BIRDS 109 – MALE BLACKBIRD

 

 


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Gazing at agricultural rubbish on the western edges of Tealham Moor, and loving it, loving the real, bare, unembroidered, what-you-see-is-what-you-get nature and feel of the place – when a male Blackbird appeared on top of a hedge and looked at me.  Well, this is the breeding season and the fierce and fiery hormones of territoriality were coursing through his veins.  He was disinclined to move – I was on his territory, and that was that.

The new Z 6 was in my hand, with the lens I’m married to – the 70-300 zoom – attached, and it was the work of an instant to change the camera to APS-C format – so that my telephoto expanded from 300mm to a more far reaching 450mm – and, very carefully and slowly, I raised the camera to my eye.  The light was dreadful and I needed a high shutter speed to ensure sharpness at the x9 telephoto magnification, and so to wide open at 1/1600th and 3200 ISO – and to very gently squeezing the trigger.  This is a cropped version of one of the photos – 1521×1079 pixels.

Here he is.  The Z 6’s shutter is not loud, and very carefully I took a series of shots, he and I both like statues, eyeing each other.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format at 450mm; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 12 Apr 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 323 – LOOKING SOUTH DOWN KID GATE DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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

Kid Gate Drove, on the western edge of Tealham Moor, surfaced with tarmac and making off to the south – one of my main access roads onto the Levels.

On the left, the stumps of two old pollarded willows, mostly dead now but still with a few new twigs, and with their bark peeling off to expose the pale, dead wood underneath.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Sepia Landscape preset; Kid Gate Drove, west of Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 22 Mar 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 322 – FARM ANIMAL (MONO)

 

 


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Leaning on a farm gate along River Bridge Drove, on the western edges of Tealham Moor, and – inevitably – becoming the centre of attention.

I’ve processed this to bring out detail, and can’t help but see some traces of bewilderment – and perhaps despair too –  in this face.  But then, I eat meat, and it would certainly be wrong to pretend otherwise.

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-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Contrast and Structure preset and adding a light coffee tone; River Bridge Drove, southwest of Westham, on the Somerset Levels; 22 March 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 318 – LOOKING TOWARDS GLASTONBURY TOR

 

 


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A very muted winter sunrise, and the view from Tealham Moor towards the iconic landmark of Glastonbury Tor, topped by its ruined church tower.

What can we see?  The water-filled ditch in the foreground is known locally as a rhyne (rhymes with seen); rhynes pervade this wet landscape, and act as liquid fences to the fields.  Follow the line of the rhyne off into the distance and, just right of where it disappears, are two Mute Swans, visible only as two white dots, and these great white birds pervade this landscape too.

And, as already mentioned, off at top right is Glastonbury, instantly recognisable by its Tor.  When these wet flatlands were actually lakes and marshes, the high ground of Glastonbury was an island.  The Romans had a harbour there: Glastonbury is 14 or more miles inland now, but in those far off times seagoing ships could still reach it.  And in addition to its world famous pop music festival, it is the centre of a vast mythology which, amongst other things, encompasses King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, the Holy Grail, the Isle of Avalon and other medieval stories.  I dearly wish that each and every one of the Glastonbury legends were true, that would truly be wonderful, and so it saddens me that I cannot find it within myself to believe them.  That said, this small town really is a unique place, and I feel very fortunate in not living far from it.

And finally, if you look very carefully, you’ll see a line of tall electricity pylons marching across the horizon, on either side of Glastonbury’s high ground – evidence that, here, we are not that far from the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, which is something somehow highly incongruous in this flat, quiet, peaceful landscape.

Composition: the bright line of the rhyne takes my eye straight up to the top left of the frame, and less prominent pale and dark, horizontal lines come across the frame (just below the Tor) from the right margin to meet the rhyne’s vanishing point.  Hence everything drags my eye to upper left, but the Tor is such a strong feature (to me, a local, at least) that my eye swings to upper right too, so that there is a dynamic here.

