August seems to have been a month of continuous cloud cover and diffuse light. Hard-edged shadows have been hard to come by, so I finally decided to head into the deep woods on Box Hill to find some lighting contrasts.
There are few clearly defined shadows here, so I have tried to bring out the feeling of being in deeply shaded woodland by incorporating a wide range of light. In particular, I have attempted to show bright highlights from the sky, midtones in interesting shapes, and pools of darkness in which a few details can still be seen.
All these shots required the use of a tripod, with exposures ranging from 1″ to 6″ at f/22 and ISO100. The RAW images have been developed with some use of ND gradients and subtle (I hope!) dodging and burning to remove distracting elements.
Shadows 1: A real challenge with the contrast for this one and I’d like to go back and re-shoot. There’s perhaps too much space between the central yew tree and the brightly lit beech.
Shadows 2: I like this for the cluttered, slightly spooky looking undergrowth. It gives the rope swing a bit of a sinister appearance reminiscent of a hangman’s noose. Thanks to the National Trust for using a white rope!
Shadows 3: Had to be quick grabbing this as the constantly changing lighting meant the pile of dead wood was only lit like this for about 30 seconds. I like the way it contrasts with the shadowy living trees.
Shadows 4: Yew trees make the most fantastic shapes, dead or alive. I’d prefer the background to be less cluttered, perhaps I will go back in Winter.
Shadows 5: The beech woods have a completely different feel to the groves where the yew trees grow. I like the way the canopy is a bright friendly green whilst at ground level it’s all shadowy and slightly intimidating.
Shadows 6: This is a location I think I will go back to many times. As well as the contrasting lighting there are many compositional possibilities in the way this group of beech trees has grown together.