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Thread: Woodland pics

  1. #1

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    Woodland pics

    Where I live has plenty of woodlands and I am contemplating doing a series of woodland scene type photos. I would welcome any advice from those who have done plenty of such photos and have some ideas for producing creative shots 'in the woods' so to speak

  2. #2

    Re: Woodland pics

    Best invest in a chainsaw

    Seriously though trees are very difficult to capture successfully. Their complexity of structure (particularly in groups) rarely makes for a good image. You will need to use the natural light to its best advantage and learn how to dodge and burn in PP. I am not saying it can't be done but be prepared for disappointments. Deciduous trees in winter can be interesting and I would always advise to get close in as well - bark textures, fungi etc. Oh and unless you have pro lenses watch out for chromatic aberration with branches shot against the sky - not a good look and time consuming to fix plausibly in PP. So its light, light , light....observe carefully how the light falls in different areas and remember that those woodland scenes of dappled light and sunbathed glades have a seriously broad dynamic range that your camera will not capture in one shot. You may wish to considered sensibly and subtly applied HDR processing of at least 3 images at 2 stop variants of exposure. I cannot believe I recommended that...Colin, please slap me

    Almost forgot. You will usually be dealing with low light situations so a tripod is a must.

  3. #3

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Always difficult, Malcolm. Are you talking about deep shadow or dappled light with shafts of sunlight? Both have their problems.

    And then there is the difficulty of finding an interesting scene without intervening branches, etc. Finding a suitable focus point with sufficient depth of field also creates problems. I tend to prefer a fairly close focus point and let the distance gradually fade.

    Mixed exposures will always be a headache. Ideally, take several shots with different exposures and blend them together. But wind movement of foliage can make this impossible. Alternatively expose for the brightest area and try to recover the shadows with processing software.

    Working in Raw gives the best options and you can to some extent vary the exposures during Raw conversion then combine a couple of copies with different 'exposures' as layers with masking. You may still need to do a bit of further selective brightness adjustment.

    However, with care, this type of scene can work well. But take a lot of shots with different settings and hope to get one or two keepers; and don't get discouraged by having a lot of rejects.

    Some scenes, which look fantastic in real life, continue to outwit me and my camera despite many visits under different conditions.

    This earlier post Woodland Path was my only keeper from over 50 shots, and it still took quite a lot of editing

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Many thanks - I was already aware of the difficulties, but your post reminds me of that and emphasises the need for care and thought in tackling the subject.

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Thanks for the advice. I am used to tackling such subjects using film so using digital will be interesting. It is the capacity for editing that will be my learning curve. The key to me is that it is enjoyable taking on the challenge and as long as there are a few decent shots and ones efforts are not completely useless it can be very rewarding.

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Persoanlly I only photograph woodlands on bright overcast days to eliminate issues of mixed light and shadows. There is enough mess in a woodlands without adding more complexity.

    BUT, one piece of gear is a must for me and that is a polarizer filter. It cuts the glare off the leafs (even on bright overcast days thre is plenty) and helps saturate colours.

  7. #7

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Did some woodland pics and they have not turned out too bad. Infact some were good. So either the advice worked or I was under-estimating my ability!

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Sometimes, Malcolm, I get a good result and think that I've finally understood everything and I'm now an expert - but the next day . . .

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Hi Malcom, I am no expert but in my limited experience there is a huge difference in the having the woodlands complement the subject and having the woodlands as the subject. With the former I have gotten some acceptable results. With the later I fail miserably! Whenever possible, add water!

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Thanks all for the advice. I took quite a few and some turned out OK. The ones with water did not amazingly. I hope I have uploaded an example of the more successful shots.

    film280711-043.jpg
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    Last edited by Donald; 1st August 2011 at 07:12 AM. Reason: Image inserted inline

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Frank, Here is a pic with water that did work. It is the Basingstoke canal as it runs through my county Surrey. It hasn't been a working canal for 100 years or so but now it is being restored as a habitat for wildlife and a recreational space. I must say the walk I had by it early one sunny morning was idyllic so I guess it works on one level at least.

    img_1998ecic.jpg
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    Last edited by Donald; 1st August 2011 at 07:12 AM.

