ARCHIVE 274 – RED RUBY DEVON (MONO)

 

 

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Red Ruby Devon cow on Peacock Farm, northeast of Westhay, on the the Somerset Levels; 21 Mar 2012.

A wild face, and one giving the impression of great power and strength.  I am a great fan of The Lord of the Rings, and of Dark Age myths and history generally – so, thinking of the great Beowulf story, could this be the monster Grendel?

Technique: close in with a long (x8 magnification), handheld telephoto, to fill the frame with just a part of the animal.

Technique: D700 with 80-400 Nikkor at 400mm; 3200 ISO; converted to mono, and toned, with Silver Efex Pro 2.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 277 – MOTHER AND CALF, WESTHAY MOOR

 

 

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Cow and her calf, Peacock Farm, Westhay Moor; 3 June 2016.

Ruby Red Devon cattle, always to be seen – and certainly a pleasure to see them – around this farm.

And a mother’s concerned look, interrogative, not unduly concerned but still wondering what the fat guy with the camera is all about.  She’s not the first to wonder that.

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 3200 ISO.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 276 – CORN GROWING IN BLACK PEAT SOIL (MONO)

 

 

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Corn sprouting in the black peat soils of Westhay Moor, south of Wedmore; 3 June 2016.

There is another “pylon-scape” here.

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon at 113mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 269 – RAINY MORNING 4 (MONO)

 

 

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Westhay Moor, northwest of Lower Godney; 29 April 2016.

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

Previous images in this series can be found here, here and here.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Structure Harsh preset and adding a cyantotype tone; Color Efex Pro 4.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 265 – RAINY MORNING

 

 

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Westhay Moor; 14 Sept 2015.

Particularly as my years accumulate, there are times when I’m immensely grateful for the shelter afforded by a car – and this was on of those times.

Early morning, and as I pushed on westwards across Westhay Moor, the skies opened.  The road was soon awash, and all of my car’s windows were firmly closed.  Then a large tractor loomed inexorably at me out of the murk and, on the single track highway, there was no alternative but to try and get my smaller car off the road – and I ended up on (thankfully!) firmish ground beside the gateway to a field.

The tractor rumbled by and, as usual, the ground all around shook like a jelly from the shock of its weight – the roads and indeed the ground around here have few foundations, for 60 or more feet below the surface of the ground there is only wet peat and clay.

I made to pull back onto the road again but glanced left as I did so – and found myself looking into this face, that was peering out at me through the gate’s bars.

The rain was still sheeting down, the car windows were running with water and so was he.  I felt for him, I have to say, I was so glad to be dry.  And I lifted the camera off the passenger seat, cranked up the ISO and, with little hope of success, took his picture.

Top quality it certainly isn’t, but maybe it gives a feel for the moment.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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STILL LIFE 28 – CONCRETE BLOCKS, SUNLIT (MONO)

 

 

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Concrete blocks – aka breezeblocks – piled up in the sun, at the former Willows Garden Centre, near Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Sept 2004.

Simple interplay of form, texture and light / shadow.

Long ago, well a decade anyway, I used to really enjoy using Agfa Scala black and white slide film.  It had a nominal speed of 400 ISO if I remember correctly, but could be pushed up to 1600 ISO or more, and I loved the gritty, black and white images it produced – which were the only mono shots in the slideshows (remember slideshows?) that I used to present in those days.  Sounds like something more from Victorian times, doesn’t it, rather than only a decade back.

Agfa Scala film is no longer available of course, it was a relatively early casualty of the digital revolution – and to me, for quite sometime, it was the most serious of those casualties.  But I no longer give slideshows, digital photography has opened up unimaginable creative possibilities – and there’s no doubt that the most successful road to black and white imagery is via full colour, Raw digital files and – for me at least – SEP2.

So, a bit of a blast from the past I suppose, but I still remember Scala with a lot of affection.

OM-4 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko; Agfa Scala monochrome slide, rated at 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 249 – TREE STUMP

 

 

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Tree stump at the former Willows Garden Centre, Westhay; 30 Mar 2005.

Taken back in the days before Somerset County Council decided to gentrify an alive and characterful garden centre, with a truly excellent café and lots of local produce and crafts for sale – to turn it into an arts and crafts gallery with a truly indifferent snack bar alongside – one of the few local eateries, I must add, that has succeeded in upsetting my normally cast iron guts!

How I abhor gentrification and prettification, I prefer things as they really are, not as others think they ought to be – and I’ve read in a couple of places now that even characterful New York is succumbing to this bland, mind-numbing, modern trend – I’ve found one of these quotes but the other eludes me – “So much of New York’s important, if at times sleazy, atmosphere has been replaced with generic cafes and organic food shops – telling of our times”.  Does anyone think to the contrary?

Anyway, this picture – a lump of old wood lying on the old garden centre’s floor, and being young in those days I did things right, hoisting the really quite weighty Zuiko telephoto up onto a tripod, using a cable release, etc, etc – but couldn’t resist having the Velvia colour slide film push processed by +1EV to skew the colours a bit >>> I bet there are landscape photographers out there, reading this, who have gone pale at the thought of such tampering with this most sacred of all landscape films – haha! I’m nothing if not irreverent … and irrelevant too … before you enquire …

And finding this image again, after all these years, I’m drawn to the curving, swirling textures in the wood, something of beauty in something no longer living – though whether whatever is alive in trees ever really dies is something that some I know, including myself, might feel inclined to question.

OM-4 with 300mm Zuiko; tripod; cable release; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide, rated at 100 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 236 – DEAD TREE ALONGSIDE NEW LIFE (MONO)

 

 

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This picture is best viewed enlarged – click onto it to see a larger version in a separate window.

Tree stump beside a sapling, Westhay Moor, south of Wedmore; 26 June 2015.

Death and new life, the great cycle, in the raw – stark, gaunt.  And with no frills – if this were for sale in Tesco, it would probably be in their Everyday Value range.

And all set against a backdrop that may be a hard, dark and confining stone wall or that may, if hope is rewarded, be something with a much broader view.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 220mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Pinhole preset.
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ARCHIVE 166 – RUBY RED DEVON (MONO)

 

 

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Red Ruby Devon cow on Peacock Farm, northeast of Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 21 Mar 2012.

Having large animals fill the frame has always attracted me – I like to get in close to them, usually with a sizeable telephoto and, in a way, turn them into landscapes. 

Here the accent is very much on the animal’s pale and coarsely hairy face, with its bulging eye and odd strands of pale straw.  Then my eye is taken left to its wonderfully hairy ear and then, further left again, the dark flank fades off into abstraction.

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

D700 with 80-400 Nikkor at 400mm; 3200 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 221 – NEW FENCE, ROTATED

 

 

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Fence at the former Westhay Garden Centre; 30 Mar 2005.

A newly erected fence, still with its panels clean, fresh and roughly edged.

Even when I used to project this colour transparency in slideshows (anyone remember slideshows???), it was always rotated anticlockwise as shown here.  The direction of rotation can be seen from the shadows on the panels’ right edges.

And ever since I first rotated this photo, which is 10 years ago now, it has always reminded me of three people in a procession, moving towards the right.  Religious people, monks in habits perhaps, with the whitish areas either portraying their hands clasped in prayer, or their devout, uplifted faces.

Click onto the image to see a slightly larger version.

OM-4 with 75-150 Zuiko at 120mm; Fulji Velvia 50 colour slide push-processed to 100 ISO; tripod; rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise.
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