I am fortunate enough to have a little patch of woods within easy reach of my urban apartment.
t’s not terribly large, but it is full of tall trees and mossy logs, which is all that it takes to make my soul feel at home. It also offers various seasonal delights, and with its current quiet, dappled shade, it has even begun to convince me that summer can be beautiful. The light is so green at the moment, filtered as it is through an exuberant canopy of leaves, and the chipmunks and robins have become terribly busy, so that rustlings and scurryings accompany me around every corner. Making time for daily visits feels like a spiritual exercise.
For all that the woods are magical, though, I’ve found it challenging to capture that magic in photographs. I’m instinctively drawn photograph details and still lifes; landscapes feel so broad and unfocused by comparison. The woods usually repeat the same colour throughout the frame too, and so many trees and branches create a mess of lines that’s difficult to bring a sense of order to. I have a little wide angle lens now though; I also know that the verdant summer moments are almost gone. So yesterday, I timed my walk for the golden hour, and brought along my camera to chase that light.
Of course, I couldn’t resist photographing a few details as well, like this spider’s web in the old roots of a now-toppled tree.
Or the fading purple flowers on the edge of the woods, that just last week were in full bloom, but are now tired and ready for summer’s end.
Or the single fern frond growing above its group of companions, all clustered together like some kind of fern island amongst the leaf littered forest floor.
But I tried record the trees and the woods in a general sense as well, as shown in the first photograph of the post and this one, taken as the light was about to move on.
After I had turned for home, I happened to catch a chipmunk out of the corner of my eye. Usually, the chipmunks simply blend in too well to the leaf litter or tree trunks they’re sitting on to make strong photographs. But this one might as well have posed for its portrait, it was so obliging! Of course, as soon as I snapped this shot, it ran off again; I was so relieved when I got home and discovered the focus was good.
The light was so delicious, and I loved the challenge of trying to view the woods through a lens instead of my eyes, but I must admit that the song from Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland kept running irreverently through my head the whole time!
Have you ever tried to photograph a place you loved or capture the spirit of a landscape? I’d love to hear about your experiences and advice. I’m planning to continue photo walks in the woods, with a special emphasis on wider angle and landscape perspectives; next time I visit the library, I think I’ll plan some time with photography books as well.