ARCHIVE 528 – TRACK OVER WANCOMBE HILL (MONO)

 

 


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Track coming up over Wancombe Hill, southwest of Up Cerne, near Cerne Abbas, Dorset; 4 Jul 2003.

This was taken soon after I’d ceased considering birdwatching as my main thing – it had been my raison d’etre since 1967, and the main reason for spending years in Kenya.   I’d been taking photos since around 1960 or before, but they had largely consisted of seeing something nice and recording it with a camera.  Now I wanted to use cameras more as creative tools and, as I mentioned in the Art Wolfe post, to start thinking about John Shaw’s “Photo-Graphics”.

I was still very much wedded to film in those days, and the Olympus OM series SLRs were really something else.  I’d used an OM-1 and an OM-2 in Kenya, but years of use in the tropics had taken their toll, and they were now full of mould.  So, to start photographing again in this new way, I bought an OM-4 second hand via the internet.  On this trip I had this camera, an Olympus (Zuiko) 85-250 telezoom lens, and this simply exquisite little 21mm wide angle; a rickety old birdwatching tripod completed my gear.  And, having heard that Fuji Velvia 50 colour transparencies were the landscape photographer’s film, several rolls of that were in my old rucksack too.

I walked up this track, looked back, and used the 21mm.  The right hand side of the track is probably a little overexposed.

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

Technique: OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; can’t recall how I converted it to black and white.

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OUTER SUBURBS 240 – I DIDN’T LIKE MY FAMILY SO I MADE A NEW ONE

 

 


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Well, I’m still walking in the lockdown, usually leaving home at 0530.  The lighter summer mornings make early starts easier, and I relish the emptiness the lockdown has brought.  Although there is some traffic about – and with the lockdown loosening that has increased a little – in the course of walking for two hours I may only see 10 or fewer other pedestrians at this early hour.  And the fact that some of us now regularly encounter each other has brought a welcome camaraderie – a greeting, a few words exchanged, always at many yards’ distance – which brings a little more sense of normality, a little less desolation in the midst of all this quiet emptiness.

I’ve mapped out a route for walking along which, in most places, there are spaces that make it easier to distance myself from oncoming people.  Those out running are the main problem, and I am by no means the first to notice that many (but not all) of them simply run straight towards you, spraying out great lungfuls of moist breath and evidently expecting you to get out of their way.  Me being me, I have on a couple of occasions refused to move, and have seen the shocked looks as they veer suddenly to one side at the last moment.  This pandemic has revealed many interesting aspects of human psychology.

But the point of this post is to pass onto you something strange.   For there is one short section of my long walk that I have for some bizarre reason grown to like and welcome each early morning – and it is the scene above.  This is a long, wide, dead straight road, a major thoroughfare, that our really totally inadequate and inept local authority has chosen to place a 20mph speed limit on.  And as I walk out onto this road and look to my left, I see the scene above.  There is a lovely grove of trees on the right that always have squirrels around them, and occasionally foxes too.  And further up on the same side of the road there is a little patch of red, that is a lurid advertisement on the side of a bus shelter.  And beyond are the slopes of Dundry Hill which – on this particular morning – had lovely mist in the treetops along its summit.

And I can’t explain why, but every time I come out onto this big, empty, quiet road, and look up towards the lurid red poster on the bus stop and the green hill behind, I have definite feelings of peace, calm and belonging.  And I also have a feeling that when that poster and the lockdown are gone, that this place will not affect me in the same way.  And so I’ve taken a few photos to remind me of this scene, to help remind me of how these strange days were – and here are some of these pics.  And I’ve remembered that, as always, Life itself can be strange.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended for the first two shots only!!!

Technique: TG-5; Lightroom; south Bristol; June 2020.
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Getting closer to the bus stop: the poster and the misty hilltop now more plainly in view.
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LOL!!! and here is “the artwork” itself.  I have not the slightest idea what its advertising – but I like the lurid red!!!

