A Whimsey with Wistman’s Wood

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good woodland photography session – and Wistman’s Wood was perfect to get back in the woodland and impressionist photography flow.

I helped My Darling Jules set up her Sew Me Something stand at a textiles fair near Exeter. Whilst she was womanning her stand for a few days I took the time to do some creative photography.

I’ve not spent any proper time doing creative photography since my accident in October 2017 (I broke my back, silly sausage that I am). Jules knew that I needed to get back to my art photography, but I was finding it hard to get motivated to do so. So she got me to come away with her, help her do her stand, and then spend most of the rest of the time waving my cameras about.

I don’t know why I lost my creative mojo, but it wasn’t lurking too far under my skin. Alone with my cameras (stills and video) the layers of resistance soon peeled away and I started to get that familiar energy in my chest, that urge to create.

I started where we had rented our Air BnB, pretty much on the waterfront in the pretty little town of Topsham, but the pull I get towards woodland got me googling.

Wistman’s Wood

Wistman’s Wood seemed just my cup of tea, I saw a few photos online and decided to grab a few granola bars, bottle of water and camera gear. Off I drove across Dartmoor.

The wood is a little walk from the car park by the road. It was the furthest I’d walked since losing my battle with gravity. It’s a bit bumpy, the further you get, but I took it easy. A few other other people were tramping to the wood to my fore and aft.

Near the closest edge of the woodland I saw this tree, and had to set up tripod and camera. It was simply the best tree I’d seen in years. Wistman’s wood is full of incredible trees.

a great tree at wistman's wood

I knew I could get held up photographing the gorgeous details here, but wanted to explore the wood further. I only had a couple of hours until sunset.

Pressing on, I got to a part of the wood empty of other explorers.

The sun was coming down, so I had to work fairly fast. This next tree had such a fabulous shape, with mossy boulders below, I had to give it a solar diamond for the evening.

wistman's wood near sunset

See the ferns in residence on its burly arms.

In some ways, I was here ‘at the wrong time’. The wood is perhaps at its most photogenic when the mists descend, and the light is flat. Then it is a pure palette of green, with foggy net petticoats.

I just couldn’t quite get the photographs I had in my head, the light was harsh, the sky was very bright.

It was time for a break. I sat on a cushioned mossy boulder, refreshing myself with a few bites of granola washed down with Devon water.

Impressionist Photography

It was time to fling away detail. I narrowed my eyes so I could only see colour and form, and ideas started to pile in.

I grabbed my camera, set it up for long exposures, and began using some of my favourite ‘intentional camera movement’ (ICM) techniques.

wistman's wood impressionist photograph

First was my twist/spin technique that I first used with bluebells several years ago. I quite liked this shot, with just a hint of the blue sky, and the lichen on the trees giving a few highlights.

This technique also works well looking up at the tree canopy too. But I wanted to capture the moss-clad boulders, and so began trying some other movements and compositions.

Less than two minutes after the photograph above, I took this next one.

wistman's wood impressionist photograph

I had the camera stopped right down, so very little light was coming through the lens. The shutter was open for a fifth of a second. I kept the camera still at first, then at the last moment just before the shutter closed I swept the lens up.

It almost looks like an underwater scene, with light filtering through layers of kelp above.

This next photo used the same settings, taken a bit further into the woods – it looks almost jungle-like I think.

wistmans wood impressionist photograph

I barely kept the camera still at all, but instead of sweeping up fast to get the long, thin light trails, I moved the lens upwards very little. This gives a very painterly, impressionist effect – broad daubs with a palette knife.

More Photos Soon

There are many more photographs, some of them moving from impressionist to abstract. They’ll have to wait for another day. If you sign up to this blog, or my Five Good Things weekly email of… er… five good things, you’ll know as soon as I put them online.

Wistman’s Wood is incredible – ancient trees, mossy boulders, lichen and ferns dressing the trees up. I could spend days there, and never get bored. It may not have been ‘at its best’, but it was still gorgeous. I’d love to visit again in summer and autumn, just imagine autumn mists there. Let me know if you go, and do let me know what you think of the photographs above.

Impressionist Flower Photography

Impressionist Photography of Flowers - Confetti Fields Heart of the Ballet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer

As I’ve become older, and beardier, I’ve become more entranced by the potential of impressionist flower photography.

Maybe it’s because I’m starting to look like Monet.

Black and white photograph of Claude Monet in 1899
Charlie Budd in 1899

A Visit to the Confetti Fields

On a recent excursion to the remarkable confetti flower fields with my friend, the photographer Charlotte Doran Davies, my love for blurring reality was just the thing.

Due the hot weather, almost every single bloom in the entire field had ‘gone over’ – they were dry, crinkled and looking rather sad.

The same might be said for some of the other photographers who had gone to snap the glorious blooms – some of them wanted lovely close up photos of the flowers in pristine condition, and none were to be had.

But to me it was a scintillating opportunity to make glorious swirls of colour, to make the flowers dance.

There were strict instructions not to pick any flowers, so I couldn’t swirl the blooms.

Nor could I swirl the dance floor – the field itself.

But I could swirl the viewer, my camera.

At first I was thinking of Monet

Initially, my photographs were, perhaps, more Monet-like – I used very small camera movements to create a slight dancing movement.

