STILL LIFE 128 – CENTRAL RESERVATION

 

 


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The central reservation on a dual carriageway, with pedestrian and car approaching.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; spotmetering; Lightroom; beside Temple Meads railway station, central Bristol; 26 May 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 287 – DAWN, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 

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The view across Tealham Moor, with the first faint flush of sunrise starting to warm the cold dawn light.

The single track Totney Drove, covered in frost, ice, and tyre marks, makes off eastwards towards the trees of Tadham Moor in the distance.  This thin strip of tarmac is at best uneven, but between the two nearest trees it bulges slightly upwards where, on a little bridge, it crosses a manmade waterway known as the North Drain, which empties water from this sodden landscape into the nearby River Brue.  This tiny bridge has metal railings on either side, and glint of the North Drain’s waters can just be seen to either side of them, near the left and right edges of the image.

The striking shape of the tree is the result of being cut back by mechanised shears mounted on the farmer’s tractor.  Adjacent to the drove, within reach of the cutters’ teeth, its profile has been cut back to a sheer vertical, but beyond the cutters’ reach – higher up, and on the side away from the road – it blossoms out in more natural fashion.

More context about this bitterly cold, early morning visit to the Somerset Levels can be found here, and there is another pre-sunrise image here.

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

X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 8,000 ISO; 27 Jan 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 286 – DAWN IN THE HEADLIGHTS

 

 

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Driving in the dawn along Kid Gate Drove, on the western fringes of Tealham Moor; 27 Jan 2017.

I’d turned off the main road and all at once the narrow lanes in the wetter, flatter country were white in the headlights.  Someone had driven down this road before me on this freezing morning and, like me, had no doubt driven with great care.  It was difficult to stand up on this icy surface, and the strange thing was that this ice seemed to be affecting only the roads,  the surrounding fields looked quite normal.

So I sat in the car, turned the headlights onto fill beam, and took this photo through the windscreen.  Dead, yellowing grasses on the sides of the road lead down to a road sign blazing white in the distance – the road turns abruptly to the left down there, and anyone speeding southwards down Kid Gate Road, especially at night, needs to know about that.

There is more about this bitterly cold visit to the Somerset Levels here.

There is another, very different, image illuminated by car headlights here.

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

X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 84mm (equiv); 25,600 ISO; illuminated by daybreak and car headlights.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 279 – ALLERMOOR DROVE (MONO)

 

 

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Allermoor Drove arrows eastwards across Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south Wedmore; 24 June 2016.

Not long ago, these flatlands were covered in lakes and impenetrable marshes, in which higher ground like that seen at top left formed islands.

When these flatlands were drained and converted to agriculture, a network of these (often dead straight) droves was laid down across the newly emergent landscape, so that farmers could access their fields without crossing other farmers’ land.  A few of these droves have been (slightly!) widened to become tarmac roads, but most remain as rough tracks like this, which are quite adequate for their purpose.

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

X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2.
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STILL LIFE 50 – TWO BOLLARDS BESIDE A CAR (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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Two bollards beside a parked car; Welsh Back, central Bristol, 5 August 2016.

Or two little people, with bright, tanned faces and circular hats.  One comes closer for a better look at me, the other, more unsure, hangs back.

The nearer bollard is the only sharp thing in the shot, and is separated from the rest of the shot by virtue of that.  Moving slightly to the left had the effect of surrounding the more distant bollard with the pale and far out of focus backdrop, so preventing it from merging with the car’s dark bulk.

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

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, including selective restoration of colour.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 272 – HARD ROAD (MONO)

 

 

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A new surface of chippings on the muddy track south of the Magic Carpark, Tadham Moor; 24 June 2016.

In the summer, but doubtless thinking of the winter ahead, the farmer has re-surfaced this rough track with a carpet of tough, angular chippings.  These rough rocks felt sharp and uncomfortable underfoot, and the whole impression was of a hard road on a dark day, leading on into the future.

