SOMERSET LEVELS 389 – ASH MOOR, THE RIVER SHEPPEY

 

 


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The River Sheppey meanders slowly across Ash Moor between high, densely vegetated banks.  In the background is Hurn Farm.

Its worth enlarging this picture to get further into it – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it >>> and absorb more of the peaceful atmosphere of this little, out of the way place.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia/Soft profile;  Ash Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 9 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 382 – WATERWAY (MONO)

 

 

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The lush growth of summer borders a water-filled ditch – known locally as a rhyne, and covered in waterweed – that fulfils the purpose of a liquid fence between a field of pasture out of view on the left, and a very uneven, single track lane known as Westhay Moor Drove that is out of view behind the great bank of vegetation on the right.

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 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Velvia/Vivid profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 3 preset and adding a split tone; beside Westhay Moor Drove, on the Somerset Levels northwest of Glastonbury; 12 July 2019.
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OUTER SUBURBS 122 – PARKED CAR 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Parked car with pavement, kerb and puddle.

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 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 .  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); 500 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Monotone profile; south Bristol; 7 Feb 2019.
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ARCHIVE 414 – THE COLOUR OF THE SEA BENEATH A SMALL BOAT

 

 


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A small, blue boat rides at anchor – a very simple image, that’s really all there is to see.

The only solid facts are the simple, elegantly curving lines of the boat.  Beyond them, the sea’s surface takes on a silvery hue where the light catches it. But in the craft’s brief shadow, this paleness disintegrates and fragments as, approaching closer to the graceful blues of that wooden hull, the emerald greens of the sea deepen and, gently but firmly, draw us further in and deeper down.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO;  St Ives, Cornwall; 21 Sept 2016.

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OUTER SUBURBS 120 – PARKED CAR

 

 


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Parked car, after rain shower.

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 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 .  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 38mm (equiv); 1250 ISO; Lightroom, starting the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 28 Feb 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 376 – ENTRANCE TO A FIELD OF RECENTLY CUT GRASS

 

 


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This picture is best viewed enlarged, there’s a lot to see – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

I’m standing on the tiny, grassy bridge across a water-filled ditch – known locally as a rhyne – which allows access of man, beast and machine to the large, open field of recently cut grass to the left.  A period of dry weather is forecast and, almost to a man, everywhere, the farmers have been out cutting their grass.

The actual metal gate to the field is open and out of shot to the left, and such short sections of wooden fencing as the one here are erected on either side of gates everywhere in this flat landscape, to prevent animals trying to squeeze around the gates from either falling into the rhynes, or gaining access to the tiny bridges and actually escaping.

The dead straight rhyne makes off eastwards across the relatively recent landscape of Queen’s Sedge Moor, and just visible up to its right is the tarmac surface of the single track Long Drove, which accompanies the rhyne across this flatland.

In all of this wonderful flatness, two areas of higher ground can just be seen.  Look along the line of the rhyne, and there is a bluish escarpment – the uplands of Launcherly Hill and Worminster Down – and over beyond there, further to the right, well that’s where the Glastonbury Festival is held.  I have never been to the festival (tho watching lots of it on TV) but, quite simply, I think it an absolutely wonderful event, something of a shining light in an often dull world, and I can only hope that it will continue for many, many years to come.

Look over to the left and you will see a long line of more distant high ground topped by a towering TV mast – these are the Mendip Hills, the northern limit of the Levels in this area, and an important part of my early life.

And, as has happened to me many times before when viewing such pictures, the large upstanding tree near the rhyne’s vanishing point resembles nothing more than an exploding artillery shell.  Why I should receive this impression, I cannot imagine.  I’m not sure I believe in the possibility of having lived earlier lives than this one but – who knows?

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 27mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia/Soft profile; Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 5 July 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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ARCHIVE 412 – RAINY DAY, MOTORWAY SERVICES

 

 


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View through our windscreen on a rainy day; Membury Services, on the M4 in Berkshire; 1 June 2016.

