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Black Creek Forest

On a recent assignment for Scenic Hudson, I needed to capture some images of a dark and very dense forest in a valley, which is always a great challenge. Because of the terrain and surrounding hills, there is never any warm light so the approach I took was to wait for the right conditions and work with shapes, lines, and especially color.

One of my favorite times to shoot in a forest is right after a heavy rainfall when everything is wet and colors are most saturated. Often there will also be some mist in the air which adds an aura of mystery and mood. In this example, I wanted to create contrast and depth using whatever light was available, and back lighting is my favorite for this. At the same time I used the trees to create rhythm using repetition and visual patterns – notice how the trees tend to get smaller and more grouped together from left to right. of course I had no control over this, but as a landscape photographer I am always looking for design elements in nature that can create excitement visually, and rhythm is just one of those ways.

Here I was drawn to the relative brightness of the foreground tree and again tried to use back lighting to add interest to the image together with strong vertical lines which create tension. In addition, having the ferns in the  foreground help to create dimensional depth and add a strong color element.

Both of these images were shot in very low light, so I used a tripod and fairly high ISO’s (640-800). I did this in order to keep my shutter speeds down to less then 1/2 sec which helps prevent blurring from things moving in case of a slight breeze. Lightroom 3 has a vastly improved noise reduction feature over past versions, and I used it on both of these images without the need to export to Photoshop.

These are just some thoughts about how I went about capturing these images, and hopefully they give you some insight into my own creative process. I’ll have more “On Assignment” articles in the near future since I currently have a long list of locations to photograph. Please feel free to let me know if you would like any other specific information – I’m always willing to share whatever is helpful.

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