Saturday, 27 February 2016

Winter Trees

Winter is a quiet time in the landscape: the trees have lost their leaves; the fruit has fallen or has been picked; only a few flowers bloom; and, besides cuckoo pint, plants are not growing. 

Trees silhouetted against dawn sun
Centre of Park - 20 December 2015

With approximately a third of the area of Milton Country Park covered with trees and bushes, the whole atmosphere of the park is altered when the trees lose their leaves.  From a very green (albeit tired green by the end of summer) and enclosing space, it becomes dull, drab and brown and with a much more open feel about it. In compensation for the lack of colour in the trees, their intricate structure can be fully appreciated, particularly when they are silhouetted against a January sunrise.

Dickerson's Pit - 28 December 2015

I am not a great fan of sunrise / sunset images.  I have had a dislike of dusk ever since I was a child, and see only very negative connotations in that time of day - loneliness,  death, and endings  are just three of the feelings invoked by nightfall ( I believe the French author Proust had a similar dislike).  However, the dawn sky in this picture adds a suitable wintry but colourful background to these trees on the east edge of Dickerson's Pit.

Wooden bridge with bare poplar trees beyond
Todd's Pit - 8 January 2016

Even in the depth of winter, the trees are not entirely without colour. These poplar trees just north of the 13th Public Drain are anything but drab as they catch the early morning sun.

Willow tree with orange branches
Todd's Pit - 28 January 2016

Also colourful, are the young shoots on the willow trees which are red/orange, a colour that becomes very pronounced when illuminated by the early sun. Almost the entire length of the west bank of Todd's Pit is bordered by willows, such as the one shown here.

Tall birch and willow trees line path
Dickerson's Pit - 8 January 2016

Even without leaves, the tallest trees in the park are an impressive sight. Here, a pergola of towering trees completely dwarfs the path along the eastern side of Dickerson's Pit that runs between the pillars of ivied trunks.

Single bare apple tree with background of similar trees in orchard
Orchard - 28 December 2015

In his book, 'Inner Landscapes', David Ward divides photographs into those that are denotative and those that are connotative. The former are images which show a scene without evoking any emotional response in the viewer. The latter elude to more than they show; they are evocative. For me, some images illicit a great sense of anticipation of what will develop. For instance, I can look at a picture of a newly sown seed bed and 'see' the fully grown vegetables in my imagination. Strangely enough, this picture of the orchard remains for me a very stark and cold reminder of winter, despite the fact that I know in a few months all the trees will be white with blossom. 

Alder tree with catkins against the sky
By Orchard - 13 January 2016

But not all trees are so barren even in the depth of winter. I finish this post with a picture of an alder tree heavy with catkins at the darkest time of the year.

Books and Blogs 

I have just started reading Karen Thornburn's blog on landscape photography of Scotland.  I love Scotland, particularly the western highlands, which fact alone would make me want to follow any blog of Scottish landscapes.  But, of special interest to me, is Karen's concentration on her home area of the less spectacular Black Isle.  

Next: Midwinter Spring

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Late Autumn

As autumn slides into winter, very little changes in Milton Country Park.  The last few leaves drop off the trees adding to a carpet of leaves on the ground which are already rotting away.  The fruit has mostly disappeared from the trees, and the park is beginning to look a bit drab.

Tree with red berries
By Visitor Centre - 18 December 2015

There are a few flashes of colour in the park, like this tree full of red berries in front of the visitor centre.  It is a testimony to the mildness of the autumn, that the birds have not eaten the berries.

Bramble with red leaves by Deep Water
Deep Water - 22 November 2015

Some of the brambles in this park were also adding some badly needed colour to the scene.  At this time, most of the brambles were either still green or turning yellow. A few, like this plant by Deep Water, were, in contrast, turning red.

Birch tree with no leaves towers about hedge of yellow
By Remembrance Meadow - 20 November 2015

Otherwise, the remaining leaves were yellow.  This picture shows the stark contrast between the birch which has already lost all of its foliage and the surrounding hedge where this is still plenty of green to be seen.

