ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 82 – FLOODED ROAD (MONO)


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 – 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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 82 – STARLINGS (MONO)


Large flocks of Starlings roam the flatlands of the Somerset Levels in autumn.

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

Technique:  Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Dramatic profile; Court Farm, southeast of East Huntspill, on the Somerset Levels; 25 Oct 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: LOOKING AT CARS 77 – STREET SCENE (3)


A collection of disparate objects: street furniture, the relentless imagery of the mass media, and a moving vehicle  – modern life along a city’s busy roadside, just before dawn. 

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 12,800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Pop profile; central Bristol; 29 Nov 2019.



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 72 – THE VIEW SOUTHWEST FROM WHITELAKE BRIDGE (MONO)


Looking out over the Whitelake River and Hearty Moor, with the landmark of Glastonbury Tor, topped by its ruined church, in the distance.  Large masses of flowering Blackthorn on the left.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 Picture Control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red Filter preset and adding a light coffee tone; 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.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 65 – ROE DEER


Driving west across Westhay Moor, when a deer ran across the road some way up ahead.  I noted where it had disappeared, drove carefully up to it – and there to my right, out in an open field, was a female Roe Deer.  The Z 6 was ready on the seat beside me, and in one (now quite practiced) movement I raised it, turned it on and flicked it into APS-C mode to increase the telezoom’s magnification.

She was very flighty, making to dash off one way or another, but every time the Z 6’s (really not loud) shutter fired, she stopped and looked at me.  I managed four frames, through roadside bushes, before she finally bolted, and by luck got this one.

This is a female (yes, that’s right, she’s a Roe doe!): no antlers, and with the quite rich brown summer coat.  Looking at her, I’m grateful for the catchlight in her eye and the raised foreleg; I’m struck by the very rectangular shape of her body, from the base of her neck back to her rump; and I see her simply as a creature of grace and beauty.  Her beauty is best appreciated enlarged >>> click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Roes are the smallest native deer in the UK, and fairly often seen out on the Levels, early and late in the day.  And they are also not at all uncommon in the leafier suburbs of our towns and cities >>> and so to the stag that I photographed recently in our fairly secluded back garden – you can see that post here .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Standard v2 profile; Westhay Moor Drove, on the Somerset Levels northeast of Westhay; 12 July 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: LOOKING AT CARS 72 – DRIVER IN THE MODERN WORLD


She is at the wheel – and on wheels too – comfortably cocooned in metal, plastics and glass, all powered up and ready to go. 

But glancing around, perhaps for some human contact, for some respite from this purely blank, mechanically mobile world, the view outside – as inside – is only of endless artificiality, only of yet more, transient cocoons, passing on anonymously by.

Click onto the image twice to enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 6400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Dramatic profile; Bristol city centre; 29 Nov 2019.


GARDEN 75 – ROE DEER: MOTHER AND CALF IN OUR GARDEN


The female Roe, on our back “lawn”

Our back garden in Bristol is becoming increasingly wild, largely because I’m far more of a naturalist than a I am a gardener.  We live in the city’s outer suburbs and, although there are other houses all around, there is also a lot of unmanaged woodland, including that along the track of a disused railway that runs behind our back fence.  When I moved in here in 1990, the elderly couple next door could still remember the steam trains passing just behind our properties.

And, because of our garden’s wildness, its quiet and its seclusion, we often see wild deer from our kitchen window.  Most common are Muntjacs, which are small deer that were introduced into the UK from China in the 1800s, and the third image in this post shows a mother and calf beside our garden path earlier this year.

But we also see Roe Deer, the smallest native species in the UK, and on 25 June we were very pleased to be visited by a mother with her calf.  The mother Roe is shown above, and with her calf below.  We have also seen Roe stags, notably one that, very early one morning, was enjoying eating our neighbour’s rose blossoms.

Its very good to see these deer, both in terms of interest and – in these sad days – in terms of lifting our spirits too.  But we also feel a real sense of satisfaction in that, unkempt as our garden may be, these females evidently feel it a safe and secluded place into which to bring their young.

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

The Roe with her speckled calf

The Muntjac and her calf, earlier this year

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 56 – IN THE UNDERGROWTH, SWANSHARD LANE


This image is best seen enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended .

Moving through early morning’s wet undergrowth in Swanshard Lane, and chancing upon this: motionless within an object of natural beauty that it has itself created, a predator waits.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; in the bushes beside Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 23 Aug 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: LOOKING AT CARS 71 – PARKED CAR 3


Using a long telephoto close in to pick out details, to look at just parts of the cars; and then reducing both Texture and Clarity in Lightroom to unnaturally smooth the metallic surfaces.  Using long telephotos at close range can have creative potential over a wide range of subjects/genres.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid v2 profile; beside Temple Meads railway station, in central Bristol; 10 May 2019.



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