Tag Archives: Epping

Woodland in Blue

Last weekend was dreary. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Cocooning warmth vs the eternal drizzle of the wettest spring in decades. But then the inner voice – “you’ve got to go to the Bluebell wood today, because next weekend it will all be gone!” So I dragged myself out of bed, and thank God I did….

The farmer planted rape this year – he’s a colour artist

A the vibrant zing of contrasting colours. In a weird way the incessant mizzling makes the colours leap out even more. The woodland is an enchanting place. No other people around, but the wildlife seems to be erupting everywhere. A cacophony of sound – mainly from the birds; within 15 minutes I’ve seen deer, fox, pheasant, kites, squirrels and rabbits.

stitched panorama

In fact, I think I’ve disturbed the fox. He’s clearly more intent on the pheasant than on me. And once the pheasant explodes into the air, cracking wings and squawking in panic, I swear the fox gives me a disgusted look as he lopes off into the undergrowth.

Woodland track

Having ruined the fox’s breakfast, I then manage to disturb the deer too. In the middle of the wood, surrounded by bluebells, a young deer. Being the advanced photographer that I am, I have the camera switched off, wrong lens, and have to put down tripod and backpack gear before I can raise camera to eye. By that time – no deer anymore. Ah well, that’s one that got away…

Blue star

Even the kite, screeching away as he circles over the wood, seems to mock my efforts to photograph the wildlife. So, thank heavens the flowers can’t move! In contrast to all the fauna, the flora revels in posing for the camera. To the benefit of the enchanted wood! Ah, the warm bed might entice with its soft folds. But that is a momentary pleasure easily forgotten. My morning in the enchanted wood… That will stay with me forever.

Bluebells and rape field

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Blue is the colour

Dick Turpin in Epping Forest


Frothy White Easter

The Easter weekend – time to celebrate that Spring has sprung! The hawthorne is out 3 weeks earlier than usual this year, and it looks as spectacular as ever.

The hawthorne blossom

A fluffy delight.

Epping Forest bursts back into life

Wake Valley Pond

Epping Forest country lane

The hawthorne is pretty difficult to photograph – I’m never really satisfied with my shots. But I keep trying, every year. And regardless of the final images, I get a strong sense that Spring is here, bubbling over in its frothy whiteness. Gorgeous! Bring on the warmer weather!!!


Snow, at last!

Pond at Baldwin's Hill

At last, the snow has arrived! And with a blast. Now I know that for other parts of the world a 10 inch dump of snow is not particularly interesting, but around here, 15 miles outside of London, that’s awesome.  Epping Forest is immediately transformed into a winter wonderland, hushed and still.

The still forest

Tomorrow we will all complain about not being able to get around. The traffic will be awful and the tube won’t run. But today, we can enjoy the beauty and the transformation.

The trees are shivering

The snow seems to strip the world of colour. None of these pix have been changed into black and white – these are the straight colour shots.

tracks in the snow

And I guess that’s where the transformation really comes from. The overloading effect of colour is blanketed by the white. Just for a day or two. Magical!

Duotone tree


Dick Turpin’s hideout in Epping Forest

A path through the forest

I managed to get a couple of hours free this last weekend, so I shot off into the Forest. It’s at its greenest right now, and after a shower (of which there were many this weekend) it fairly glistens…

The Forest is full of tales. The tree below for instance, is close to the Lost Pond which is on the edge of Loughton Camp, an iron age fort. This is where Dick Turpin, robber and highwayman had his hideout. There’s probably booty buried nearby, waiting to be discovered. Lots of places to hide such stuff round here! If there were buried treasure under this tree, it wouldn’t be giving up any secrets too quickly. Look how it grips the earth!

Gripping tight to the earth

All these pics are taken in the same area, about a mile into the Forest from Epping. This spot below is probably my favourite in the whole Forest. It’s a stream which twists and turns and coils upon itself. It snakes down through the Forest. And just here there is a beech tree growing on one of the meanders. Will it make it to maturity, or will the stream cut it off? I’ll probably never know as time has its own pace in the Forest, and I won’t be around to see the resolution of this particular race.

Meandering along Loughton brook

So here’s a little look into Epping Forest. I’ll be back here with more photos later in the year when the colours turn orange and yellow. And stories of Queen Boudica’s stand against the Romans – all in Epping Forest!


Blue is the colour!