Single oak tree with green leaves among bare trees
South of Park - 25 November 2015

The situation is reversed in this image, an oak tree with all its leaves still green is surrounded by denuded poplars.

Last few sycamore leaves on group of trees
By Dickerson' Pit - 9 December 2015

Finally, this picture is a sort of coda for this period in the park: a few remaining yellow sycamore leaves, catch the early morning sun, and stand out against the bare trunks of the surrounding trees.

An Unexpected Yucca

Yucca plant amid bare trees and dead vegetation
South East Corner of Park - 18 December 2015

As autumn progress, as more and more vegetation dies down, and the trees and bushes lose their leaves, things are exposed that have not been visible during the spring and summer.  I have included this image in this post, simply because this yucca was not visible to the passer by until the nettles had died down and the surrounding trees and bushes had lost their leaves.

Books and Blogs


I have added another blog to my list : The Wessex Reiver .  I have been a bit late catching up on this blog, in which the author has just completed a project to photograph the area around his home for a year.  The area he has covered is a bit larger than mine, and features houses and roads as well as more natural features.

I have also got a copy of Hans Strand's book 'Intimate 1'.  If you have read this blog so far, you will be aware that I think the intimate landscape with its restricted range is an excellent way of highlighting some of the beauty and interest in the landscape that otherwise goes completely unnoticed.  This is one of the few books entirely dedicated to this form of photography.

Next: Winter Trees

Saturday, 6 February 2016


Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind
Bob Dylan

Besides being one of the mildest autumns on record, autumn 2015 was also extremely windy at times.  So, I tried to photograph the wind in Milton Country Park.

Waves on Dickerson's Pit
Dickerson's Pit - 15 November 2015

Of course, however powerfully a wind is felt, it cannot be photographed directly: the moving air is invisible.  Only the effects of the wind can be captured in a photograph, and, perhaps, the most obvious effect is waves on the surface of the water.  The position from where this image was taken at the northern end of Dickerson's Pit has a view along the longest stretch of unbroken water in the park, and, hence, is where the largest waves are to be found with a southerly wind.  No Atlantic breakers here, but the waves up to 30cm high sped across the pit and lapped noisily at the foot of the photographer.

Bridge surrounding by bushes with leaves vibrating in the wind
Dickerson's Pit - 15 November 2015

For the most part, the main visible effect of wind is not in movement across a long distance, but in the vibration of leaves and branches which can only move a much shorter distance.  In the case of branches, this is often because of the surrounding bushes make large movement impossible.  In the case of leaves, a 180 degree flip of the leaf, only involves a movement of about 8cm.  Here, the bushes besides the two bridges between Dickerson's Pit and Deep Water are clearly shaking, in stark contrast to the solid immobility of the bridge.

Maple leaves shaking in the wind
North of Deep Water - 6 December 2015

Closer up, the bushes seem to be shaking themselves to disruption.  It seems that if they shake anymore then they will self destruct. This image reminds me of a dog shaking water off his fur after a swim.  

A quick comment on technique: all the images in this post, except the first picture of waves, were taken using multi-exposures.  I find this gives a more staccato effect then a simple long exposure would.  The photographer, John Blakemore, tells a tale of how, when he started to try and catch the wind, every time he opened the shutter the wind dropped.  He went over to using multi-exposure, opening the shutter for a short time, each time there was a gust of wind.

Reeds blowing in the wind
Todd's Pit - 15 November 2015

And so to a much photographed reed bed at the north end of Todd's Pit, which has been featured in a number of posts on this blog before.  Here, the motion of the reed bed, and shimmering of the leaves of the trees, is nicely contrasted with the stillness of the thick ivied tree trunk and the bullrush heads amongst the reeds.

Bare trees, yellow bushes, brown reeds and blue water all in motion
Dickerson's Pit - 15 November 2015

Finally, here the wind is so strong, everything is moving.