I have never really understood landscape photography. Although I love the landscape, and there is nothing better than going for a walk in the woods, I have not found it an interesting photography subject. Even when the place is stunning, magnificent and most enjoyable, I haven’t ever been able to capture an image that is anywhere close to the real thing. Nature on this scale is so vast and detailed, and yet most of my efforts at a photograph are just bland and green.
With this exercise I had to do a landscape photograph for my homework. I worked quite hard with thinking about what would make a nice image. My favourite picture is the first one, below, which I have called Killing Field.
We came to this area in the Lower Woods, Badminton, as we walked alongside a small river.
For an hour or so I had come across several dead trees – fallen across the path, uprooted alongside us – bearing their roots, or invaded by fungi. Some had fallen across the river and become encrusted with moss and lichen. And I felt a sense of sorrow, and contemplated what it means to die, to fall, to rot. Of course nature demands death as often as birth and you cannot have creativity without destruction. But I will still shocked when I came across this man-made area where trees had been cut down. Of course this is not wanton destruction; the English have used the wood here for thousands of years and the wood as a whole is stronger as a result of the husbandry. But at that moment, coming across it, there was something upsetting, menacing even, about this deserted, almost sacred area. It was tidy, but there were a number of elements that disturbed me. The bright orange, almost bloody stumps; the bare, upright, truncated (right foreground) tree; the way the bodies had been laid out; the deep fissure in the old trunk; the barren grass. And the deep green young trees, all so straight, surrounding the field, looking on as if in shock.
I found it profoundly affecting, and this is what I submitted for my homework. The second picture gives another view of the same scene.
The next three pictures come to life for me through the inclusion of Nick. The small, dark figure helps give perspective to the area. The dappled November sunlight in the first shot, the scale and spaciousness of the second two, help us get a sense of how our ancient woodlands feel, when you are in them.
The third set are just trees – nice shapes, textures and wonderful colours. Apparently there are more versions of green available to the human eye than any other colour. I find these a bit magical and mysterious.
The reason why I think these photographs are successful, compared to my usual “green and bland” images is that
- I went out with an intention
- I brought my feelings to bear
- I looked for the right light (it was mainly flat, but there were occasional moments of brightness in the gloom)
- I underexposed to get more detail
- I used Photoshop to edit – mainly I increased the saturation to bring out the different shades of green, and increased the clarity of the blacks to emphasise the structure.