?  Their skeletal forms are of course hard and stark, which fit in the winter landscape, which in a way personify Winter, so why not?

And so to the first image of the day – a bare winter landscape seen in black and white, with a faintly blue selenium tone to enhance Winter’s feel.  Bare fields, bare trees, a barely seen dark wall cutting the scene just below the skyline – all as this scene might have looked a century or more ago – apart from the four, gaunt metal legs of the vast metal tower with its undeniable proclamation of intrusive and overriding – but now essential –  modernity.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Floral preset and adding a selenium tone.

.
.
.

PEOPLE 294 – FARMER (MONO)

 

 


.

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.
.
.
.

OUTLANDS 17 – FIELD NEAR WEST LITTLETON

 

 

.

Ploughed field beside the track running northeast from West Littleton, 12 April 2017.

A wide angle lens, pointed down at the ground in front of me and, seeing more than the human eye is capable of, giving me detail right out to the horizon.

Context about this second Outlands trip can be found here, and there are other images here: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom.
.
.
.

OUTLANDS 15 – RECENTLY PRUNED TREE (MONO)

 

 


.
Pruned/pollarded tree; West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.

This tree looks absolutely shorn, battered and blasted, but I’ve caught it a little early in the year – give it another month or two, and it will be sprouting and sending out shoots like there was no tomorrow.

Another of these shorn trees in West Littleton can be seen here.

Context about this second Outlands trip can be found here, and there are other images here: 12, 13, 14.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 215mm (equiv); 1250 ISO; LightroomSilver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset.
.
.
.

OUTLANDS 14 – PHEASANT

 

 


.
As I walked up the byway (see context here), male Pheasants, strutting and noisy, were everywhere – its that time of year.  By contrast, the smaller and far more camouflaged females were rarely seen.  And getting back to the car which I’d parked beside the small common around which West Littleton clusters, I was clearly trespassing on ground this particular male thought his – so he set about strutting around me, noisily protesting and getting ever closer.

What a bird – and looking at him you may wonder that England has produced something so exotic.  To which the simple answer is that it hasn’t – these are birds of the Orient, ranging from the Black Sea east to China, and are thought to have been introduced here in the 11th or 12th centuries – for meat, decoration or both, I suppose.  But country sports and meat are their fate now, and pheasant is considered a delicacy – as I was reminded over breakfast by this picture on the restaurant wall –

.

.

There are other images here: 12, 13.

Click onto the images to open larger versions in separate windows, and then click onto these larger versions to enlarge them yet again.

Technique (main photo): X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm; 320 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.
.
.
.

OUTLANDS 13 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON 2

 

 


.

Something Minimal, there’s really not much here, both in terms of content and colour, but straight black and white would lose a little I think.  And the bird – and getting focus on the bird – were fortuitous!

Context about this second Outlands trip can be found here, and there is another image here: 12.

Click onto this image to open it in a separate window, and click onto it again to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; near West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.
.
.
.

OUTLANDS 12 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON (MONO)

 

 


.
Early in the day: above the byway, east of West Littleton; South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.

More context on this second visit to the extreme south of the Cotswold Hills, and more images, can be found here.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 206mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset.
.
.
.

OUTLANDS 11 – ANOTHER VISIT TO THE OUTLANDS

 

 

The low valley opening out on my left

(click onto each image to open larger versions in separate windows – and click again to further enlarge each image – recommended)

Last December, I tore myself away from my usual haunts and visited somewhere new, not far northeast of Bristol – and started a new category on this blog – Outlands – for places I’d never visited before.  The rationale and context of that day out can be found here, and some of the resulting images are here: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89 and 10.

On 12 April, I visited this area once more.  It was an early start, because of Bristol’s traffic and, more so, because the area I was headed for lies beside one of the main arteries between the city and the hurtling, London-bound,  M4 motorway.  It was really a case of leaving early and getting there in reasonable traffic conditions – and then diving down tiny country lanes before the main rush hour got itself into mechanised mayhem.  Anyway I did it, disappeared down a rabbit hole as it were, and left my car beside the common around which cluster the houses of West Littleton, a little Cotswold village.  Then, aiming for somewhere I hadn’t yet explored, there was a long walk up a byway, a kind of unmade, public track that is certainly ok for smaller vehicles.  Along this track, a shallow valley opened up on my left, I took some photographs, and met two people – a farmer and a jogger. And after the walk out, there was the long walk back again, into the teeth of a gusting northwesterly and then, feeling like some self-indulgent reward after all this slog – I was tempted by a wonderful hot English breakfast delivered by a flustered waitress of the old school, after which, a little later, the day ran on into being tempted by some wonderful Belgian beer – all of which did my waistline not the slightest bit of good at all!  But, who cares?  It was all most enjoyable.

.

(certainly an image to click onto and enlarge) 

Down in the valley, there was a farmer on a quad bike, who was out early, looking for lambs that had been born in the night.  He was towing a trailer with two of these lambs and their mothers, who were being taken back to the farm for further care.  He drove up the slope towards me, and we chatted.  Its usually good talking with farmers, usually interesting – and this one had worked down on the Somerset Levels, where he’d found it hard to understand what the locals were saying – haha, wonderful, I can just imagine that!

.

.

And then, although the quad bike was modern, the even more modern of this world appeared –  the jogger, pounding along the byway between the Cotswold dry stone walls that are such a feature of this landscape.  And oil seed rape, blazing yellow in the background.

.

.

And so to the grub, which was not at all bad after a long, chilly walk.  The sausages (which can often be the blander than bland Achilles Heel of breakfasts) were good as was the bacon, and there was a good wedge of tasty Cheddar cheese too.  The tomato sauce was a bit dayglo but then I like colour, but the plate was a little on the cool side – hot food needs a hot plate!  A pot of Assam tea, sans teabags!, was good.

So, two final thoughts.  First, West Littleton is set in this little area of unprettified, working countryside, which is about two miles square, four square miles.  It is bounded on all sides by fast, direct roads, so that, it seems, only locals use the narrower and more wandering country lanes within the square.  Thus there is little traffic on these little roads, which with me is a decided plus, as is the fact that the little lanes have plenty of places where a small car can be pulled off to the side.  So that I may visit and photograph this “little bit of England” some more.

But I shy away from photographing the picturesque and, in many of their parts, the Cotswold Hills are decidedly picturesque – what to do?  Go with the flow???  Just picture “beautiful” (and simple) England?  Probably.  And I have a feeling there might be a lot of black and white images.

Technique: this was my first trial with both the X-T1 and X-T2 cameras, each with its own lens – the telezoom on the X-T2 and the wide angle zoom on the X-T1, so that there was no need to change lenses.  Walking around with two cameras around my neck didn’t really feel right, and (as usual) the telezoom captured the vast majority of the images – its simply how I “see” things.  But the X-T1 and its zoom is light, and carrying it in my rucksack worked well – wide angle shots don’t usually move around too quickly, so there was time to get it out and into action!  And processing?  Well, as is usual now, Lightroom – and Silver Efex Pro 2 for the black and white of course.

.

.

.

%d bloggers like this: