Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024

Woodland photography is one of my interests as there are several woods near to me that I love wandering around taking photographs with my camera.  The skills that are involved with taking such pictures, I have learnt by trial and error.  However, my technique is rather low key and much of what I do is point the camera and take pictures that look appealing.  The opportunity to learn woodland photography skills arose after a chance meeting at the Photography Show with Miffyohara.  Miffy is a classically trained photographer who has a great love of woodland photography.  We talked about a photography walk and the place Miffy chose to start my woodland photography journey was Hagley Park next to the Clent Hills.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The outlines of these branches make a pleasing geometric shape.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A window created by the tree branches.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Two walkers passing through the woods.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
I included the path which is partially covered with blossom so as to lead to the light.

The park has 350 acres of Worcestershire countryside to explore with an abundance of woodland.  When I arrived, I realised that a tripod was essential.  Never go anywhere without your tripod. This was my first lesson of the day.  Fortunately the light was good and the sun was breaking through the clouds.  During our visit, the sun was diffused by cloud cover although occasionally there were long periods of sunshine. Therefore we waited for these patches of light to illuminate the woodland. Similar to wildlife photography, a calm, non-hurried approach is required.  This is so difficult for me as I do tend to rush around.  For the first 30 minutes, we observed and photographed one tree.  We slowly walked around the tree, looking at how the sun fell on the branches and leaves.  I learnt about “windows” created by tree branches that open your photographs in a similar way to framing.  This aspect of woodland photography is appealing to me as I enjoy taking a picture within a picture.   I found the opportunity to place people into the scene although I acknowledge this is not what woodland photography is about!   The bluebells were in full bloom and offered splashes of blue throughout the day.  Another learning point was the avoidance of man-made structures in the photograph and therefore paths which allow a leading line were not considered but I did occasionally break the rules.  Therefore I used the branches and arrangement of the trees to lead the eye.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A tree of interest that tells a story.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A view of Hagley castle framed by a tree.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The imposing Hagley castle.

Hagley Park has a circular route that takes in several follies that were placed by previous owners to add a pleasing spectacle to the eye.  The structures follow classical architectural designs as may be seen in my photographs. The current ideas of the park keepers are to reduce the prominence of these follies and allow the woodland views to take centre stage.  The first folly we came across was Hagley castle which is designed to resemble a small ruined medieval castle.  The castle is an imposing structure over this part of the park and whilst it was fenced off, it was still possible to view the architecture.  Leaving the castle, the path dipped steeply down towards the stream that passed through the south of the park.  On our way there were several interesting trees worthy of photographing.  We climbed back up and then came upon Milton’s seat which gave beautiful views of Hagley Hall and the surrounding Worcestershire countryside.  This was a place where one could linger and let time pass you by.  The light was good and it was possible to view the hills in the distance.  

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A tree with personality.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Fungi patterns on a dead tree.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
More patterns created by the fungi.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Milton’s seat with a view that takes in Hagley Hall and the mountains in the distance.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The woman in the red jacket had to be photographed.

Our next point of interest was the Palladian bridge which is very photogenic.  You are spoilt with the different compositions that arise from the bridge and the surrounding woodland. The bridge is at the head of the lake and set in a valley of trees.  There are reflections in the lake and the lay of the land offers both high and lower-level interpretations of the scene.  I settled for an eye level view taking in the reflection and the setting of the bridge along the lake.  Processing the picture in black and white provides balance and allows blending between the man-made structure and the woods.  The bridge is at the start of three lakes which lead upwards to the classically styled Rotunda.  On the way past the lakes, there is a memorial to the English poet William Shenstone in the form of an urn.  Again I was drawn into photographing the urn and the Rotunda amidst the woodland trees. There were also other interesting trees to take in and photograph.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The Palladian Bridge in Black and White
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The view over the lake.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Shenstone’s Urn
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A window onto the Rotunda.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The Rotunda blending into the surroundings.

On returning to the café, we discussed our photographs and then discussed how to process the pictures. Whilst proficient at Lightroom, I do need to revisit Photoshop and use the layers function to bring out features in my photographs.  Once again this is all part of the learning process.  

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Details from a fallen tree.

Woodland photography is a genre to visit.  I learnt how to look at woodland scenes, and carefully pick out areas of interest.  The need to slow down and take in your surroundings allows you to seek out new photographic scenes that you would miss if you just walked through the park.  By slowing down, you are also able to look at how the light falls on the woodland.  Looking for windows and diagonals in the branches of the trees helps your woodland photography stand out.  This walk was during the day and the woodland would naturally light up during the golden hours. I will look for future opportunities to pursue this genre of photography especially at the start and end of the day. 

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Tree textures
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Rushes

At the start, we talked to Alex one of the Park Rangers who gave us insight into the care of the park. Alex also agreed to be part of my 100 strangers project that is nearing completion. Here is a picture of Alex leaning against one of the Park Ranger trucks.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Alex a park ranger at Hagley Park.

A final thank you to Miffyohara who was an excellent teacher and guided me through the skills required for woodland photography. In our discussions, subjects ranged from composition of woodland scene to a debate on giving titles to our pictures. The sharpening of my observational skills was one outcome of the day. The final word goes to Hagley Park which is a must visit location and will appeal to everyone not just photographers.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
An iPhone picture of an interesting tree and thank you to Miffyohara for showing me the beauty of trees.

If you wish to see more of my previous woodland photography then I have added a link below. I will revisit Hay Wood with a different eye to my compositions.

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024

The bluebell season is here and is earlier than normal.  Usually the flowers are in full bloom around the May Bank holiday weekend.  This year their arrival appears to be 1 to 2 weeks early.  A blue carpet of bluebells is always stunning especially when set against the backdrop of the woodland.  This year I went to Hay Wood as a fellow photographer had taken a picture of the blue carpets of flowers and the scene looked stunning.  

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
The blue carpet of bluebells.

Hay Wood is part of Forestry England and is a small wood which is near to Baddesley Clinton. The latter is an outstanding National Trust property which is always lovely to visit. We are fortunate to have Hay Wood nearby.  The bluebells appear on specific patches to the east and west parts of the woodland.  The easterly display was at its peak and even though I was there around midday, the light was wonderful.  The new shoots of green leaves glistened in the sun and the bluebells contrasted against the trees rising upwards.  

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Light and shadows highlighting the scene.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Bluebells around the trees.

The bluebells to the west of the wood looked beautiful and they were still flowering.  More photographs of the blue carpet were taken.  The western part of the wood has a public footpath that links with St Michael’s church that is adjacent to the Baddesley Clinton estate.  I visited the church as there is the opportunity to take a picture of the bluebells in the foreground and the church providing the background interest.

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
A solitary bluebell plant with a backdrop of green and blue.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Old tree trunks add interest to the scene.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Muddy paths led to the bluebells.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
St Michael’s Church, Baddesley Clinton with bluebells.

All these pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100vi and  I bracketed the exposure of the pictures.  The 3 photographs were merged with the HDR function in Lightroom.  Some adjustments of the shadows and highlights plus dodging and burning were made.

If you enjoyed these pictures of the bluebells then please follow the links below to see previous entries in my blog.