Woodland Photography

Woodland. Despite my love for it, I find it almost impossible to photograph.  Natural woodland is a hoarder of chaos,  randomness and contrast, there’s no main subject, limited viewpoints and little opportunity to simplify. And that’s before you reach Upper Swaledale! 

Gunnerside Gill, Swaledale

The woodland here is found on steep slopes, making any composition difficult to balance, and it made from the wrong trees (birch, larch and beach seem to be the types photographers favour). 

Birch, Torridon

Never-the-less I feel compelled to try, after all what a challenge, and if it means spending some time in the woods, well there’s no better place to be!  

Summer, Torridon

Recently though, and whisper it quietly, I’ve had a growing sense  that I’m beginning to unlock its secrets. The right woodland helps, and the right conditions, but from near despair I now have some hope!  I don’t want to suggest that any of these photographs are the finished article, but … 

Tongue Wood, Wensleydale

A recent trip to Scotland decked out in autumn colours helped. Who wouldn’t be inspired …

Autumn Textures, Torridon

… but it’s the woodlands that surround Kisdon Force that have been in my thoughts for a while, and though an autumnal visit in misty conditions has so far eluded me, a visit on a rainy day hinted at great promise. 

Kisdon Woods, Swaledale

Boulder strewn, luminance green moss, gnarled wood and decay, it’s all there, a riddle waiting to be unlocked. 

Kisdon Woods, Swaledale

This year, hoping for the mist that would had mystery and help calm the complexity, I left my visits just a little too late, but next autumn is only 11 months away and worth the wait. 

Kisdon Woods, Swaledale

So is there a special secret to woodland photography? I don’t think so; the rules of composition: balance, weight, finding a subject or fulcrum, etc. etc. still apply, but perhaps you need to embrace the chaos a little,  work the ground a wee bit harder and enjoy solving the problem …

… and take some sandwiches and a drink, sit for while, spend time  looking,  become acquainted with its characters and nuances, and then, and only then,  fire up the camera. 

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