SOMERSET LEVELS 448 – SITTING IN THE CAR, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW (MONO)

 

 


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Longer term readers of this blog will have heard this already, but for those more recently looking at my pictures – first, THANK YOU! for doing so – and second here is a little explanatory context re the Somerset Levels, which are an area in southwest England that you may not be familiar with.  My first Levels post – here – goes into more detail, but in essence the Levels are the second largest area of reclaimed flatlands in the UK, after those of East Anglia.  Many areas in the Levels have a distinctive landscape in that, rather than being enclosed by fences, the fields are separated by water-filled ditches, called rhynes (rhymes with “scenes”), which make for a very open and distinctive landscape.

And so to this picture.  Out on Tealham Moor, a favourite area of the Levels, early in the morning, I’d driven up Jack’s Drove, which is the single track, tarmac road visible upper left in the picture.  Since these Levels fields are surrounded by water-filled rhynes, each field must have a little bridge across the water, to allow the farmers to get their livestock, tractors, etc in and out of the pastures.  And so, very carefully, I backed my car onto one of these tiny bridges, so as not to leave it blocking the very narrow road.  And care is needed here, because any misjudgment would risk plunging both me and my vehicle into many feet of water and thick, muddy ooze.

The car safely parked, I relaxed, opened the driver’s window, looked out and was confronted by this quintessential Levels scene.  First, the landscape is dead flat and, in this area, below the level of the high tides that lap the shores of the Bristol Channel, which is not far off to the west.  Global warming and its attendant sea level rises are a very relevant issue here.  Only far away, on the horizon, can higher ground be seen.  These are the long line of the Polden Hills and, back in the days when most of the land in this photo consisted of impenetrable lakes and marshes, the Romans built a road along the top of these hills, to get down from Glastonbury to the sea.

Nearer at hand, the long line of the rhyne, the water-filled ditch, stretches away in front of us, with the black tarmac of Jack’s Drove up on its left.  The grassy tufts in the foreground are along the edge of the tiny bridge upon which the car is parked.  And to the right a short section of apparently purposeless fencing.  But its not purposeless at all.  The field’s gate is out of view to the right and, given half a chance, cows, sheep. etc would try to squeeze around the edge of the gate, and escape the field – and would either gain the bridge and make off down the road – or fall into the rhyne while trying.  And so every gate in this distinctive landscape has such short stretches of fencing on either side, to keep the livestock in.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the B&W 08 profile; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wedmore; 14 Feb 2020.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 447 – THE NORTH DRAIN, LOOKING WEST 2

 

 


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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.

In my previous post –  here  –  there is a very different version of this view, taken with a telephoto lens and presented in black and white.  The post will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image once or twice to open an enlarged version in a separate window.

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.
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PEOPLE 388 – GOING TO WORK 100: SOME PICTURES FROM EARLIER POSTS

 

 

1: the morning bus.

Well, Going to Work – images from Bristol’s morning rush hour – has reached 100 posts, and I’m both pleased and surprised.  As is usual with my photo series, I haven’t the faintest idea of how – or indeed, if – it will progress but, that’s me!  I started the series back in July 2016, and have more and more been drawn towards photographing in the dark, cold, early mornings of winter, but so far this winter I have only managed one such sortie.  Increasing years perhaps, or changing photographic attitudes / preferences / energies?  Early morning buses down to the city centre are still readily available, but these days the vast majority of my early morning forays are local and on foot – and are recorded in this blog’s Outer Suburbs series, which includes the Early Morning series, and which is steadily moving towards 200 posts.

So, anyway, Going to Work at 100, what are my thoughts? Well, on the technical side, I’m grateful for having cameras and image processing software that enable me to photograph in such challenging, early morning conditions.  And then, second – and especially since retirement has given me the space to look at and think about the world around me more – I continue to think about the dehumanisation that modern workstyles can bring – of which work-related stress (which I fell prone to, twice) is a sure pointer.  And especially with regard to working in cities and other large conurbations, with commuting long distances to work, with feeling the need to look at work emails and mobile texts outside of working hours >>> and to balancing all in the “busy modern lifestyle”.

So here are images illustrating just one of these phenomena: the morning rush hour, the morning rush to work, which most people engage in five days out of every seven. Links to the whole series, should you wish to look through them, are given below.  I hope you will like these pictures – clicking onto them once or twice will enlarge them in separate windows.

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2: the first post, 23 July 2016; the birth of an idea.

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3: the morning bus, overcrowded, overheated, steamy.

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Recent Going to Work posts are here: 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 .  Each will open in a separate window.

GOING TO WORK: THE EARLIER POSTS: 1-92.

You can see a summary of the Going to Work series here .

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 87 88 89 90 91 92 Each will open in a separate window.

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4: that expression; we’ve all been there.

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5: hurrying to work, hurrying through the cold, hurrying towards the unreachable light.

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6: a rather scary part of walking and photographing the morning rush hour is the frenetic and often careless driving of those apparently thinking of little else besides getting to work on time.  When I compiled this post, a week or so back, I wrote “I’ve seen numerous near misses, i.e. near collisions, between vehicles …”.  Well that has changed now: around dawn on Wednesday, on a well lit main road, a car pulled out into the traffic and their came the dull thud and flying debris of an impact; fortunately both drivers were only shaken up.

