Following up the initial success of last month’s guest photographer feature, I can see a lot of people were interested in what I find as inspirational so I feel sure this will become embedded as a regular feature on this blog. A few hundred people stopped by to give the page a read while some went to the extra length of writing a few paragraphs on what they saw for themselves in the images I selected.

Personally, I had a dynamite October photographically speaking, that is to say I did at least enjoy getting out there and creating something which my own eye found compelling and that doesn’t always happen. For me the escapism and release away from modern life is at least half of what landscape photography brings me, I don’t always deeply think every single image through as a result, nor do I think you need to do that to be successful. Others might disagree.

I don’t think I need to remind people of my love of woodland photography, so given that Autumn is in full flight, it seems only right to focus on arboreal matters in this piece. In that respect, the theme this month for the Guest Photography Roundup is “Trees Three Ways”.

It’s easy to get sucked into what I would call a standard mode of shooting. I’m as guilty of that as anyone at times. Seeing things one dimensionally is a trap many photographers fall into; see, compose, select f/11, shoot, rinse, repeat. Forcing yourself to think differently about an everyday and common subject such as a tree can lead to real growth in your personal creativity and an expansion in your statement or soul as an artist.

I said in my Amateur Photographer “Wild Wood” feature recently that if you ask people to think of tree, most would visualise a trunk, some branches spreading out at the top, probably with a canopy of thick green leaves. This is a simple, almost child-like way of recalling something from memory and it’s perfectly natural. The problem occurs when we come to photograph such a subject though. Breaking that mental image, that in-built picture of what a tree is, can become challenging and creating something visually different can suddenly seem like a real problem. Fortunately I believe I managed this with my Backwater Series (somewhat unfinished) where I used a combination of infra-red, reflections in local pools and a narrow depth of field to create something a little visually different anyway.

Anyway, let the selection commence…as before, all images are clickable to their original source on Flickr:

Photograph 1 – “Bolehill Mist 2” by James Mills

Bolehill Mist II

James is a brand new find for me on Flickr and I’ve been bowled over (excuse the pun) by his images of the Peak District. He has a short but beautifully put together Flickr Stream stuffed with quality images like this. I’ve picked this one out because I think it’s of particular note. I’m a sucker for light like this, the bold greens making this one for me – I also love the cluttered frame but somehow doesn’t seem over-whelmed by the sheer number of objects. There is still a defined point of focus in the frame with the tree front left as well as that suggestive little path. Birch are my absolute favourite tree and Bolehill is the place to visit if you love this particular subject matter.  I note from the EXIF data that this is taken with a 50mm. It certainly mirrors my preferred angle of view of my 45mm Tilt Shift – there’s no clever tricks at play here and no distortions too, very much a ‘real world’ view of this woodland and I love that. Awesome work from Mr Mills.

Photograph 2 – “Before The Deluge” by Valda Bailey

Before The Deluge

Once again, the ultra-creativity of VB wins through. What do you say to an image like this? I don’t really know where to start… I have no clue how it’s really created, nor actually do I want to know. OK, that’s not entirely true, I do sort of know how this is done, but the real recipe for such work is the result of true artistic vision and sophisticated mind’s eye for me. To be able to ‘see’ such an image, breaking so far away from that basic depiction I talked about further above, is an absolute triumph and in may ways I wish I had the courage to be more experimental. To be able to depict anything resembling a tree in such a way is to be applauded, yes it’s a departure from James’ image above but for me it is at least equally successful, a real stunner. I may not try to replicate this style of imagery but it helps remind me that seeing things in our own way is really what photography is largely about.

Photograph 3 – “Sheep Shift” by Terry Gibbins

Sheep Shift

To complete this month’s trio, I have to put this wonderful image from the South Downs from Terry. There are so many elements in this I like – the simple colour palette of the whole frame, the contrast of the leaves, the fabulous tiny detail of the sheep which are almost spelling out a message on the hill, it all adds up to a frame that certainly keeps you visually entertained. I’m guessing this was shot with a Telephoto from some distance, it’s a preferred method of shooting I often deploy myself, in fact I’ve said many times that where trees are concerned a 70-200mm (or longer) is definitely your friend, quite a difference to the staple diet of 24mm Wide Angle that most landscape photographers dine off. This hopefully serves as a fine reminder that standing 3ft from your subject isn’t always the best way to see things – trust your eye and shoot what you see.

See you next month!