ARCHIVE 391 – DARK, BROODING GIANT ALONG CHASEY’S DROVE

 

 


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A misty early morning along Chasey’s Drove, Common Moor, just north of Glastonbury, on the Somerset Levels; 10 Aug 2003.

I have an ongoing love affair with the big, bold, black silhouettes of trees.  I probably find them very powerfully graphic, I don’t know, but I do know that they never cease punching me right in the eye – I can’t get enough of them – as witness some of the Mendip Hills posts.

I like this one particularly – the tree’s black bulk rises just about on the left vertical third and to the right of its vast trunk is a glimpse of misty, early morning countryside which, compared to this brooding, masterful giant, is insignificant, blurry backdrop, a pale contextual glimmer.

Technique: tripod-mounted OM-4 with 85mm-250mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.

UPDATE: an image from what seems a long, long time ago, when I was using film – and when I was determined NEVER, EVER to change to make the change to digital.  How times change!  The appearance of Nikon’s “budget” full-frame D700 DSLR brought me over to digital at a stroke, and it is a change I have never, ever (those two words again!) regretted. Indeed, I feel incredibly fortunate, after 45+ years of film photography, including wet darkroom use, to be still photographing during the advent of the digital age: for me, the creative potential of photography has simply mushroomed. 

But now, having used optical viewfinders on Nikon’s superb D700 and D800, but then started using the really very good electronic viewfinders on Fujifilm’s X-T1 and X-T2 compact system cameras, I have a feeling that its electronic viewfinders that I want to continue with – and so to Nikon’s new Z series.  The 45MP of the Z7 are really far, far more than I need, and (with the experience of using the high MP D800) I know that using such high megapixel cameras need very careful camera technique – such cameras show ever little mistake you make!!!  So the 24MP Z6 might be far more my style – and then there’s just the “minor” problem of raising the necessary cash!!! 🙂

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OUTER SUBURBS 45 – AUTUMN 10

 

 


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Autumn with chocolate wrapper!  Maybe the last of this autumn mini series … well, it was taken just after the end of meteorological autumn but, apart from the wrapper, we are looking at autumn’s debris – in fact this was again taken beneath the huge Horse Chestnut tree in Church Lane, like this earlier shot .

The chocolate wrapper drew my eye because its curved shape is taken up by the bright green leaf below it, to almost form a semi-circle.  And the carpet of dead leaves is richly coloured and glistening: everything had been drenched by overnight rain.  The small bright green leaves at lower left help balance the composition: cover them with your finger to see what I mean.  And there’s also the inverted ‘V’ shape made by the long, thick, brown twigs that intersect (one above, one below) with the right hand end of the wrapper.

There are earlier autumn posts here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 .  Each will open in a separate window.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 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 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 .  Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Natural film simulation; south Bristol; 3 Dec 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 314 – 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 image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .

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.
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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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OUTER SUBURBS 39 – AUTUMN 8

 

 


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Autumn: leaves from a Horse Chestnut tree, and a tail feather from a Woodpigeon.  This is the towering Horse Chestnut, in Church Lane, shown here .

There are earlier autumn posts here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 .  Each will open in a separate window.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 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 36 37 38 .  Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 91mm (equiv); 500 ISO; flash; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; south Bristol; 30 Oct 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 309 – LOOKING EASTWARDS, THROUGH A TELEPHOTO

 

 


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I’ve always enjoyed looking into the distance, looking out to the horizon.  Two of the beauties of modern (i.e. digital) photography are that even moderate telephotos not only allow me to do just that, but also allow me to see exactly (via electronic viewfinders) the result that the camera is going to record.

Here I was driving westwards in the early morning across Tadham Moor on the Somerset Levels, with the sun rising through shifting mist banks behind me.  As I drove, I kept looking in the mirror at the glowing landscape behind me and, on seeing this scene, I pulled off sharply into the open gateway of a field.

Jumping out of the car (well, as much as I can jump out of anywhere these days) I looked back, and the whole landscape to the east seemed ablaze with glowing, shifting colour.  My camera had a 305mm (equivalent) telephoto mounted on it, and I simply pointed it into the mist, started picking out details, and started firing.

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.  Can you see the perched bird (top left!)?

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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OUTER SUBURBS 36 – AUTUMN 7

 

 


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Autumn sunrise over the outer suburbs.  South Bristol wakens.  People are walking their dogs, people are driving to work.  And people, the older ones mostly, are wishing “Good morning!” to friends – and to strangers – alike.  Mine is a generation more at ease with such warm, general greetings, whereas many from younger generations walk past with heads bowed, staring fixedly at the ground or into their mobile phones.

But many is the time that the cheerful uttering of these simple words – along with however brief a moment of eye contact – has raised a smile and reply from an otherwise downcast or introspective countenance – and that, to me, is something certainly worthwhile.

And, as a backdrop to all this human activity below, Our Star edges up towards the horizon.  The clouds to the east are already radiant in its glare, whereas some of those closer overhead remain – for just a little while longer – within Our Planet’s shadow.

