Arse-kicked by trees.
Arnside Knott, where low ISOs go to die

I have had my backside kicked by trees this evening.

I’ve been doing some location scouting for the oft-postponed, never properly scheduled woodland shoot that I started planning months back and never got around to actually shooting. Let me tell you, woodland in summer, even late summer, is a lot harder to shoot in than it is in winter (or early spring or late autumn, for that matter).

I was scouting today at Arnside Knott, which lies about 30 minutes drive from my house. I’d been there earlier in the year when I was trying to find a suitable location for the shoot-that-never-was, and back then (early May, as I recall) it seemed the perfect place: lots of interesting, gnarly trees but at the same time plenty of light to make life easy on my tired old speedlights. Of course, I’d conveniently forgotten that trees, like most other plants, like to grow leaves and suchlike over the warmer months and so it came as a bit of a shock when my wife and I took a walk up there this evening.

No light. Well, so little as to make it very, very uncomfortable shooting, at least in the evening. At best I was getting 1/10th sec at f4, ISO 800, and even with another stop of ISO the histogram sat very firmly in he leftmost quadrant. Muddy shadows and muddier detail in those shadows. Yuck.

So, what to do? Hope do I deal with this when I’m actually shooting there (which will hopefully be soon)?

The way I see it, I’ve got three options.

  1. Many lights, some on the background, some on the subject (I call this the Drew Gardner approach)
  2. Shoot earlier in the day, so that there’s more ambient light
  3. Shoot at a similar time but only in the more open spaces up on the Knott, so as to take more advantage of the ambient light

At the moment I’m more inclined to do a mix of options 1 and 2. I can’t hope for too much more ambient light earlier in the day – after all, it’s the honking great arboreal canopy that’s causing the problems in the first place – but I figure that a little more might make it’s way through, and with a couple of flashes to edge-light the background the result could be quite pleasant.

Actually, time it right and I’ll be able to try all three options. There, that’s settled then. Watch this space for news on the shoot-that-may-yet-be (though with-a-different-model-than-originally-planned).

Good, that’s resolved then. See, told you this blog was useful to me, as well as being scintillating reading for you, dear reader.