SOMERSET LEVELS PICTURE GALLERY 6 – POSTS 51-60

SOMERSET LEVELS PICTURE GALLERIES

I’m currently posting images from my large archive of photos from the Somerset Levels, an area not far from where I grew up that holds particular meaning and attraction for me.  These photos are being posted singly, with full text.

To make viewing of these images easier for those with little time to spare, I’m also posting groups of these images with minimal titles.  This is the 6th gallery – you can find the earlier galleries here: 1 2 3 4 5

Clicking onto each image will open a larger version in a separate window: doing this often enhances the image.

51: Water Lilies in the North Drain, Tealham Moor; 2009.

52: Sunrise, Totney Drove; 2018.

53: Early morning, Ash Moor; 2019.

54: Looking south, Tadham Moor; 2019.

55: The poplars at Godney; 2018.

56: In the undergrowth, Swanshard Lane; 2019.

57: Teasel along Tripps Drove; 2012.

58: The road south across Tealham Moor; 2014.

59: Trees in mist, Tadham Moor; 2011.

60: Sugar cubes in Baillies’ Cafe, Burnham-On-Sea; 2012.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 74 – MISTS RISING, QUEEN’S SEDGE MOOR (MONO)


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

With these spring mornings getting light earlier and earlier, I left home at an even more gruelling(!) hour and, hammering steadily but speedily down almost empty main roads, was soon up on the top of the Mendip Hills – very much the uplands of my childhood – and looking down on the Somerset Levels laid out flat as a pancake far below.  The sun was already up and, although sunshine bathed most of the flatlands, there were still pools of mist lingering here and there.  I thought how wonderful it would be to get into one of those mist pools but, far away and far below as they were, I wasn’t able to identify any of their locations exactly, so I just put my foot down and hurtled onwards >>> lol! onwards and downwards!!! >>> towards the diminutive city of Wells, one of the many gateways to this flat and wet countryside.

So, through Wells and immediately out onto the Levels, heading for the truly long, Long Drove, a single track, tarmac lane that cuts right out across the middle of Queen’s Sedge Moor.

I reached the junction, turned left off the main A39 road onto Long Drove and, really, was just smacked – visually – right across the face!  I just couldn’t believe it, I just gaped.  For there was the long, dead straight drove, arrowing out ahead of me, but mist was rising from the water-filled ditch (the rhyne) on its left, and this narrow ribbon of slowly rising vapour was bring caught by the rays of the still low sun.

And thence to dangerous comedy >>> pulling over wildly over onto the narrow lane’s precarious grass verge and feeling the car slide and tilt ominously.  Then, camera in hand, tumbling out of the car and running out in front of it, to get a view looking straight up the ditch – and almost sliding into the ditch’s chill embrace in the process – there are times when I think I’m getting too old for all this!!! 🙂

And then, having just managed to stay safe, I came to a feature of the new camera which is really starting to get to me – the work literally of a second to convert the 300mm reach (= x6 magnification) of my telezoom to 450mm (= x9 mag), and I was suddenly looking up the rhyne at x9 magnification and, quite simply, gasping.

And so to taking pictures, followed by another few, high speed moments on the car to reach another promising viewpoint, and more pictures – and the mist was gone, dissolved in an instant by the sun’s slight warmth.  And the time between my first seeing this mist and its almost instantaneous disappearance???  Well, at most 10 minutes.  Quite simply, an incredible visual adventure.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 250 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Orange Filter, and adding a light coffee tone; looking eastwards along Long Drove, on Queen’s Sedge Moor, south of Wells; 26 Apr 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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 66 – THE NORTH DRAIN, LOOKING WEST


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.

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

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.

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.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 62 – EARLY MORNING MIST, TEALHAM MOOR


Early morning mist, Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 8 Apr 2015.

The old and the new.  A smart new vehicle coming south down the tarmac of Jack’s Drove at a good pace and, next to it,  the water-filled ditch (rhyne) which has been here for a century or two, well back into the times when the only vehicles along here were horse drawn.

The rhyne acts as the fence around the field of pasture visible on the right, the gate of which is accessed from the drove via the little bridge.  The metal gate, which is hardly visible on the right, has wooden rails at its sides to stop ever venturesome cattle from trying to squeeze around it and escape.  The droves are tracks between the fields which allow farmers to access their land without crossing that of others.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 270mm; 400 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.



BIRDS 137 – EURASIAN COOT (3): THREAT DISPLAYS


 

Spring at Chew Valley Lake, just south of Bristol, and the breeding season well underway for many birds.  On open water near the lake’s edge, aggressive male Coots were fiercely defending their territories against each other.

The upper photo shows the start of such a display, with the bird flat on the water, about to rush forward in a charge towards another male.

The lower photo shows the charge, with the bird pushed down into the water by the force and speed of his advance, and his bill open as he accompanies his rush forwards with loud calls.

Click onto the images to open larger version in separate windows – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format at 450mm; 500 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 5 May 2021.

 



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 14 – SWEATY AFTERNOON


 

My wife’s glass of wine, in a Bristol pub, on a sweaty afternoon.

Of course, not having been brought up (dragged up?) to do that sort of thing, my lady wife and I were not getting hot and sweaty too, but merely gently, even delicately, glowing.

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

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 140mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; south Bristol; 29 July 2016.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 51 – WATER LILIES IN THE NORTH DRAIN


Water Lilies in the North Drain, Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 25 July 2009.

I like the Minimalism here – just thin, green plants against a dark background – looking almost as if they are floating up into the air on a dark night! 

And then there is the way the leaves weave a sinuous line back through the picture, and the increasing dimness of the stems of those further away.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 200 ISO; spotmeter reading taken from the nearest leaf.

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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 43 – A LITTLE PIECE OF MAGIC


Crossing the little Whitelake Bridge on Hearty Moor, on the Somerset Levels, and there on the bridge’s guard rail were flowers – I assumed in memory of some victim of a road accident, or even someone drowned in the river.

But looking more closely at them, they were accompanied by no words of mourning, and they looked more like charms, not memorials.  And then I remembered where I was – not far from Glastonbury, and also not far from Worthy Farm, at Pilton, which hosts the world famous Glastonbury Festival.  There are many around here, especially in Glastonbury, who hold Pagan and other, non-mainstream beliefs, and here were what appeared to be charms above moving water, above a river.

I have dabbled with Paganism, and found it far, far more attractive than the monotheistic mainstream religions of the UK.  But I’m now at the conclusion that although I have a deep love and regard for the Natural World, this is not for me anything religious, but rather something that invokes feelings of great love and wonder.   I don’t worship the Natural World, but I respect it – and the more so because, unlike us, it manages to exist and thrive without the aid of all the made up stories – the imagined realities – which appear necessary to keep human societies –  and human minds too – in order and intact.

And so here then, deep in the Somerset countryside, because of the way they see the world, because of what they believe in, someone has placed these simple objects above moving water.  And to me, in so doing, they have added a little piece of beautiful magic – and diversity too – to this world.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Standard V2 picture control; on the Whitelake Bridge, northeast of Glastonbury, on the Somerset Levels; 5 Apr 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.

BIRDS 133 – EURASIAN COOT


Coot swimming, on a day of blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  This is one of the Rallidae, the Rails and Crakes, and a common bird on lakes and other freshwaters.

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 at 450mm;  800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; 5 May 2021; Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol.

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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