Impressionist Flower Photography - Dancing Delphiniums after Monet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Dancing Delphiniums after Monet

Monet Agapanthus
Monet’s Agapanthus

But then I tried a technique I started using last year in bluebell woods – the twist.

Bluebell Woodland Swirl by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer - Impressionist Flower Photography
One of my first forays into swirling photography. No photoshop, just twisting the camera as I took the shot.

And then Degas became my inspiration

And as soon as I tried it in the Confetti Fields, I was reminded of ballet dancers.

More specifically, the ballet dancers of Degas.

Dancers by Degas
Ballet Scene in pastel by Degas

He painted them again and again.

 L’Étoile, ou la Danseuse sur Scène
L’Étoile, ou la Danseuse sur Scène

I haven’t always liked these paintings, but there is a certain whimsy about them that I find increasingly appealing.

So my camera danced.

Impressionist Flower Photography - Confetti Fields Principal Dancer and Corps de Ballet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Principal Dancer and Corps de Ballet

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Confetti Fields Heart of the Ballet by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Heart of the Ballet

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Principal Ballet Dancer and Posy by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Principal Ballet Dancer and Posy

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Pas a Deux by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Pas a Deux

 

Impressionist Flower Photography - Roaring Ballet Crowd in a Standing Ovation by Charlie Budd The Tall Photographer
Confetti Fields Roaring Ballet Crowd in a Standing Ovation

 

Let me know what you think of my impressionist flower photography.

And let me know whether you’d like me to write a more technical piece about how I make these images.

I’m going to be making test prints of all of these photographs, and more.

If you’re interested in a print for home or workplace, or you’d just like to tell me what you think, do drop me a line on my contact page. 

 

What will I blog about?

What will I blog about?

This is my first blog on my new website. In it I’m going to tell you a story. Just a short one. In fact all my blogs will be stories.

I’ve got blogs planned where I tell a story of a single photograph, others where I’ll include half a dozen photographs to give a flavour of an event.

Other blogs will show you how I created a particular video, or cinemegraph, or photograph, so you can learn the same techniques.

If you like stories, I hope you’ll like my blog.

Here’s the first story.

Idiot

On 31st October I fell from scaffolding and broke my back. My own fault. Idiot.

But I won’t hold it against me. That won’t do anyone any good. It’s all about moving forwards.

I cannot ever fully repay the debt of gratitude I owe to the NHS, from the paramedics (who gave me the entire gas and air supplies of two ambulances, bloody hell that’s good stuff), to the cleaners (helping prevent MRSA and keeping me entertained with family stories while they cleaned the ward), admin staff (making sure everyone and everything is where it needs to be in a huge, spaghettilike organisation), doctors (peeling bone away from my spinal chord, and bolting me back together with, er, surgical precision), nurses (who washed me, laughed with me, gave me lots and lots and lots and lots of drugs, put pills up my bottom, and destapled my back), scanner staff (thanks for Smooth FM in the hot and claustrophobic MRI scanner, I was so relaxed I nearly nodded off), catering staff (black tea, more black tea, more black tea, thank you)… Everyone. They put me Dumpty Humpty back together, with screws, rods, staples (rather a lot), pills, and care.

Family and friends have been hugely supportive. Visits, and cake and more cake, and a vegetable hamper, and more cake (I like cake)… But most of all, sitting with me for hours, talking about anything and everything. We have busy lives, and I find it’s rare to get a few hours, alone with one person, to just chat. It was such a delight.

unnamed.jpg
My Darling Jules, and the title picture of her blog ‘Every Cloud… and all that.

My Darling Jules. She’s my wife in case you don’t know. She’s been through the wringer. She’s written a brilliant blog about it all herself. She was the first on the scene after I’d fallen, and called the ambulance. She was with me through all the most difficult hours. Visited me every day. She didn’t know whether I’d walk again. She kept everything going. Told me what I needed telling. Didn’t tell me what I didn’t need to know. Stiff upper lip and all that, in front of me anyway. I was dangling off a cliff, and she was my emotional safety rope.

Bloody hell I’m lucky.

A New Beginning

I used to earn a living as a full time decorator, but I can’t do that now for at least six months, if at all.

So I’m going to use my skills as a photographer and video producer to earn a living. And this website tells you about that.

My first project is two rather whimsical calendars. I’ve made calendars before, once for charity, and most years I do one for family members. But now I need to do them to earn a living, to pay the mortgage and bills. The images in the calendars are perhaps a little ‘otherworldly’. I’m not totally sure what that says about me.

My next plans are to develop a video production business. That may sound grand, but it’s not. I’ve got all the kit I need to get started, and the skills that I’ve developed over the past few years.

I’m going to concentrate on making short films for small businesses. Telling stories which connect with people. Small, simple, intimate productions. I’m already working on a few projects, but the calendar project has used up all the stationary-arse-computer time I can manage at the moment. (I have nerve damage in my buttocks. I know you wanted to know. So I told you.)

I’ll start editing a few videos in January 2018. I can’t wait. I bloody love video.

I’m going to fiddle with this website over the following months, give it a new hairstyle perhaps, and a decent diet of stories…

That’s it for now.

Time for a cup of tea?