ARCHIVE: LEVELS 29 – FLOODED FIELD

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The tips of coarse marsh grasses protruding from floodwater on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

Click upon this image to open a larger version in a separate window – certainly recommended.

I’d had thoughts about cropping in more closely on this image, to better show the grasses, but I’m sticking with this version because I think that the surrounding negative space gives the image “room to breathe” – ie it is not cramped, and it gives more of a sense of the isolation and desolation that the floods have brought.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO.
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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 28 – ENTRANCE TO A FIELD OF RECENTLY CUT GRASS

 

 


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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?

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

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..

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 24 – RISING SUN WITH FOG, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

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Rising sun behind fog, Tealham Moor; 8 Apr 2015.

The view eastwards from the top of the low bridge over the North Drain (the waterway on the right), on a cool and still, April morning.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 200 ISO with 1 stop underexposure; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset and adding a cool tone.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

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ARCHIVE LEVELS 22 – RAIN STORM

 

 


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Rain storm photographed from inside my car at the Magic Carpark, Tadham Moor; 20 Jan 2008.  The prominent and upstanding dark object is the end of a line of trees, and the dull grey area that starts from centre bottom of the frame and moves left and then up past the left of the trees is a narrow road.  To the right of the tree is a pale, water-filled ditch.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

The first Somerset Levels picture gallery, which shows the first 10 of these posts with short captions – ideal for quick viewing – can be found here .

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

Technique: F6 with 24-85 Nikkor lens; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide film, rated at 1600 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 18 – THE LANDSCAPE OF MY YOUTH

 

 


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The western end of the Somerset Levels – beneath the sea at Weston-super-Mare; 4 Sept 2014.

Not far north of the parts of the Somerset Levels where I’m usually to be found, these flatlands are cut by hard ridges of limestone – the Mendip Hills – that run away westwards down into the sea at Weston-super-Mare. 

This is the landscape of my youth, this is where I grew up, 60 and more years ago.

On the left is the dark limestone bulk of Worlebury Hill, behind which is hidden the seaside town of Weston.  Worlebury’s last gasp before disappearing under the muddy waters of the Bristol Channel is the little island of Birnbeck,which is attached to the mainland by a Victorian pier – apparently the only Victorian pier to incorporate an island, the others merely jutting out into the sea.

I can remember when this was a working pier, with penny in the slot machines, paddle steamers calling in to pick up daytrippers, and a lifeboat station.  But the whole pier is in a terribly derelict state now.  It has been closed to the public for years, and the lifeboat station has just closed too, due to it now being too dangerous for the lifeboatmen to get to their lifeboat.

And over on the far side of Weston Bay is the long limestone promontory of Brean Down, which had a temple on its crest in Roman times – and which has  a Victorian fort at its end, to guard the Bristol Channel and the approaches to Bristol and Cardiff.  This fort was brought back into operation amidst the fears of German invasion in World War II, but is now derelict. 

The Mendips’ very last gasps are seen in Steep Holm and Flat Holm, two small islands out in the Bristol Channel, but they are not shown in this picture.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

Click onto to this image to see a larger version in a separate window – definitely recommended – and look at where the pier, after crossing the water, meets Birnbeck Island.  There is a tall building with a dark roof there, and a small slipway running down into the sea – this is where Weston’s lifeboat used to launch, to help those in distress on the sea.

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Key 2 preset and adding a strong cyanotype tone.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 16 – FLOODING, TADHAM MOOR

 

 


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

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

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

Technique: F6 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide film rated at 1600 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 14 – TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 

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Misty morning on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 10 Apr 2014.

A typical Levels scene.  The water-filled ditch forms the boundary of the grassy field on the left of the shot.  Immediately left of the prominent tree,  a little bridge across the ditch allows access to the field.  The actual field gate is barely visible, at the left end of the two short lengths of fencing left of the tree.  These short lengths of fencing prevent animals in the field from edging around the sides of the gate, and so gaining their freedom via the bridge.

A single track, tarmac road, Totney Drove, is just out of sight on the right of the shot, at the top of the low bank immediately right of the tree.

I was first attracted by the tree’s reflection, but I also like the thin mistiness, both back behind the tree, and above the water in the ditch.  And the cloud above the tree helps the composition, being far preferable to having featureless sky there.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.
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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 42 – WET CAR

 

 


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The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives (and some new images too), I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  These Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 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 .  Each post will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 01 profile; south Bristol; 5 Sept 2020.
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ARCHIVE: LEVELS 1 – THE VIEW EAST FROM THE JACK’S DROVE BRIDGE (MONO)

 

 

The view eastwards along the North Drain from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor; 17 Sept 2010.  Early morning mists above the rhyne (see below) starting to be dissolved by the rising sun, just after 7am.   Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

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The Somerset Levels are an area of wet flatlands mainly to the south of the Mendip Hills, in the county of Somerset.  I grew up in a seaside town on their northern reaches, I cycled around them in my youth, I have very frequently visited them since 1994, and my ashes will be scattered in a wild but really nondescript and unremarkable spot out in their rough and wet fastnesses when the time comes.  Although the Levels are not my real “home” but they are near enough to that “home” and, after many years away, often very far away, it feels very good to be back “home” now.

The Levels hold truly vast interest for me in terms of their geology, archaeology, birds and other wildlife, and their landscape and scenery.  Also there is the point with the Levels that what you see is what you get, quite rough, very flat and wet pastureland, simple, working agricultural countryside.  Some neatness and gentrification is inevitably creeping in, but I tend to frequent the rougher and more real areas, like the Tealham and Tadham Moors, west of Glastonbury and southwest of Wells.

So, presenting this archive series is a labour of love for me, made all the more meaningful by the fact that, in these pandemic times, I may not get to complete it – although I am in an age group that ought to be getting their first vaccination quite soon.  The Somerset Levels category on this blog has reached 467 posts, but I have not been down to the Levels (about an hour’s drive away) since before the first pandemic lockdown started in March last year; I don’t seem to have quite the energy that I once did, although whether this is due to increasing age or the trying nature of the current times I don’t know.  Many of the images will be landscapes but, having forgotten just what is available to post, it will be enjoyable ferreting  around to see what is there although, as of now, I haven’t the faintest idea where to start!

To get more info on the Levels I suggest you look at my first Somerset Levels post – which you can find here – which amongst other things contains a truly appalling sketch map of the area.  This post will open in a separate window … as will the appalling map … should you wish to be even more appalled …

And finally – SOME LEVELS KEYWORDS that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

I hope you will enjoy this archive.  Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day. 

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ARCHIVE KENYA 115 – LAKE NAKURU (MONO)

 

 

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Flamingos on Lake Nakuru, Kenya; Oct 1977.  The soda-rich waters of this lake can host over a million of these birds at a time.

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

Technique:  OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens and polariser; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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