Monday, 29 January 2018


December is a month of short dark days, weeks that compete for gloominess and a month that seems to shudder to a halt with the indoor excesses of Christmas. Yet just a week or two later as the days  start to draw out in the new year there is a also a subtle change to the quality of the light. Now on sunny days it has a vibrancy that was missing in December and comes with a gentle hint of the Spring to come. 

Ken Hill Woods last Friday, I quite liked the light
Last Friday was just such a day of promise, a clear night left a heavy morning frost that coated the cars windscreen with a thin layer of ice. In the local woods at lunchtime a bumblebee sat in a stupor on the ground woken to early from its winter sleep, the vibrant yellow flowers of a Gorse bush were out a little early for pollinators like the unfortunate bee. As I enjoyed my walk snatches of Great Tit and Nuthatch song cut through the trees, whilst a large mixed flock of Long Tailed Tits, Goldcrests and Coal Tits reminded me that this was still January.

But it was something about the light on a woodland ride and how it brought out the colours of the bare trees that made me stop in my tracks and pull out my little compact camera. To the left of the ride sunlight streamed through a gap in the trees, creating a natural spotlight at 45 degrees. This light hit the bronze leaf litter on the forest floor and reflected back up onto the white bark of the silver birches that edged the ride. Behind all this a belt of conifers suffused with the same winter light gave a soft green background to the scene.

This viewpoint is one that I have passed many times before, it is on one of my favourite walks through these woods, a walk I do probably at least once a week throughout the year. It is pleasant but it doesn't normally having me pausing and reaching for my camera. But today what for me briefly lifted the scene was the light helping me see a different view and bringing this bend in a path in the woods to life.

As I stood and tried to capture an image that would go someway to capture the spirit of the scene in front of me, I was acutely aware of the transient nature of what I was enjoying. All it would take for the magic to fade would be a change in the position of the sun as the afternoon wore on, or a light breeze pushing in some cloud and with it turning off the magical soft winter light.

I carefully composed my image and pressed the shutter button, then after taking one last look at the scene in front of me continued my walk around the wood and eventually back to my office and a full afternoons work at my computer.

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