July turned out to be a month with some new gear. I invested in a Fuji X-E2 and 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 because I wanted something lighter for what I call ‘occasional’ shooting. It certainly has its strengths and weaknesses like any other camera and I’ll put together a separate blog post on this soon enough.
Although I spent a good chunk of the month with the Fuji in hand trying to get to grips with its modes and menus, my favourite image for July still goes to one taken with my Nikon D800E on an outing to The Cotswolds for a misty sunrise. It’s no secret that I love woodland scenery but the photograph I’ve selected this month has something compelling for me. There is a tonal quality to Nikon’s RAW files which is missing from the Fuji in my view and this seems to particularly shine through for me in Mid Summer Wood below.
What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?
Firstly, and most importantly, I never really pick on any random set of trees. Composition is everything and although there is nothing you can do about what grows where, where you position yourself, the direction of light, focal length and framing are all equally and incredibly important. Randomly pointing your camera into the mist doesn’t yield results people give a second glance at.
So here is how I approached Mid Summer Wood:
- This is a particularly complex frame but I love its arrangement, it actually has a few competing features in the photograph which is something usually to be avoided but the light from the top right to bottom left holds the whole scene together for me.
- I thought the tree bending left out of the frame anchors that side of the scene very well. There’s some interesting detail on it and this in itself adds something different which isn’t repeated anywhere else in the photograph. That means that the viewer will have something to hold their attention away from the light source and the centre of the frame.
- Then there is the short tree dead centre. It’s right hand branch is pointing towards the light source, almost as a sign post in the photograph. I really like features like this – similarly there is a small dead tree below it which is pointing towards the left in similar fashion.
- Next is the right hand side of the image which is framed by the two darker trees. The leaves reach along the top side of the photograph creating a kind of ‘goalpost’ shape which boxes the light in the top right.
- The tree closest to the camera is left, the centre tree is a little behind and the two right hand darker trees are further away again. This automatically creates a small amount of depth which adds something to the ‘journey’ in this photograph.
- By positioning myself with the light source to the right, each trunk has tonal shadow and ensures that we have three dimensional shapes in the photograph instead of silhouettes. If I had stood a few yards to the left, this would have looked like a very different scene indeed and the light would have been quite flat.
- I used my 45mm Tilt Shift to shoot this and utilising an upwards Shift, I ensured that all of the verticals in the framed remained vertical, despite not using a telephoto focal length. I didn’t use any filters in this photograph.
- It was relatively dim in the wood at this time in the morning (taken at 6.30am) so the exposure time was 2.5 seconds. There was a small amount of breeze and this was perfect to ensure some movement in the leaves and the long grasses. This softens the whole photograph beautifully for me, adding a further element which makes this scene very inviting and easy on the eye.
The Technical Setup
- Taken with the Nikon D800E
- Nikon 45mm f/2.8 PC-e shifted upwards by 5 degrees
- f/11, ISO100, 2.5 seconds in dimly lit foggy woodland
- Tripod, cable release
- Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
- Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS6
- No sharpening
A classic woodland scene which I’m very pleased with, there is every chance I would enter a photograph like this for next year’s Landscape Photographer Of The Year.