I’ve been there before. The expectation of a glorious season is around the corner and then follows weeks of rain, flat conditions, endless grey cloud and a limitless lack of atmosphere. The key is to be prepared to travel, follow the conditions when necessary but above all, be out there early in the season if it presents the opportunity so that you can try and take the pressure off yourself if you’ve gone through a long empty summer like I did this year. Of course, the prime directive of lower your expectation is cast aside like a distant memory as the promise of golden light and opportunity fills us like a new horizon born out of every morning.
And so it was to the Peak District on an early autumn outing when for once the photography spirits delivered in mid-September a recipe of golden light, low mist and that magical combination of early changing seasonal colour. It lasted the whole of the weekend of course and in one swoop I managed to reel in an abundance of images I was very happy with, so much so, many of them worked together in a new Portfolio – Lexicon Of Light. The pick of the bunch from that weekend was Autumn Wood, though in truth it could have been one or two of the others which I like too which you can see in my my last blog post.
What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?
This is a slightly odd crop because this scene started out as two separate frames. I was shooting with my Nikon 45mm f/2.8 PC-e Tilt Shift lens and liked the scene to the left of the light, but then tried the scene more to the right – in the end I merged both frames together to give this slightly wider view but ensured what I felt was the best spread of light, colour and impact. It’s an instant favourite of mine and is already printed up at A2 on my wall in a natural oak frame. It’s autumn in a single frame to my eye – the fact it was taken so early in the season makes no difference to me, I’m not sure I’ll take a nicer image through the whole of this autumn.
So here’s why Autumn Wood is image of the month:
- I love the change in texture between foreground and background. The ferns are beautifully lit but we also get some of the last purples of the Peak District heather in there t00. The textures are linked by the shadows from the trees, a moment to place yourself into perhaps.
- I love the strip of light from the bottom right hand corner which takes into into the centre of the frame where the spindly branch completes the journey to the brightest point of the low sun.
- It may not be immediately obvious but I like the ‘sealing’ of the photograph on the left and right edges with the dark trunks of the trees, ensuring your eye doesn’t wander out of the frame making this quite an intimate view.
- It’s an accidental state whereby the trees to the right in particular appear to bend towards the centre of the light, helping moving the eye through the frame. I used the Shift function of my lens to ensure that distortion was minimised, so this is a natural state rather than a trick of lens distortion or a keystoning effect.
- The soft mist adds depth and an ethereal feel at the back of the photograph – some might feel it’s an over-used cliche, but in busy woodland it can be the difference between a messy over-complicated photograph and one which delivers more subject separation and atmosphere.
The Technical Setup
- Two frame stitch taken with the Nikon D810
- Nikon 45mm f/2.8 PC-e (Tilt Shift) using 7º of vertical Shift
- f/11, ISO64, 1/6 in low sun and misty conditions at 08:01 hrs
- Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
- Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Adobe Photoshop CC
- No sharpening
Long may the season continue in this vein!