Autumn Colour

Autumn is here and its time to exploit the most wonderful woodland sights of Norfolk. That is, if I'm not too late - the recent gales have left most of the trees virtually naked! Not that I really care, as what I've always loved about the Autumn is the leaf litter, the sound of dry leaves rustling under my feet and the musty smell of mushrooms - if I'm lucky I'll find a couple of fresh "Penny Bun's" to pick (Porcini), for a feast when I get home - there are plenty but they're difficult to spot among the leaf litter.

Felbrig's famous ancient Beeches
(many have love letters carved on them by soldiers to their sweethearts before leaving for the Great War)
Location(1): Felbrigg Great Wood
I decided that my best bet, for some good autumnal photos (and Porcini), would be to visit Felbrigg's Great Wood. It's 520 acres contain some really magnificent ancient Beeches that have a strangely meloncholic atmosphere about them.

An avenue of 'younger' trees
Although the wood has always been managed, after the 1987 hurricane, activity accelerated and much of the wood has since been thinned - for safety reasons. The avenue above used to be bordered by a dense growth of 'foriegn' Laurel trees. These were presumably cleared both to improve access to the rest of the wood and to let light onto the forest floor. A great improvement.

The leafless canopy is reflected in a leaf covered pool
The ground is always muddy - even in summer - and there are lots of pools like the one above, from which it's easy to get an alternative view of the canopy. In the summer when the canopy is thick, light cannot get through and reflections like this are rare.

Unfortunately many of the beeches are around 250years old and are dying or dead - making many dangerous.
Location(2): The Beeches, Blickling Park
Moving away from Felbrigg I decided to call in at Blickling to see if there was any foliage left on the beeches in the much smaller wood bordering the east side of the lake. If the wind died down I thought there might just be a chance of recording some autumn reflections in the lake. Huh, no such luck. In stead the weather turned and for much of my walk I had to take shelter from some quite violent showers.

There's not much shelter from the rain to be had here.

Even here the beeches are dying
Apparently beech live for barely 250 years, then die and fall to pieces suddenly. It stands to reason that all the giant beeches, that are now falling down (in both Felbrigg and Blickling), were the original trees planted when the estates were being landscaped. Looked at in that way these photographs are capturing a bit of history - the original giant beeches will not be with us for much longer!
Technique: I knew that the light would not be too good in the woods, so I decided that for once I was going to have to lug my tripod around with me. God I hate tripods - I love the results you get with them (sharp, noiseless images) - but they are so cumbersome and time consuming to set up. But given that they are such a nuisance they do encourage me to walk around a subject and examine every angle and possible composition, before setting up. I suppose it makes me look at a scene more closely - so it's not all bad.
And, since I was going to all that trouble with the tripod I determined to braket each of my shots - -1 ev, o, +1 ev - and if necessary (and if the composition justified the extra work), use them to create a HDR image using Photomatix.
I did contemplate using a polarising filter to help saturate the autumn colours, but in the end decided against the use of ANY filters. I would instead rely on post processing in Capture NX2.
Post Capture: In Capture NX2
Without exception, I was able to select the -1ev image from the bracketed shots fo rpost processing. Thankfully it wasn't neccessary to create HDR images so the other shots were discarded (well I archived them - I can't ever bring myself to destroy anything that might be useful at a later date).
My workflow:
  • change from Non-Picture Control to Picture Control (Landscape) and increase sharpening from 4 to 8
  • consider changes to the White Balance, i.e. from Recorded Value (Auto WB) to Daylight, Cloudy (6000K). My concern with changing WB was that this often gave the sky a warm tint - which was not what I wanted. Only the first of the photos above had its WB adjusted, and I'm still not sure that it was the correct thing to do. (Without the adjustment the image was colder and meloncholy - exactly the emotion I had, esp. after reading the soldiers carvings).
  • make any necessary crops
  • create a warm filter - (R=155,G=73,B=19) - by adding a colorize step (with overlay blending mode - this not only adds colour but increases contrast by darkening dark pixels and lightening light values, without clipping to pure white or black - the equivalent of applying an S shaped curve in Quick Fix) Then adjust the opacity slider.
  • Finally adjust curves, highlight & shadow protection. I found that either an inverted S curve was required to counter lightening of the sky caused by using the overlay blending mode OR use keep a straight line 'curve' and lower the top left slider to reduce the overall brightness of the image.
Location Maps:

and Blickling

1 comment:

  1. What lovely images! has a website gallery for uploading beautiful images about Norfolk - have a look at what other people have uploaded and you can upload some of your own.




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