ARCHIVE: LEVELS 96 – SINGLE TRACK ROAD


Rural idyll – the morning drive to work across Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 18 Nov 2016.

Sunrise tints the sky, and two cars face each other down on Totney Drove, the sole east-west tarmac strip across this dripping and glutinous area of lowland.  Driving here, we are below sea level.

The road is single track, someone will have to pull over or back up – but most of the drivers here are locals and usually they are very courteous – which only adds to the pleasure of visiting this little out of the way, backwater of a place.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 195mm; 1600 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 82 – FLOODED ROAD (MONO)


Exploring out on Queen’s Sedge Moor, not far south of the tiny city of Wells, in filthy conditions – rain falling from grey overcast, lots of surface water and simply heroic amounts of mud.  And then onto this little single track road heading for the tiny village of Barrow – when a van, obviously driven by a local, someone who knows the place – rounded a corner and came straight at me at speed.  There was no danger, this image was taken with a 450mm telephoto, which gives x9 magnification, and so it was still quite far off – but it put on speed through the surface water and spray flew everywhere.

Lots of familiarisation with this new camera paid off: I just had time to engage Continuous Autofocus, focus onto the number plate, hold down AF-ON and start firing – three frames and then the vehicle was on me and I was off into the (very soggy) roadside grass.  But, as is often the case down there, a cheery wave from the driver – after all, if I choose to stand in the road, its my lookout!

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (APS-C) format to give 450mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 Picture Control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset; Queen’s Sedge Moor, south of Wells, on the Somerset Levels; 5 Apr 2019.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 89 – THE VIEW EASTWARDS, BUTLEIGH MOOR (MONO)


The view eastwards on Butleigh Moor, south of the Polden Hills; 13 Jan 2016.

A bright and freezing morning out on the Somerset Levels given the piercing clarity of a strong infrared image.

A thin tarmac road arrows into the distance, guarded on its southern side by a line of pollarded willow trees.  Placing the sun behind the nearest willow prevents its dazzling brightness from obscuring the rest of the image.

This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 16mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared High Contrast preset.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 79 – WET AFTERNOON, GOING HOME


Going home from work.  Sitting glumly on a bus near Bristol’s Temple Meads railway station, while the rain streamed down and the dull winter’s afternoon grew ever duller.  It was sometime in February 2006, and the day had nothing in mind other than to expire gratefully, unremembered, into the darkness and anonymity of a wet night.

But I do remember this afternoon clearly – mainly thanks to this photo I suppose.  I was sitting in my favourite seat, right up in the front on the upper deck of the bus, but even that could not dispel the feelings of drabness and gloom brought on by the cold and damp weather – and, let’s face it, no approach to Temple Meads station passes through any of Bristol’s more attractive quarters.

The bus in front is covered is a vast green advert for Asda supermarkets, and to the right of it, alone on a traffic island, is a derelict hotel.   The red lights bring a touch of colour to the otherwise drab scene, and the rain spattered window recalls my feeling at that moment of wanting to be anywhere else in the world but stuck on this damned bus!

Click onto the image to see a larger version of all this dreadfulness in a separate window.

Technique: Olympus XA2 with Fuji Provia 400 colour slide film rated at 800 ISO – and fellow passengers all too audibly wondering what the hell this fat weirdo was doing taking pictures from a bus on a rainy day …



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 84 – THE ROAD NORTH TOWARDS GODNEY (MONO)


A dark, wet morning on the Somerset Levels, looking back up the road to the village of Godney, on the horizon. 

On the left, the stump of a heavily pollarded Willow, crowned by a few new leaves but close to collapse.

You can find out more about pollarding trees, and about the Somerset Levels too, here .

This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 03 profile; Godney Road, looking north towards the village of Godney, northwest of Glastonbury, on the Somerset Levels; 14 June 2019.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 64 – FROSTY ROAD (MONO)


Kid Gate Drove, Tealham Moor, before sunrise on a frosty morning.

