ARCHIVE: LEVELS 92 – FENCE AT A GARDEN CENTRE (MONO)


A photo from sometime ago, using a technique that now seems to me to be from another age.  The camera was a Nikon F6, a simply wonderful film SLR of great quality, and the last of the professional range SLRs that Nikon made prior to the market being taken over by digital cameras.  But the real point of interest here is the film.  Most of us – or perhaps the more senior of us … –  will have shot colour transparency film – colour slides, those little pictures in cardboard or plastic frames that could be looked at through a viewer, or far better viewed using a slide projector and screen.  But Agfa Scala was a wonderful, 200 ISO black and white slide film that could be push processed to 1600 ISO, 3200 ISO and beyond, and which was simply, well, exciting, to use.  Also, in those far off days, I used a tripod for shots like this, whereas in these days of excellent quality image stabilisation and image sensors that give very acceptable results at high ISOs, my tripod stays in the boot of my car.

Also, I avoid garden centres like the plague, but the former Willows Garden Centre was something quite different – it was just what I like, tatty around the edges; and it also sold good local produce; and it employed disabled people in a very basic, down to earth cafe that, amongst other things, could whip up wonderful, large Full English Breakfasts, and tea/coffee strong enough to make your hair stand on end, at the drop of a hat >>>> just the thing for very early, very cold winter mornings!

The picture shows one of the fence’s stout uprights, to which panels of withies – pliable Willow stems – are tied with string.

But, gentrification is occurring even on the Levels, and what has this tatty, much loved, down at heel garden centre become?  Well, its now an art gallery.  Yes, well, enough said.  And the food available is simply not what it was, and so I no longer call in there.  Well, that’s how it is.  Life moves on … and, as I’ve often quoted, “Time passes.  Listen.  Time passes.” (Dylan Thomas).

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

Technique: F6 with 80-200 Nikkor lens at 200mm; Agfa Scala monochrome slide film rated at 400 ISO; tripod; the former Willows Garden Centre, near Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 8 Mar 2005.

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 84 – THE ROAD NORTH TOWARDS GODNEY (MONO)


A dark, wet morning on the Somerset Levels, looking back up the road to the village of Godney, on the horizon. 

On the left, the stump of a heavily pollarded Willow, crowned by a few new leaves but close to collapse.

You can find out more about pollarding trees, and about the Somerset Levels too, here .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 03 profile; Godney Road, looking north towards the village of Godney, northwest of Glastonbury, on the Somerset Levels; 14 June 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 54 – THE VIEW SOUTH, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)


Looking south on a wet morning in early winter, with a wide angle lens on the camera, and a split tone added in post-capture processing.

Compositionally, the lines of the track, the banks of the water-filled ditch to the left of the track, the horizon and the cloud formations all draw my eyes down past the large tree.  A tree that is certainly valued, perhaps even loved –  I never come to this very special place without touching it and talking to it, as it clings stoutly to the steep bank of yet another water-filled ditch, always in danger of toppling over, as three other long-known willows behind the camera have already toppled.

Click onto the image twice to open an enlarged version: recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 12 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset and adding a split tone; Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 6 Dec 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 33 – POLLARD IN FLOODWATER (MONO)

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Pollarded Willow standing in floodwater on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

With its bulky, rounded crown, this tree is top heavy and well on its way to collapse.  The usually wet, peat soils provide little in the way of support.

More about the practice of pollarding can be found in my first Somerset Levels post 

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 165mm; 200 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, using the Yellowed 1 preset as a starting point.

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 5 – THE RISING SUN ALONG HURN DROVE (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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The rising sun lights a willow along Hurn Drove, on Ash Moor, to the northwest of Polsham, on the Somerset Levels; 28 Oct 2014.

It was early morning, and I was driving slowly in shelter and shadow, travelling through a world of grey.  But as I turned out onto Hurn Drove, the upper reaches of Our Star broke the horizon and shades of gold were all around.

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 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day. 

Click onto the photo to view a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 6400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 1 preset and selectively restoring colour.

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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SOMERSET LEVELS 467 – FOGGY MORNING (MONO)

 

 


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Pollarded willow appearing out of the mist, early in the morning, beside Swanahard Lane.  Pollarding of trees is a common practice on the Levels; I discussed it recently here .  Its shown well in this tree, which has a really thick trunk, with large numbers of much thinner branches emanating from it: pollarding has been carried out sometime back, possibly more than once, but then discontinued, so that the cut stumps of the branches have grown to great lengths.  The problem here is that the thick, original trunk is leaning slightly so that, as the weight of the thinner branched above it increases, there is the danger that the whole tree will topple over.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Graphite profile; Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 23 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 465 – EARLY MORNING LANDSCAPE

 

 


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Misty morning, sun just rising.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 250mm; 640 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; looking out towards Hay Moor from Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 2 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 460 – POLLARDED WILLOW 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Pollarded Willow on the Somerset Levels.  More about the practice of pollarding, and about these Levels in general, can be found in my first Somerset Levels post .

The first of these images is here .

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Monochrome (Red Filter) v2 profile; Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 26 Apr 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 459 – POLLARDED WILLOW (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Pollarded Willow, shorn its true, but still very much alive.  More about the practice of pollarding, and about these Levels in general, can be found in my first Somerset Levels post .

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Cool Tones 2 preset and slightly restoring colour; Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 26 Apr 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 417 – WILLOW 4 (MONO)

 

 


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These images are certainly best viewed enlarged – click onto each of them to open a larger version in a separate window and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Pollarded willow, old and leaning precariously, beside the River Sheppey in Swanshard Lane.  These are mono versions of a previously posted colour image – see 3 below.

Technique:  these images, both captured by the Nikon Z 6, have been created in two different ways.  The one above was produced by in-camera processing of a raw file, using the camera’s Graphite picture control, and no further processing in Lightroom.  The one below was via the “traditional route”, i.e. via Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2,  using the latter’s Landscape preset.   They’re similar, but I have to say – purely subjectively of course – that I prefer the in-camera processing.  My reasons?  Well I think that the lower one is a bit too grey, with too many of the leaves visible; whereas the upper one has more of the leaves and branches burnt out, so focusing more attention on the gnarled trunk.  Which, if any, do you prefer???
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There are other Willow portraits here: 1 2 3 .

There is more about the ancient practice of pollarding here .

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