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 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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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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SOMERSET LEVELS 408 – TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged – click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

I’m parked beside the little bridge that carries Jack’s Drove over the North Drain, on Tealham Moor, drinking (now lukewarm) coffee and staring contemplatively out over the flat landscape.  All is quiet but, as I turn back towards the car, I find that I am far from alone – which, in its way, adds to my overall enjoyment of the place, and of the moment too.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens (needlessly) used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 240mm; 1600 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a Raw file, using the Monochrome profile; further processing in Lightroom;  Jack’s Drove, Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 13 Sept 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 393 – EARLY MORNING 5

 

 


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Early morning, Tealham Moor.

Once more, in-camera processing.  The image looks rather flat, but I’ve deliberately left it in the Neutral profile (to which, since I shoot Raw files, my camera is permanently set) to stay with the rather low contrast, quite misty, early morning light.

Other images in this Early Morning series are here: 1 2 3 4 .

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 Camera Neutral v2 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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SOMERSET LEVELS 392 – TOTNEY DROVE, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 

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A vehicle approaches the tiny bridge over the North Drain at Rattling Bow, on Tealham Moor.  The bridge itself is seen as the low rise in the road immediately in front of the vehicle, while its guard rails to the right are catching the light.  Totney Drove, the single track road, glistens after rain.

This is in a rather different style to many of my other Levels pictures: it is an image both captured by the camera and which has received most of its post-capture processing within the camera (more detail below).  This in-camera processing is a different way of working: capturing images in the usual way, and then sitting down later with the camera (usually accompanied by a few excellent Belgian golden ales) and trying out different crops and (customisable) looks on them.

Obvious question then, do I like this picture, do I like the post-capture processing that, via my commands, the camera has given it?  I think I do, I think this way of working is worth pursuing as a side line to more “traditional” methods.  The camera’s treatment is harshly dark, but perhaps this suits this flat, wet, open and at times bleak landscape.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; jpeg created and processed in-camera from a Raw file, using the Camera Graphite profile and in-camera cropping; further minor processing in Lightroom; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels northwest of Westhay; 9 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 374 – LOOKING WEST FROM THE JACK’S DROVE BRIDGE

 

 


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As the single track lane of Jack’s Drove cuts northwards across Tealham Moor, it crosses a little bridge and, looking left – that is, towards the west – this is what you see.  Here are the dark, peaty waters of the North Drain, speckled with water lily pads and moving slowly away westwards.  This drain is totally manmade, to help shift water away from these often sodden flatlands – and the fact that it is full almost to the brim in the first week of July only goes to show just how much water there is around here.

The land on either side is flat, rough pasture right out to the horizon, but there is some slightly higher ground at top right – higher ground that used to be part of an island when all of these flatlands were largely underwater.

And if you enlarge this shot (which you should!!! >>> the enlarging method is given below) >>> then tightly screw in your monocle (ouch!) and fix the horizon at upper left with a fierce and penetrating stare, you may just be able to make out a long, shadowy line of high ground, the Quantock Hills, far off to the southwest.  Travel on past them, and over the horizon you’ll find the Brendon Hills, the Blackdown Hills and Exmoor and – before you know it – you’ll be in Devon!

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 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Provia/Standard profile; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 5 July 2019.
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