Thick frost, bitter cold and the bare landscape of winter; I’m looking back up the road I’ve driven down, some of the tyre marks are mine.

Technique: strongly converging lines draw the eye into the image, all the way up the road to those dark trees, and in particular to that tall tree – which (as open happens) reminds me of a bursting artillery shell or bomb.  And the backdrop, behind those roadside trees, is faded, ill-defined and grey, with thin, dark mist drifting like smoke overhead.  The use of a slightly bluish Selenium tone hopefully(!) adds to the image’s cold feel.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 84mm (equiv); 12,800 ISO; LightroomSilver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset and adding a moderate Selenium tone; 27 Jan 2017.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 58 – THE ROAD SOUTH ACROSS TEALHAM MOOR


 

Jack’s Drove, arrowing southwards across Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 30 Oct 2014. Water-filled ditches (rhynes) covered in green waterweed accompany the drove on its journey south.

My heartland, where I like to be  And this was a dark morning, the sun up but really not making itself felt; and occasional spots of drizzle falling through an unseasonally soft mildness.  Nothing but the sounds of the breeze and the birds – wagtails coming to look at me, a meadow pipit briefly by, lapwings overhead, mallards in a ditch – and always the great, arch-winged herons, splitting the morning with their rough and far carrying barks.

But there was excitement too, a missed opportunity perhaps.  I was in the Magic Carpark,  leaning against the car, sucking down hot, sweet coffee, when there came a noise that really ought to have immediately meant more to an ex-birder.  A rushing and thumping, something like an old steam train off in the distance.  I moved away from the car, turned questioningly and there, pounding up the rhyne for all they were worth, were a family of five swans, running on the water, intent on getting up into the air and very nearly there – wingspans upwards of 7 feet and each hurtling body weighing at least 20 pounds – and all headed straight at me!

I don’t know who was most surprised.  I remember standing there, clutching my coffee, “Oh ************ ….!!!!”.   And, as I’d come out from behind the car, they’d seen me too and then they were suddenly up above the water and desperately veering and swerving off to either side.  It was like standing in a shooting gallery – like the scene in Ghostbusters 2 where Winston Zeddemore has the spectral locomotive go right through him on the old disused underground railway. 

And one moment they were there, the next they were streaming past either side of me at shoulder height – and the next they were gone.  Leaving me, frozen to the spot, with my coffee spilled.

Oh if I’d only had the camera around my neck!  But what if I had?  What would there have been time for?  Lifting and switching it on in one often used motion, and frantically thumbing the (absolutely wonderfully useful) AF-ON button.  I always leave the camera with the zoom back at 70mm and Matrix metering set, so that would have been just the job but, really, three seconds of frantically blasting away, if that – to produce at best … “artistically blurred creations” …  in the heat of the moment, the wide angle zoom, as used in the landscape above, would have been a better bet.

I love wild things and I loved that encounter.  It was far better to be full on in the middle of it than to try and photograph it.

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

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 12mm; 1600 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 54 – THE VIEW SOUTH, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)


Looking south on a wet morning in early winter, with a wide angle lens on the camera, and a split tone added in post-capture processing.

Compositionally, the lines of the track, the banks of the water-filled ditch to the left of the track, the horizon and the cloud formations all draw my eyes down past the large tree.  A tree that is certainly valued, perhaps even loved –  I never come to this very special place without touching it and talking to it, as it clings stoutly to the steep bank of yet another water-filled ditch, always in danger of toppling over, as three other long-known willows behind the camera have already toppled.

Click onto the image twice to open an enlarged version: recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 12 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset and adding a split tone; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 6 Dec 2019.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 52 – SUNRISE, TOTNEY DROVE


 

A misty morning on the Somerset Levels: Totney Drove, a single track, tarmac lane makes off eastwards across Tadham Moor.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 181mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera ASTIA/Soft profile; Totney Drove, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 19 Oct 2018.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 48 – EARLY MORNING 8


Swanshard Lane, as the first shafts of sunlight light up the mists of early morning.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 210mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 23 Aug 2019.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



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