Quick, before the light goes! Episode 2.

I mentioned in previous posts about how you need to take your photographic chances, and how you need to take advantage of the winter light before it goes.  Sunday was a beautiful winter’s day, with low angle sun glancing across the landscape.  Perfect for a walk in the countryside, and for photography of course.  I chose Ashdown Woods in Oxfordshire, next to the National Trust’s 17th-Century Ashdown House, now tenanted by The Who’s Pete Townshend.

"Smoky Ashdown House"

“Smoky Ashdown House”

I had just come out of the woods on to the broad ride, with the house in the distance, when somebody lit a bonfire.  The smoke from the bonfire drifted across the side of the house and partly obscured it, giving a fabulous atmosphere.  Two walkers were silhouetted against the backlit smoke, so I quickly got my camera out.  As I was quite a long way from the house I fitted my Panasonic 45-150 lens and took 3 or 4 shots.  Even with the lens set at its maximum focal length, (300mm equivalent), the house and walkers were quite small in the frame, so I walked closer.  By the time I had got close enough the smoke, and the walkers, had gone…

"HDR Ashdown House"

“HDR Ashdown House”

Being closer to the house I took the chance to take a more architectural image using an HDR technique.  There’s still nice light angling across the lawn, and giving a bright edge to the right side of the building, but the mood is very different.  Just a few minutes can change everything.

"Sun through trees, Ashdown House"

“Sun through trees, Ashdown House”

Turning away from the house I looked through the trees on the lawn.  The lack of leaves made attractive patterns at the top of the frame, and the sunlight gave strong shadows and texture in the foreground.  I composed the image so the conical plants in the background were near the brightest part of the frame and not quite in the centre. Their more geometrical shapes gave good contrast to the more random shapes of the trees and branches.

I converted all these images into black and white in Lightroom.  Contrasty scenes are often helped by being in B&W.  The smoky house image has been cropped to give a “3 sides dark, top light” composition.  The trees image has a darkening gradient at the top to guide your eyes to the lighter areas.

Carry your camera, and take your photographic chances!

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