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Peter, With a film camera a poarising filter wa always in use when I did any kind of landscape or shot with highlights. I have a polarising filter for my digital cameras but so far I have not brought it out and tried it. I must do so taking your advice, which I am sure is sound

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    Re: Woodland pics

    One other bit of gear I use often is a grad grey filter. The differential between the mid to top range of the canopy and the floor can be balanced with a grad grey.

    Grad grey and polariser on an overcast day and your away.

  14. #14
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    Re: Woodland pics

    Hi Malcolm, The first shot has a tree trunk and path to give direction for the eye to follow and the end of the path gives your mind a place to imagine what is beyond. On the other hand, the Basingstoke canal shot doesn't work as well for me as it doesn't have subject (or focal point) and although my eye can follow the river, the reflection hinders, rather than helps the flow. If I am making any sense? Standing back a bit from the image, I see a sliver of sky reflected in the canal, but the rest of the image is a jumble of shades of green. I guess I am just more comfortable with a clearly defined subject. Like I mentioned earlier, I do very poorly if the woodlands IS the subject. Sorry, I'm not being much help!

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Frank, Thanks for your perspective and feedback. I kind of agree with you. The reflections are amazing for real, but are not enough in a photo to be 'the subject' and give a focal point. We live and learn!. I did others where the locks on the canal were a focal point and perhaps that is better ( see enclosed) , but I agree woodland is a rather challenging subject and not easy to get right.
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    Re: Woodland pics

    There is something strange about water reflections, Malcolm. Some work well while others never seem right.

    Last autumn I saw a wonderful scene similar to your photo and took quite a few shots at different settings and angles. Eventually, after a lot of messing about, I ditched the lot.

    One thing that sometimes works for me is to darken the reflected image slightly so that the reflection isn't quite so bright and sharp as the real dry land scene.

    There is something about the balance of your first canal shot that makes me want to rotate it slightly. But I think it is straight already.

    Here is a scene which I have shot numerous times, and everyone got zapped. This is a cropped down version which removed a lot of the reflections and I also darkened what remained.

    Woodland pics

    And I'm still not sure if it works. It is a linked larger image so it might go a bit soft overall as well.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 1st August 2011 at 08:47 PM. Reason: photo added

  17. #17

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Geoff, I have certainly done shots with reflections in water that work extremely well, but it is not a fail safe procedure. I have a shot of a Castle reflection on Lake Geneva which is superb, although it is done in B&W (120 roll film). Is it that the softer images of film lend themselves more to this type of scene than the modern digital?

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Sometimes, Malcolm, I get a good result and think that I've finally understood everything and I'm now an expert - but the next day . . .
    Oh yes!!!!!!!!!!!

    (and it so doesn't just apply to photogrpahy)

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    Re: Woodland pics

    Hi Malcolm,

    You may want to consider using the TinyPic method, it allows for bigger images, more suited to the fine detail that should be in these shots (but still don't exceed 1000 tall or about 1200 - 1600 wide and do downsize and sharpen before uploading, if you let TinyPic or CiC do it, soft images are likely to result).

    You may want to have a read of HELP THREAD: How can I post images here?, because even if you continue with forum attachments, you need to complete the process so we see the image inline.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 3rd August 2011 at 10:31 PM. Reason: Removed the duff bit

  20. #20
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    Re: Woodland pics

    Like others, I find singular objects more successful most of the time. I also am a sucker for old gnarly trees, you know the kind with plate sized fungi growing on them.

    I know of a place where a tree is growing out of a huge bolder, but alas I will never get back there. The last time I didn't have a camera with me, and my back won't let me go there anymore. It's about a seven mile round trip hike with more than 1000' of elevation loss and gain, rather a rugged trip.

    This shot was taken several years ago with my old Panasonic TZ1, which is still going strong.

    Woodland pics

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