Thanks to my friends Fox in the Snow Photography over on Facebook for their permission to steal one of “their” favourite trees in Glen Devon as a photo location this past weekend. Less gratitude for the attendant weather, however!
On approach, leaving the car across the road, there was quite a white-out blizzard – snow blowing up the glen, everything shades of grey, low clouds. There’s a whole hillside lurking behind the tree here, not that you’d notice:
First things first, I established it’s an Ash, Fraxinus excelsior. That probably explains some of the funky characterful shapes.
I had a bit of fun exploring the various compositions around the tree. The obvious thing is to get the whole tree in the frame, from sufficiently low on the ground to obscure the road behind, letting the visible grass merge, flowing, into the background.
One idea I’d had was to emphasize the curve of the split trunk by using it to fill the frame, leaving the branches and twigs flying around in the wind during a long exposure, Medusa-style:
Fortunately the spooky mood didn’t last long, as the weather was coming and going in alternating waves of white-out cloud and brilliant sunshine flowing over the tree.
An exercise in uniformity: over the course of three days, I took the camera out for an hour’s walk, using the same settings (28mm f/3.5, auto-ISO, centre-zone auto-focussing) and took snaps – free-form composition, quickly grabbed, around the streets and countryside surrounding Auchterarder and in woodland outside Cambusbarron, Stirling. Every image was processed using the same settings in RawTherapee (with slight changes to exposure) and the same black+white sepia-toning.
From each day I chose the best 19 and averaged them with enfuse, slightly tweaked the contrast. Presented together they give an impression of abstract canvas texture with the merest hints of structure.
The results of the second day’s lunchtime hunt for photos without meaning or purpose. I switched to my 28-105mm lens, again using only 28mm and f/3.5, now in aperture-priority mode with -1/3EV compensation, still in daylight whitebalance and with the same processing and toning profiles in RawTherapee.
I’m not entirely sure why, but I got it into my head to make a series of photos without reason or purpose so I spent a couple of lunchtimes walking around Auchterarder just snapping scenes. Very different to my usual contemplative landscape style – this is reactionary, street photography, with a consistent presentation style (sepia-toned monochrome). All images were shot on a Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 lens at 30mm nearly wide-open at f/3.5 as well using a daylight whitebalance.
Funnily enough, reducing the variables by insisting on one focal-length and aperture and allowing automatic exposure left me free to think about composition – in such relatively alien territory, wave the lens around and see what looks good.
I took the new-found constraints into the surrounding countryside:
All images processed using RawTherapee; uncropped, but exposures normalized and the consistency of toning arising from an orange pre-filtered black and white conversion with sepia toning to finish.