Making black and white photographs in woodland, or any other place featuring large areas of green foliage, can sometimes be tricky. Without well defined subject matter I find tht such scenes can become a mass of mushy grey textures. Differing shades of green that are easily discernible to the eye merge into less defined shades of varying brightness.
So I think a clearly defined subject is important, either seperated by brightness, contrast or texture, or isolated in some way, such as it’s placement in the composition, or by using a shallow depth of field to add separation.
I think the photo today uses a bit of both techniques. The trunk that is the point of focus is isolated here by the light that falls on it (or rather doesn’t) – there’re splashes of sunlight, but overall it is darker than the background where more light is falling. I also opened the aperture to throw the tree into focus while leaving everything else softer.
I’m happy with how the shot turned out – I have a number of similar photos from other outings that didn’t work as nicely!
Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.
Taken on 22 June 2020
I made this photo back on the 23rd May and posted about the walk I’d taken on the same day. In that post there’s a section about me accidentally going off my planned route and ending up in some private woodland. The tree in today’s photograph was one of the first things I saw when entering.
Clearly some cyclist or horse-rider has taken umbridge with the suggestion that they are not allowed in the woods and had responded with a coarse, but good natured retort. It made me smile and take the time to make the photograph.
I wondered how the Yashica Mat would cope with the light as the bright sun was directly in frame – if partially obscured by branches – and I half expected a lot of lens-flare or loss of contrast in the shot. As it turned out, it’s coped very well and I really like the glow around the disk of the sun as well as the backlit trees in the woodland.
The sunlight was so bright that it’s light crossed over into the next frame on the roll of film!
Yashica Mat 124G & Shanghai GP3 (expired). Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 10 mins @ 24°.
Taken on 23 May 2020
I took these two photographs on my way back to the car after visiting Magpie Mine back in March. The light in the village here was lovely and I finished the roll of Delta 400 that was in my (somewhat tempremental – it sometimes decides that it’s won’t fire, until suddenly springing back into life a few minutes later) Sure Shot Supreme making photographs of some of the scenes.
I didn’t really pay heed at the time, but on seeing the scan of this first image it really brought home to me just how big trees can grow in comparison with their surroundings. This one towers above the house it stands beside and I wonder which of the two came first?
It’s not really a tall tree in the scheme of things either, there are much larger ones to be found – including true titans such as the giant sequoia’s that grow in the western US. I think that this one is a sycamore (judging by the texture of the bark at least), but it’s very possible that I’m wrong. There was a time when I was younger that, in true boy-scout fashion, I could readily identify a whole range of trees from their shapes, leaves, fruit, bark etc., but it’s a skill that has faded over time. I still know the obvious ones – oaks, chestnuts, maples – and I would recognise sycamores from their leaves and seeds – but I’m not sure I’d know an ash from a birch these days without looking it up. I have a book of British flora and fauna, so maybe I’ll see if I can refresh my knowledge.
Canon Sure Shot Supreme & Ilford Delta 400.
Taken on 16 March 2020
Five minutes before this shot was taken the whole structure was enveloped in steam. I quickly made my way to a vantage point where I could get a photograph of the spectacle but, alas, it didn’t reoccur in the time I was able to wait. Smaller volumes of steam were constantly being emitted, as in the shot below, but not the glorious fogbank I’d initially witnessd.
Yashicamat 124G & Ilford HP5+.
Taken on 12 January 2020
A quote from John Masefield’s “The Box of Delights”, or at least the BBC television adaptation – I’m not sure if the quote is in the book or not – has been used for today’s post. It seemed to fit the image.
While the tree stump (and living tree that frames it) most likely don’t date from pagan times, I think the image is evokative of ancient woodland and has an air of mystery about it. The spidery, blood-vessel-like branches work very well to add to the feel and, once again, the Holga adds it’s own brand of unique beauty to the scene.
The photo is underexposed as a consequence of the Holga’s limited aperture and (even more limited) shutter speed choices, and also the fact that the film was almost 10-years expired. I do like this sort of moody, high-contrast look though, and it’s one that the Holga carries off with aplomb in a way that I think would be disappointing had I used one of my other medium format camera,
Holga 120N & Kodak Tri-X (expired 2012).
Taken on 27 December 2019
As we approach the end of the year – and decade – I’ve been wondering about a favourite shots of the year post or something along those lines, so I expect that will be the subject of a post in the coming week. I’ve also been pondering some project ideas for the coming year – two of which I’ve already started, although it’s really early days yet and they could fizzle out just as easily as they began, so I’ll wait until there’s something worthwhile developing (pun fully intended) before I make any posts about them.
In terms of new photos, I have a roll of XP2 that shot recently that’s been scanned and I’ll start to upload from, plus a currently unscanned roll of Tmax 400 that I put through the Holga last week. I’ve also shot a roll of HP5+ today, and plan on shooting more film during the fortnight I’m on leave, so there will be a batch of new stuff to see soon, but as the labs I use are now closed for the holidays, I’ll not tbe getting anything developed until the start of the new year now.
For today then, here’s some ivy on a tree trunk that I photographed in Boston Spa last weekend.
Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 & Ilford HP5+ (pushed to 800asa).
Taken on 15 December 2019
Gulls wheel through the air in anticipation as someone throws food down for the ducks.
Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Ilford HP5+.
Taken on 30 November 2019
Here’s a tree that I photographed on the Longshaw estate while on my Peak District walk last weekend. It’s a conifer of some sort, but it’s needles are a lovely orange colour, making it distinctive amongst the surrounding trees. It has a lovely sloping trunk which gives its canopy a very attractive shape.
I’ve photographed the tree previously a couple of years ago and that picture can be seen in an earlier blog post.
Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Shanghai GP3 (expired).
Taken on 22 November 2019
I guess that this is a direct follow on to yesterdays photos, although this one was taken earlier – within a few minutes of the flooded field photograph that I posted a week or so back.
Once again, you will see the appearance of powerlines in the picture. While they add to the composition , they (and the tree and the road) were not the primary reason for taking the photo. That honour goes to the second bush from the right. You can’t tell from this black and white conversion, but it was a vivid autumnal orange, and attracted me to the scene. Alas, the uniform overcast grey sky meant that the colour image was a little drab, even with the splash of orange, so I went for the conversion instead, where the powerlines, tree and road make the shot.
Canon Sure Shot Telemax & Kodak Colorplus (converted to B&W).
Taken on 9 November 2019
Another picture from the lane near Eyam. I was on my way back to the start point when I took this one and the track made a short twist here. I’m not sure why – I couldn’t see anything that would physically require the bend, but who knows what might have been there in the past – either trees, or maybe different ownership of plots of land or something?
Minolta Hi-Matic G2 & Ilford HP5+.
Taken on 8 August 2019