By Suman Nath
For the last few years I am roaming around different forests or forest like places in Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal, India. This article would cater to people who do not have SLR camera, but have prosumer level camera with limited control over the shutter speed, exposure and aperture. You can do a lot of things with your, “not so high end camera” in a forest.
In the forest if you are new with your camera you would find it difficult to handle the light and darkness and you may feel bored very soon.
Usually there are two major kinds of difficulties:
a) You cannot adjust your camera with the available lights (usually you fail to capture what you see in your naked eye)
b) You cannot find what to shoot as there are too many things.
Let me address these two major difficulties for you
FOREST MORNING LIGHTS:
In order to play with the lights in the forest it is essential to begin early in morning. It is better to start just during the time of sunrise. Then do the following things:
a) Locate the sun from the forest so that you can locate the sunbeam which is coming from the forest canopy
b) Depending on the nature of forest canopy light may take time to reach the forest ground. If it is a considerably dense forest like post monsoon evergreen forest it may take three and a half hours for the sun to reach the forest ground.
c) It is better if you can find tall trees a bit away from each other. The dispersed tall trees would provide brilliant opportunity for the sun rays to create the beam effect.
d) The best season is the winter when there is a lot of mystic fog within the forest. However, for a dense and evergreen forest it is foggy even in post monsoon.
e) In a season when significant amount of fog is there inside the forest and sun beam is created you can play with your camera. It is better for a prosumer range camera to set the ISO in to 200 to 400. Increasing ISO beyond this would definitely make you compromise with the quality of the image. Exposure should range from 4 to 8 and shutter speed should enable you to minimize the amount of light which is falling on other objects so that you can significantly capture only the sunbeams.
f) You can either allow the sun to be captured by the lens or you can hide the sun by something else like a tree trunk. If the sun is hidden then it is easier to focus on the sun beams more easily. However if the sun is captured usually it shows a reddish colour of origin creating a different effect
The second most common thing that can be done in the forest is focus work. Here too you can play with forest light. If the light comes against the leaves beside a dark tree bark it appears dazzling simply because of the contrast. You can use a lot of other permutations and combinations with the forest resources apart from the tree leaves. Tree bark, creepers and climbers, ferns growing on the tree barks, apart from the flowers and fruits can be potential objects of your focus work.
To capture the colors of these objects it is important to locate and compose your objects in such a way where it is lighter than others. It not only gives you a wonderful shot but also yields wonderful color. In terms of camera specifications it is enough to use minimum possible exposure, ISO and shutter speed so that no shakes appear on the image.
Wildlife consists of huge range of species not only the big items that appear in national geographic channels. It ranges from insects to elephants. Let me focus on a few of them.
With a prosumer camera you can use your macro skills to focus on insects and lights falling on them. For example a spider in its web touched by the sunlight can be wonderful object to work with. Butterflies sitting or flying over a flower touched by sun is going to be beautiful object to focus on. Birds require constant monitoring and following. It is important to position yourself parallel to the birds to avoid the skylight at the background which would make you compromise with their color resulting in silhouette.