STILL LIFE 193 – TABLE IN A CAFE (MONO)

 

 


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A little while back, we went up to the café at the Priddy Good Farm Shop, on the top of the Mendip Hills, for a first rate Full English Breakfast.  I’d taken along the Fujifilm X-T1 camera and 10-24 wide angle lens specifically to photograph the food – and the resulting picture is here.

This café is a little extension with large windows on two sides that has been built onto the farm and, while waiting for the food to arrive, I walked around with the camera looking at anything and everything.  Next to us was a long wooden table with chairs along both sides and, set beside both sets of windows, it was well lit.  Long and slim, it receded from me.  I put the zoom onto its widest setting (15mm full-frame equivalent), looked down at the table, and raised the camera.  The farmer came in and said “You’re photographing the table.”, which put everything neatly into context, and I started gently squeezing the trigger.

I don’t often think about such things, but I suppose it was always going to be a black and white shot, with the receding lines of the table and the wonderful grain, knots and plate/glass marks on its polished top – and also the little group of condiments and sauces in their various containers, just in front of the bright reflection at the table’s end.

But the thing about pointing such a wide angle lens downwards is the distortion it brings, which makes all of the chairs appear to be “relaxing” outwards, which in turn channels more attention down onto the table top.  It could almost be a coffin, flanked by laid back, contemplative mourners and set with some small (and saucy??? – ohhhh! 😉 ) tributes to the deceased.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Push Process N+3 preset, and adding a light coffee tone; Priddy, on the top of the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 19 Jan 2018.
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STILL LIFE 192 – AUTUMN 3

 

 


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Autumn leaves and lichen inside an old and very weathered pot for flowers; on a grave, on a frosty morning, in the cemetery at Stanton Drew.

Earlier Autumn posts are here: 1 2 .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 238mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley, south of Bristol; 6 Nov 2017.
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ARCHIVE 338 – THE VIEW SOUTH FROM RATTLEDOWN FARM

 

 


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The view south from Rattledown Farm, looking out over the Chew Valley, south of Bristol; Chew Valley Lake is in the background – looking for all the world like blue sky; 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 used in APS-C format, with a 70-300 Nikkor lens giving a focal length of 450mm; 400 ISO;  final manipulation in Colour Efex Pro 4.

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STILL LIFE 190 – THE FULL FARMER AT PRIDDY

 

 


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The name of this blog is not an idle flight of fancy!  Quite unashamedly, I enjoy my food (and Belgian beer too!) and, although I was far more flabby those seven years ago when I gave this blog its name – despite having lost over 40lbs, I am still not what one might term svelte.  And I am a fan of Full English Breakfasts, which are large, highly calorific, cooked affairs which either set you up wonderfully for the day ahead – or make it hard for you to rise from your chair and do anything at all – whichever way you want to look at it.

But a good Full English is an elusive thing.  In many instances, all of the classic ingredients can be present, but the whole thing can be pale and washed out in appearance, and really quite drab to taste.  I’ve found that the tastier versions of this culinary gem are often those with more brightly coloured ingredients, not garish technicolor to be sure, but also not pallid either. And when I find one of the relatively few eateries serving up such fare, it quickly becomes somewhere to visit over and over again.

Such a place is Priddy Good Farm Shop,, in the little village of Priddy on the top of the Mendip Hills south of Bristol.  Its most of an hour’s drive away, but eating there is always an eminently enjoyable occasion, the food is always good quality, simple and tasty – and lots of it!  And as well as the usual breakfast fare, this little shop also sells some of the best meat pies I’ve ever eaten in my life, and luscious fruit pies just like the ones my dear old Mum used to bake.

And so here is the farm shop’s largest Full English, which they imaginatively call The Full Farmer.  Those with smaller appetites can order The Farmer’s Wife or, smaller still, The Farmer’s Kid – yes its a real family business 🙂 !  And as well as the food shown here, it comes with thick toast (made with real bread, not sliced!) and great steaming pots of tea or coffee.

So, what was good about this meal?  Well, on the veggie side, the fried mushrooms were extremely tasty, as was the roasted tomato (which was not tinned!), and there were a lot of beans – and beans are always good!  Sausages can often be the Achilles Heel of breakfasts, they can be largely lacking in  texture and taste, but this shop uses meat from its own farm, and these had plenty of both.  The bacon too was thick and tasty, and the eggs were fried to perfection – still just a little runny.

And this is where those of you with weak stomachs and/or a more civilised take on Life than I’ll ever be able to muster should turn off your computers/phones/etc now, because the round black disc at lower left is a sizeable chunk of black pudding, a really tasty confection for which, as ingredients, google lists pig’s blood, salt, pork fat or beef suet, allspice, oatmeal, onion, milk and black pepper.

