David No­ton On Lo­ca­tion

Au­tumn colours in the Pertes de l'ain, Jura, Franche-comté. 15:47. 20 Au­gust 2017.

Photo Plus - - Contents -

Our rov­ing Canon pho­tog­ra­pher heads to France to cap­ture the au­tumn colours in Jura

David Nor­ton con­tin­ues his jour­ney across France and sets up, pa­tiently await­ing the per­fect light­ing for his shot of a vi­brant, lively for­est full of op­por­tu­ni­ties…

It’s mid-af­ter­noon and I’m stood by the tri­pod in the damp, drip­ping woods deep in a lime­stone gorge in east­ern France, wait­ing for the sun to go in. It feels all wrong. My whole life seems to have been spent wait­ing for a gap in the clouds that some­times never comes, now I’m im­pa­tiently hop­ing the glo­ri­ous warm au­tumn sun will be ob­scured and the heavy, leaden grey skies will roll in again. Us pho­tog­ra­phers; we're sel­dom sat­is­fied even in per­fect in­stances.

The soft top-light­ing of an over­cast day is an un­dra­matic light source that rarely gets the pulse rac­ing. Dis­tant views and land­scapes rarely look their best un­der such light­ing, as we all know only too well af­ter many damp dispir­it­ing days spent un­der leaden skies in Llan­beris or Glen­coe. But for sub­jects closer to the lens such as peo­ple, an­i­mals, plants, creepy crawlies and the de­tails of na­ture's art in minia­ture dif­fused light from above is of­ten per­fect.

Ded­i­cated macro pho­tog­ra­phers love soft top light­ing and of­ten take re­flec­tors to soften the light fur­ther. Stu­dio pho­tog­ra­phers repli­cate such light­ing with fish friers, hazy heads, light tun­nels, dif­fusers and re­flec­tors. Most of us just have to wait for a grey day. In the places I go to its not of­ten a long wait.

Nat­u­ral light that's been dif­fused by cloud is per­fect when ven­tur­ing into the woods whether we be in Scot­land's Tay Val­ley, un­der the maples in Nova Sco­tia, or here, im­mersed in the task of ex­pos­ing moss cov­ered rocks, scat­tered leaves and golden trees deep in the wooded lime­stone gorges of the Jura. Of course soft top-light­ing isn't the only op­tion for for­est pho­tog­ra­phy; low back­light­ing can be very ef­fec­tive. How­ever, if we want to show all the lush colours, tex­tures and de­tails of an au­tum­nal wood­land then the low con­trast light which has been soft­ened by Mother Na­ture's big dif­fuser in the sky is the an­swer. Which is why

I’m wait­ing for the sun to go in here.

Even­tu­ally, it does, and I get back to work. I love th­ese au­tumn days spent mess­ing about in the woods get­ting all pho­to­graph­i­cally self-in­dul­gent. Hours slide past eas­ily; its won­der­fully ther­a­peu­tic. Part­ners and fam­ily are un­likely to un­der­stand though; the no­tion of spend­ing all af­ter­noon mak­ing one pic­ture will likely seem bizarre to them. But what do they know? There is some­thing deeply sat­is­fy­ing about work­ing one wood­land val­ley, ex­plor­ing all the op­tions and me­thod­i­cally pro­gress­ing to­wards pho­to­graphic sat­is­fac­tion. What else could you pos­si­bly pre­fer to be do­ing?

I com­pose an­other pic­ture and con­tem­plate my com­po­si­tion. It goes with­out say­ing that in the woods a good tri­pod is an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity, one that can get both high, and low. Don't even think about shoot­ing hand held; it's just not an op­tion, even at sky high ISOS. Sta­bil­ity aside work­ing with good sturdy legs is so much more sat­is­fy­ing then bat­tling with a flimsy tri­pod; it just feels right and ev­ery­thing fits into place. An­other in­valu­able tool is a po­lar­iz­ing fil­ter; wet leaves and mosses just look a deeper and more sat­u­rated colour at the right an­gle of ro­ta­tion.

Af­ter what feels like a few min­utes I glance at my watch; an­other hour has passed. It’s start­ing to get dark. Down here in the gorge the dim light lev­els are plung­ing; I’ve no need of neu­tral den­sity fil­ters for slow exposures here. Time for one more set up though. I re-frame, check my fo­cus point and depth of field and take a test shot to check my ex­po­sure. I read on so­cial me­dia the other day some guy pos­tu­lat­ing that he doesn’t need to con­sider his his­togram any­more as the dy­namic range of cam­eras is so good now, but I don’t go with that at all. Mak­ing the per­fect ex­po­sure to max­i­mize sig­nal to noise ra­tio makes sense what­ever cam­era we’re us­ing. And be­sides; it’s all part of the process, and the quest for per­fec­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.