Inside this issue
A well kept secret
Ruth Grindrod is a landscape photographer living in Norfolk in the UK. I like to work in a variety of landscapes but favour sea and coastal photography. I believes that the end product in photography is a quality print and this is what I strive to produce for My work has been published both in the UK and abroad.
I have been travelling to Nairnshire in the Highlands of Scotland for a number of years, usually in late summer. This quiet under-rated and understated area is home to some beautiful and intriguing woodland, some of it ancient. It’s also home to a wonderful beach situated in Nairn, an unspoilt Victorian coastal town. The woodlands seem not to attract a lot of photographers as it’s not one of those ‘honeypot’ locations attracting many and often. This means I can be out in the landscape for hours without encountering another person- which is a real privilege. Another advantage of this area is that there are no swarms of the dreaded seasonal midges invading camera equipment and you! A few bugs of course, but nothing compared to the west coast of Scotland. So instead of jostling tripods and ‘netting up’ (or facing the very itchy consequences), I can photograph in peace undisturbed by folk or midgie menaces.
There are a number of patches of woodland including Logie woods, woodland near the Ardclach war memorial and around Dulsie Bridge. Often the trees are underpinned with carpets of pink heather which contrasts beautifully with the tones and textures of the trees.
Many of the trees have twisted short structures and have various incongruent shapes. The trees include Scots pine and many birches with some ancient redwoods in places.
Anyone who photographs trees knows it is a complex and time consuming business to do well. There is every opportunity to end up with nothing more than a tangled mess of twigs! For me, I find that spending time just looking, and looking and looking again is time well spent. Patterns and textures start to emerge which were not evident at first glance.
Now, in relation to textures, the woods in Nairnshire have a wide variety of lichens which really add to the textural quality of shots taken here. They also add luminosity to the photograph as they are pale and very intricate yet light and willowy also. They grow on so many trees and in some cases take over the tree. Lichens are in themselves fascinating (and well worth taking intimate shots of - but that’s another article ). A lichen is a combination of a fungus and one or more alga(e). The part that you see is the fungus, the alga makes the food for both of them. Different lichens are found on trees, rocks, boulders and come in many different colours which is why Harris lichens were used in the past for dyeing yarn. The variety in Scotland makes Scottish lichens of international importance. Lichens provide a good indication of air quality, thriving where ‘Air is as pure as wine’ as the saying goes. From a photography point of view, lichens enrichen the woodland landscape. They add pattern as well as texture, softening lines and adding detail and variety.
Anyone who regularly visits Scotland knows that the one thing you can rely on is that you can’t rely on the weather! You might be lucky and catch some lovely mists and shafts of light but if not this is where woodland photography scores.
The photographs accompanying this article were taken in August 20 and August 21 using my small but very capable Fuji xt3. Some are handheld, others using a tripod. Apertures varied from 2.8 to f11. They do not make big bold statements that attract hundreds of likes on Instagram and the like; rather they tell a telling story of woodland that is left alone to grow and change with the seasons. It’s rarely visited by people and there are certainly no tripod marks. This is not only an advantage for the photographer but also the landscape and the environment. Sometimes I feel that less is more with photography these days, perhaps others do too? Taking these shots, I was engaged by the shapes, hues, tones and the tranquil landscape they exist within. I hope the viewers of these shots experience similar feelings and emotions.