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Autumn Shooting at Arboretums - David Clapp shares a few tips on photography in an Arboretum.
In our busy modern lives it is often complicated to find the time to shoot great Autumnal images, considering the amount of research, walking and perseverance that is often involved. Big hitters like the New Forest and The Lake District are often out of reach for city dwellers, especially with a family in tow. So this Autumn have a go at visiting an arboretum, as they make a brilliant and easy alternative, keeping the kids amused with throwing leaves at each other while you take some breathtaking opportunities to capture Autumnal photography.
- Take all your lenses – A medium telephoto lens will be particularly handy for capturing leaf and branch detail. Make sure you pocket your macro lens too.
- Wellies - Arboretums get a lot of visitors and the ground gets well trodden.
Go at the right time
As arboretums are collections of trees, trees from foreign countries and other continents, this can be just the ticket to an easy shoot. Horticultural planners include sensational visual displays to attract visitors in there thousands, to places like Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire to name one of the UK’s favourites. Yet its not as simple as falling off a log, you need good sunshine and a well timed visit to get the best from the colours and the day.
What to photograph
There are two tree species to look out for - maples and acers. When reaching their peak or colour intensity a little earlier than other trees, but a glade of side lit colour is a truly magical sight. Most arboretums have these trees in their collection and they feature heavily in annual publicity shots (hence generating a huge car parking revenue each year, vital to the arboretums upkeep). Westonbirt is not cheap to get in, but consider where this money is actually going.
Experiment with your technique
It's best to wait for sunshine to give dimension to the trees, but if the day starts a bit flat and dull, all is not necessarily lost. Concentrate on staging some ideas, but putting leaves on interesting textures or making arrangements of leaves themselves.
Also try the good old zooming technique. Put an ND filter on the lens, set an aperture of f/16 and the ISO as low as possible. This should give a long shutter speed, maybe a few seconds. Set the camera's two second timer. Press the shutter and then zoom into the shot and create a wonderful vortex of colours. Easy and very effective.
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