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-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 143mm (equiv); 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 11 Jan 2019.
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ARCHIVE 397 – SELFIE WITH ROAD SIGN (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Quite early on a morning in spring, and Jack’s Drove, the road north across the Tadham and Tealham Moors, on the Somerset Levels, is blocked; 10 Apr 2014.

The jet black area that cuts horizontally through my silhouette is the water-filled ditch that separates the rough pasture of the field at the top of the frame from the road on which I’m standing.  These wet ditches do duty as fences hereabouts.

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

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 16mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro2, starting at the Dramatic preset, and restoring the sign’s colour.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 317 – FLOODS, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Flooding on Tadham Moor.  Early morning, looking northeast, with the much higher ground of the Mendip Hills just glimpsed, far away on the horizon.

Composition: the frame is crossed by paler and darker bands which, apart from that in the foreground, are more or less horizontal – the land, still dark on the early morning; and the paler water and sky.  The more sloping band of water in the foreground adds a dynamic – its almost coming out to meet us – and its animated by its small, bright reflection.  To me, the sky’s bright reflection in this foreground water brings the scene to life: it was moving as the clouds moved and, valuing it, I chased it up the road to get it into the frame.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dark Sepia preset;  Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 11 Jan 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 313 – LAPWINGS, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 


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Driving westwards across Tealham Moor, and a long line of birds, high up above, caught my eye.  There was no traffic on the narrow road, so I stopped, watched and waited, wondering where they might be headed.  They came lower and wheeled about overhead, and I saw them to be Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), a type of large plover, that form large flocks in winter.  I started taking pictures.

Here, the flock is flying across in front of a bare, winter tree, and there are a few smaller, darker birds below them, which are Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).

Compositionally, the flock is almost “resting on top” of the tree, the combination of the birds and tree making a ‘T’ shape within the image.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 30 Nov 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 303 – LOOKING WEST OVER TEALHAM MOOR, AT SUNRISE (2)

 

 


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I lived in Kenya and loved the huge, towering skies of Africa.  Nearly 30 years ago (time flies!!!), I returned to the UK and have become (more of less) used to living here once more, although not subscribing to or believing in some of the things that seem to make modern Britain tick.

But I’ve never lost my memories of those tall African skies,  and the wide open skies above the Somerset Levels always remind me of them – and especially those over the Tadham and Tealham Moors, which I never tire of visiting.

This picture looks west over the rough and often untidy pasture of Tealham Moor at sunrise.  The cattle are grazing, there are clouds in the tall sky above, but the horizon is hidden behind a bank of mist at ground level.

There is another image from this early morning shoot here: 1 .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 302 – LOOKING WEST OVER TEALHAM MOOR, AT SUNRISE

 

 


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Having taken so many pictures of the Somerset Levels, thousands probably over the years, finding further photographic inspiration there is often not easy – and especially so when the light conditions are unexciting.  But on Friday, starting from home early, I got down there at the start of the day and instantly found myself in a visually mobile world of shifting mist and fog banks, with the sun rising behind them.

This is actually a shot from towards the end of the spectacle, looking westwards over Tealham Moor.  The sun was rising from behind thick banks of cloud along the eastern horizon, which had the effect of reducing the full force of its brilliance.  Here, looking westwards, the upper band of cloud is illuminated by the first of the sun’s rays as it emerged from the thick cloudbanks, while the thin ribbon of cloud below, and the misty surface of the moor, had yet to be fully illuminated.

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 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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ARCHIVE 376 – TEALHAM MOOR, LOOKING WEST (MONO)

 

 


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Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore: looking west along one of the water-filled ditches that border the rough track that is Tealham Moor Drove; 26 June 2015.

The water-filled ditch or rhyne (rhymes with seen) acts as the boundary between the track (which is unseen on the right) and the fields on the left – I suppose you could call it a liquid fence.  Its surface is covered in waterweed, and should man or beast be crazy enough to venture into it, the water will be at least waist deep, while the thick, oozing, glutinous black mud on the bottom will suck down your legs and not let go.  Cows coming down to drink do lose their footing and fall in, after which a tractor will be needed to haul them out.

The trees on the left – pollarded Willows – have also featured in images here and here.

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

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 24mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset.

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