Woodland Photography

They say, "you can't see the woods for the trees".

Autumn Colours Great Wood, near Derwent Water.

When standing in the middle of a woodland trying to fit a whole tree into the shot is impossible without including some sky. The sky will inevitably end up being the brightest part of the image making the trees look dark.

That might work in some photographs, but not when you're trying to capture the last of the beautiful autumn colours.

So, instead of using a wide angle, why not try using a longer focal length lens and exclude the sky all together. A longer lens will also give you a shallower depth of field allowing you to isolate a particular subject and throwing the background out of focus.

Lichen on Larch, Great Wood, near Derwent Water.

We see the forest in 3D with our two eyes, human brain set up, the camera can only capture it in 2D with its single eye, limited computer brain. Throwing the background and/or foreground out of focus helps introduce the feeling of 3D back into the 2D image.

A longer lens also compresses the perspective we see, bringing more distant object closer to the camera. To understand compression think of it this way:

A 200mm lens magnifies the objects by 4 times, it effectively brings your subject 4 times closer to the camera. If your subject is 4 feet away, it will appears through the camera as being just 1 foot away. If second object in the frame is 40 feet away, it will also appear four times closer at just 10 feet away. Finally a third distant object 400 feet away, will only appear 100 hundred feet away.

The subject, due to the magnification of the 200mm lens, appears to have moved forward by 3 feet, the second object appears to have moved forward by 30 feet, the last most distant object appears to move forward by 300 feet.

The telephoto lens appears to pull the background into the foreground, "compressing" the distance between near and far object in the frame. The longer the focal length of the lens, the more it appears to compress the perspective.

In these photos, all taken between 70 and 200mm, the telephoto appears to bring the trees closer together, they deliberately don't fit withing the frame which I hope helps to convey their size, it enlarges details such as the textures of lichen, bark and leaves and pulls everything in to a jumble of trunks, branches, leaves, and a riot of autumn colours.

Tree Trunks, Great Wood, near Derwent Water.