Michael Pilkington
Michael Pilkington

As we head towards the back end of May I have been in lockdown now for nearly two months.  I haven’t been out with a camera since February.  That is a long time and I have been missing my photography immensely.  Yesterday and in the light of relaxed guidance on going out I decided that I would venture out to some woods and heathland near where I live and indulge in my favourite pastime. 

 

Silver Birch in infrared by Michael Pilkington

 

At this location, where I have run many one-day workshops on woodland photography, I usually choose to shoot in infrared.  Ideally, I would have visited here around a month ago when the Silver Birch were just coming into leaf and the ferns covering the woodland floor would have been less than a metre high.  Instead, I was greeted with ferns that had already grown to chest height and the Silver Birch were in full and mature leaf.  In colour, the scene was quite frankly boring in that the greens of the foliage were dark and monotonous.  Gone was the vibrant green that would have been here a few weeks earlier.  However, in infrared the leaves were reflecting different intensities of light bringing tonal variety to the vista. The scene was literally glowing.

From a technical standpoint I used a 24mm tilt and shift lens.  I have been using this lens in woodland for a couple of years now.  I like this focal length in woodlands as you get a sense of openness and being in the scene.  The problem with using a wide-angle lens in woodland is that you often have to angle the camera upwards to reduce the dominance of the foreground and capture the tops of the trees.  In so doing you experience convergence of verticals.  The trunks of the trees lean inwards to the centre of the frame.  You could of course correct this in post processing using one of the transform tools however this will often result in losing a lot of the image.  Using the shift function on the tilt and shift lens corrects those verticals in camera and delivers the openness in the composition I am seeking.  If you have a tilt and shift lens it is well worth trying.