Somerset Uncovered – Evening By The Isle

Continuing my personal filming and video time lapse project “Somerset Uncovered” the latest location was not only the closest to my studio and home but also one I’d never heard about.
This was despite driving past it many times over the last 15 or so years.
It was while chatting to my sons friend on the way to a football match that he was telling us of a spot that some of his friends go to swim in the summer holidays.
I was intrigued to take a look even if the directions were a little vague !
The following day with the family and dog in tow the location was eventually found and it was not only stunning but less that a 10 mins from home!
I went to film here 3 times in total mainly due to weather and some rather inquisitive cows blocking my intended shooting location.

 

 

 


Boris Takes Tea At The Yard

We had an unexpected visitor to our studio base at The Monks Yard today and I was asked if I could grab some promotion images.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson popped into the Yard for afternoon tea (but no cake ! ) and gave a quick speech.
He’s not the first former politician or celebrity to pop in and I’m sure not the last.

Boris Johnson At The Monks Yard Somerset

 

Boris Johnson At The Monks Yard

 


A Place To Remember

This week I met up with some of my family to scatter my mothers ashes and visit a place both she and I visited almost weekly to watch the wildlife and loved to spend a little time together.

The location on the Somerset Levels sits in view of the iconic Glastonbury Tor and the River called South Drain (yeah not the most romantic name !) flows across the moors helping to ease excess water during winter months.

I’ve photographed here many times over the last 25 years and to me it is iconic Somerset combining the Glastonbury Tor,river,moor and it’s wonderful wildlife.

It’s now not only a place to photograph but also a place to go to remember happy times with my Mum.

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Glastonbury Tor From Catcott Lows Nr Burtle Area.

TOR RIVER_

20 Plus Years Previously, Note Lack Of Withy Trees On Right Bank Next To Gate Compared To Image Above

 


The Fine Details, Surveying The Moor

I was asked recently to help out a neighbour with some images for a new business venture she was setting up.
The main image needed was a portrait of her with her dog Barney and I had the perfect location in mind that I had found only a week previously.
As with most shoots containing more than one person composition is key especially here where we have a person and a smallish animal that need equal attention in the frame.To do this I used a very large fallen tree that provided a great prop and worked perfectly for the main image required but also provided another unplanned opportunity when Barney decided to climb onto the very top of the trunk.


I very quickly spotted the potential of the scene unfolding and fired off half a dozen frames before he climbed down and the moment was gone.
I knew right there before previewing any images that I had a strong image that could be developed further in post.
I cant explain what it is that that makes a potential image appear in front of me (when many people do not see it ) except to say it’s an unconscious thing perhaps developed (pardon the pun) over the 26 + years of looking through a camera.
The final composite required a lot of retouching to remove the harness that Barney was wearing and to retain all the very fine details I’m obsessed with keeping and seamlessly blending with the background.
Retaining fine details like these takes a lot of work but knowing the image will stand up to the closest of  scrutiny is important.

Barney Post Work

Next I decided to scan through my archives to find the perfect background to compliment the image.
The image I decided to use is one of Exmoor that I had shot a couple of years ago but had never used and provided a perfect fit for the mood I wanted to create.The final image titled “Surveying The Moor” together with a close up of Barney are shown below.


Mind Games With Jet The Raven

A few weeks ago I did a couple of posts about photographing the devastating floods from Burrow Mump in Burrowbridge and some capturing beautiful old trees in Dorset.
Both these where shot for a new image I had wanted to create as part of my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” and to represent the severe floods that had hit Somerset this year.
The only element that I had left to find was a Raven or something from that family of birds which I had always wanted to photograph.
I had nearly exhausted all my options for sourcing one locally and not one to compromise easily I decided to place a post of Facebook to see if anyone knew of one..even a stuffed one was becoming an option ! To my surprise one of my oldest friends replied within minutes saying his tattoo artist called Brendan had a tame Rook and I should call him.
After a couple of days I rang Brendan who indeed had Jet a fairly young and fairly tame Raven I could happily pop along to photograph.
Despite photographing several animals for this project already I’m by far a wildlife photographer and knew nothing about Ravens apart than they where a bigger version of a crow !
Brendan explained how incredibly intelligent these birds where (more than dogs) and although my concern about having my eyes pecked out was very unlikely due to their friendly nature I would definitely find Jet to be very inquisitive.
I turned up with a car full of gear (you never know what you will need on location) but I soon realised the avery was too small for any kit apart from hand holding the camera and a speed light for some fill in flash.
The other things that quickly came to my attention was how big and hyperactive Jet was ! This was going to be a tough shoot but that was to become an understatement!
You remember how I said how intelligent these birds where ? well it seems they also like to play games with tubby photographers trying to photograph them.
Each time I raised my camera to my eye he would fly, I could watch him all I wanted in fact he would do this little display to impress me (or take the piss as I saw it) but as soon as I raised the camera past my chin off he’d go off again…the little bastard was playing with me and winning!
Anyway not to be outdone I decided I would just have to set the camera up the best I could and shoot blind holding the camera at chest level.
I could have possible set the camera up and shot via a radio trigger but the concern was Jet would fly onto the tripod and knock the whole lot to the floor and I did not fancy explaining that to the insurance company less than a week after a £700 repair for it rolling down a hill!
With 140 frames shot I managed to capture enough usable frames to choose from which had correct perspective and interesting angle.

