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Down to the woods today: The Photography News Podcast #3

Posted on Apr 24, 2020

As mentioned on episode three of the The Photography News Podcast, I moved house – and counties – around seven months ago. That’s proved to be a good and bad thing photographically. Looking at the positives, I’ve found of lots of new locations with bags of potential that I’d had planned to revisit before the lockdown got in the way. On the downside, some of my old favourite places were no longer on my doorstep. As a perfect case in point, where I used to live had an excellent bluebell wood a mile or so down the road and I always made an annual pilgrimage to take pictures. But in my new digs, I had no clue. Then I got lucky.

I met a fellow dog walker one morning who I briefly chatted to (at a safe distance, of course) and she casually dropped into conversation that a wood in walking distance of my home had an impressive display of bluebells. It was worth a visit, she told me, so during the following day’s dog walk I headed over there to take a look for myself.

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Never mind the old woods I used to go to, this was so much better! A blue carpet stretching as far as the eye could see, with paths winding through it and plenty of fallen trees to provide extra depth and interest in my shots. I’d taken my faithful Fujifilm X100S with me and started capturing pictures at a variety of angles.

Given the current restrictions that are in place, I wasn’t hanging round. I was trying to walk the dog and take pictures at the same time, so I’m sure this is a location that I’ll be revisiting in the years to come.

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Although we’ve been having quite a lot of sunny weather lately, I went to the bluebell woods on an overcast day, and for good reason. Wooded areas in the sun are packed with contrast, often too much contrast for a camera’s meter and sensor to handle successfully, so the more consistent light on an overcast day gave me less of a metering headache and less work in post production.

The colour of bluebells is notoriously tricky to reproduce accurately with digital cameras, so I did have to play around with the purple and blue saturation sliders in Lightroom to get near what I had seen. And while I was initially a little disappointed with my results, I discovered this was largely due to the fact that I was shooting with a modest wide angle lens; the X100S is equivalent to a 35mm. A short telephoto would probably have been better to help compress the blooms closer together. I did discover, however, that cropping into a more panoramic format emphasised the blooms I had captured.

Bluebells aren’t around for long and now is the time to capture them. If you’re lucky enough to have a woods like this within walking distance, now is the time to visit. Otherwise, just a small number of the flowers by a path or roadside can make an excellent close up subject.

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The Photography News Podcast is now in its third episode, and if you haven’t listened yet, you’re missing out on some fantastic techniques, gems of advice and photographic insight from some of the best in the business. Listen on the website, on YouTube, or find us on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Want to have your say in future episodes? Get in touch with your questions, suggestions or stories on social media using the handle @photonewspn, or email them to [email protected]

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