The Forest

Note:  Firstly, I start with an apology.  I have been experimenting with a Wordpress blog to see whether I prefer it to Google's Blogger and, well I think I do.  If you are interested, you can have a look at the Wordpress blog at: then clicking on "Blog" on the top right of the screen.  It'd be interesting to see what you think.  I have also played around with the format of this blog and, well, I ruined my previous blog layouts as a result.  So if you do have a look at previous posts, sorry for the weird layout of writing alongside images!  For the time being I will keep posting on this blog until I decide which I prefer.

Back in Summer, I was asked, “Do you know about the Forest?” “Errr… No…” There was my ignorance on full show. I was told how amazing it was nestled amongst the hills. Sounded like it needed to be investigated but there was an issue with getting there in the first place. I am from the flatlands where cycling is easy. Trying to cycle up hills with camera gear will likely lead to a heart attack. However, a solution was found and I was soon heading to “the Forest” each weekend.

One of my first memories of the Forest that really stands out in my mind, however, is not from within it, rather looking towards it from about half a mile away. Seem strange? Let me explain…

One Autumnal morning, the weather forecast showing there to be no chance of rain, I found myself walking up the hill away from town and towards my little paradise. I love it up here. You climb quite steeply through the quieter streets of town. Up through the golf club, taking care not to irritate golfers by shouting “Fore!” everytime someone hits a shot (not that I’d do such a thing…) and across the cattle field. Up amongst the gorse you come to a clearing with a line of Ash in front of you. Walking underneath them, you are now in a slight dip in the clearing and there… No town sounds. Just peace and quiet. But this day, as I crossed the cattle field, I felt the need to turn round and, oh my, that’s a big rain shower about to slam into me. Guess weather forecasts have to be taken with a pinch of salt! As I walked under the Ashes in the rain and up a slight gradient, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched the clouds drifting through the trees of the Forest. It was something I have only ever seen in natural history documentaries from far away lands… and maybe Scotland.

Clouds floating through the Forest
Following are some images from similar atmospheric mornings, some of those I didn’t get drenched on… You can click on them to increase their size if you wish.

Orton Effect attempt 1

Tree veins
The top left image is an image I attempted using the Orton Effect on for the very first time. I was slightly overexposed in camera but that gave the saturated Forest a strange glistening as if there were frost covering the trees. The Orton Effect just helped with the atmosphere. The image second down is an odd one for me. You know when you are at the opticians and they shine that burning light into your eyes and say “Look down… Look to the right…”, have you ever noticed that you can see the inside of your eye? Well for some reason, the shadows of the dendritic trees against the fog remind me of that… And I quite like that apparently… I hate eye tests though. The bottom image is something I just like. I like the contrast of the tree branches and the crushed shadows (I did that kind of accidentally on purpose in post production). There’s nothing to it really. It may not be the best image but it reminds me of that morning and many others down at the Forest. However, I haven’t just been photographing trees. I have other images… Not many but that’s beside the point! It has been quite a challenge to photograph wildlife up at the Forest. I have met some friendly Robins however…
I want to finish this long first post with an image from the Flatlands. I had been seeing images from the local Starling roost near my home. When I eventually got the chance to go and see them, I had been inspired by Danny Green’s long exposure images of Starlings and I really wanted to try it out. So I did… Man, Danny Green is good… Man, I’m not! I couldn’t quite get the balance between getting the Starlings recognisable and not just a streak of grey across the sky. I ended up using a double exposure technique in post production to enhance the effect. I used an image where the Starlings were a little too blurry and far away. Then I used another image where the Starlings were closer with less movement and blended them together. Cheating? Well, it seems to be how I saw it and, for me, that’s OK. Am I happy I did this kind of compositing… that’s still being debated… I would love to hear your thoughts, though.

Starling murmuration

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this long post and I hope that you will accompany me on my ramblings some time soon.



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