“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…” So said Elliott Erwitt, and I have to agree.

During our next Seasonal Woodlands Photography workshop on Saturday July 14th, we shall be exploring how to capture the lush green shades and textures of summer, and our aim is to make an image achieve what you want. It’s not all about the number of ‘likes’, or capturing those photographs of iconic locations: it’s about creating something unique that makes you feel proud.

We meet at 2.30 in the Garden Studio and begin with a short discussion and review of relevant images by highly-respected landscape photographers and a chance to share our own experiences and photography worries. All levels are welcome. Our friendly and relaxed small group set-up means I can tailor the day to individual needs. Create an image which is yours and yours alone. It is only by experimenting that we find and develop our own style!

I shall also be drawing on my experience and knowledge as a guidebook author to take you to one or more locations which offer the chance to get to grips with teasing a fine composition out of a woodland. We may look to juxtapose a second element in the picture such as a Wealden stream, a grassy glade or rocks. My fifth guidebook, Day Walks on the High Weald, will be published by Vertebrate Publishing this August and my in depth research and varied walking experience means that I have a wealth of local knowledge including a veritable list of potential locations for us to explore. Depending on the light and weather, I will select which woodlands might serve us best as inspiration.  The workshop should finish about 7 p.m.

You can book  and see more details here: http://www.madeandmaking.co.uk/seasonal-woodland-photography.html

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Pooh Country and the High Weald

Spring Morning

“Where am I going? I don’t quite know.

Down to the stream where the king-cups grow –

Up to the hill where the pine-trees blow –

Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.”

from When We Were Young by A.A.Milne

Childhood books Pooh © Deirdre Huston

The High Weald Area of Natural Beauty is rich in history, literary connections and ecological habitats. For Day Walks on the High Weald, I’ve been researching a trail through ‘Pooh Country’, close to where A.A.Milne once lived, but if you can’t wait , Walk 4 in Sussex Walks  crosses ‘Pooh Bridge’, visits Hartfield and meanders along the edge of ‘Five Hundred Acre Wood’ . The wider landscape of the Ashdown Forest and High Weald helped inspire the much-loved collaborative works of A.A.Milne and E.H.Shepard, and, I’m interested in how we are undoubtedly influenced by our store of cultural references when we walk through the landscape.

E.H.Shepard, who was also responsible for illustrating the anthropomorphic figures in The Wind in the Willows, was a prolific painter and, like Milne, sometimes resented the fact that he was so well known for his children’s works but I wonder if they realised the extent to which their words and pictures would shape future generation’s perception of the natural landscape?

Look around the ‘enchanted places’ of the Ashdown Forest.  A wooden bridge over a Wealden stream? Think of Pooh Sticks. An oak tree? Does it have a door? Who might live there? And can Tigger bounce high enough to reach the lowest branch of a Scott’s Pine tree? If we are thinking about the stories,  we might consciously ask ourselves such questions, but Milne gave us much more. To my mind, the stories embody the landscape with a feeling of freedom, encourage us to question the world we live in and suggest we rise to challenges. They underline the importance of community because whether it is an interconnected ecosystem or a group of friends, without support, isolation is bleak. Winnie the Pooh was also one of the first to highlight the importance of honey and the ‘plight’ of the bumble bee!

In landscape photography, sometimes people feel a ‘good’ image is judged by the number of likes and key types of image are popular in online trends: pastel sunsets, blocks of ice on an Icelandic beach, long exposure seascapes and impressionistic ICM images all tend to meet with positive reactions but if we’re not careful, we’ll end up with a narrow view of the landscape. Why not look inside yourself to see what representations of the world you have squirreled away in that cultural store?   How about taking an image of a clump of trees or trying to capture the simplicity of a Wealden stream? The line between the ordinary and the extraordinary is a thin one.

An ordinary stream © Deirdre Huston