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Woodland Walk

By nstewart
I'm brand new to woodland photography but lockdown has led to me exploring woodland within walking distance from home. Ideally would have preferred a misty morning but trying to concentrate on composition.

Tags: Northumberland Woodland Landscape and travel

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dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1807 England
8 Jan 2021 3:39PM
Welcome to the Critique Gallery, Neil.

I'm intrigued that you see taking pictures in the woods as that different from other landscape work... Maybe you could set out what you see as the potential pitfalls?

Landscape is always about the light first and foremost, then composition, then location: and the 'right' light depends on the look you're after. (I will note that noonday sunlight can be a problem, as it gives horrible contrast issues: otherwise, any light will do, though you may need a tripod and long exposures when the light levels are low, and you've obviously used on in this case.)

I'd be interested to see the full frame, and hear what processing you've done here: did you start from a RAW file?

Two specific thoughts about this shot: one is that all of the trees seem to be leaning slightly to the right, and they'd benefit from a slight anticlockwise rotation. The second is that the ground is not that attractive, and a touch messy: you might consider using the long end of your zoom to stack up the tree trunks for a relatively abstract image.

Those are first thoughts - please come back with your thoughts - and, I hope, the original JPG file...
chase Plus
15 2.1k 540 England
8 Jan 2021 3:54PM
Hi Neil and welcome.
With that many trees in your woodland you are going to struggle with a nice lead in from a pathway...there's always going to be a tree in the way Sad
Looks like you have already done a fair bit of post processing already, perhaps with a colour boost, especially in the lush greens as that seems to be a bit overdone and image quality will suffer as a result.
Looks to have a bit of a magenta cast, especially on the ground and yes a general lean to the right.

As John has mentioned, it would be nice to see your starter image with a bit of a clue ref. your post processing.
chase Plus
15 2.1k 540 England
8 Jan 2021 4:08PM
I did do a modification.
Cropped off some of the top and right, to remove the half a tree there.
Reduced the Magenta cast on the ground.
Reduced the yellows and greens, just to calm them down a touch.
Rotated slightly.
Added a drop of colour to the remaining sky.
Converted to sRGB which is the colour profile recommended for ePz, the profile was ProPhoto.

This is lacking a little definition/sharpness tbh, maybe a touch of camera shake visible, especially on the LHS tree.
Did you use a tripod here, a must with 1/4sec shutter speed.
Perhaps up the ISO and give yourself the availability of a faster speed.
pamelajean Plus
15 1.5k 2201 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2021 7:19PM
Hello, Neil.

A lot of compositional guidelines can be applied to a picture of almost anything, and I am sure you have been using some of them in your landscape photography, and can therefore bring them to bear on your local woodland captures.

You have found a pathway that acts as a strong lead-in and which emanates nicely from the bottom left corner of your frame. I like the way it undulates, and travels through the trees, but the viewer's eye gets a bit lost on the way, and loses its purpose because there is nothing to focus on at the end.

I lived in the New Forest for 20 years and, whilst walking my dogs, would always be looking for trees with character, old gnarled ones as well as newly planted ones. Shape, texture, fungal growth, lichen and all sorts of things will be attractive in a photo, not only leaves and berries. Having hunted down an attractive specimen, the photo will need surroundings which don't outdo your chosen subject. Place your subject offset in the frame and make it your focal point, that point where a viewer's eye will rest awhile.

This is not to say that a frame full of trees alone can't be beautiful, especially if taken at sunset or sunrise, or with light rays beaming through the gaps in the trees. Also, when the sun is behind trees, it can give you a fine image as long as you hide it behind one of those trees. Some dappled light can also create extra interest, as well as the lovely long shadows when the sun is behind the trees.

Then, of course, going up close for some lovely patterned and textured bark can become addictive, especially when accompanied by some fungi or lichen.

If you are lucky enough to encounter other people, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists or even ponies whilst in the woods, take advantage of that and get shooting. You immediatey have your focal point/s.

HERE is an EPZ article giving 10 top tips for taking better photos of trees, which might help you a lot.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.6k 2372 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2021 9:45PM
Hi Neil, welcome to the Critique Gallery. I've enjoyed a lot of your uploads over the years, you have a good eye for composition, and for crop. I hope you'll find this a useful exercise.

Woodland images work on light, lines, and on the way in which the photographer suggests a way through. That can be a meandering path to a satisfying end, maybe somewhere in the background right; or it can be dangerous, intimidating, as here when the path wanders out of frame on the left. That's disturbingly counter-intuitive, we expect to progress rightward...

You often use b&w, have you considered it here? I've added a mod, worked in Nik Silver Efex. Added contrast, grain, and burn edges to give a claustrophobic feel; plus slightly sinister toning.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4217 Canada
8 Jan 2021 9:49PM
Uploaded 2 mods with comments.

You used ProPhoto RGB when you uploaded, convert to sRGB first.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.6k 2372 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2021 8:34AM
One further thought regarding woodland photography. I read an interesting article some years ago, in, I think, Amateur Photographer, by a photographer who is also a forest ranger.

He suggested that one reason why we find woods atmospheric, 'dangerous', even spooky, is that in the shadows our eyes dilate to their maximum aperture, around F/2.4 equivalent. So we have very limited depth of field, we see the nearest trees clearly, everything else recedes into a dark blur.

So if you want atmosphere it's perhaps worthwhile to try to emulate that rather than aiming for maximum depth of field. Longer focal length, larger aperture, focus on what is close to us...
10 Jan 2021 10:42AM
Thanks for all the constructive critique. I've taken on your advice and studied the modifications. Lockdown will hopefully enable me put some of your advice into practice as I explore the woodland in my local area.


mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.6k 2372 United Kingdom
10 Jan 2021 10:57AM
Thanks for the feedback, it helps us if we know we have given you ideas to think about. I hope we shall see more from you in the Critique gallery. Remember that the more you tell us about your intentions the better we can tailor our advice.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1807 England
10 Jan 2021 6:43PM
Seconded. Conversation makes the work worthwhile.

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