It was landscape photography that motivated me to pick up a camera again. I enjoy the woods, the mountains, and the serenity of hearing nothing but birds, brooks and my boots on a trail. I wanted to be able to bring back some of the views that I saw along the way to share with others and to spark my own memories. So you would think that the idea of taking a landscape photograph every third week as a part of the 52 Week Photography Challenge would be particularly exciting for me. It is. And it isn’t.
This week’s challenge was a Traditional Landscape. The specific instructions were to “shoot a beautiful landscape and share it with the world. Find a nice foreground and don’t forget the sky.” I don’t live in an area of the country that most people think of when landscapes are mentioned. We have no rocky mountain ridges or colorful deserts or breathtaking seascapes. At this time of year we don’t have winter wonderlands or snow-capped anything. We have a lot of brown. With touches of grey. So I knew that finding a traditional landscape shot this week would present an extra challenge.
My first thought was black and white. After all, there is little color to speak of right now, so a strong composition featuring a few trees against a stark sky might work. I took a walk along the river looking for those trees and was not successful in finding them. Then I remembered those other trees. I don’t know what they are. They just catch my attention because they hang on to their dead leaves longer than anything else in the woods. The leaf turns a tannish-orange, curls up a bit, and just stays there. Now all I had to do was find a photogenic group of them willing to pose for me.
On an afternoon with a thin layer of clouds providing some nice, diffused light, I pulled off the road that I take almost every day and grabbed my camera and tripod and wandered off into the woods. It took a bit of hunting, but I found a nice clearing that opened toward a section of the woods filled with those trees and few others. The others provide some interest in the picture while my orange-leafed friends create a colorful background.
The picture is actually a panorama created by 4 photographs, stitched together in Lightroom. That probably wasn’t necessary here, but I wanted the practice of doing it. For those interested in the technical details: 45mm, f9, 1/5, ISO 100.
Challenges and things to continue working on: Truthfully, this picture probably doesn’t meet the criteria of this week’s assignment. It is more of a woodland photograph than a traditional landscape. The biggest challenge was trying to figure out how to find a suitable landscape given the time of year and the time available to shoot. I think if I had spent more time in the woods, I could have come up with a better composition. I need to spend more time in the woods in my area finding spots that might work for future photos.
The Takeaway: This probably won’t make it into my portfolio, but it achieved my goals: I got out with my camera, I practiced my skills, I learned a few things, and I got the second shot in the challenge (even though I was a few days late!).
Next up: According to the Dogwood 52 week challenge, I am looking for something red. “Shoot whatever inspires you. Red should be the focus of the image. Don’t be afraid to be creative.” Hmm, there’s snow in our forecast, and I have a red shed out back… That would be close by. We’ll see what inspires me.