SOMERSET LEVELS 324 – FLOODED ROAD (MONO)

 

 


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Exploring out on Queen’s Sedge Moor, not far south of the tiny city of Wells, in filthy conditions – rain falling from grey overcast, lots of surface water and simply heroic amounts of mud.  And then onto this little single track road heading for the tiny village of Barrow – when a van, obviously driven by a local, someone who knows the place – rounded a corner and came straight at me at speed.  There was no danger, this image was taken with a 450mm telephoto, which gives x9 magnification, and so it was still quite far off – but it put on speed through the surface water and spray flew everywhere.

Lots of familiarisation with this new camera paid off: I just had time to engage Continuous Autofocus, focus onto the number plate, hold down AF-ON and start firing – three frames and then the vehicle was on me and I was off into the (very soggy) roadside grass.  But, as is often the case down there, a cheery wave from the driver – after all, if I choose to stand in the road, its my lookout!

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 DX (APS-C) format to give 450mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 Picture Control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset; Queen’s Sedge Moor, south of Wells, on the Somerset Levels; 5 Apr 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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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 315 – TADHAM MOOR, LOOKING SOUTH (MONO)

 

 


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Out on the Somerset Levels, I walked down the single track lane known as Jack’s Drove and, ahead of me, this rough track carried on southwards across Tadham Moor.  In the far distance, the long line of the Polden Hills, which stood high and dry when this whole flat landscape was one of lakes and marshes.  In those days, the Romans kept to the high ground: they built a road along the top of the Poldens, which led westwards to a harbour down on the coast.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Expressive Portrait preset and adding a light Selenium tone; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 30 Nov 2018.
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ARCHIVE 389 – RIVER REFLECTION, BRISTOL BRIDGE

 

 


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Reflection in the river at Bristol Bridge.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 290mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom; rotated; Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.

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PEOPLE 363 – GOING TO WORK 87 (MONO)

 

 


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

At long last I’ve used the Olympus TG-5 TOUGH camera for what it is designed for – appalling weather.  Early on a Thursday morning, I was returning from one of my long walks around south Bristol, when the skies opened.  Wedging myself into a shop doorway to escape the worst of the deluge, I looked out over a grey and pouring main road, with a solitary soul sitting in a bus shelter, on their way to work.  The scene looked promising, and the TG-5 is after all claimed to be waterproof down to quite a depth underwater – a year ago, I bought it to photograph in the rain after all!

And so I started firing frames.  I would have dearly liked to have has a longer telephoto but – well, we just do the best we can with the camera we have with us.  And, as usual, if I see something that might have visual appeal, I take quite a few pictures, with varying compositions and viewpoints – not having to worry about how many frames I have left is one of the very beautiful and eminently user-friendly aspects of digital!!!

So here is yet another take on the early morning journey into work.  At least the shelter keeps her huddled figure dry, and buses into the city centre are regular along this main road.

Technique: because I didn’t have a longer telephoto with me – the TG-5 only goes up to 100mm equivalent, which = x2 magnification – this is an enlargement of a small area of the frame – and I’m impressed with what this little camera has achieved.  The low ISO (400) helped, and the 1/250th shutter speed has elongated the raindrops, and so given more sense of the downpour, more atmosphere.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 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 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 Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: Olympus TG-5 at 38mm (equiv) ; 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Structure Harsh preset and adding a light Selenium tone; south Bristol; 8 Nov 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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ARCHIVE 383 – THE TIDE COMING IN

 

 


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The tide coming in, seen from the end of Western Pier at St Ives, Cornwall; 27 Sept 2012.

This is a picture of the shallow wavelets of the incoming tide moving over the clean sand in St Ives Harbour – it was taken at the same time as another(!) The Tide Coming In.

I like the dark purple-blues here, the black lines of the incoming wavelets, and golden brown of the submerged sand.  The picture is starting to look more like a painting and, as always, I’m happy with that.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; manipulated in Capture NX2.

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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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SOMERSET LEVELS 304 – TOTNEY DROVE, TADHAM MOOR

 

 


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Totney Drove, a tarmacked, single track lane, disappears off eastwards across Tadham Moor into fog made golden by the rising sun.  Only a few hundred years ago, this area was all wild marshland, with no roads or farms.  When the marshes and lakes were drained to make agricultural land, the Levels’ droves were a system of tracks made between the newly demarcated  fields, so that farmers could move their animals and produce to and from their land, without having to go through other farmers’ land.  A few of these droves, like this one, have been given a tarmac surface.

The glint of water down to the right is a rhyne (rhymes with seen), a deep, water-filled ditch, which does duty as a field boundary, fence and drainage channel in this very flat and wet countryside.

A very small rise in the lane, to the left of the two posts, shows where it passes over another small waterway that empties into the rhyne.  A thoughtful local authority has painted white lines (faintly seen here) on this tiny bridge’s tarmac – the droves are often very narrow, and pulling off onto the verges to let oncoming vehicles pass is commonplace, but pulling off on this tiny bridge, perhaps in mist and darkness, could be catastrophic.

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

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 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.
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