Capturing Perfect Woodland Scenes
Written 7 years ago by Mark Evans
Strolling through the woods in springtime is wonderful, the bluebells lay like a floral carpet across the woodland floor and the diffuse light filters though the tree tops to produce the perfect setting for a great photograph. It doesn’t have to be spring to get out and get some shots in the woods though, almost any time of the year can be great for a stroll with the camera. Here’s some tips:
Focus on the Details
In the forest there is such a vast array of subjects to photograph, it can be easy to walk straight past an opportunity. Bushes with bright berries make colourful subjects, not to mention the various types of toadstools and mushrooms that lend themselves well to being the foreground or even the subject of a scene.
Birds and squirrels are pretty common in these parts (England) but they’re usually pretty elusive when it comes to getting up close, so getting a shot of one of these critters can be challenging to say the least. In order to capture an image of a squirrel up close you’re either going to need a pretty big zoom lens, are Ace Ventura, or alternatively, you can try putting food down, set your camera up with a 5m air release, and hide in the bushes until your unwitting furry friend appears. Birds are generally hard to get up close to (unless they’re pigeons or in a sanctuary) so try a long zoom lens and a lot of patience.
The light in a forest can seem almost magical, especially when you get rays of light streaking through trees; these scenes can really create a dramatic atmosphere and are perfect for a classic woodland scene, but it’s usually not as easy to capture it as you think. Since it’s usually a bit darker in the woods, and the light coming through is relatively bright, it makes it hard to get exposure spot on. Try bracketing your exposures to ensure you get the best shot possible, you could even stack them later on to create an HDR image.
Experimenting with soft focus effects can work wonders for a woodlands shot. Try using a Soft Focus filter; this filter does what it says, giving a soft look, which is great for a dreamy atmosphere, or you can even try fogging up your lens/filter by breathing on it to create the fairytale look.
We’ve all seen those creepy woods like on The Blair Witch Project, you expect something to jump out of the shadows at every turn. To give the heeby-jeebies to your viewers try accentuating the shadows by underexposing your image a little, and/or shoot into light (Contre Jour) with a tree blocking the sun; this will produce shadows towards the viewer for extra spookyness. You could even do it in your post-processing; decrease the exposure, increase contrast and lower the saturation when putting in the finishing touches. Sends shivers up my spine!
Forests would have to be one of my favourite places to wander and take photos; the atmosphere can be different every time you visit. Add a little morning mist and all seems tranquil, a blowing gale and the whole thing takes on a ferocious persona, so I guess that’s one of the great things about photographing in the woods, you never know what you’re going to get.
This article was part of the Landscape Photography Series.