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OUTER SUBURBS 236 – MISTY ROAD

 

 


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Mists, shadows, parked cars and an empty road: early morning in the locked down outer suburbs.

This is the Olympus TG-5 working near its limits.  The zoom lens is at its maximum telephoto (100mm equivalent), I’m shooting at 200 ISO to enhance image quality, and this image is only about 10% of the original frame.  The TG-5 is wonderful – light, compact, (very) robust, highly adaptable and high quality.  If only it could reach 300mm (equiv) telephoto it would be stellar.  Although, with such a small sensor (only measuring 6.17 x 4.55 mm), it would never be a camera for wafer thin depths of focus or oodles of glorious bokeh.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger (+ more grainy!!!) version in a separate window – highly recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 200 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 07 profile; south Bristol; 20 May 2020.

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BRISTOL 172 – STREET SCENE 12

 

 


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Gaily coloured houses and many parked cars in the steep, narrow streets of fashionable, middle class Totterdown.

Other images in the Bristol Street Scenes series are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 .  Searching on the “street” tag (below here) will also find these posts.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; Totterdown, south Bristol; 21 Jan 2020.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 462 – TOTNEY DROVE, FROST-COVERED, IN JANUARY

 

 


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The single track tarmac of Totney Drove, covered in frost, as it makes off eastwards across Tealham Moor.  A bitterly cold morning, just around sunrise but with no sign of the sun: wet, misty  flatlands reach off to the horizon.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 4,000 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia/Soft profile; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 27 Jan 2017.
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PEOPLE 398 – GOING TO WORK 105

 

 


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The morning rush hour, people coming in to work from the south and passing beneath one of the Bristol’s main railway lines.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 40mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait profile; Bedminster, south Bristol; 29 Jan 2019.

Recent Going to Work posts are here: 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 . Each will open in a separate window. (Post 100 contains selected images from the first 99 posts.)

GOING TO WORK: THE EARLIER POSTS: 1-92.

You can see a summary of the Going to Work series here .

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 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 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 . Each will open in a separate window.

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ARCHIVE 471 – HEADING WEST IN FILTHY WEATHER (MONO)

 

 


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Heading west in filthy weather over North Moor, on the Somerset Levels, southwest of Wells; 27 Oct 2011.

Damp and murk on the Somerset Levels: strong winds, rain cascading from dense, dark overcast, and puddles building up along on the roadside –  a mile or so ahead, the road is completely awash.

I hope this photo conveys some of the wildness of that dark morning.  I’m safe and dry in the car of course, and the illuminated dials on the dashboard convey something of being on the inside, looking out.  The two dark, antenna-like structures protruding from the bottom of the windscreen (roughly on either side of the road as we look at them) are the bases of the frantically flailing wipers, and the headlights are on full beam to light more of the scene.

Two technical points.  The astonishing D700 is working at 25,600 ISO – how I love the abilities of this truly gutsy camera!  And, although the (image stabilised) wideangle is wide open at f4 (and 1/20th second), the 16mm focal length still provides sufficient depth of field the render both the dashboard and the road reasonably sharp.

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

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 16mm; 25,600 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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ARCHIVE 463 – PILLMOOR DROVE, LOOKING SOUTH (MONO)

 

 


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Looking south along the single track road known as Pillmoor Drove, on the Somerset Levels, early on a spring morning.  This area is right on the local edge of the Levels.  Higher ground rises up towards Coxley and Wells to the right of the road, and a spur from this higher ground crosses the road, to form Harter’s Hill, which can be seen –  to the left of the tree – rising above the dead flat ground of Pill Moor, which is a part of the Levels.

Harter’s Hill, and the ground rising up to the right, stood up as islands when, not very long ago, the flats of the Levels were covered in lakes and marshes.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset and adding a medium coffee tone; Pill Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 26 Apr 2019.

