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6 Top Tips On Photographing Trees & Leaves

Trees look great in Autumn but you don't have to wait until then to photograph them as the rest of the seasons can be just as photogenic.

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We have plenty of woodlands to photograph and as rain showers are common at this time of year, greens will be more vibrant so now is a perfect time to photograph them. Plus, you can use these tips in Autumn, Winter and Spring, too, giving you a plethora of images to capture. 


1. Gear Suggestions



You can use a variety of lenses from wide-angle to shorter telephotos, you could even use a compact camera if you so wish. Make sure you pack a sturdy tripod as light can be low in dense woodland areas and, plus you'll need one for macro work you'll find a polarising filter handy as they boost colours and reduce reflections if you happen to be near water. If you're headed for a long-ish walk consider taking a backpack as these bag styles offer plenty of room for outdoor essentials as they tend to have side mesh pockets for water bottles and smaller compartments for guides, food etc. Invest in a remote release or, if you prefer, make use of your camera's self-timer for close up work and have a lens cloth to hand to wipe any smears or smudges off your lens.


2. Head For The Woods



We're never too far away from trees, in fact, many of us will have them in our gardens or on our streets. But even though we have good specimens close to home, to get really cracking shots, you need to venture to the woods or local gardens. Woods are welcoming for photographers but some gardens and other sites don't allow tripods so check before you lug it all that way. For shots of groups of trees, step back and photograph the whole woodland scene or crop in for a more arty feel.


3. Time Of Day

Leaves on a tree


Even under the forest canopy light in the middle of the day can cause too much contrast so you're much better off heading out early or waiting for the sun to drop a little. Don't think you should stay in on overcast days either as these are perfect for some close-up photography.


4. Patterns And Textures 

Tree trunk


Single trees look good isolated but if you're in the middle of the woods it's better to get closer. Look lower and you'll be able to add some texture to your images by focusing on the trunk. Make sure you look for patterns in the bark then turn your attention to bigger patterns searching for lines of trees that create strong, symmetrical images.


5. Other Objects 



Look for man-made objects such as benches or even statues too as these will contrast well against the soft colours of nature.


6. Leaves



If you have a bright blue sky look up at the canopy and concentrate on the leaves. Greens contrast well against a blue sky or you could crop in and really focus on the details of the veins. Just make sure you're not photographing ones that have been half-chewed by a bug! A 100mm macro lens will get you in close enough but if you want to create more detailed shots try using an extension tube or coupling rings on two lenses.

When you're out looking for leaves don't pick up ones that are too thick as light won't shine through them enough and select ones that have different patterns otherwise your job will get a little repetitive.

Photographing Leaves At Home

On rainy days, you can shoot images of leaves in the comfort of your own home. You just need a lightbox or you could use a window and tape your leaf to it. You can shoot one leaf, making the patterns created by the veins your focus or try placing a collection of leaves together to create a busier look. You'll see that backlight highlights the leaves' shape beautifully and really punches the veins out. You'll also find the colour appears to be more vibrant, and as there's no breeze, you can take all the time in the world to frame and get your shot right.

Do clean the leaf with a little water before you photograph it and make sure you dry it gently as you don't want it to split. Finally, once you've shot your images, run them through some editing software to check for imperfections before you hit print. 


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27 May 2015 7:18PM

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