on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Tree Therapy

Kathleen Holman

Kathleen Holman

I am originally from the USA, but now I am a web and user interaction designer living and working in London. In 2015 I bought a digital camera to promote a music group I founded, and then I started enjoying landscape photography as well.


Kathleen Holman - tree therapy

For me, photography is a way to enhance activities I enjoy, and one of them is walking alone in forests. Last year, I started making images of forests to try to capture the qualities that make them so infinitely fascinating, and convey the sense of solitude, depth and discovery that I experience there. In the forest, the viewer is surrounded, and both seeing as well as passing through. Is it possible to capture this experience in a flat rectangular image?

I started by taking single exposures, but quickly abandoned that for in-camera multiple exposures because for a long time, I’ve been fascinated by John Blakemore’s poetic tree landscapes, using multiple exposures of the same scene (between 5 and 50 exposures).

Unlike Blakemore, I am limited by the number of exposures that my camera is willing to take. But I can exponentially enhance the contribution of each exposure by using intentional camera movement and long exposures. I also have many options on how I chose to layer the images to make colours interact and blend in the camera, and am able to explore what happens to colour and depth when the images are overlaid.

The forest, depending on the season and time, is bleak and still, with all the bones of the trees exposed, or it is backlit, vibrant, and rustling with movement. I’ve been trying to find diverse forest settings, but even so, many of the results that emerge in my images surprise me. The in-camera movement and multiple exposures reduce unwanted detail and create a natural ambiguity that seems more akin to the subjective natural gaze than to the ever increasing precision of the modern digital camera.

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