A letter from the wind

On my trip to Devil’s Lake I did some long exposure work in the forest – specifically the leaves through the canopy. That gave me ideas for fall and a different way to photograph the foliage and one that I could take advantage of because it’s so windy here in Wisconsin. All I needed was a cloudy day. What do you know, we have quite a few of those, too. You don’t need too much gear, but a few things are essential –

  • Tripod
  • Wide angle lens
  • Neutral density filter (s)
  • Polarizer
Seconds of pleasure

My initial thought was to include foreground elements that didn’t move to provide contrast with the leaves above that would. Pretty much that would be logs, stumps and rocks in my case, but stone walls, gravestones, fences and other things would work as well.

As I thought it might be, the only way to get my stationary elements and the tree branches framed correctly was to get the camera very low to the ground. A few times I even put it down into a little depression on the forest floor. This next one was shot from below the stump left by this fallen tree –

Crawling from the wreckage

There is a sense of movement in these, but not as much as I would like. Maybe I needed to have longer exposures or stronger wind.

Next I decided to try to get some movement in the foreground element, too. Luckily there were some surviving ferns in early October.

A letter from the wind

You do have to have patience with this though and wait for a good breeze to come along. A few of my shots just don’t have enough movement to give any effect.

One minute there

In terms of processing, I batched them together in Lightroom and applied basically the same changes to each of them. One thing that came in handy was the graduated filter – I used it to apply clarity in the foreground while leaving the canopy softer. I also kept some uniformity of white balance and color hue; I wanted it warm and rich, but not over saturated and crispy. When photographers overclock their shots it makes my eyes sad.

Overall I like the effect, but think it still needs some work and experimentation. There’s always next year!

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