29 Jan 2011

Sunlight through trees, one of my favourite things

As I’ve posted many times, I enjoy walking in the outdoors, preferably somewhere natural and away from people and man-made structures and most preferably; amongst trees.

Please click on any of the photographs to see a larger view.

I absolutely love seeing sunlight filtering through trees, those little flashes of golden light you see playing on the trees and ground to make infinitely variable abstracts. Being amongst woodland is good in any weather and often the very shelter it provides makes it a good choice on days of extreme weather; lessening the effects of rain, wind, or hot sunshine.

As the weather forecast for today was for clear skies and temperatures not far above freezing, it was too good an opportunity to miss and the domestic chores we should have been addressing were abandoned in favour of a nice drive to a favourite spot (Beacon Fell in Lancashire), a walk and some soup and fresh bread for lunch – which always tastes much better outside.

But I really do love seeing shafts of sunlight between trees, it’s something I never tire of and must now have taken hundreds of photographs of, but it’s also something very difficult to do justice to in a still photograph. Sometimes, you just have to be there and enjoy it in the moment.

I get a great deal of comfort for being amongst trees and I cannot conceive of living anywhere where I wasn’t in close proximity to trees – I am blessed in being able to see them right outside my windows and to be within walking and driving distance of some totally gorgeous woodland areas.

All of my favourite walks are in woodland and if I’m stressed or unhappy for any reason, it’s the idea of being amongst trees in the fresh air that comforts me and gives me something to look forward to. It’s where I take my mind to when I want to be distracted.

It had clearly been below freezing overnight and we woke to visible frost, but within the forest park we encountered a number of areas with different weather conditions, from a light snow covering, to thick frost and in more sheltered spots, areas of mud where it hadn’t frozen at all. This pond was surrounded by a dusting of snow and the water itself was completely frozen – someone had already broken the ice near the edge and flipping over some of the pieces we could see that it was over an inch thick.

I’ve shown photographs before of this willow woven statue of a deer that has recently been built in a little clearing in the forest and you just encounter it at the side of the path as you walk along. I took this photograph with a wider angle lens than previously as I wanted to check the status of the small pine trees growing around it. the ground was well covered with seedlings of different sizes and I was curious as to whether they’d been planted or were self-seeded – considering that the ground is littered with cones from the adjacent trees.

My new camera has a 30x zoom lens (from wide angle 35mm equivalent focal length of 24mm and 720mm at the telephoto lens) and I was curious to see the range it offered me from the same spot. Both photographs were taken from the same place and are both full frame. There’s a little camera shake in this close shot as it was taken at a very slow shutter speed. You can see the willow is starting to bud, so presumably this will sprout leaves in spring, so it will be interesting to see how it develops.

I also wanted to do some more work with my new camera, but it was bitterly cold, especially in the shade under the trees and as a Reynauds sufferer, I was really struggling with numb hands today and trying to operate the tiny buttons on a camera – and keep it still – wearing thick ski gauntlets (recently purchased and just not up to the job) wasn’t the best methodology for good results. And don’t even get me started on how hard my hat, scarf and hair was fighting me today, variously getting in my eyes and causing me to steam up my glasses.

This is one of my favourite spots on our walk – and as we did a figure of 8 walk we walked this section twice today – you drop down quite steeply through a plantation area which is quite dense with conifers and even on the brightest of days is very dark and the light rarely penetrates the area as it never gets direct sunlight, being in the shadow of a hill. But there is a clearing ahead where paths cross and the trees in that area are often in a shaft of light, making this lovely glowing focal point to head towards.

The deep contrast of the lighting makes it almost impossible to photograph well and do the scene justice, but I think you’ll get the idea. The patch of trees ahead of you in the path always seem to glow as they catch the sunlight.

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