Home > PHOTOGRAPHY: Inspiration and Assignments | In The Field | How To's > In the Field: Winter Woodland Patterns

In the Field: Winter Woodland Patterns

I have always been fascinated with the seemingly random patterns created by trees in the woods, especially in the winter when the leaves are gone and snow is on the forest floor. And I have found if you study them long enough, not-so-random patterns can start to develop.

During a late October snowstorm, which dumped a foot of heavy wet snow, we had a lot of broken branches and downed trees here in the heart of the hardwood forest where I live. The landscape has been drastically altered and I have been able to photograph many of the changes.

However, I have been waiting for the perfect moment to capture this one tree with two broken branches. It is at the edge of our property and I see it every time I walk out onto our deck. We had a small amount of snowfall a few days ago, and the other morning the temperatures rose, creating a misty foggy atmosphere. Finally…the moment I had been looking for.

I set up the tripod and took a series of shots. Both horizontal and vertical formats worked well and I also played around with the white balance. Some settings rendered the scene as it was, and other settings gave a colder tone.

I liked the contrast of the dark wet trees against the snow. And the muted spot of color from leaves on the oak trees, which will stay until Spring. The foggy mist added just the right mood. And the crossing of the broken branches provided a focal point against the jumble of smaller criss-crossing branches.

I finally got the shot of those trees I wanted. Sometimes it does pay to be patient…


  1. January 25, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Nice. Very atmospheric, and manages somehow to be warm and cold at the same time!

    • January 26, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Thanks Lee, I know what you mean by warm and cold. It was about 40 degrees when I took the photo but still felt cold and damp!

  2. January 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

    It has an almost sepia cast to it, nice. I think it looks almost like a pretzel.

    • January 26, 2012 at 9:46 am

      The color of the fog was really strange…in some areas it had a blueish cast and other areas it had the sepia look. I guess the color of the leaves influenced the color of the fog. Daylight/sunny white balance made it really blue. I used a shady preset to get a more natural look in this photo. It does kind of look like a pretzel!

  3. January 25, 2012 at 10:46 am

    A super great shot, David. This one absolutely needs to be framed and hanged on your wall. 🙂

    • January 26, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Thanks Bob, ya know…I may just be doing some printing this weekend!!!

  4. Jo Woolf
    January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Beautiful subtle tones, and such an atmosphere – you feel as if you’re breathing in the mist. I just love the colours and patterns.

    • January 26, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Thanks Jo, you are right regarding breathing the mist, I could feel it drifting past me and actually see it. It would be really thick for a minute or two and then clear up for a minute. I definitely needed a rain sleeve for this one!

  5. January 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I love the way the copper-coloured leaves still show through. Beautiful and well worth being patient for!

    • January 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

      It sure was worth it…it’s foggy again today, but the snow has melted. Got lucky this time!

  6. January 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Nice! The feeling I get from this is Asian art and dreamy, which I like. Maybe because the red leaves reminded me of Japanese maple.

    • January 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

      You know, you are right!!! I never looked at it that way but now I definitely see it. Hmmmm

  7. January 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Great shot! I love the foggy quality of it.

    • January 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Thanks Maggie, it’s foggy again today but it just isn’t the same without the snow. Thanks for stopping by!!!

  8. January 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Love it, David! It almost looks like a painting.

    • January 26, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Thanks Gracie, it does have a painterly air to it…I love how fog can totally change a scene!

  9. sarahloub
    January 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Love it! *Almost* makes me wish it would snow again so I could get some more winter photos… but I’m just fine waiting until next year. 🙂

    • January 26, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Thanks Sarah, I would bet that mother nature has more snow in store for us…I just hope it’s not 4 feet in a week!

  10. January 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Beautiful, so beautiful dear David, the misty view standing so impressive and as you named woodland patters, especially the colours… Fascinated me so much. Thank you dear David, with my love, nia

    • January 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

      So glad you are enjoying this one NIa, I love the serenity of the scene.

  11. January 25, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I like that a lot. I love walking in the forests in winter, especially in a mist.

    • January 26, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Thanks Montucky, I too love the mystery of the forest when it is foggy or misty. I think in a past life I lived in the woods…it always seems so familiar to me.

  12. January 26, 2012 at 12:45 am

    i really like this and can feel the dampness…sur know where your focal point is!:)

  13. January 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Thanks Jane, it was pretty damp that morning but warm at the same time!

  14. January 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Really nicely executed, David. These kinds of shots are really tough (in compositional terms, I mean). It takes a good eye to tease them out.

  15. January 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks Kerry, I had several to choose from (horizontal vs. vertical), a little left or a little right etc. but this one seemed to work the best. Thanks for stopping by!!!

  16. Nandini
    January 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Great photo, David! The fog is doing its work, making me to look deeply into the picture. Nice textures. 🙂

  17. January 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks Nandini, the fog actually got thicker later in the day and I could hardly see the trees!!!

  18. January 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Your right David. It pays to be patient. Great shot.

    • January 29, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Thanks Gerry…I’m curious to see what that scene will look like in the spring and summer. I don’t think those branches will be coming down anytime soon.

  19. January 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    The destruction in the image, combined with the fire-red leaves really gives this a dramatical look. With the covering fog I start getting ideas for books where this should be on the cover. You inspire 🙂

    • January 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Glad I was able to inspire! Hmmm, now you have me curious. Are you writing books?? Novels, mysteries, fiction???

  20. January 31, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I think it always pays to be patient! What a lovely, misty shot! Feels cold brrrrr…… Poor tree, the snow was obviously too heavy! 🙂

    • February 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

      IPatience is a good thing…usually. It was an odd day, it was cold, damp and warm at the same time. Yeah, the snow that the October storm brought was wet, and heavy and there was a lot of it. It broke trees all over the place.

  21. February 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    This is so beautiful.

    • February 8, 2012 at 8:55 am

      Thank you My Beautiful…more snow is on the way today so I will get to see the scene in a different way!

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