Photograph a Forest

Posted by on Aug 20, 2016 in Articles | No Comments

_DSC1293

Forests are one of the very hardest environments for me to photograph. I have decades photographing in forests of all kinds on several continents but my struggles continue. The part that I struggle with is to try to make some sense out of the visual chaos that is characteristic of a natural forest. There are trees on the ground, trees going straight up, broken trees and trees that lean- too many strong lines to make any order out of.

_DSC1434But not all forests are created equal and not all parts of a forest are created equal. Some forests, young forest with small trees growing densely together are impossible for me so I ignore them. Others have suffered some harm- storm damage, fire damage, selective cutting- so that they become messy even by natural standards.

But if you find an older forest and then explore for a section that is a bit less chaotic, one that looks more park-like, then linger there and see if you can find a shot or two. Look out for distracting things coming into your edges and sky leaks through the tree tops that turn into blown out highlights. And be sure to try to separate the main trees in your composition as much as you can so they don’t end up merging.

Not merging is perhaps the hardest thing to control when you are in a forest. As soon as you step one way you separate some trees but merge new ones. So you step the other and you have done it again- de-merge, merge, de-merge, merge.

Notice how I tried to separate as many trees as I could in these photos. You can’t separate all the trees in the forest but if you can separate the main elements of your composition it will really help. Good luck!

Leave a Reply