Winter Woodland Part 3 – The Outwoods with Snow

As it has been a couple of yaers sunce there has been some local snow it was nice to see aome snow arrive over the last couple of weeks. My Winter Wood series jist wouldn’t be complete,

I was quite fortunate to find a day after the first snow fall when the sun was out. This did test my photograhic skills with the extreme contrast in light. The camera never captures what your minds eye can see. I needed to do quite a bit of post processing work to lower the very bright sun and lift the dsrker areas. I like this image becuase it shows the typical english snow. It never gets too cold and so the snow is always wet and sticks to the tree trunks. This does make for a great image.

Another two images on the same theme. When I was walking in the wood I felt like I had stepped out of a wardrobe into Narnia.

The snow in the wood is ofcourse a great chance to create some true Black and White images. My favourite tree for this style of image is the Silver Birch because of the texture along the trunk.

There is very little snow but the stream offered this little Robin some sanctury and food.

No matter what the weather dogs always get their walk,

One of the features of many of the woods in the Charnwood Forest are the rocky outcrops. There are almost always volcanic and have interesting angular shapes. There will more about this in my next blog.

The edge of the Outwoods are surrounded by farmland. Even so it is good to see that a number of mature trees still remain.

Winter Woodland – Part 2

In part 1 I focused on looking up at the tree canopy in Swithland Wood. In this section we turn our eyes down to look at the woodland floor. In some ways the woodland floor is more vibrant in winter as it is not shaded by the tree canopy. Although slow, the woodland continues to grow throughout the winter.

Some people say that a managed wood should be kept tidy and fallen trees like this cleared away. However, once a tree is fallen it becomes a vital to host to many other species which are vital to the diversity of the woodland. Here we can see some moss enjoying the winter sunlight.

Fallen and decaying trees are often the best place to look for the fungi which likes to feed on the decaying wood. It is worth noting that fungi can be found all year round and not just in the abundant autumn.

Another species which is easy to ignore is the lichen which can be seen on both fallen and live trees. There are many fascinating textures and shapes if you look closely.

With a fallen tree the bark tends to disappear to reveal the grain of the wood below. Here a broken branch shows more detail of the innards of the tree. This of course is a timeline of the lifetime of the tree. Layer by layer year by year.

It is quite remarkable that trees will grow anywhere that they can find a foothold for their roots. I love this tree at the Druids Mound with its roots draped across the ancient volcanic rock.

Water is vital to the success of any woodland. Swithland Wood is fortunate to have many streams which cross the wood. These can be quite lively after heavy rainfall.

Even in winter the streams sustain plants like this fern. I enjoyed seeing this arrangement of rocks and imagined how someone was inspired by their surroundings. No doubt the rocks will be displaced at some point to take a more natural position in the stream.

I Included this image of the old stone building bathed in the beautiful winter light to remind us that Swithland Wood hasn’t grown naturally. It is the result of good woodland management over hundreds if not thousands of years.

Winter Woodland – Part 1

Being at home at this time of year and looking out of the window at yet another rainy day it is very easy to give up on the great outdoors. However, it is very rare for it to rain everyday. There is some great soft winter light which can reveal all of the hidden features of a winter woodland. Fog can bring a feeling of mystery. Snow and frost paints a whole new world.

In part one of this blog I’ll show you a sunny December day in Swithland Wood in Leicestershire. I’ll take a look at what is exposed in the trees when all of the folliage has gone from the branches.

Swithand Wood is a mature wood being remnant of the ancient Charnwood Forest. It is a site of special scientific interest because of its many and varied species. Here we have a group of Scots Pine which don’t make a particularly interesting image. This is due to their immense height with a relatively small canopy perched on top.

Getting right underneath one of these tall pines with a wide angle lens produces a far more interesting view. The effect compresses the height and the image captures both the essential features and the surrounding tree top environment.

Moving to another part of the wood reveals how the tree canopy looks once all of the leaves have fallen. This view was achieved by laying on the floor looking directly up and making use of a 16mm wide angle lens. This view is how I imagine the roots would look if all of the soil was removed. It is also interesting to see how the trees compete for every inch of sky to gain access to the life giving sunlight.

One of my favourite trees to photograph is the Silver Birch. I like the light produced by the bright bark which contrasts wonderfully with the dark layers underneath. This combination leads to a very pleasing and varied contrast. This view shows how much the trees compete for the light and results in very tall growth when the surrounding trees are close togther. As with the previous image this image was captured very close to the base of the tree.

Here are two more examples illustrating both the tree texture and canopy.

This image shows how there is a great interdependance between the species. It does look like the Ivy is attempting to strangle the tree. However, this is not the case as the Ivy needs the host to suceed in order to thrive.

To finish here is a youngish oak which still has hold of its leaves in December. The golden leaves make for a beautifull colour contrast with the blue sky behind.

Impressions of the National Memorial Arboretum

I made my first trip to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire today. It is a large site with around 30,000 trees and oer 350 memorials. Far to much to cover everything in this blog, so I thought I would let you have my personal impressions of the day.

Armed Forces Memorial

The Armed Forces Memorial which is the centrepiece of the Arboretum. Interesting the site has many non-military and individual memorials as well.

Armed Forces Memorial Sculture

In the centre of the memorial are some very powerful sculturees.

At this time of year meny people visit the many memorials and leave their own tributes.

The Christmas Day Truce

Here is a powerful reminder of the Christmas Day Truce in World War One where both sides laid down their arms for a day and played a game of football.

Free Spirits Memorial

The Free Spirits memorial which is a tribute to recognise the unique partnership between human and horse. It reminded me of my Grandfathers role in World War One where he drove horses wagons to supply the front line.

Harold Doyle
Railway Industries Memorial

During the Second World War my other Grandfather drove steam Trains which were always a target. After a long days shift he would also volunteer as an air raid lookout.

My father was called up as a Bevin Boy in World War Two when the government realised there was a massive shortage of miners. As health and safety practices were lacking by today’s standards this wasn’t a safe option.

Polish Memorial

The Polish Memorial was interesting as it told many of the heroic stories.

Shot at Dawn Memorial

This was the memorial that affected me the most. This is for all those who were shot for not carrying out their duties. We now know that many of these men will have been suffering from shell shock. Each post represents those who were shot and is labelled with their names and ages.

Look at the date on this. Only four days before the Armistice was signed. The war was over but still the killing went on.

Beautiful Birmingham

In someways it’s quite surprising that Birmingham has much to commend for beautiful photos. I found this out on a recent trip with my good friend Dave Walters. Our objective was to create some really great architectural images. I’ll leave you to judge the results. The other good thing is that Birmingham is far easier, cheaper and quicker to get to than London which is where many photographers go for their architectural images.

Having done a park and ride from Coleshill, inside Birmingham New Street was our 1st stop. This was a hand held long exposure. It’s not ideal because the contrast was too high due to the direct sunlight coming through the roof. Why no tripod, well, normally security tend not to like such an evil contraption.
This is a nice combination of the good old Bullring tower and the very new station casing. It’s a shame they have fitted the street lights is such a poor position.
Another angle on the station but without the street lights. I think I was quite lucky with the clouds.
So I told my daughter that I was going to Birmingham to photograph Sainsburys. She said “why ?”. This is why.
The new library was an interesting addition to Birmingham. The outside whilst grabbing my attention just doesn’t work for me. But ……..
I love the inside with all those gorgeous curves. There are a lot of lights and I’m never quite sure whether I should leave them in or make them disappear.
This was taken with my 24mm lens from the floor and I think I would have liked a wider shot to collect the full circle.

To finish here is traditional Birmingham, the city with more canals than Venice.