Tips for Photographing a Forest Landscape
Every landscape photographer’s goal is to take a picture that captures the true essence and beauty of a place. When your subject, such as a forest, is essentially monotone — in this case a lovely shade of green — this can be a difficult task.
Even a forest of aspens changing colors in fall can be monotonous if you aren’t on your toes. When you have so many objects that look the same, you have to be creative to take an interesting photograph. The following list highlights what to look for in a forest:
Differences: The challenge in a forest: the trees all look similar. A solution: look for a different species of tree or a tree that is shaped differently and use it as your focal point. You can also use a tree that’s taller than its brethren for a great center of interest, or photograph a sapling growing in the shade of a larger tree.
Patches of color: When leaves are changing color in autumn, look for one tree that is transitioning either ahead of or behind the other trees. Compose your photo to draw viewers to that tree. If you’re photographing an evergreen forest, look for a tree that isn’t an evergreen.
Patterns of shadow and light: When the sun shines through the trees, a patchwork quilt of dappled shadows appears on the ground. If you’re photographing early in the morning or late in the afternoon, compose the image so that the sun is behind a tree that is in the picture.
Choose a small aperture (large f-stop value) so the sun appears as a starburst. If you get a little lens flare, not to worry: This can add an artistic touch to the image.
Patterns: Tree trunks form a strong vertical pattern, which can be the basis for a good image. Another alternative is to zoom in and take a picture of just tree trunks. You can also find patterns on the tree bark. For a tree bark pattern, zoom in tight, or put a macro lens on your camera, get close, and then take one more step.
Breaks in patterns: A break in a pattern can be a compelling focal point for any image. For example, if you have a break in a dense thicket of trees followed by another dense thicket of trees, compose your image in a manner that leads viewers to the break in the pattern.
Diagonal lines: A diagonal line carries more power than a vertical or horizontal line. Lines are everywhere. A tree trunk is typically a vertical line, and in many cases, the horizon is a horizontal line.
Find a diagonal line, such as a path cutting through the woods or a tree that is bent because of constant exposure to the wind. Use this diagonal line as a focal point in your image or as a way to draw your viewers to the focal point in the image.
Curves: Curves are more interesting than straight lines. Nature provides curves everywhere: a bend in the river or a weirdly shaped tree, for instance. Use the curve to draw the viewer’s eye to the most important part of your image.
These are a few things you can use to create interesting photographs in a forest. The key is to keenly observe everything as you stroll through the forest. Look in front of you, look up, look down, and then look where you’ve already been.