Friday, August 15, 2014

Favorite Places: Volume II: Your Local Forest

For Volume I of My Favorite Places, click here.

So in this week's edition, I'm going to be talking about one of my favorite places for nature photography: forests.
Okay, okay, so that's not really a place. It's more correctly a habitat, I suppose. But I didn't want to make this post as narrow as the last edition of My Favorite Places, so, here we go.

The Wonder of the Forest

Forests are interesting places to explore for the nature photographer. Within, a wealth of different subjects abound. A sometimes overlooked element is landscape photography within forests. We often think of grand plains or impressive mountains when we hear "landscape." However, the forest holds a vast array of more subtle (or sometimes, more striking) landscapes to capture.

It can be a challenge to arrange the disorganized elements in a forestscape into a cohesive image. However, the landscape still features some strong stylistic elements. You will find yourself helped by the pattern of vertical lines created by tree trunks. Try picking a foreground element, in this case, a stream, to anchor your photo, and then allow the trees to do the rest of the work.
One thing you will need to watch out for is how the leaves will affect your white balance. Because landscapes like these can be overwhelmingly green, you may find your photos take on a funny, greeny-yellow color cast. Either adjust your white balance settings or tweak your images in photo editing software to take care of this.

Fowler's toad
Of course, forests are also full of wildlife. It is true that large mammals such as deer, bears, and foxes prowl the woodlands, but you are unlikely to see these animals usually. Don't despair, however. Forests are bursting with small creatures, eager to be subjects for your lens. Teach yourself to look downwards, and scour the paths for toads, insects, lizards, and other denizens of the woods. Like I've said before, don't be afraid to get your knees muddy to get the shot. Often, small creatures require you to shoot at their eye level to do them justice.

This box turtle looks as if I have personally offended him.
 You can see in this image the instant drama achieved by adjusting the camera angle to that of the turtle.

There are, of course, different types of forests, from boreal to tropical, each with its own wonders of natural history. But you don't have to travel great distances for great photography - fantastic animals are creeping their way through the leaves in your neighborhood (I promise).

All right, so have you been inspired? Or are you waiting for the winter freeze to kill all of the ticks before you venture outside? (I don't blame you.) Let me know in the comments.

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