ARCHIVE: LEVELS 11 – LOOKING EAST, TOTNEY DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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Looking eastwards along Totney Drove, a single track, tarmac road on Tadham Moor.  Tall Willows are silhouetted by the sunrise, and water-filled rhynes (ditches) flank the road on either side.  The distance is shrouded in fog, but the ghosts of cattle can just be made out in the background on the left.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

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

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Tin Type preset; Totney Drove, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 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.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 6 – 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.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

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.

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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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 3 – ANIMAL (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Cow, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 1 Nov 2013.

Animal.  Something wild, unpredictable and quite uncontrollable, calmly gazing at you with that cold eye.  Something capable at any moment of bursting into bellowing, trampling, all-crushing rage.  Something that all of the instincts and memories inherited from our forebears tell us is dangerous, and to be avoided.

I very much like the cool, measured gaze from beneath the stiletto lashes.  And to prove that I’m no hero, I have to confess that a stout farm gate was separating us.  I also like the swirling patterns in that coarse, wet hair – the eye appears to be looking out at us from within an eddy or whirlpool.

I’ve taken the image into black and white and increased contrast and structure, to bring out the patterns in the hair.  I think I added some creamish toning too – a great favourite.  And lastly I’ve added something subtle by restoring the very pale purplish colour in the eye and its surroundings.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 .  All of these links will open in separate windows.

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

Technique:  D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Yellowed 2 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.

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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 22 – DRIVING WESTWARDS, TADHAM MOOR

 

 


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Moving cautiously westwards across Tadham Moor on the Somerset Levels, through fog turned incandescent by the rising sun.

The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives (and some new images too), I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  Earlier Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

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 – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Totney Drove, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.

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ARCHIVE 578 – MALLARD ON THE RHYNE BESIDE JACK’S DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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Mallard on the rhyne beside Jack’s Drove, on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 31 Mar 2015.

Springtime, and a pair of Mallards swim up the water-filled ditch or rhyne (rhymes with “seen”)  beside the little road known as Jack’s Drove.  These ducks will breed on this backwater, the more brightly patterned male (on the left) more prominent on his territory while the darker, drabber and more camouflaged female sits undetected on their nest, somewhere in the dense waterside vegetation.

In contrast to these two quietly swimming beings, I see the bare tree on the right as a mass of writhing snakes or sinuous fingers, reaching up, furiously grasping, skywards.  And in fact on this extremely windy day, while the ducks were relatively sheltered on their little waterway, the tree was twisting and writhing as it took the full force of a westerly howling in from the Bristol Channel.

Click onto this image to see a larger and far more detailed image that opens in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset.

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ARCHIVE 555 – CROW ON A FALLEN TREE (MONO)

 

 


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Carrion Crow perched on a fallen tree; Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 31 Mar 2014.

Early in the day, I pulled bleary eyed into the Magic Carpark, stumbled out of the car – and saw this crow.  Praying that it wouldn’t move, and all fingers and thumbs, I readied the camera, turned and – it was still there!  In fact it stayed there for sometime.

The tree is a casualty of the recent severe flooding.  It was probably not standing vertically before, but then its roots had been able to find sufficient purchase in the soil.  But, saturate that soil with floodwater for many weeks and turn it into something like blancmange or wet rice pudding, and the roots were simply not up to the task of keeping the great bulk of trunk and branches above them upright.

I went for a pure silhouette, with the sky completely burnt out, for simplicity – a Minimalist approach.  To me, the few branches entering the frame at upper right serve to balance the composition.  The adding of a blue tone takes the scene further away from reality.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Classic Portrait preset, and adding a Cyanotype tone.

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ARCHIVE 547 – TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 

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Floods on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, using the High Key 2 preset as a starting point.

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ARCHIVE 546 – RED STRING IN THE MORNING (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Tadham Moor, looking east on a summer’s morning; 27 Aug 2014.  LOL! >>> I still remember when first posting this, that it was pointed out that its not string at all, it is in fact baler twine >>> but the title still appeals, so I’m going to stand corrected, retain the post’s original title but make corrections in the text below!!!  

