The landscape can seem pretty barren and drab at this time of year – everything can appear tired and faded, with barren fields and bare branches. At least this is what I used to think, but I’ve come to appreciate and love this time of year. Clearly it lacks the lushness and colourfulness of the other three
 seasons but look for beauty in the landscape and you will find it. I particularly like the contrast of faded, almost yellow fields and burgundy brown bare hedges – Mother Nature never puts colours together that don’t work and these two shades are stunning together. When everything else is stripped back the most simple details – bark on branches and single leaves for example – are often striking in their simplicity. The light is wonderful at this time of year as the sun is lower in the sky, making it softer and lighting everything from the side rather than directly above. You get lovely soft shadows modelling and contouring your subjects. The teasels in the first shot are light from behind by the diffused winter sun making the spikes stand out from the background. Focusing on them has thrown the reeds in the background out of focus and created the perfect back drop.

The solitary leaf in the second picture caught my eye. It almost looks like an insect’s cocoon and along with the new buds on the twigs hints of Spring.  The leaf stands out nicely against the background of diagonal twigs.

The first snowdrops and hellebores should be making an appearance sometime over the coming weeks. I’ve visited Rode Hall a few times to enjoy and photograph their snowdrop walk, but just google “snowdrop walks” at this time of year and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Last year we had a lot of snow in February and I rushed out to capture snowdrops in snow but was disappointed to find that they looked less spectacular than when they are against a contrasting background of brown earth and green grass. My favourite images in the grouping below are the two bottom left, where leaves, mulch and pine cones provide interest, with just a hint of snow to suggest Winter.

When photographing anything at ground level at this time of year I always wear waterproof trousers or carry a bin liner, as you really need to get down at their level. Hellebores hide their beauty under their bonnet of petals and snowdrops are just so delicate that you need to get down low. To get a shot of a drift of snowdrops covering the woodland floor, you can stand up and avoid wet, muddy knees. But be aware of harsh, contrasting light if the sun is out and if it’s a dull day be careful to avoid camera shake as the canopy of trees can make it quite dark. But NEVER use your flash unless you are looking for a very flat, stylised look. The best advice is to experiment – one of the benefits of digital photography!Posted by Picasa

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!

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