ARCHIVE 515 – A FARMER AND HIS WIFE, OFF TO CHECK THEIR CATTLE AS THE DAWN BREAKS

 

 


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A farmer and his wife, off in their Land Rover to check on their cattle out on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels, after the long, late November night; 27 Nov 2014.

I was having a second breakfast of hot coffee and thick, bitter marmalade sandwiches in the Magic Carpark, when this old couple drove by, waving and smiling in a very friendly way, and made off down the foggy track to make sure that all was well with their cattle after the long, cold night.

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: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 86mm; 6400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE 514 – RAINY DAY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Rainy day on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 14 May 2013.

As the rain poured down, the view through the window of my car, towards a nearby Willow.

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

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 140mm (35mm equiv); 200 ISO; conversion to mono, selective colour restoration and toning in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 456 – SUNRISE, TOTNEY DROVE

 

 


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

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 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.
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ARCHIVE 462 – FATman WITH A FISHEYE (MONO)

 

 


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The FATman using a fisheye lens on Tadham Moor on the Somerset Levels; 11 Dec 2013.

The tall, dark but not handsome shadow lower left is me, taking this photo with a full-frame fisheye, which has a 180 degree field of view across the diagonal.  I’m tilting this wild lens slightly downwards, and so the horizon is slightly bowed upwards.

I’m standing at a small crossroads that I know very well and love very much.  To the left, out of view, is the Magic Carpark.  Straight on is Totney Drove, which rolls on westwards towards Rattling Bow and Westham.  And to the right is Jack’s Drove, which I often mention, making off northwards towards Tealham Moor.  Jack’s Drove is flanked by one of the water-filled ditches, the rhynes (rhymes with “scenes”), that are the field boundaries in this very damp area, and pale lengths of corrugated iron have been built into the rhyne’s bank to (try to!) prevent the road from collapsing into the waterway.

Technique: D700 with Sigma 15mm fisheye lens; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Triste2 preset.

UPDATE: to me, this is a very well known and indeed, treasured, spot – very simple and completely real, and I ask little else.  But time moves on.  Back behind my shadow there is a big dark tree with something pale standing up in front of it.  The dark tree is in fact two big dark trees, while the pale object is the dead stump of a third tree.  The three of these trees were standing beside a rhyne (see above).

Well, four points in time.  I have a wonderful book of black and white pictures from the Levels: Wetland – Life in the Somerset Levels.  This book was published in 1986, and it has a picture of this spot, showing all three of these trees alive and in full leaf: that white stump was the largest and hence I imagine the oldest of these three trees.  Then there is this picture from 2013: the largest tree is now a dead, white stump but the other two are still alive.  However, I visited the spot after much flooding on 31 Mar 2014, and one of the other two trees had toppled over, while the other was leaning at a dangerous angle – that is the problem here when flooding saturates the ground, the peat and clay soils are converted to something approaching the consistency of blancmange, so that the roots of any leaning tree are unable to keep it upright, and it topples over – the scene in 2014 is here .  And so to today, 2020: the old white stump still stands here, but the stumps of the other two are barely visible, having been moved around when the farmers dredge out the rhynes every year.

As Dylan Thomas put it, “Time passes.  Listen.  Time passes.”.

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ARCHIVE 459 – EARLY MORNING ON THE MOORS (MONO)

 

 


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Early morning on the Tealham-Tadham Moors, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 28 Aug 2013.

Rhyne (rhymes with scene) is the Somerset term for water-filled ditches that help drain the land and often, as here, act as field boundaries.  This rhyne’s surface is covered in floating waterweed and, in the foreground, are the tall, pointed leaves of wild iris, which love these waterside locations.

The two prominent trees are in the fact the ends of two rows of such trees that line the undulating, single track, tarmac road just visible lower right of them.  The two, pale sheets of corrugated iron set up against the rhyne’s bank on the right of the picture are held there by stout wooden stakes, in an attempt to prevent the road collapsing down into the mud and water. 

The point here being that there is no solid rock supporting this landscape.  Below this countryside are over 60 feet of sodden clays and peat – “rocks” easily demolished by your shovel if not by your bare hands – such that everything is soft, yielding and unstable.  Stand beside this road as a tractor goes by and you are suddenly rising and falling as if on some rural trampoline, which can be quite shocking for those unused to it.

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: D700 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm; 400 ISO; conversion to mono and split toning with Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Pinhole preset.

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ARCHIVE 454 – TREES IN MIST (MONO)

 

 


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Trees in mist on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 27 Oct 2011.

Today was filthy weather down on the Levels – rain and more rain, and mud and water everywhere.  I tried to wipe the condensation off the inside of the windscreen but it remained wet, and the camera managed to focus through both this condensation inside the car and the mist and pouring rain outside.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 116mm; 3200 ISO.  The shot has been converted into mono in Silver Efex Pro 2:  I applied this software’s Antique Portrait preset, and reduced its pale vignette a little.

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ARCHIVE 448 – STINGING NETTLE IN GRASS (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Stinging Nettle in grass at the Magic Car Park, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 28 Aug 2013.

Why is this car park magic?  Well, it and the surrounding countryside – open pastures, simple, wet and rough – have helped me through some very dark nights of the soul.

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

Technique: D700 with Sigma 12-24 at 24mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, including selective restoration of colour.

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ARCHIVE 425 – FLOODS ON TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Floods on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 20 Jan 2008.

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

Technique: F6 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide rated at 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Tin Type preset.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 437 – THE VIEW SOUTH, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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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.

Over the years, and in terrible times now quite long past, this very open and simple spot has helped me to keep going, to keep on keeping on, and I am very much attached and indebted to it.  To the extent that, when the time comes, my ashes will be sprinkled down there, down along this track, beyond the tree and the large puddle beside it.  Knowing that that is going to happen always affects my visits here, but never I hasten to add in any sad or bad way, but rather serving to imbue me with a sense of certainty, and of belonging too, which gets into my photos sometimes and which I value.

And with global sea levels rising as they are, and the land hereabouts already being below the height of the Bristol Channel’s tall tides – tides with ranges of up to nearly 50 feet – it may not be too long before these flatlands are inundated once more.  So, yes, a temporary place, then – but to a geologist like me every place is temporary after all.

However – the bottom line – a very simple place, vastly attractive to my “less is more” eyes and mindset – and very special to me in my thoughts too.

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.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 428 – AUTUMN MORNING, JACK’S DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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The single track tarmac of Jack’s Drove, with a water-filled ditch (a rhyne – rhymes with scene) on either side, makes off southwards across Tadham Moor, in the dull light of an autumn morning.

On the horizon the low line of the Polden Hills, that run from Glastonbury and Street down towards the coast near Bridgwater.  The main road along the top of these hills runs along the route of a road built by the Romans – who prudently kept out of the vast lakes and marshes that covered these lowlands in those days.

And on the right my disreputable old car, covered in lichen, cobwebs, mud, cow dung and thin, very weathered paint.  Years ago I worked, looked at birds and photographed in often desolate and remote areas, areas where my life might depend on the reliability of my vehicle, and ever since then I have never bothered in the slightest about vehicles’ appearance, but always insisted on absolutely thorough maintenance and servicing.  Reliability, for me, is always the name of the game.

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: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Graphite profile; Jack’s Drove on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 15 Nov 2019.
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