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ARCHIVE 462 – FATman WITH A FISHEYE (MONO)

 

 


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The FATman using a fisheye lens on Tadham Moor on the Somerset Levels; 11 Dec 2013.

The tall, dark but not handsome shadow lower left is me, taking this photo with a full-frame fisheye, which has a 180 degree field of view across the diagonal.  I’m tilting this wild lens slightly downwards, and so the horizon is slightly bowed upwards.

I’m standing at a small crossroads that I know very well and love very much.  To the left, out of view, is the Magic Carpark.  Straight on is Totney Drove, which rolls on westwards towards Rattling Bow and Westham.  And to the right is Jack’s Drove, which I often mention, making off northwards towards Tealham Moor.  Jack’s Drove is flanked by one of the water-filled ditches, the rhynes (rhymes with “scenes”), that are the field boundaries in this very damp area, and pale lengths of corrugated iron have been built into the rhyne’s bank to (try to!) prevent the road from collapsing into the waterway.

Technique: D700 with Sigma 15mm fisheye lens; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Triste2 preset.

UPDATE: to me, this is a very well known and indeed, treasured, spot – very simple and completely real, and I ask little else.  But time moves on.  Back behind my shadow there is a big dark tree with something pale standing up in front of it.  The dark tree is in fact two big dark trees, while the pale object is the dead stump of a third tree.  The three of these trees were standing beside a rhyne (see above).

Well, four points in time.  I have a wonderful book of black and white pictures from the Levels: Wetland – Life in the Somerset Levels.  This book was published in 1986, and it has a picture of this spot, showing all three of these trees alive and in full leaf: that white stump was the largest and hence I imagine the oldest of these three trees.  Then there is this picture from 2013: the largest tree is now a dead, white stump but the other two are still alive.  However, I visited the spot after much flooding on 31 Mar 2014, and one of the other two trees had toppled over, while the other was leaning at a dangerous angle – that is the problem here when flooding saturates the ground, the peat and clay soils are converted to something approaching the consistency of blancmange, so that the roots of any leaning tree are unable to keep it upright, and it topples over – the scene in 2014 is here .  And so to today, 2020: the old white stump still stands here, but the stumps of the other two are barely visible, having been moved around when the farmers dredge out the rhynes every year.

As Dylan Thomas put it, “Time passes.  Listen.  Time passes.”.

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OUTER SUBURBS 215 – WALKER IN THE SUNRISE

 

 


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Walking – exercising –  in the lockdown as the suns comes up – bright, clean, beautiful light, and a solitary, somewhat rotund walker in broad, silent, empty streets.  Walking for 105 minutes, I encountered less than 10 others on foot, half of whom were running for exercise; I gave them all a very wide berth.  These walks in the early morning are wonderful, both as physical exercise and for metal health – it feels good to be out!  But for how much longer this will be possible is uncertain because, as some are still flouting the social distancing regulations, a complete ban on physical exercising outdoors may be brought in.

It is incredible that some are still congregating in groups and so contributing to the spread of a virus that continues to kill hundreds every day, but that is (a minority of) the human animal, here at least.  To me, this seems something like an uncaring or irresponsible version of the crime Manslaughter.

The UK is a liberal Western democracy and of course we all believe in that status very much, i.e. the right to do (more or less) as we please, within our laws.  But given this current flouting of social distancing laws, I cannot help but look at more dictatorial regimes, and wonder if we here in the UK have given liberalism too free a rein.  I remember talking about this sometime back with a friend from another European country, and he thought his country would have less trouble containing the virus as “people there are more used to doing what they are told”.  Coronavirus is of course – hopefully, at least! – a once in a lifetime event, so that extraordinary conditions apply, but I still wonder if, in ordinary, everyday life, we have got the balance of personal freedoms against the good of society as a whole exactly right.  Thought provoking times …

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 500 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait profile; south Bristol; 5 Apr 2020.
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