Photographing the English Hedgerow Flora and Fauna
Calleva Atrebatum, an Iron Age settlement first occupied by the Romans in about AD 45 and includes what is considered the best-preserved Roman wall in Great Britain.
The English Hedgerow – It was by chance one bright Sunday afternoon that I ended up with possibly, the most delightful 5 set of images that I’ve been happy with for some time. As a weekend warrior photographer, I am perhaps my own best and worst critic. Especially on this day; I had intended to photograph some more ‘landscapes’ around the old Roman Wall, Calleva, at Silchester.
I had already completed one circuit of the old Roman wall and as the weather was unusually hot, bright and breezeless, I was thankful for the parishioners’ at the local 12th Century Parish Church located on the wall for the charitable cup of tea and scone(s). I left the cool comfort of the church, said my goodbyes and set off back to my car when I decided to deviate from my course and head of down one of the many country lanes.
After a mile or so I decided to stop and rest on the countryside road verge. It was at this time I also began to question in my mind, all the hedgerow plants. It was super peaceful and I swear I could hear the smaller creatures or birds rustling through the undergrowth. I couldn’t help but notice the simplicity that I had so often overlooked – The Hedgerow!
Hedgerows are a fundamental part of the heritage of the British countryside, defining the very nature of the landscape and providing a major shelter and food source for a huge variety of mammals, birds and insects. Hedgerows are effectively a vibrant ecosystem and a huge nature reserve just waiting to be discovered by the aspiring photographer. Thus, I began to take action and started to move around the various angles among the rich diverse hedgerow. Although I must point out; if you are going to attempt this, wear long sleeve clothing! My arms were red raw for hours, the rewards, worth it.
English Flora Image 1 of 5
English Flora Image 2 of 5
English Flora Image 3 of 5
English Flora Image 4 of 5
English Flora Image 3 of 5
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I believe I must do this again, perhaps to show the seasons with the different flora available throughout the year. My next little project idea, to invest in some knowledge and begin to build a photo library of the North Hampshire rural countryside hedgerow.
My Plan to Photograph More of the English Hedgerow.
It has been estimated that many thousands of miles of hedgerow have ‘disappeared’ in recent times. Some have become lines of shrubs and trees, others have been degraded by flailing or through neglect. All the more reason why I plan to do more with the camera and perhaps inspire others to do the same. Hedgerows divide land right across Britain, including like my own back garden, and they’re home to a very diverse and wide variety of wildlife making them the ‘picture-perfect’ place for outdoor photographers. A hedgerow will provide a huge image collection of flowers, plants, insects, small mammals and birds, and all from just one location! You just need to know where to look and when.
If you’re planning to photograph for insects or some close up on flowers, take your macro lens along. Photographing the many birds and small mammals that live in the hedgerow you’ll need a telephoto or zoom lens, so you can spot and take your photographs from a distance that won’t scare them off.
A good stable tripod is a good investment or even a small beanbag will give your arms a rest and stop you shaking the camera when you’re working on those frame-filling shots. I would strongly recommend a good remote release. If you don’t have a remote release, don’t panic, make use of the self-timer on your camera as this will give you enough time to press the shutter and move away so your movement won’t blur your shot. As it’s dark and shadowy inside a hedgerow take a reflector out with you to add and direct light into the shot.
My Learnt Lesson here;
Whatever time of year you do your hedgerow photography, if you use your lens’ minimum aperture to give your flower shots greater depth of field, remember this will slow your shutter speed down so watch out for camera shake.
This blog entry is by far NOT the perfect guide to photographing the English Hedgerow however; It has inspired me to think about my approach to photographing our beautiful landscape. Since post processing my first 5 images in this ‘genre’, I have discovered the most beautiful common wildflowers in our hedgerows, both in the countryside and coasts.
So, the next time you are out and about, look closer at your immediate vicinity, check amongst the weeds, the grass verge or the run down old garage building. I promise you, there are photographic opportunities abound. I hope you find this useful for helping to identify photographic opportunities when you are out and about, or those you have already have amongst your picture library.
Stephen Paul Young Photograph
And thanks for taking the time to read this article; if you have any questions, ideas for me or just simply want to share your countryside hedgerow experience then please leave a comment.
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