The image is titled “A Perch Above The Flood”

 


Dry Path To Muchelney

You can’t live in the UK without having heard about the village of Muchelney in South Somerset which has recently become an island after the severe floods.
I live a few miles from the village and have managed until today to resist all temptations to venture out onto the Somerset Levels with my camera.
The two problems for me are firstly that the Somerset Levels are where I learnt my craft and they even after all these years are still one of my favorite places to go and shoot.
Secondly although I’m certainly no adrenalin junkie or risk taker I’m fascinated by extreme weather much to my wife’s disapproval and this means I can’t resist getting safely close as possible to explore & capture what I find.

The floods had receded just enough that some roads are now passable so today with stormy skies still overhead I ventured to a couple of places I thought might be safe and give me some great views.
This image titled “Dry Path To Muchelney” shows the severely flooded River Isle on the right and flooded fields to the left with a elevated path bank heading towards Muchelny.
The gentleman I met walking with his dog said how in 40 years he had never seen flooding this extreme in the area.His dog seemed less bothered by he water and more interested in the wildlife as there where lots of mice and other animals on the bank seeking safety from the waters.
The rains came in again giving some wonderful skies and I decided to shoot one more image before heading home.
As I mounted a gate to reach the flood line in a field I somehow lost my footing and ended up head first with my camera luckily on top of me !
It must have looked hilarious but must admit as I sit here writing this I’m pretty bruised and not getting any sympathy from the wife !
I hope for those hit hard by the floods in Muchelney and surrounding area that the water recedes soon so that the clean up can get started.


Capturing Deer On Location

After a very enjoyable week in Portugal it was straight back into it this past week with two assignments planned.
I can’t reveal too many fine details at this point but one of the jobs is a follow up to a very successful adverting campaign we shot & retouched last year.
This shoot involves capturing some rather cute (some of them at least) Deer on location and we happened to find the perfect place just a 20 minute drive from our studio base at The Monks Yard.
Despite being rather unpredictable beasts the shoot went extremely well and I completed all the images needed with any drama.A few days later I had completed the capturing of all the elements needed and we are now currently working in post to assemble the two ads for the agency.Here are a few snaps of the location and some very brief video footage.
I’m hoping to reveal the final images here within the next few weeks and can’t wait…



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Wicker Coffins & Wetlands Centre

Today was the end of a very full week of shooting in London, Devon & Somerset.
We also had to produce estimates for a couple of fantastic briefs that we hope we will be shooting next month which we are pretty excited about.
So all in all a very enjoyable week and to top it off today we spent a fantastic morning looking around yet another location we are planning to shoot for our personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape”
The location was PH Coate & Son “Willow & Wetlands Centre” here in deepest Somerset.The Coate family have grown willow here since the 1800’s and today produce products from environmentally friendly Wicker Coffins to Christmas Hampers for the famous Fortnum & Mason in London.
So just like Cider making the Willow growing indusrty just had to be included in our project and we plan to return in November when the Willow Harvest is under way.

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Capturing The Cider Orchard

This week the weather finally looked perfect and we got to shoot the old Cider Orchard I mentioned in a previous post.
I arrived on my own at the orchard just after sunrise and spent nearly two hours in the beautiful autumn light capturing all the images I would need ready for the composite.
I should explain again that the plan was to capture the orchard now while full of Apples and then photograph the guys from Richies Cider when things quieten down for them after the harvest.
The shoot was pretty simple and most the time was spent trying to create nice clean compositions as there was just so many trees full of fruit close to each other that it was a little too much !
We now have to create our backdrop from the images captured and arrange to return to Richies Cider Farm in a few weeks to capture the images of the guys to complete our vision for the final image.