Crouching down low, just above the tops of the grass, and seeing the world through a 12mm lens – seeing far more at one time than the unaided human eye can ever see sharply.

I’m  at the southern end of Jack’s Drove, where it meets another little back road, which is just out of view behind the tall grasses on the right – this other road, Totney Drove, runs on eastwards, between the two tall trees in the distance.

Instead of using fences, the damp fields around here are bounded by water-filled ditches.  Covered in floating water plants, the ditch bordering Totney Drove catches the light as it heads towards the two trees, while the one bordering Jack’s Drove is in shadow, at bottom left.

The soil here is very loose and wet and, on the corner of these two little back roads, there have been worries that the roads’ thin tarmac may give way under the weight of passing vehicles and slide down into the wet ditches, and so sheets of corrugated iron (visible lower right) have been driven into the soft ground, to try to prevent this.

To further warn passersby of the danger, a line of little sticks with red baler twine tied around them has been set up, but these have been ravaged by the elements and the twine hangs loose.

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

Technique: D800 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 12mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Contrast and Structure preset and selectively restoring colour.

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ARCHIVE 531 – FANTASY IN INFRARED

 

 


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Mist on Tadham Moor, and the road past the Magic Carpark given the look of colour infrared film, courtesy of Nik’s excellent Color Efex Pro 4 image editing software.

One of my aims with this blog is to present a variety of imagery.  This is both to stimulate and perhaps even enthral those looking at these posts – and also to keep myself on my toes in terms of imagination and creativity.  Producing a blog with a constant theme might be a way to attract a large and loyal number of viewers who enjoy that theme, but I have to hold up my hands and admit to not being able to resist going here and there, following where my imagination takes me, and here is an example.

Its a core belief of mine that its always worth looking long and hard at images – and I (and many others too) have found that returning to an image weeks, months or even years after it was captured can and does inspire new ideas and new ways of looking at it.  Indeed, some photographers make a point of never working on their images soon after they have been taken but, instead, of always coming back to them some days or even weeks after the event – with fresh minds and well rested eyes.

I am not returning to this particular image long after it was taken, but I have subjected it to another of my core routines, which is to look at it long and hard before deciding upon what, if anything, to do with it.  What sorts of things to I think about in this situation? – well, colour/mono/both, possible types of crop, potential for rotation/flipping, effects of various software edits, etc.

And experimenting (which is another way of saying “playing around”!) in Color Efex Pro 4 I came upon this infrared colour film filter, and was instantly attracted by its effect here.  There are of course the mysterious silhouettes and the warm orange glow, but this is not like simply using some kind of orange filter because the colours of the tarmac road and its grass verges are still faintly visible.  Whether this image will stand the test of time – whether I’ll still like it in a month’s or year’s time – is another matter but, for now, here it is.

Other thoughts.  Does it represent reality?  No, of course not but, as I say, I like the look of it, and if I like the look of it – its in! 🙂  

And fantasy – well, ok, what’s out there beyond those “last two trees”?  If you’re a TOLKIEN fan, are we standing on the edge of the desolation wrought by the dragon SMAUG, looking out on a land ravaged by his fire and covered by rolling clouds of glowing smoke?  I’ll go along with that.  And who, or what, is going to appear in all that smoke, dimly seen at first but growing ever more stark, as they trudge up this road trying to escape a vast and monstrous foe that, for all of their lives, has just been an old and half-forgotten legend, the stuff of childhood nightmares, the stuff of fireside tales?

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 230mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4; the Somerset Levels; 8 Apr 2015.

UPDATE 2020: well, its considerably more than a year after this image was posted, and yes I certainly do still like it >>> and I am certainly still a fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings!

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ARCHIVE 530 – SUNRISE, TADHAM MOOR

 

 


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Sunrise over Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 9 Jan 2015.

A very quiet and simple scene.  Totney Drove, a single track, metalled lane, passes through a small group of tall willows that, as so frequently happens with such silhouettes, reminds me of an exploding artillery shell.  The trees are reflected in the still waters of the rhyne (rhymes with seen), the water-filled ditch which borders the road and which acts as a field boundary.

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 – highly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 31mm; 1000 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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