A partnership between the Woodland Trust and the National Trust

Autumn colour Fingle Woods

My landscape photography

Working for the Fingle Project, capturing the essence of the woods, recording change and photographing activities, has been a real joy. It has also been both an education and a challenge. Photographing trees with all their detail isn’t as easy as you might think. How can you achieve an acceptable exposure and maintain the details of the trees when there is bright sky and a dark woodland floor? How can you stop the branches and leaves moving when you need a slow shutter speed because of poor light? Many days might pass before the conditions are just right for the photos you need.

Autumn colour Fingle Woods

Then there is the unpredictability.   How many times have you said “If only I had a camera”? There are so many moments I wished I’d been able to capture a memorable scene, whether on my phone or SLR. Now I have a camera with me all the time so I can catch that unexpected moment. I work mostly on my own in the woods and I am constantly aware that some sort of wildlife may bomb my photoshoot so I also take all my lenses with me. Not having Bruce Lee’s reflexes I have another camera handy with a telephoto lens to capture that wildlife shot of the year image! It hasn’t happened yet but surely it’s only a matter of time before I get a buzzard swooping on its prey perched on an old oak stump, startling rare butterflies, surrounded by wildflowers, all in a shaft of golden sunlight!

It’s nice to dream but as I get older I now view my picture-taking in a more contemplative way. I often find it more rewarding to go out with a pre-determined plan and settle in a known spot and wait for the all the elements to be in place. In this way I can choose the right light, know the wind will be blowing, bending objects, giving some movement which, along with a heavy cloud formation, will help create a certain sort of energy that conveys my sensory experience.

Autumn Colour River Teign

Basically just being out in the woods is reward enough. Taking a moment to meditate by the river or amongst rustling trees with no man-made distractions is good medicine for us humans and, for me, being asked to capture it in photographs is a real honour.

Autumn leaves Fingle Woods

Photography sometimes gets a bad press in the art world because it is thought to have limited creative abilities, yet having a camera gives me the ability to freeze and review a chosen view or scene in a split second. Only the camera as a tool will achieve this. Deciding when the shutter opens is your choice and composing the picture is your choice, these two actions put the art into photography.

Dappled Autumn light Fingle Woods

I love the mixture of science and art that controls how you produce a good image. While the artistic side can be subjective there is a great deal of technical knowledge needed to make pictures with a real impact.

We embrace the beauty of the landscape, but nature in turn is the victim of our imagination.

By Paul Moody


If you would like to learn how to make your photos have real impact and benefit not only from Paul’s photographic expertise but his knowledge of Fingle Woods why not enrol on one of the two photography workshops he is running in the woods on Thursday the 12th and Saturday the 14th of October. To find out more and book your place visit: www.greenhillarts.co.uk.

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