Guide to moody woodland landscape photography

woodlands tangled

Any landscape photographer trying to find a real imaginative challenge and wishing to create unique images should think about shooting forest. Many individuals have actually been led to believe that this category of photography is an extremely difficult subject to master, but with time and perseverance, you will discover it quite enjoyable if not therapeutic. While most people are drawn to shooting sunsets and daybreaks with significant light and colour, I’ve always taken more satisfaction from shooting in conditions more suited to climatic scenes.

How to begin shooting moody forest landscape photographs

To start with, forest can be a bit frustrating: twisted trees look like a total mess and it’s tough to understand all of it let alone take an image. Probably the very best place to begin your forest journey is by going on a couple of scouting objectives — try keeping it regional if you can. Travel light and choose no expectations and I can almost ensure you will discover some scenes with capacity that you can return to. Work the edges of the forest. Checking out a woodland can frequently gain benefits and is a much easier method to spot compositions, particularly if you have not shot this category before.

Heading directly into a forest can typically be really frustrating. When you first start shooting woodland, don’t expect to shoot keepers from day one.
Woodlands Lady and the Tramp
‘ Lady and the Tramp’ Princetown, Dartmoor. Nikon Z 7, 24-70mm lens, 1/20sec at f/4, ISO 400. Credit: Neil Burnell

Inspect climate condition

It’s fairly obvious, but fog or mist is a vital ingredient in the majority of my atmospheric woodland images. These conditions are not just vital to develop mood, but they likewise assist drastically when it comes to selecting compositions and isolating subjects of interest. The time of day is also an essential component. For my own images, I prefer the softer muted light of blue hour, especially when the goal is state of mind.

Of course, there are other methods to isolate subjects, like utilizing fast lenses large open to produce a shallow depth of field, however if you desire that environment make sure you head out on those misty days.
Woodlands Hope
‘ Hope’ likewise shot in Wood. Nikon Z 7, 24-70mm lens, 1/250sec at f/9, ISO 250. Credit: Neil Burnell

Research study areas for moody landscape photography

There are a number of locations I delight in shooting and exploring when I want to attempt and develop atmospheric images.

The very first is Wistman’s Wood in Devon. It’s an amazing area and one that every professional photographer who likes to shoot woodland must visit a minimum of as soon as. It’s a really small woodland and can be exceptionally difficult to shoot and negotiate your method around, however if you get lucky with the conditions it actually is a magical place.

The 2nd spot is Haldon Forest in Devon — a place I’m only just finding my way around. It has massive potential and I’m enthusiastic I will shoot some keepers there this year. The woodland itself has an abundance of various species from gnarly oak to silver birch, providing great variety and limitless opportunities for photography.

Another excellent Devon location is Churston Woods. There are a couple of little forests close to my house and on the unusual occasion there is fog in your area I will head to Churston Woods. There are likewise some nice trees on the local golf course, which I have shot in some thick fog, after seeking consent from among the greenkeepers.
Woodlands Organisation
‘ Organisation’ shot at Churston Golf Club. Nikon Z 7, 24-70mm lens, 1/25sec at f/4, ISO 64. Credit: Neil Burnell

Video camera equipment and accessories

My typical forest set-up has recently altered, as I’ve gathered a couple of old Nikkor AIS lenses. I currently utilize a Nikon Z 7 and FTZ adapter with 50mm f/1.2 AIS, 85mm f/2 AIS, 105mm f/2.5 AIS and 135mm f/2.8 AIS lenses; a 3 Legged Thing Winston tripod with Zelda L-Bracket; another 3 Legged Thing tripod; Vanguard Alta Sky 51D bag; Kase Polariser; and Nikon cable release.

You can also take a look at this list of the very best electronic cameras and lenses for landscape photography

How to process moody woodland landscape photography.

Over the past two to 3 years my processing style has actually changed considerably, as I’ve been inspired by numerous photographers. Don’t be frightened to press the colours in a direction that matches your tastes.

As my Mystical series was all shot during the blue hour, I actually wished to emphasise that soft blue light. I did this by utilizing a mix of tweaking the Colour temperature and Split tones. I’ve also included a fair little bit of sound to the images, which were initially shot between 100-800 ISO– this is just something I liked at the time as I felt it contributed to the state of mind of the image.

I flattened the tones slightly utilizing curves and desaturated. I feel the end results really represent how I imagined the scenes in my mind when I was there shooting.

Why it works

Woodlands Follow the Light
Follow the Light. Credit: Neil Burnell

‘ Follow the Light’ was shot near Pixie Land in a little pine woodland as the mist was clearing. The light at the time was coming from my right-hand side and it actually did bring the scene to life. I’m especially pleased with the composition of this image and how the light and the soft mist produces depth and a clear passage to guide the viewer’s eye through.

Woodlands mosy woods

Credit: Neil Burnell

In my opinion, both the colour and black & white work especially well for this image which isn’t always the case. Having stated that, I ‘d slightly favour the grayscale– I simply feel the textures and tones in the mono really draw you into the frame.

Top suggestions for shooting moody landscape photos

Woodlands simplifying a scene

Credit: Neil Burnell


Streamline the scene

I’ve learnt from trial and error that certain elements within a scene will only cause distraction. I avoid large gaps in the tree canvas, which can typically be really contrasty even in good conditions. Venturing out in thick fog or mist is the easiest method to separate a topic, and it’s often easier to discover separated trees on the edges of the forest.
Woodlands shoot what you see

Credit: Neil Burnell


Shoot what you see

This sounds apparent, but sometimes woodland photography can be really overwhelming, and often we can be too particular when looking for a perfect scene. Sometimes it’s best to stop and pay more attention to your environments, looking for light and shapes then studying numerous other angles before marking down scenes. Keep an open mind.
Woodlands blue-hour shooting

Credit: Neil Burnell


Attempt shooting at blue-hour

While I can appreciate some people choose the golden hour for shooting, I ‘d recommend those individuals to go out a little earlier and try shooting when the light starts to break through. The subtle light of the blue hour really can be wonderful in a woodland.
Woodlands find a focal point

Caption: Neil Burnell


Discover a focal point

It’s quite common to discover a different-shaped tree or perhaps a various types of tree that breaks the harmony that surrounds it. There are also other components that can work in a woodland scene– maybe the placement of an only figure or a man-made element. This forestry logging maker in forest on Dartmoor made a terrific topic.
Woodlands Imperfections

Credit: Neil Burnell

Welcome imperfections

When I shoot woodland I’m not looking to get a tidy sharp image over 100% of the frame. Often flaws, higher ISO (grain/noise) and shallow depth of field can contribute to the mystery and mood of a photograph, in my opinion. I shot this scene with numerous different apertures but settled on the a little softer look of shooting wide open.
Woodlands small scenes

Credit: Neil Burnell


Try to find little scenes

Often it’s best to look beyond a complete scene and take a look at the closer information. Using a slightly longer prime lens and using the viewfinder to browse a scene can frequently help when I struggle to discover broader landscape shots. Taking this technique can frequently help to concentrate on the details and get rid of the diversions that can typically prevail in larger scenes.


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