SOMERSET LEVELS 371 – LOOKING INTO THE DISTANCE

 

 


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The view into the distance, into another world perhaps.  I say this because, years ago, when I was braver, more reckless and probably more romantic than I am now, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in very wild places, in Arabia and in Kenya, and to some extent high up in the Western Alps too.  And I remember being totally drawn and excited by the dim twinkling of far off lights seen through the blues of dawn and dusk – both from the ground and from aircraft.  I felt I was looking into another world, seeing something almost magical, with feelings both of excitement and awe.

But of course, in walking, motoring or flying to those twinkling lights, reality reasserted itself, the magical became mundane – and it was only when I looked back behind me, back towards where I had been, that I could see the magic once more … ha! >>> such is life >>> such is the reality of things!

But, even now, all these years later, and when I can infuse enough blood into my alcohol stream, looking deeply into far off blues – the vast calm indigos of John Fowles – still gets to me.  A little bit of the magic is still there, and I am most grateful for that.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; looking east from Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 5 July 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 369 – WESTHAY MOOR

 

 


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Two takes on an impressive lifeform – one mono, the other colour –  from the northern edge of Westhay Moor, just south of the hamlet of Mudgley, on the Somerset Levels.

Click onto either image (especially the top one) to open as larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

My favourite?  I like them both – two different takes on the same subject.  Have you a preference?

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Technique (upper photo): Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 145mm; 1600 ISO; jpeg generated in-camera, using the Monochrome picture control with a green filter; minor additional processing in Lightroom; Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 5 July 2019.

Technique (lower photo): Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 390mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 368 – JOGGER (MONO)

 

 

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Morning run amongst the flowers and lush growth of early summer, on the northern edge of Tealham Moor.  The farm behind has prudently been built on the slightly rising ground above the moor, well out of the way of flooding.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightoom, starting at the Camera Vivid v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Wet Rocks preset and adding a light coffee tone; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 5 July 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 367 – GOLD CORNER PUMPING STATION

 

 


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I’ve often wittered on about how the Somerset Levels are an area of very lowlying land – in places (some of my favourite places) below the level of the high tides on the nearby coast. And I also go on about the fact that these flatlands have only relatively recently been reclaimed from vast areas of lakes and marshes. This is all very well to talk about as a concept, but recently I visited a place where the disparity between these lowlands and the vast amounts of water at a higher level in the Severn Estuary can be seen in stark reality – I hadn’t been there for years, so I took a trip down to Gold Corner pumping station which, since 1942, has stood tall and fulfilled its very important duties in a rather empty area between the villages of Burtle, Woolavington and East Huntspill.

What does this pumping station do? Well, it takes water from the lowlying Levels, and pumps it up around 8.5 feet into the much larger Huntspill River, which is an artificial waterway which channels it down to the sea, via the estuary of the River Parrett. The Huntspill River was constructed during World Way II to provide vast volumes of water for a nearby munitions factory, which has been closed since 2008 and is due for redevelopment.

And looking at this pumping station at Gold Corner, it looks rather mundane – just an old brick structure.  But there is one very small thing here that is striking – to me, incredibly striking – and that is the small white notice immediately to the right of the windows on the building’s left face – and here it is:

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The Severn Estuary has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.  In the spring and autumn especially, the tides along this low coast can rise up to 50 feet (15 m) above low watermark. And, as is shown by this unobtrusive little notice, without the various sea defences, these vast amounts of seawater would submerge this flat landscape, as they have done in the past. 

And take another look at the first photo here, where you can see that this little notice is high up above the road on which I was standing – I was looking up at this notice at quite an angle.  But then look at the distant water to the left of this building, which is much lower again than the road I’m standing on – this difference in height is better shown in the last photo here.

Standing beside this building, looking up at this little notice, and seeing the difference in water levels on either side of this little road, I suppose I felt humble in the face of the natural world – while also feeling very, very much at home in this landscape.

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Standing beside the Gold Corner pumping station, I am on the edge of two worlds.  For looking seawards, i.e. towards the west, there is this view – of the vast amounts of water in the (manmade) Huntspill River.

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Whereas looking in the other direction, i.e. eastwards out over the Levels, there is the clear disparity between the water in the foreground which is being retained by the pumping station’s dam walls, and the water running through the flatlands immediately beyond these walls, which is at a considerably lower level.  It is pumping stations and architecture like this, along with other facilities too, that keep the Levels intact as the (albeit often wet) farmland and moor/heath that we see today.

Click onto these images to open larger version in separate windows, and click onto those versions to further enlarge them.

Technique:  Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens; Lightroom; Gold Corner pumping station, northeast of Woolavington on the Somerset Levels; 31 May 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 366 – SPRING MORNING (MONO)

 

 


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A rather unusual picture from these mostly open flatlands: my car surrounded – besieged  almost – by spring flowers and pollarded Willows.  It was early in the morning and I was driving out onto the Levels from the north – on the road from Blackford to Westhay as the wonderfully aslant SCC (Somerset County Council) signpost informed me.

And I’d pulled into the open entrance of a rough track called Tealham Moor Drove, to drink a cup of coffee, savour the quiet of the early morning, and just take a look at anything and everything.

And so to peace, quiet, flowers with a shadowed field gate on their left, the leaning and wonderfully unModern signpost, dense trees – and my small, old, battered and dirty car, bedecked with lichens, spiders’ webs, mud and other less mentionable substances.  A simple scene, and an at once wonderful and very ordinary little place to be.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used (mistakenly!) in DX (= APS-C) format to give 105mm; 640 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Center Focus preset and adding a light Ambrotype tone; at the western end of Tealham Moor Drove, on the Somerset Levels south of Blackford; 3 May 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 364 – BESIDE NORTH CHINE DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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Beside North Chine Drove, with the ground rising up towards the hamlets of Mudgley and Bagley.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used (mistakenly!) in DX (= APS-C) format to give 270mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Push Process (N+3.0) preset and adding a light Selenium tone; looking north from North Chine Drove, on the Somerset Levels southeast of Wedmore; 14 June 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 363 – ANIMAL 4

 

 


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

Beside the road at Redlake Farm, on Queen’s Sedge Moor – see this link for an earlier image in this series, and much context; there are other images from this little series here 2 3 .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral V2 profile; Redlake Farm, Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 May 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 362 – HIGH GROUND AT GLASTONBURY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Looking up at the Glastonbury skyline with a long telephoto, underexposing the shot, converting it to mono, and making very faint use of restored colour.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – 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 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Plate 1 preset, adding a split tone and making very faint use of restored colour; the Glastonbury skyline from Black Pit Drove on Common Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 14 June 2019.
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BRISTOL 141 – RAILINGS WITH BOTTLE (MONO)

 

 


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Exploring Leonard Lane with Paula, and hence to an empty beer bottle jammed between railings: the reminder – along with that morning after feeling, no doubt – of a good night out.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Graphite profile; Leonard Lane, in the Old City area of central Bristol; 3 June 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 360 – OLD BUILDING 2

 

 

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Awhile back I posted a picture of this old, tumbledown, corrugated iron shack – that post is here .  I like to have some variety in my pictures from the Levels so, rather than endless landscapes, here are some close ups of that shack and its surroundings.
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Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended, there’s a lot of detail to see here.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens; Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; Lightroom; Huntspill Moor, just east of East Huntspill, on the Somerset Levels; 3 May 2019.

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