Ringland - A White Christmas

Old Oak
Location: The picturesque village of Ringland is 3 miles west of Taverham on the A1067 out of Norwich. This is a pleasant 2 mile circular walk with extensive views of the Wensum Valley, and its birdlife. Oh yes and you may come into close contact with livestock and deer en route.

Being only a few minutes from home I often enjoy a quiet leisurely stroll here, and always try to see in, each of the seasons here. A covering of snow is always attractive

Farm Bridge over drainage channel (into R. Wensum)

but equally so are the fields of red poppies in June and yellow sunflowers in August. Alternatively, being on the flood plain, the fields often take on a more dramatic air after the January rain.

 the flooded drainage channels after heavy winter rainfall
However, today I was here to experience the snow and hopefully take a few photographs.

Vision: On this walk I'm always on the lookout, either for good seasonal pictures, or for pictures of the wild life - usually the swans or heron on the banks of the Wensum or in the pools that form in the meadows.
I always spend a lot of time exploring the angles around the bridge and drainage channel, and I did hope that I'd get some good reflections in the water - I dont think I was that successful.

Winter grazing
 When I saw the sheep I hoped to get some low angle shots of them grazing - and with such good light I was hoping to get very deep depth of field. Unfortunately, despite spending a lot of time letting them get used to my presence they were still very skittish and so that idea came to nothing.

As for the swans they kept their distance, and kept to private land, so my angles were quite restricted. I only got the one shot (below) - and I'm not very impressed.
Swans grazing by the R. Wensum
That leaves the chance shot of the woodpecker (below) and the seasonal shot of the oak tree. Well the woodpecker was just a very, very lucky shot - no vision or planning - he was there one second and gone the next. There were lots of opportunities to shoot the proverbial Robin Christmas scene - but hell it's been done to death so I didnt bother. There was also one opportunity to shoot the two swans above flying low across the meadow - unfortunately I was in conversation with another walker and missed the shot, despite being warned by the whoosing sound of them taking off - it doesnt pay to be sociable.   

Green Woodpecker - a frequent ground feeder
The Vision, for the Oak Tree was to capture that 'cats cradle' of branches reaching to the sky to catch the snow in its wrinkled old bark. I wanted to catch the golden glow of the sun casting shadows on the bark and to convey the enormous strength of the old tree. But most of all I wanted to capture that 'smell' of a crisp cold very fresh winters day. I had no idea how to do that - luck, or maybe some post processing in NX2?  

Technique (Oak Tree): This was a tall tree and I wanted it all to be in sharp focus, from top to bottom so I set the aperture to F/16. I wanted, if possible to capture some texture in the snow and to emphasise the golden glow of the sun so I used a polarizing filter to reduce reflections and increase saturation. Unfortunately I had to take off the lens hood to rotate the filter - I neglected to put it back on. This was a mistake that allowed flare from the sun to create a gradient from bottom right to top left, in the blue sky, that I had to try to adjust in post processing. It didnt quite work and you can still see that the bottom right is a much lighter blue than the sky in the top left.

Camera Work: Nikon D80, RAW(12 bit), focal length: 36mm, exposure: F/16 at 1/30 sec. ISO(Auto) 125.

Post Capture Processing: In Nikon Capture NX2
Camera Settings>Picture Control>Landscape, Sharpening increased to 8, Brightness reduced to -1
Quick Fix: exposure reduced -0.66ev, highlight protection 25%, shadow protection 52%, applied a shallow S curve.
Adjustments: set black and white control points, then applied 2 contrast/brightness layers each with gradient selections from top left to bottom right, and bottom right to top left resp. and brightness increased 68% and reduced 7% resp. The adjustment to brightness was an attempt to reduce the effect of glare from the sun at bottom right.


Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

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