Put yourself in the picture

Autumn Walk – ISO 400; 166mm; f/5.6; 1/180 sec (click image to view larger size)

What to do when you find a nice (quiet) location but you think having a person in view would help add something to the image? Put the camera on a tripod, set your 10 second timer, step into the limelight and become the star of the show. Although, it’s not always quite as easy as it sounds, as I found out recently!

I sometimes have my son walking with me and I often use him as a model to play the “man in black” as I like to think of it. On this occasion I was walking alone in a local Surrey wood I’ve been to before, but exploring areas I’d not covered previously, when I came upon this view of a pathway leading through the trees with a bit of hazy mistyness in the distance:

Autumn Light – ISO 400; 148mm; f/4; 1/300 sec (click image to view larger size)

I was instantly attracted to it – the dappled lighting, the autumnal colours and the positioning of the trees, I knew it had potential. I also knew it would benefit from having a human figure to add relevance and a focal point, so I attempted to get myself in there. With my Fujifilm X-T1 and the excellent XF 50-140mm f/2.8 lens set up on my tripod, I repeatedly set the timer and tried to get myself into an optimum position as the shutter fired. It took a few attempts to get it (almost) right, the opening image above being the best of the bunch. Here are a few of the failures:

(click any image above to view in a gallery with my comments and EXIF data)

I decided in the end to switch to a vertical shot so I didn’t have to go so far to allow room above me in the image. It also shows more of the colourful foliage and gives a better feel for scale with the trees reaching higher above me. Even so, I felt it would be improved by having the human figure further into the scene, which would have meant running at full speed, which isn’t very fast these days, while counting out 8 seconds before changing my stride – and that wasn’t going to happen!

Lucky then that a dog walker chanced by to give me the sort of shot I was hoping for:

Autumn Walk – ISO 400; 154mm; f/4; 1/420 sec (click image to view larger size)

For the technically minded, the image above and the first image have had slight post-processing in Lightroom – mainly white balance, whites/blacks and shadows/highlights adjustments, the sort of thing you would do in a darkroom when printing. The other sample “failed” images are straight out of the camera JPGs. I love the Fuji X system for what it can produce so effortlessly!

Here are just a few more (processed) images from the morning I spent there:

It’s a nice enough location that I might consider using it when I teach woodland photography as there’s a pub just down the road to warm up in while reviewing the images taken and going through some simple edits.

All images were made with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the excellent XF 50-140mm f/2.8 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter.

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