Swapping open landscapes for a cluttered woodland environment can present a challenge in terms of finding the right composition. Here are a few tips for photography in a woodland setting.
Bring a tripod
There is less light under the canopy of trees in woodland so you will need to use longer shutter speeds. As a result, you will need a tripod if these shutter speeds don’t allow you to shoot handheld. Watch out for windy conditions as branches and leaves will shake and no matter how stable your camera is, it is impossible to create pin sharp images while using a slow exposure if your subject is moving around. One bonus of slower exposures is that any moving water in an image will blur and soften, creating movement in your image.
Use a polariser
A polariser filter helps reduce the glare from the surrounding vegetation, making the colours pop. It will also reduce any reflection in water. With the filter attached, there will be less light entering your lens. As a result, it will slow down the exposure by a few stops.
Shoot in dull weather
The next time you look out the window and decide the weather is not good enough for landscape photography, head to the woods. An overcast day is ideal for woodland photography. On a dull day, the light under the canopy is more even and balanced thus eliminating any harsh shadows.
Use the light
If you do need light in your woodland images, wait until the light is low. Early mornings and late evenings produce beautiful, soft light. Be creative and use it to sidelight or backlight your subject.
Find a strong subject
Declutter your environment. Look for key elements of your surroundings that stand out like an interesting tree, river or bridge. Once you find something, walk around and figure out how to capture the scene. Do you need to capture the entire scene in a wide angle shot or do you need to zoom in and isolate it? Either way, frame your composition taking into consideration how you want to balance it in the scene.
Tip: Isolate one tree and create your composition around it.
Use paths as lead lines
Use the foreground
Look around for interesting or eye-catching foliage, undergrowth or flowers. Use these as foreground interest, adding depth to your image.
Work the seasons
Be aware of the seasons in a woodland. Take advantage of the flash of colour when bluebells carpet the woodland floor in early May. Photograph the lush green canopy and new growth in Summer. In Autumn, take advantage of the golden explosion of colour while photographing mushrooms on the woodland. Even in winter, trees make beautiful subjects
Look down around your feet
It is not just about what is growing above you, it is also about what lies beneath your feet.
And finally zoom in from outside and use the woodland as your subject