Posting about bucolic English countryside is all well and good (check it out: here), but for the opposite of Constable-esque pastoral it’s fun to whizz over to America. These images are from Bryce Canyon. Not the classic views, everyone does those – me too: here – rather these are looking away from the Canyon ridge, back down into the forest. And what a sight. Death and destruction everywhere…
Desolation amongst the trees
Ponderosa pine, dead
These images are infra red, converted to black/white. They become punchier, contrastier. Starker. Suits the mood of the wounded forest…
But even though the forest has been scarred by the lightning fires, there is still hope. The fire was in ’09, and slowly the forest is recovering. This is Bryce last autumn. So after 5 years there are new shoots. The forest never gives up, hope springs eternal. The reflectance of foliage in infra red means it goes white – exuberant and new. Rather fitting, I think…
There is one good thing about an early exit from the World Cup – more time for photography!
I managed to spend a couple of hours in the forest this morning, processed and published the pictures by the evening. The benefits of digital!
Wake Valley Pond
Apparently, this pond is infested with terrapins, one of which is meant to be a giant. That’s according to the angler that I chatted to. Mind you, we all know how anglers have a tendency to exaggerate, especially about size…
Terrapin, lurking out there somewhere…
Photography vs football. No contest at all. The one gives pleasure, the other pain. I’ll concentrate on the picture making, and the hunt for terrapins!
(By the way, I have a series of articles being published in Black + White Photography on the why certain images create an emotional impact. Check them out and let me know what you think)
I was told recently that my photographic style was neat, straight and classic. Well that made me sit up. Actually it made me get off my backside and into the forest to see if I could do something less neat, more wobbly and completely unclassic. Below is the result.
Birch trees in Epping Forest
I deliberately left the tripod behind. Closed the aperture down, let the shutter speed go to 8 secs plus, and then let the camera wobble. It’s meant to be impressionistic. Pictorial. Un-photographic. Actually I quite like it!
It’s all a bit hit and miss. But fun! Makes a change from trying to get front to back sharpness and perfect exposure for land plus sky… I shall definitely take more images like this.
Wonder if anyone else likes these, or whether they just look like shaky camera technique. Let me know… Anyway, back to the classic style for the next post no doubt!
I’ve swapped the wet – but hot – climate of the Caribbean for the wet and cold climate of Essex. It’s a tough exchange, but there are compensations (some…), namely that Epping Forest is ablaze with colour. Even on a dull day the forest glows.
The colours of autumn
The next 3 weeks or so are just the best. Green and yellow now, turning to gold and brown by end November. Then along comes a storm, the leaves are down, and the show is over. Got to enjoy it while it lasts.
I saw him before he saw me…
Careful, these ones are dangerous!
I may even have to force the kids to go for a walk this weekend… It’ll do them good, even if they do squawk and squabble and wish they were in front of the playstation. Could even drag Mrs P along! And then a delicious steaming sausage pie with onion and madeira gravy to cheer everyone up again. Yes, autumn does have its advantages! And luckily I have some spiced rum to remind me of the Caribbean!
A Forest wander.
Everything is different in the forest. Sound, sight, but above all, time. Right now, the forest is at its peak. Blazing with colour. It is holding off the drabness of winter. Time stands still. For a week or two, the forest positively glows, in defiance.
Wake Valley Pond
The colour is spectacular!
Epping Forest is still a secret. It’s on the outskirts of London – still on the tube network! And yet I took this photos this week, and the forest was empty. Not a soul. If there was movement it was deer or squirrel. Sound only from birds and wind (plus the inevitable rumble of traffic in the distance…) Time really does stand still. It’s bliss…
The Lost Pond
The Loughton Meanders
The forest is predominantly Beech, hence the yellow and orange. Not too much Ash, thank heavens! A tragedy if the disease were to wipe out the forest. Like a thin finger it stretches 10 miles long, and roughly 1-2 miles wide north/south, right into London. An east London haven and escape.
The forest has been inhabited for ever. Legend has it that Boudicca, queen of the British and scourge of Roman invaders, was trapped and killed in Ambresbury Banks.
Iron Age fortifications
Boudicca’s resting place
Whether or not the Boudicca legend is true, it feels ancient. Time really does stand still. Breathe deeply, refresh, stop and watch the glory of the season. Then, enough, back to the hurly burly…
New growth, the cycle continues.
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!
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.