November has been one of those transitional months for me. The best tree colour had departed and the weather was neither cold or mild, wet or dry. A bit hum drum really. The month was broken up for me with a sparkling trip to Paris so landscape wise I don’t seem to have got out quite so much as I might have ordinarily planned.

It was also a month of some quite dramatic kit changes too. After summing up how much weight I’ve been carrying, out went some of my long held kit; my incredible Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-e as well as my relatively recently acquired Fuji X-E2, Fuji 18-55 f/2.8-f4 and Fuji 55-200mm f/3.5-f/4.8. Wow, that seems like an awful lot of gear when I write that down. In its place has been a Nikon 70-200mm f/4 and lately the Nikon Df. More of that on another blog post most likely anyway…

The image this month Life Lines is indicative of the period though, taken on a wet Sunday morning in some woodland on the edge of Warwickshire and with my new 70-200mm f/4:

Life Lines

Life Lines

What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?

Quite a simple composition, this massive fallen and ageing oak was lying in the forest in the rain but I was energised by the deep colour, the strength of the textures and the flow of the whole frame. The 16:9 crop seems to work particularly well again here too by exagerating that width.

Here’s why Life Lines stood out for me this month:

  • Firstly it’s in the title. A tree is marked in two ways – it’s inner rings represent its age, but in many respects its bark is like a skin, marked and scarred by its experience in the forest. Looking at my hands, it reminded me of those lines you find on your palms, Life Lines. I often have words like that buzzing in my head when I see a shot like this and it helps me focus on what it is I’m trying to say with it. The leaves are almost lying on the dead Oak in sympathy within my imagination, almost gently mourning its loss in the forest.
  • I just love the deep magentic green colour in the frame. I used a polariser to take away some (but not all) of the reflective highlights because I wanted both the deeper colour a polariser brings, but also I wanted to retain the contrast in that texture, only made possible by the rain. I think I achieved a nice balance here anyway.
  • The left to right sense of flow works very well to my eye in the texture. Indeed, I almost titled this “Flow” because I thought the leaves looked like they were riding on a stream and others have already commented on that too. Any image that makes you look twice these days is a win.
  • The leaves themselves of course brings a nice colour contrast. Believe me or not, the leaves were as I found them – that’s what caught my eye in the first place. Without them I might have walked straight on by.
  • This absolutely screams three dimensional shape and texture – I love the way it’s lighter at the top and darker lower down, that every inch is rammed full of detail without it being obtrusive or misplaced. In the end the whole photograph has balance for me with the Maple leaf providing a real focal point and dynamic colour contrast. Nature is so very cool sometimes.
  • Despite the grey, overcast, rainy conditions, this photograph hopefully goes to prove that something creative and energetic is still very much possible – without the rain the colours would not have been so successful in my view.
The Technical Setup
  • Taken with the Nikon D800E
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/4 at 75mm
  • f/5.6, ISO100, 1 second in dimly lit forest and rain at 11:15hrs
  • Lee 105mm Polariser
  • Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
  • Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Adobe Photoshop CS6
  • No sharpening

All in all, a real representative image of autumn for me and a reminder of how stunning Padley Gorge really is even though it is considered something of a cliche location to many photographers.