And the final good thing about this substantial repast?  It was served, as it is always served here, on a very warm plate, which is just the thing – serving any hot meal on a cold plate ruins it in my view.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Priddy, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 19 Jan 2018.

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STILL LIFE 188 – MEGALITH 4 (MONO)

 

 


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Amongst the prehistoric ritual stones at Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol.

Other images of these ritual stones are here: 1  2  3 .

More info about this prehistoric site is here .

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

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset and adding a light coffee tone; Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley; 6 Nov 2017.
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ARCHIVE 335 – SHOOTING INTO THE GLARE 2

 

 


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Shooting into the mist and light on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 10 Apr 2014.

There is another recently posted image from this sequence, and more context, here .

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 220mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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STILL LIFE 186 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 10 (MONO) : THE DANCERS

 

 


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Folding chairs outside a cafe in Bath, Somerset; 28 Mar 2009.

Immediately I saw these stacked chairs I thought of a group of (probably rather inebriated) people dancing a merry jig, and that impression has never gone away.  If only they could move, they’d dance off to the left as they are now, and then lurch back right again to the accompaniment of energetic music and much merriment and laughter – I’d like to be joining in with them!

The original slide has some confusing detail between each pair of struts, but I’ve darkened this to show just the detail and shapes of the  “front rank”.  The brightest dancer is somewhere around the left vertical third.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found hereSubsequent posts are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  9  .  Each will open in a new window.

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

Technique: F6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide, rated at 500 ISO; conversion to mono and further mainipulation in Silver Efex Pro 2 and Capture NX2.

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ARCHIVE 333 – SHOOTING INTO THE GLARE

 

 

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Low angle sunlight shining through mist on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 10 Apr 2014.

Driving westwards across Tadham Moor with the sun rising behind me, I started encountering low banks of mist which were decidedly mobile, appearing and disappearing with disconcerting rapidity.  I was heading for the Magic Carpark but suddenly became aware that the mist ahead was fast disappearing, and so I swerved into a field entrance, leapt out of the car and looked back behind me, into the glare – and started firing.

As usual, there was a short length of fencing beside the gate to the field, which extended down from the gate to the water-filled ditch that otherwise forms the field’s boundary.  So I placed this in the foreground as a silhouette for depth, focused on it with a large aperture – and let the misty landscape behind it look after itself.  This backdrop consists of the rough, rather greyish pasture of the field, behind which are a few thin bushes and shrubs along the field’s edge – these are standing above another wet ditch which is the field’s far boundary.

Beyond this boundary, the next field holds greener grass and, in the distance, the faint silhouettes of larger trees can just be seen.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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STANTON DREW 46 – VILLAGE LIFE 13

 

 


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A frosty, misty, autumn morning on the outskirts of the village.  A path, made by farm animals, passes across the fields of Church Farm – which, logically enough, is the farm next to the church.  There is a livestock-proof gate into the next field in the hedge in the distance and, on the right, one of the farm’s outbuildings.

A calm, simple scene, shot against the light.  The path leads my eye towards the distant gate, and the wall and the outbuilding (including the shallow tilt of its roof) are also pointing in that general direction.

This might look alright in black and white, but here are the muted colours of the cold and the mist, made more so by the film simulation.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1 .  Further images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12  .    Each will open in a new window.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 84mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Pro Neg. Hi film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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ARCHIVE 332 – SQUALL COMING, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Squall approaching, Tadham Moor, Somerset Levels; 29 Apr 2016.

I was down on the Somerset Levels last week on a cold, wet and blustery morning.  There were bare winter trees, there were fierce hailstorms too and, to my astonishment, my journey over the higher ground of the Mendip Hills had been accompanied by snowfall.  And yet all of this was only two days away from (what we Brits can only hope will be) May’s rising warmths and softnesses!  There are times when you just have to laugh at our British weather – if only because the alternative would be to weep.

Anyway, I was out on Tadham Moor, having a hot drink while sheltering behind my car from the gusting wind, when there was a perceptible stirring behind me, followed by a sudden and urgent freshening of the air.  I turned, saw this scene, and had time for a few hurried frames before those dark, trailing curtains translated into what they so clearly were – and my car was buffeted and rattled by a furious, near-horizontal deluge that lasted a minute or two and then raced on.

I wonder if summer is actually coming this year?  You never quite know in the UK.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset, and giving the result the look of Kodak Plus-X 125PX Pro black and white film.

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