November the 20th I did a photo walk in the forest called Hertogenwald. The forest is situated near Eupen, which is a little town in Belgium not more then a half hour drive from my home. The forest is a mixture of deciduous trees and planted conifers and pines. The forest is a part of the Belgian Ardennes. Because of the differences in altitude there are a lot of natural formed streams. There are a lot of beautiful trails to hike. They say there are a lot of deer but I never spotted one. I have been to this forest several times this year.
It is a really chaotic forest. It is not easy to find beautiful compositions. Yet, I have not discovered really old trees. The little streams in combination with the surrounding somewhat gnarly deciduous trees do offer some photographic importunities. Scattered all over the forest you can find small intimate forest scenes.
That morning it was calm in the forest and I did not see anyone else. The best circumstance to really connect with the beautiful nature and to focus on finding a pleasing composition. Woodland photography for me is all about exploring and experiencing real nature and if possible creating some beautiful photographs. After a week of office-work it is refreshing for the mind and body.
Officially it is wintertime. Most deciduous trees lost al their leaves and some thin mist lingered in the forest. With some backlight this could result in some beautiful compositions.
After a short hike I found the first composition. A tranquil scene of a little stream surrounded by trees. I really liked, as foreground interest, the roots of the pine that are stretching out. It looks like they are trying to reach the water. Furthermore, the gnarly trees on both sides of the stream at the mid ground do bring some balance in the composition. The stream does lead your eyes into the scene. The clear water makes it possible to see the stones beneath the water. The golden brown leaves on the ground and the spars yellow leaves on the gnarly tree give an autumnal look and finish to the scene.
I shot the second image because of the colour contrast. Behind the cross there are still some autumnal colours. The gnarly tree on the left does help to keep the eyes in the image.
After an hour of hiking and searching I did find a little tree still wearing its yellow leaves. Because of the surrounding trees and shrubs it took some time to set up the composition I wanted. At first glance at the back screen of the camera it did not look very interesting. But as always a view of the image on a big screen and also some post processing can change an image to a really good photograph.
For me, the photograph of the little tree standing in front of a bigger tree with its sweeping branch still wearing its yellow leaves is my favourite and a keeper for my portfolio. I will make a print of it too.
Hertogenwald and Vijlenerbos in the Netherlands are my favourite places for doing woodland photography. Hopefully we can get some snow this winter. I hope to be back soon in those beautiful forests.
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