Saturday, October 23, 2010

Photo Shoot: Autumn in the Englischer Garten

Finally a crisp cold morning on which the temperature dropped below zero.  I headed out at dawn hoping to arrive in the city park just as the sun started to clip the tops of the trees.  I did not want to carry a tripod and so pre-dawn twilight images would not really be an option.  My goal was to try and capture the affect of the low sun on the landscape, especially the trees about half of which are now in full autumn plumage.  Another objective required a freeze to cause mist to rise from the warmer waters of the streams running through the park.

These images are unashamedly pictorial and represent another exploration of my personal feelings about landscape photography.  Do I have the interest to pursue a year long course and am I any good at this genre of photography?  I fully accept that I have no idea about the styles and techniques of landscape, but I still need to feel a spark of interest or intuition before committing money and time.

The images here were all taken hand held with my Canon 5D2 and image stabilized 24/105mm f/4 lens.  In all I captured around 150 frames over an hour, starting just at sunrise.  I have chosen the 9 images that interested me most, selection is simply based upon my own sense of the aesthetic, I have no idea whether they are good or bad.

The first image was taken before sunrise as I walked into the park across the bridge adjacent to the Chinese Tower beer garden.  I am becoming more interested in the muted colours of the landscape rather than the fiery blaze of sunlit autumnal foliage (last years obsession).  I think this is partially due to becoming more exposed to work of other photographers and a desire to present a more thoughtful image.  Fire has its place, but so does ice!

Within the park there is a small hill, the Monopteros, that offers a superb vista through the park and onto the spires of Munich's churches.  Surely this was designed very carefully at the time the park was laid out.  Through the middle of the frame runs a stream from which mist is rising.  The first shot (@ 24mm) tries to capture the depth of the scene and is then followed by a zoomed in (@ 105mm) image taken from the same location.

The blue-green caste of the grass is caused by the coating of ice on each blade, which I suspect is reflecting some of the blue of the sky plus transmitting the green of the underlying grass, anyway I really like this affect.  I also tried to capture this just as the sun illuminated the buildings, but before it started to burn off the mist and ice on the grass.

Walking from the hill into the middle ground of the second image (actually taken earlier) the following image is of the stream running through the park and the mist rising

Having dispensed with the "landscape" I now turn to the trees, which were my original goal for getting up so early.  Prior to the sun rising the soft light of dawn  presented a pastel toned world

Once the sun arrived the world changed dramatically and I discovered that silhouette might be more interesting than foliage

OK, these image are more fire than ice, however, the goal was one of exploration and this was a very interesting discovery.  The sun light was reflected strongly by the ice covered grass, providing the stripes of yellow light across the frozen ground.

In shade the world remained pastel

My final selection is an attempt (failed) at trying to create an autumnal image with some depth of field and stronger colour

Conclusions?  First of all I like being outdoors, I always have and when prodded properly am an enthusiastic hill walker, so being out in the dawn light was invigorating and gave me a chance to do some photography and still be at my desk by 9am.  Autumn, interesting, but not in direct sunlight, I prefer cloud or pre-dawn light, the dramatic Autumn foliage shots might grab attention in glossy magazines, but I think they miss revealing the real colour and structure of the trees, Pastel is the way forward for me on this topic at least.  Landscape, the jury is still out, the Landscape course would work for me if it is not too pastoral, I live in a city and cannot easily get out into the countryside, but then again there is a landscape only 30 minutes walk away as today proved.

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