I have this hopelessly romantic notion that ‘spirit of place’ is a metaphysical reality; that as humans we can be in a place and somehow communicate with our surroundings, allow ourselves to feel the emotion that’s wrapped up in the ‘spiritual energy’ of any given location.
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A Magical Place


‘Sherwood Forest’, Rainworth, Nottinghamshire
Fujifilm X-Pro1, Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 R LM OIS @55mm, 1.2 seconds @ f/11, ISO200
LEE Seven5 system Polariser
Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 tripod, Manfrotto 488RC2 ball-head.
Adobe Lightroom: Fuji Pro Neg Hi Profile.

“Forests are visually rich subjects, offering a glimpse of nature at a more mundane, but no less beautiful level, they reveal the miraculous cycle of arboreal life, the co-existence of young and old, death, decay and then new life, a subliminal suggestion of ‘hope’ and new beginnings.”

A Magical Place

Since the start of the century, landscape photographers have been blessed with an unprecedented, and now abundant, stream of incredible nature photography. From the monumental monochromes of Ansel Adams to the barrage of supersaturated digital sorcery that threatens to influence the unwary, the benchmark for stunning visuals has never been so intense.

Despite this digital ‘deluge’, grand sweeping vistas with saturated twilight colours remain undoubtably rewarding and offer nature’s majesty in some of it’s most glorious guises. I make no apology for my own part in championing the wide-view dreamscape, and more impressionistic or minimally rendered landscapes; such images can offer welcome repose from an otherwise overstimulating visual environment, a chance of momentary escape. My image this month, is an exploration of a more detailed style; more intimate than a grand-vista, but by no means an extracted close-up. Compositions like this, captured from a position within the actual scene being photographed are more immersive for the viewer, but of all the environments familiar to landscape photographers, woodland is perhaps the most compositionally challenging. The chaos of criss-cross branches, imposing verticals, opposing diagonals and bright distracting areas of unwanted sky all offer significant difficulties; but perhaps the most challenging aspect of all is the struggle to find a viewpoint without detritus obscuring an otherwise perfect scene.

Because of the huge compositional challenges involved, creating compelling results in woodland and forest environments is a great way of improving our skills and can be extremely rewarding if successful.

Forests are visually rich subjects, offering a glimpse of nature at a more mundane, but no less beautiful level, they reveal the miraculous cycle of arboreal life, the co-existence of young and old, death, decay and then new life, a subliminal suggestion of ‘hope’ and new beginnings. Most humans have been intimately familiar with trees throughout their lives, and such hidden meanings can feel like metaphors for the human condition.

Sherwood Forest is steeped in history and rich with folklore, a magical place. I walked for a while, seeking a viewpoint that would provide some separation from the nearest trees, without any immediate foreground distractions. The APS-C sensor of the X-Pro1 provided a full-frame equivalent focal length of around 80mm, allowing some compression of perspective, and the Lee Seven5 polariser filter eliminated reflections from the foliage allowing optimum colour saturation as a ray of sunshine briefly cross-lit the trees.

This article first appeared in Outdoor Photography Magazine. Reproduced with kind permission.