SOMERSET LEVELS 448 – SITTING IN THE CAR, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW (MONO)

 

 


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Longer term readers of this blog will have heard this already, but for those more recently looking at my pictures – first, THANK YOU! for doing so – and second here is a little explanatory context re the Somerset Levels, which are an area in southwest England that you may not be familiar with.  My first Levels post – here – goes into more detail, but in essence the Levels are the second largest area of reclaimed flatlands in the UK, after those of East Anglia.  Many areas in the Levels have a distinctive landscape in that, rather than being enclosed by fences, the fields are separated by water-filled ditches, called rhynes (rhymes with “scenes”), which make for a very open and distinctive landscape.

And so to this picture.  Out on Tealham Moor, a favourite area of the Levels, early in the morning, I’d driven up Jack’s Drove, which is the single track, tarmac road visible upper left in the picture.  Since these Levels fields are surrounded by water-filled rhynes, each field must have a little bridge across the water, to allow the farmers to get their livestock, tractors, etc in and out of the pastures.  And so, very carefully, I backed my car onto one of these tiny bridges, so as not to leave it blocking the very narrow road.  And care is needed here, because any misjudgment would risk plunging both me and my vehicle into many feet of water and thick, muddy ooze.

The car safely parked, I relaxed, opened the driver’s window, looked out and was confronted by this quintessential Levels scene.  First, the landscape is dead flat and, in this area, below the level of the high tides that lap the shores of the Bristol Channel, which is not far off to the west.  Global warming and its attendant sea level rises are a very relevant issue here.  Only far away, on the horizon, can higher ground be seen.  These are the long line of the Polden Hills and, back in the days when most of the land in this photo consisted of impenetrable lakes and marshes, the Romans built a road along the top of these hills, to get down from Glastonbury to the sea.

Nearer at hand, the long line of the rhyne, the water-filled ditch, stretches away in front of us, with the black tarmac of Jack’s Drove up on its left.  The grassy tufts in the foreground are along the edge of the tiny bridge upon which the car is parked.  And to the right a short section of apparently purposeless fencing.  But its not purposeless at all.  The field’s gate is out of view to the right and, given half a chance, cows, sheep. etc would try to squeeze around the edge of the gate, and escape the field – and would either gain the bridge and make off down the road – or fall into the rhyne while trying.  And so every gate in this distinctive landscape has such short stretches of fencing on either side, to keep the livestock in.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 08 profile; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wedmore; 14 Feb 2020.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 447 – THE NORTH DRAIN, LOOKING WEST 2

 

 


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Using a very wide angle lens to see a wider angle of view – sharply –  than the unaided human eye ever can: the manmade North Drain flows off slowly towards the horizon, removing water from the often sodden, flat peatlands around it.  Surface water can be seen lying on these rough pastures, but they are not yet actually flooded.  Above, during a period of numerous storms, the tranquil sky of a brief interlude of high atmospheric pressure.

In my previous post –  here  –  there is a very different version of this view, taken with a telephoto lens and presented in black and white.  The post will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image once or twice to open an enlarged version in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a raw file, using the Velvia/VIVID film simulation; no further processing; the North Drain, on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wedmore; 14 Feb 2020.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 446 – THE NORTH DRAIN, LOOKING WEST (MONO)

 

 


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An early morning visit to the Somerset Levels on Friday.  There was a storm here last weekend and the effects were still apparent: trees down, lots of surface water everywhere (tho no real flooding as yet), and farmers on enormous tractors trying to manoeuvre farm machinery through simply vast amounts of mud – and temporarily blocking the narrow roads in the process.  And, as I type this today (Saturday), yet another storm, with further vast amounts of rainfall and high winds, is hitting us this weekend.

I got to a favourite spot on Tealham Moor, where a little bridge crosses a manmade waterway called the North Drain, which helps to take the water off these frequently sodden flatlands.  It was a quiet morning, a short-lived ridge of high pressure – the calm before today’s storm! – was over us, and I looked west along the almost flat and morionless surface of the drain.  There were the reflections of three small bushes in the still water, and the waterway disappeared around a bend in the distance.  The scene was simple, almost Minimal in a way, with the blank sky and water separated by a great dark wedge of winter landscape pushing across from the right.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 195mm; 800 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a raw file, using the Graphite profile; further processing in Lightroom; the North Drain, on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wedmore; 14 Feb 2020.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 445 – FLAT 20A (MONO)

 

 


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Walking down Orchard Street in Weston-super-Mare on a very grey and damp morning, and glancing up to the right.