Off eastwards to Berkshire to see a friend, with a (now habitual) stop in a motorway services for sustenance en route.  It was a wet morning and, quite by chance, we parked opposite a red car.  I blinked my way out of “driving mode”, looked around and this filled the view out in front of us.

This is very far from the first picture I’ve ever taken through a wet window, and I’m sure very far from the last too.  For me, blur and softness have their place in images, wall to wall sharpness is not the be all and end all of things.  Interestingly, this week’s edition of Amateur Photographer magazine (23 July 2016) is devoted to Sharpness, the Editor kicking things off with “Today’s photographers are obsessed with sharpness in a way that we never used to be.”.  And he’s right.  But, for me, its always the content of an image that comes first, and the technicalities second.  However next week’s AP issue is all about blur – so that’s alright then!

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 95mm; 800 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 372 – EDGE OF A WATERWAY

 

 


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Lush summer growth, beside water, on Tealham Moor.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 135mm; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Standard v2 profile; rotated; rhyne beside Jack’s Drove on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 5 July 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 367 – GOLD CORNER PUMPING STATION

 

 


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I’ve often wittered on about how the Somerset Levels are an area of very lowlying land – in places (some of my favourite places) below the level of the high tides on the nearby coast. And I also go on about the fact that these flatlands have only relatively recently been reclaimed from vast areas of lakes and marshes. This is all very well to talk about as a concept, but recently I visited a place where the disparity between these lowlands and the vast amounts of water at a higher level in the Severn Estuary can be seen in stark reality – I hadn’t been there for years, so I took a trip down to Gold Corner pumping station which, since 1942, has stood tall and fulfilled its very important duties in a rather empty area between the villages of Burtle, Woolavington and East Huntspill.

What does this pumping station do? Well, it takes water from the lowlying Levels, and pumps it up around 8.5 feet into the much larger Huntspill River, which is an artificial waterway which channels it down to the sea, via the estuary of the River Parrett. The Huntspill River was constructed during World Way II to provide vast volumes of water for a nearby munitions factory, which has been closed since 2008 and is due for redevelopment.

And looking at this pumping station at Gold Corner, it looks rather mundane – just an old brick structure.  But there is one very small thing here that is striking – to me, incredibly striking – and that is the small white notice immediately to the right of the windows on the building’s left face – and here it is:

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The Severn Estuary has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.  In the spring and autumn especially, the tides along this low coast can rise up to 50 feet (15 m) above low watermark. And, as is shown by this unobtrusive little notice, without the various sea defences, these vast amounts of seawater would submerge this flat landscape, as they have done in the past. 

And take another look at the first photo here, where you can see that this little notice is high up above the road on which I was standing – I was looking up at this notice at quite an angle.  But then look at the distant water to the left of this building, which is much lower again than the road I’m standing on – this difference in height is better shown in the last photo here.

Standing beside this building, looking up at this little notice, and seeing the difference in water levels on either side of this little road, I suppose I felt humble in the face of the natural world – while also feeling very, very much at home in this landscape.

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Standing beside the Gold Corner pumping station, I am on the edge of two worlds.  For looking seawards, i.e. towards the west, there is this view – of the vast amounts of water in the (manmade) Huntspill River.

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Whereas looking in the other direction, i.e. eastwards out over the Levels, there is the clear disparity between the water in the foreground which is being retained by the pumping station’s dam walls, and the water running through the flatlands immediately beyond these walls, which is at a considerably lower level.  It is pumping stations and architecture like this, along with other facilities too, that keep the Levels intact as the (albeit often wet) farmland and moor/heath that we see today.

Click onto these images to open larger version in separate windows, and click onto those versions to further enlarge them.

Technique:  Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens; Lightroom; Gold Corner pumping station, northeast of Woolavington on the Somerset Levels; 31 May 2019.

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