And as anticipated (and finding refuge perhaps in less stark, technical matters), I found a use for the X-T1’s tilting back screen – it saves having to lie down flat when bringing a wide angle lens down to ground level.  And I partner this screen and lens combination with something bought long ago in a garden centre.  A garden centre?! … I know … the memory still smarts … I’ll be playing bingo next … 

But anyway, this garden centre item is a very light and portable rubber pad for gardeners to kneel down on, and its just the thing for my ageing knees – especially on surfaces like this!

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

X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon at 15mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Wet Rocks preset.
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STILL LIFE 40 – DRAIN, WITH KERB, DASHED WHITE LINE AND SKID MARKS (MONO)

 

 

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Drain, with kerb, dashed white line and skid marks; Thatcham, Berkshire; 1 June 2016.

Street scene in downtown Thatcham: shapes, textures and (mainly) curving lines. 

Color Efex Pro 4 has been used to give the end result the look of black and white infrared film.

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

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 24mm; 400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

POSTSCRIPT: to me, someone who admittedly doesn’t get out much, the curving lines are streaming out across the image from sources along its left margin.  The kerb has just missed the drain, and arrows on through the picture’s lower right corner.  The skid marks are spraying out upwards, towards the image’s upper margin.  But the white line is more accurately set, and we have caught the moment in which it first impacts on the drain’s periphery.  And if all this imagined dynamism – seen through a child’s eyes maybe –  is real, then this isn’t a still life at all and I have, as the phrase so happily puts it, shot myself in the foot … 
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STILL LIFE 38 – SUBURBIA WITH YELLOW (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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Thatcham, Berkshire; 1 June 2016.

Kneeling down in suburbia, beset (but far from besotted) by immaculately manicured lawns, carefully polished cars on tidy drives, hanging floral baskets, TV aerials, overhead wires and, in one disgraceful instance (presumably on the property of a Conservative hardliner), little grottoes populated by garden gnomes – oh spare me the little grottoes!

And I was kneeling down at the road’s edge, perhaps as a penance for allowing myself to become embroiled with suburbia in the first place. 

But certainly getting funny looks from a smirking postman – rude boy that he was, Preciousss! (and what was Gollum doing there, snacking from ornamental fish ponds, gorging on koi carp al fresco???) .  

Yes, funny looks, perhaps because the sole and fervently uttered prayer on my ageing lips was that I might, in due course, be allowed to regain the standing position without having to call the Emergency Services.

Anyway, there was yellow paint on the road, a little glimmer of untidy gaiety in a landscape otherwise dedicated to ordered comfort and respectability, and I knelt down and photographed it.

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 24mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset and selectively restoring colour.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 266 – RAINY MORNING 2 (MONO)

 

 

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A drab soaker of a morning, the skies emptying.  The road ahead – Totney Drove – has a bleak beauty, and I stop the car to take in the scene.  Then, a glance in the mirror to check I’m not blocking anyone’s way, and I lift the camera from the passenger seat, and take a series of shots through the wet windscreen.

Driving west in the rain: the view through the windscreen;  Tadham Moor, 29 Apr 2016.

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

The very different Rainy Morning 1 can be found here.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 116mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 257 – TRACTOR TRACKS, WALTON DROVE (MONO)

 

 

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This picture is best viewed much enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window.

Walton Drove arrows south across Walton Moor, on the Somerset Levels to the south of the Polden Hills; 13 Jan 2016.

This little back road – which angles through the upper right of the frame –  is a single track strip of battered and broken tarmac, really only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. 

And, driving along it, a tractor of some size has encountered something coming the other way, and has had to pull off onto the soft roadside grass, churning it instantly into mud and leaving the telltale tracks of its huge tyres. 

We are right down there with it, indeed right down there in it, crouching in the mud and soaking grass, viewing something small, a little scene, that speaks volumes about this whole, wonderful place.

D800 with 16-35 Nikkor at 18mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset.
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