It turns out February was the best month for me for as long as I can remember, photographically speaking. So much so, it’s incredibly difficult to pick out just one photograph – I have at least six in mind which deliver so I’m going have to go with the one which tells the most story. Stark comparison to a year ago where February was utterly flat – I remember feeling like I’d been shrouded in a dark cloak of depression, waiting for winter to lift. Not this time.
A trip into the Warwickshire countryside kicked the month off in style with some light snowfall. Once again, snow was as rare as hen’s teeth again this year across the Midlands, no doubt it will turn up unexpectedly at the end of April or something just as I’m wheeling the BBQ out of the garage. As thin as the snow was, there was just enough to create a nice bit of atmosphere though and Loxley Gold was a strong favourite on that morning. But better was to follow…
Atmospheric mist delivered in abundance only a week later on a crazy shoot in The Cotswolds. One of those mornings where it was perfect – mist, low and slow rising sun which was strong enough to make its presence felt, I came out of the woods after five hours with an unusually high haul of winners. Pure gold. So this month, the one I’m going for is Birth Of An Angel – for me it’s an image that has presence, story and atmosphere in spades, the epitome of what I often set out to capture…
What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?
I set myself certain objectives, they’re not always achievable, but one of them is I definitely want people to try and connect with my images. This month’s photograph is all about trying to take the viewer to the movies – the pinnacle of what I want to deliver is story telling, an idea in an instant, presence, performance. If you can bring all of that you’re onto a winner I think.
Here’s why Birth Of An Angel is image of the month for February:
- This is 100% theatre for me. It’s rare to be able to capture that elusive moment of relaying an idea which you’ve captured in a split second (1/30 of a second to be precise) but the title for this one popped into my head as soon as I saw this opportunity. The light just played across that low branch, created a pair of wings and an almost angelic ghost like spirit and that was that. It sounds corny but these seconds and minutes can be incredibly ethereal – if you’re not absorbing the feel of moments like that I don’t know how you can translate that mood into your photographs.
- The tree in the foreground is a competing object, a big one at that, but the reason why it’s there is because I wanted the story to be in the trees, something that happened in the forest not at the edge of it, if you see what I mean. I wanted that feeling of being a witness to a myth, like I was there looking on from a little distance, almost as if I was accidentally there. I think the big front tree automatically helps to create that sense of depth and ensures that the viewer looks into the image too, rather than at it. At least that’s the intention – you can tell me if you think I got all of that wrong!
- The light is right in the centre ensuring the viewer doesn’t get too distracted. It’s a pretty contrasty frame, a difficult one to shoot but the huge dynamic range of my D800E delivered here – I exposed for the highlights and raised the shadows enough so that you can see what’s going on.
- Not a lot else to say here. It had 50,000 views on Flickr in a couple of days, that’s not the reason why I’ve featured it here, but it clearly struck something of a chord with people and it’s already become the most popular photograph I’ve ever posted on there.
The Technical Setup
- Taken with the Nikon D800E
- Zeiss 25mm f/2 ZF.2
- f/11, ISO200, 1/30 in a dark wood with low sun at 08:45hrs
- Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
- Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Adobe Photoshop CC
- No sharpening