Other recent pictures from Weston are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 . All will open in separate windows.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 12,800 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a raw file, using the Graphite profile; Orchard Street, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 3 Jan 2020.

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BIRDS 126 – FERAL PIGEON 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Feral Pigeons on a church roof.  It was a dark morning, and so (even at 3200 ISO) to a shutter speed of 1/40 second, which resulted in the blurring of the flying bird’s wings, which I like.

There is another image of these birds, and some more context, here .

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

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Graphite profile; Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 3 Jan 2020.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 444 – GLASTONBURY TOR, FROM TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Out on Tealham Moor, on the rough, wet flatlands known as the Somerset Levels.  On the right, the single track tarmac of Totney Drove makes off eastwards between two bushes with the sheer faces that tell of the ruthless power of tractor-born, mechanical cutters.  And to the right of the right-hand bush, way off on the horizon, the iconic landmark of Glastonbury Tor, with the tower of a ruined church just visible on its summit.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 800 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a raw file, using the Graphite profile and in-camera cropping; further processing in Lightroom; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wedmore; 9 Aug 2019.
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ARCHIVE 429 – THE VIEW SOUTH FROM RATTLEDOWN FARM

 

 


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The view south from Rattledown Farm, looking out over the Chew Valley in Somerset, with Chew Valley Lake in the background; 12 July 2013.

Another slice of the English countryside, on a beautiful morning.  I think that the line of taller trees take my eye up through the picture to the lake’s blue, which then pulls my gaze right.  And I like the wedge of vivid pale green cutting across the image, just about along the upper horizontal third.

Chew Valley Lake is an artificial reservoir, flooded in the early 1950s – Google tells me it is the 5th largest artificial lake in the UK.  It has something of a special place in my life in that it was around its shores, in 1967, that I took my first, hesitant steps to becoming a birdwatcher – “with a little help from my friends”!

I was useless at birdwatching in those days.  I was (and am) short sighted, wore glasses, and had only a small telescope bought for me by my parents many years earlier.  So, a bird would appear, I’d see it and whip off my glasses so as to be able to use my telescope – and then totally lose sight of it, casting blindly about with the scope.  For Christmas that year, my impecunious mother bought me a pair of 10×50 binoculars that could be used with my glasses on and – no pun intended – I never looked back.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give a focal length of 450mm; 400 ISO;  final manipulation in Color Efex Pro 4.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 443 – EARLY MORNING, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Early morning on Tealham Moor: silent except for the soft shuffling of the cattle and the low sigh of the breeze.

There is a colour version of this image here .

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; 800 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a Raw file, using the Graphite profile and in-camera cropping; further minor processing in Lightroom; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wedmore; 9 Aug 2019.

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ARCHIVE 428 – EARLY MORNING 36

 

 


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Sunrise over Glastonbury Tor, seen from Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 22 Nov 2013.

I’ve lightened the centre section to bring interest to the mid-ground with the two cows – but I’m sure they should have shadows … oh dear, digital … not always quite up to it are you?  Or maybe I’m not quite up to it – its probably me ….

And of course I’m pointing my magnificent if distinctly weighty telezoom straight into the sun’s glare, and so to a second, orange sun low down in the frame, and also some rather fiery glows between that sun and the real one.  I could have gone at it with software to try and make good these optical artefacts but, first, I can’t be bothered, and second, I think they add to the atmosphere and feeling of the shot – I mean, I’m pointing a x6 telephoto directly into Our Star’s incandescent face, so what do I expect, perfect and pristine optical rendition?

I like the 80-400 (but – Jan 2020 – have sold it now).  Large and unwieldy it may be and its not one of Nikon’s very quick AF-S lenses, but it is image stabilised and I can hand hold it, and it gives such reach and flexibility.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are 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 .  All will open in separate windows.  You can also search on the “early morning” tag.

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO.

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BIRDS 125 – FERAL PIGEON (MONO)

 

 


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Feral Pigeons on a church roof, under the dark overcast of a wet morning.

Feral (or Town) Pigeons are the descendants of the truly wild Rock Doves that in earlier times were widely kept in dovecotes for food.  They occur in a great variety of plumages, and are widely found in towns and cities.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 75mm; 6400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Grad ND (EV-1) preset, and adding a moderate Coffee tone; Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 3 Jan 2020.
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