Every year I go out and try and take a good photo of the bluebells. It’s not easy – the blue comes out purple if there’s any sunshine because the flowers reflect ultra violet. So the recent weather hasn’t exactly been good for (bluebell) photography! On reflection, I think the best weather for bluebells is mizzle but we’ve had solid sunshine for weeks and weeks now Bring back the rain (joking – we Brits are simply never happy whatever the weather!!!)

Flower portrait

The straight shot

Below I’ve gone for the abstract view and played about with the camera. Quite liberating! (Honest, this wasn’t just me dropping the camera at the wrong (right?) moment…

The abstract shot

A friend has got a print of this one in his loo. Freshens things up, I suppose….

The classic shot

This is one of my earliest pictures – on Velvia film, hence the slightly weird colour cast I think. From a bluebell wood just of the A59 near Poppleton, York.

My favourite shot


Frothy Blackthorn in Epping Forest

You know that winter is truly over when the Blackthorn explodes into blossom:

The hedgerows look amazing, a mass of frothy, bubble white, on the edge of the forest. But quite difficult to photograph, as I discovered last Sunday morning at about 7.30, as the first sun was coming up.

The problem is how to get a distinct picture. Go wide, and all you see is an indistinct white blob. So you need to go close and focus in on the blossom flowers themselves. But then the slightest wind and you get a lot of blur. Not easy.

These flowers are tiny, maybe the size of a 5p piece, no more. So once the camera is on the tripod, the macro lens fully extended, focus and composition decided, then the mere whisper of a breeze and everything’s messed up. Even at the stillest moment of the day I think a ratio of 5 blurred shots to 1 in focus. Gentle rocking back and forth on the tripod.

It may have been quite still, but quiet it was not. The birds were in full voice, cackling, warbling, trilling, flirting with each other. Almost deafening. The forest and the hedgerows are alive and kicking! Spring, at last.


Amaryllis photo shoot, Epping, Sunday afternoon

Spring is sprung, at last, and the flowers are beginning to bloom. Which is such a relief after the grim grey of the last few months. And when the flowers come out, I like to grab my camera. Here’s my first effort from earlier today. An Amaryllis that I’ve got in a pot in the kitchen.

Bursting out.

This is quite an amazing plant. The stem is about half a metre long already, and still growing strong. The flowers will be large and bold. Amaryllis isn’t shy about coming forward!

But is colour the right way to show this flower…? I wonder if black and white doesn’t actually make it even more impressive – as a picture that is? Here’s a shot of the same plant, same time, same camera, same lighting conditions etc. I’ve just converted this into b&w. Ok, so now we don’t get the spring colours…, but is the photo more aesthetically pleasing as a picture? Is it more unusual? Does the removal of colour move the photo from a simple depiction of what’s there, to an interpretation of the flower? Does b&w move the picture from the real to the interpretative, more ‘arty’?

Unopened bud.

Let me know which one you like the best, and why!


Photography in the Freezing Forest! Epping, Essex.

The year both began and ended with a huge dump of snow! Well, I say huge – it was about 4-6 inches around here, which, as many of my friends from overseas tell me, is pathetic. But in true English fashion everything comes to a halt as soon as the first few flakes begin to fall. I was telling a Russian colleague that the kids had got a few days off school and he commented (drily) that in Moscow they only shut the scholls when the temperature gets to -30 degrees centigrade. Mmmm, that puts it into perspective…

Fresh Snow Fall

OK, so -30 is real weather. But even so, a few inches of snow makes Epping Forest look magical! So these are some of the pics I took back in Jan 2010 just a mile from the house at the nearest lake in the Forest. I love the way the snow seems to make everything quite abstract, and I think the black and white helps emphasise that.

Reeds with their feet in the ice

In an odd way the snow seems to make it easier to photograph the Forest. In the full riot of Spring and Summer it gets difficult to see what to focus on, too much going on, the Forest all crowding in upon itself. In Winter, especially with the snow, the sightlines seem reduced, the views become foreshortened, and its easier to pick out a point of focus. Like the tufts of snow collecting at the base of the reeds.

Here’s the overview of the lake. Very hidden and secretive, although it’s only 20 yards from the main road, it’s a lovely spot. ‘Foresty’. And in the depths of winter, it feels isolated and unchanged for ever. A good place to focus the camera lens.

The Wintry Lake