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Shooting in a forest presents a number of challenges:  the light is usually dappled, creating an exposure nightmare…there’s tons of visual clutter, making it hard to have just one subject stand out…and it’s harder than you’d think to create an image that ensures that your viewer is grooving on the same thing you were when you took the image.

One tool that’s often overlooked is the telephoto lens.  You would think the last place you’d want to use a telephoto would be in a forest, and that it would be better suited to wide open spaces with long lines of sight…but then you’d be missing out on some cool photo ops!

A telephoto lens has a unique way of isolating and compressing things, and its relatively shallow depth of field just serves to heighten this effect.

Take the above image.  I loved the pattern the tree trunks made:  they’re all roughly parallel to each other, and yet each is unique.  I wanted to emphasize the tree trunks more than the pretty backlit leaves or the tangled branches of the trees, although the leaves and branches would be worthy subjects of other images, to be sure.

As these tree trunks were fairly close to each other, I was able to emphasize them while relegating the leaves and branches to a blurry, supporting role in the image.  The out of focus leaves and branches in front of and behind the tree trunks tell you that the forest goes on and on and you’re just looking at a thin slice of it.

I’ll leave you with a deep philosophical question:  How far into a forest can you walk?


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