There are earlier autumn posts here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 .  Each will open in a separate window.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 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 .  Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 250 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; south Bristol; 31 Oct 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 308 – THE VIEW SOUTH, TADHAM MOOR

 

 

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

So, where are we?  Well, early on a misty day, I’m standing on a rough track that goes off southwards across Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels.  The place that I’m standing in looks nondescript, but it is very special to me, it helped me through truly dreadful times long ago, and I call it the Magic Carpark.  There are four things to see.

First, there is on the left a bank of dark green, spikey grasses, grasses which love to grow in damp, marshy places.

Then, the rhyne (rhymes with seen), the water-filled ditch, which makes off straight as an arrow southwards, and which acts as the fence for the field on its left.  I’ve talked about rhynes in earlier posts in this little series.  There is another such waterway, out of sight, immediately right of the large tree on the right: this little, dark track goes off southwards between these two, thin, flanking bodies of water.

Thirdly, the large tree on the right, a Willow, is very special to me.  Following the fairly recent (natural) toppling and deaths of three others behind the camera, it still stands proud but, perched right on the edge of one of these water-filled rhynes, it too could topple in at any time and, arriving here, I’m always relieved to see it still standing tall.  Furthermore, on these visits, I never fail to go over to touch and talk to it, though never knowing if I’m heard, or felt, or mad.

And, on a purely practical note, since Somerset County Council have not been idiotic enough to install a nice, completely incongruous, modern toilet block here in this simple, rural setting, standing on the far side of this Willow is a very good place to, as our American cousins so succinctly put it, take a leak.  Behind this big tree, after all, being out of sight of passers by along the nearby lane … although not out of sight of the farmer and his wife as they drive slowly down to check their stock in the early mornings.  But then, you can’t have everything.  And they do always smile and wave.

And the fourth thing about this totally simple and nondescript little place is that – along this track – is where an old and valued friend is going to sprinkle my ashes when I finally, as the phrase so happily puts it, snuff it.  And what will happen after that?  Well, the feet of the cattle, the sheep and the farmers’ dogs, the wheels of the farmers’ Land Rovers, the boots of walkers and the torrents of rain, will press and flush what’s left of me further and further into this ground, a fate which, when I think about it, is just fine with me.  And, since this ground is just about at or even a little below sea level and sea levels are rising, there will come a time when these Levels return to the marshes and inundated areas that they once (not so long ago) were, and that’s fine with me too.  Even though I can’t swim.

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 .

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 307 – THE POPLARS AT GODNEY

 

 


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Sunrise over the group of trees – Poplars, I think – on the outskirts of Godney village.  Sited as they are on a small rise in the ground, these tall and slender trees are something of a landmark in this ultimately flat countryside.

And this small rise in the ground is important too.  For, according to a 1991 book on place names, Godney refers not to a god, but to an Anglo-Saxon named Goda, who presumably had some sort of settlement / farm on this hill, when it was a small island in the vast area of marshes and lakes that occupied the Somerset Levels before they were drained for agriculture – “ney”, in Old English, means island.  In AD 971, a manuscript named this place as Godeneia.

I grew up not far from here and, for most of my life, the place names were just, well, place names.  So that it came as a real revelation to find out that the majority of these names originated in Anglo-Saxon times (c. AD 410-1066) and they in fact actually mean something, as in Goda’s island.  It helps to bring this simple but intriguing landscape to life.  There are newer names too, which result from the Norman invasion in 1066.  And, more fascinating to me, there are also older, Celtic names, ie pre-dating the Anglo-Saxons: eg river names like Avon and Severn.

The pure naturalness of this image may be reduced by the telephone wire, which I may have been able to remove post-capture but, really, my aim is to show this area as it is, rather than as some manicured ideal.

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 5 .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Godney, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 306 – RHYNE BESIDE TOTNEY DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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Looking eastwards along the water-filled ditch, the rhyne (rhymes with seen), that runs along the northern side of Totney Drove, the single track road that can just be glimpsed to the right of the tree’s trunk.  The rhyne’s surface is mostly covered in water weed.  A very peaceful scene, yes, but there’s danger here too.  First, the tree (a Willow) is leaning slightly to the left, and the more this tilt increases, the more difficulty the tree’s roots will have in preventing its huge bulk from toppling right over.  The soils here are damp and loose, and should they become waterlogged or actually submerged, as may happen in the approaching winter months, then the roots’ grip will loosen and the giant will fall.  Second, a somewhat spindly wire fence at the rhyne’s edge aims to keep the cattle away from the rhyne: a cow falling into the deep water and ooze would certainly require a tractor to get it out again.

In the background to the left, cattle seen as ghostly shapes in the mist, with woodland further back.

And in the background to the right, there are several trees which are thick and heavy near the ground, but thinner further up.  These trees have been pollarded, they are pollards, which means that, one or more times in their lives, they have had the wood from their upper parts removed, for firewood, woodwork etc, while their lower parts are left unaffected.  Pollarding is an ancient practice, and more about it can be found here .

There are other images from this early morning shoot here: 1 2 3 4 .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 101mm; 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset and adding a light Coffee tone; Totney Drove, Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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