Recently I returned to a spot where sat a tree that I had taken a shine to. There was something about it that reminded me of twisting arms, made more apparent by the coppices behind being fairly vertical. I had a camera with me so framed something up that appealed, a far younger sapling on the bottom left, practically cowering away from the much larger subject.
Inspecting the image later I realised this roughed out composition would be improved by a clearer separation between the 2 hero trees and the rest. To me, with the very dim diffused light that’s almost always filtering through the canopy there, that separation had to be done with light.
Back on the site a week later I knocked the exposure way down, swinging the white balance over to something that would throw everything into a blue-ish gloomy background ambience. Next I popped a speedlight on a tripod and walked that over to where I’d figured would be best for a side key light. After some back and forth to the flash, I chose a coloured gel I was happy with and adjusted the flash zoom to effectively focus the light tighter on the trees and less on the ground.
Having been banging on at folk about the representational nature of most nature photography I was thrilled when this all came together. I’d mentioned to a few how the tree there reminded me of a scene in Disney’s Snow White, but I didn’t realise quite how close it was until I checked the film myself. It’s uncanny how somewhere in my memory was Disney’s imagery waiting to come to the fore, reinterpreted in the real world. No fairy tale, no fear, nor a promise of an interesting night with 7 strangers followed by a fantastic looking apple.