And I’ve avoided being hit more times than I like to think about >>> and this includes numerous occasions when people reversing out of their driveways fail to ensure that no one is behind them on the pavement!  I particularly remember a woman rushing out of her front door, slamming it, jumping into her big BMW, switching on the ignition, revving up and lurching forward a foot or so before realising that I was a couple of feet from her front bumper: I’ll never forget the totally bewildered and stunned look on her face.  Do I have great admiration for all members the species to which I belong?  Well that’s a very iffy and loaded question, I mean, you’re putting me on the spot here …
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7: waiting for the morning bus
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8: lurching forward out of the early morning gloom with a damned big camera, I can have this effect on people.

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9: going to work from way out in the Outer Suburbs – standing in a bus shelter illuminated by the rising sun and surrounded by fields and trees, but entranced only by mobile phones; a lucky, opportunistic capture with the TG-5.

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10: I’ve seen this so often – they’re looking down and preoccupied – they’re going to work.

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11: my overall favourite, I suppose; such an interesting and arresting character >>> I’d love to connect!

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12: another cold sunrise.

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13: on her radar.

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14: another favourite; short of time and the traffic banked up ahead – once again, we’ve all been there; I also like the light on the car’s dirty and “distressed” (but, to me, eminently characterful) bodywork.

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15: reality; this is how it can be sometimes.

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16: perhaps dozing, perhaps temporarily somewhere else.

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17: breakfast, on the go >>> oh, and – of course – role model!!!

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18: reading the morning paper; the couple behind gazing forwards, as if with foreboding.

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19: again, that look.

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20: “Who’s the fat geezer with the camera?”.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 437 – THE VIEW SOUTH, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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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.

Over the years, and in terrible times now quite long past, this very open and simple spot has helped me to keep going, to keep on keeping on, and I am very much attached and indebted to it.  To the extent that, when the time comes, my ashes will be sprinkled down there, down along this track, beyond the tree and the large puddle beside it.  Knowing that that is going to happen always affects my visits here, but never I hasten to add in any sad or bad way, but rather serving to imbue me with a sense of certainty, and of belonging too, which gets into my photos sometimes and which I value.

And with global sea levels rising as they are, and the land hereabouts already being below the height of the Bristol Channel’s tall tides – tides with ranges of up to nearly 50 feet – it may not be too long before these flatlands are inundated once more.  So, yes, a temporary place, then – but to a geologist like me every place is temporary after all.

However – the bottom line – a very simple place, vastly attractive to my “less is more” eyes and mindset – and very special to me in my thoughts too.

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.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 415 – EARLY MORNING 19 (MONO)

 

 


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A stormy morning, and Westhay Moor Drove – one of the many dead straight roads in this relatively recently created, lowland landscape – makes off eastwards towards the wild sky of the sunrise.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 .

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 10-25 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Acros+R profile; Westhay Moor Drove, Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels southeast of Wedmore; 9 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 414 – SPIDER ON A BRIDGE

 

 


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A life spent hanging from the girders of Eastern Moor Bridge, a narrow structure crossing Cripps River on Liberty Moor.

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

Techniques: upper image – Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile;  lower image – X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens; 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia Soft profile; Eastern Moor Bridge on Liberty Moor, on the Somerset Levels east of East Huntspill; 2 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 406 – EARLY MORNING 15

 

 


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Early morning: mist clearing above a field of maize on Ash Moor, revealing the higher ground of Callow Hill in the backdrop.

And if I were asked what this great dense bank of tall green plants irresistibly reminds me of, it can be nothing other than the menace of the  encircling triffids in The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. 

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 .

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 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equivalent); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Astia/Soft profile; along Ashmoor Drove, on Ash Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 23 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 403 – THE RIVER SHEPPEY, BESIDE ASH MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Another early morning down on the Somerset Levels: I stopped the car along Hurn Drove and got out beside a little footbridge over the River Sheppey.  Fine tall trees on the river’s bank were reflected in its still waters, cows (as inquisitive as ever) came over to see what I was about, and beyond them the flatness of Ash Moor receded off onto the distance.

There are earlier pictures of the River Sheppey here: 1 2 .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Velvia/Vivid profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Sepia Landscape preset and adding a light Coffee tone; beside Ash Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 30 Aug 2019.
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BRISTOL 151 – TABLE AND YELLOW CHAIR

 

 


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A couple of years back, I was doing a lot of early morning visits to Bristol city centre, and glorying in the abilities, light weight and compactness of my second mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm X-T2 (my first being the X-T1).  Having tramped the early streets for several hours, I would at last fetch at some or other eatery, and flop down to a second breakfast – which was usually a Full English.

One of the eateries I frequented was Browns: the food is excellent and, while not inexpensive, the Full English with a pot of tea (together with a tea strainer!) has a definite sense of occasion and ceremony about it – which I’ve tried to convey in A Distinctly Civilised Full English, here .  Even though I say so myself, if you’re anything like interested in food, this post might be worth a look.

And while waiting for the food to arrive, I took many pictures of the restaurant’s tables and beautiful yellow chairs, which were side lit by large windows looking out onto the street.  Some of these images have already been posted – search for Browns in the tags shown along the bottom of this post – but here is another that I came across recently.  Mostly low key, its about the way the light coming in from the street illuminates the various objects in the frame, notably the yellow chair.  I hope you like it.

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 212mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Provia/Standard profile; Browns restaurant, Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 389 – ASH MOOR, THE RIVER SHEPPEY

 

 


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The River Sheppey meanders slowly across Ash Moor between high, densely vegetated banks.  In the background is Hurn Farm.

Its worth enlarging this picture to get further into it – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it >>> and absorb more of the peaceful atmosphere of this little, out of the way place.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia/Soft profile;  Ash Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 9 Aug 2019.
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