Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Forest of Dean

I visited the Forest of Dean on a whim the other day, as I hadn’t been for quite a while, and I fancied a bit of peace and tranquility as only an idyllic woodland glade could provide.

Unfortunately I had picked the very day that the Wydean Forest Rally was taking place, the yearly motorsport event that roars its way along a twisting course through this ancient forest. And as such, pretty much all the usual parking spots had been commandeered by the rally, so those who couldn’t find a space had parked everywhere you could possibly fit a car, and a few places you couldn’t.

After driving around for half an hour, dodging all manner of vehicles and unwary pedestrians, and wondering if I shouldn’t perhaps have thought this through a little better. I finally stumbled upon a section of the forest that was clear of activity, so I turned off the main road and parked up at Cannop Ponds.

After making much needed use of the forest facilities i.e. a tree, and vowing that all journeys from now on would be coffee free, I grabbed my camera gear and set off into the woodland. After walking/slipping along the boggy pathways for some distance, I came across one of the ponds, with a section of its bank lined with wispy reeds.

With the sun out, the water lost this green/blue hue and began to blend in with the reeds.

The weather by now was picking up, and the sun was making regular appearances between the fast moving clouds above. As it turned out, the shots with no sun looked better, as the differentiation in colour between the river and the reeds was much more pronounced. With the sun out, everything just had a warm, yellow cast to it.

Using a long exposure smoothed out the fast flowing water to give it a glassy sheen.
This blue of the sky reflected in the pond, and the green of the moss give this image a vibrant quality.

Once I’d had my fill of reeds I continued further along the banks of the river and happened across a small promontory which I thought might provide a nice image.

For this, I wanted the sun to be out, to give a bit of shine to the landscape, it was just too dull without it. Once it had appeared I fired of a few shots only to discover that, due to the direction of the sun, my looming shadow was included in the picture. I had not spotted it before, as I had focused and composed the shot in the shade.

But luckily my pin sharp intellect came into play, and I realised, rather smugly, that I had a wireless shutter release to hand, literally, it was in my hand, I was using it at that moment.

What this meant of course, is that I didn’t have to stand next to the camera to trigger the shutter, I could be, if I wanted to, up to 100 metres away. I didn’t feel that this distance was particularly warranted on this occasion, so I just settled for around 10 metres.

I had to wait a while for the sun to appear, but when it did I was ready to snatch my chance, and so I did, employing my remote shutter release to devastating effect. When I went back to the camera to check on my results, I had a moment of clarity.

Yep, the bulk of my body may have disappeared, but I neglected to take
into account the fact my tripod was no vampire, and could quite easily
 cast its own shadow.

Once I’d realised it actually wasn’t that great a shot anyway, and accepted it certainly wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to re-compose, and of course come to terms with what a peerless imbecile I was, I swiftly moved on. 

A bit further into the forest and away from the river, I discovered the edge of a pine plantation, if plantation is the correct word I’m looking for, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t. So being particularly partial to the straight lines of these impressive trees, I began to stalk the perimeter, looking for suitable compositions.

I like the brightness of the trunks contrasting against the dark shade of the forest interior.
Unsurprisingly these were the only trees that still had leaves. The rich green gives a splash of life to the scene.
And a final one in blue toned monochrome.

After my pine tree enthusiasm had been quenched, and it took a while, as my gusto for pines is legendary, it was time to leave the forest and look for a suitable spot for sunset. And a suitable spot I found, which yielded some interesting results, but that is a tale for another time…

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