One personal project I commenced last year explores the Woodlands of England. Having worked, albeit briefly, for the Dowager Duchess of Devonshires' Estate in North Yorkshire when I was younger, I had an affinity with traditional English woodlands which I wanted to explore further.
I thought I should do something different to the predictable images I could have taken. Woodlands have for Centuries been associated with magic and mystery. Think of all the movies that use woodlands as places where goblins, fairies and dragons live! It's easy to wonder and get lost in a large woodland. They are full of life from underground rodents and bacteria to insects at the top of the canopy. They are a place we go for relaxation but are full of wild food chain dramas & poisonous plants. I wanted to capture this magic and mysterious element so It was important for me to push my creative boundaries.
I had an idea to use in camera techniques combining some or all effects available to me such as zooming, focus & exposure. I wanted to produce abstract images, almost impressionistic but giving the viewer enough hints to realise they were looking at woodlands. Even though I have quite a few years experience behind me shooting everthing from cars to diamonds, this is a very hit and miss technique and takes some experimentation. This doesn't mean composition or technical skills go out the window. I still have to find scenes that work and give that mysterious woodland feel.
Let's start shooting..
I started shooting in Spring 2016. The first images for this project were shot in Lincolnshire, not far from Lincoln City in a beautiful place called Hartsholme with mature trees and large swaths of parkland. It was a hot day with full sun, the perfect conditions, I discovered, for this type of photography. To enable me to zoom or move the camera I needed to use quite long exposure times, usually around 1 second with the lens stopped down to around f/22. I used a Canon 5DMKII twined with their amazing f/2.8 24-70 zoom lens. Super sharp and with great clarity, however, this lens was not used to its best due to the nature of the techniques I was using! I still believe in maintaining quality at every level even though this could have been shot on a less expensive system.
I have travelled up and down England shooting in various woodlands having more success in some than others. I can go a whole day without much to show, such is the unpredictable nature of this technique!
One of my favourite sets of images are the ones below of a Rowan tree heavy with berries blowing in the wind. Taken in Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, in Autumn 2016, the wind was so strong it was blowing these bright red jewels all over the place. I was immediately drawn to them so set up my camera and started shooting. A timed exposure of 1 second caught what I had envisioned and hope instills some kind of emotional feeling with the viewer.
Over time I discovered bold contrasting shapes shot in strong sunlight give the best results. Post processing is kept to a minimum with each image colour balanced. I would love to mount an exhibition when I have a large enough collection of images; this is an ongoing project and one which I am sure will develop further. Even though I have been lucky enough to be shooting images for over 20 years on a full time basis, as with all things photographic, I am constantly learning and continue to be passionate about creating inventive images.