Jack Lodge – Spring photography top tips
We catch up with Jack Lodge, following his article with BBC Springwatch to find out some of his top tips and advice for photography, locations and kit needed for Spring and Summer landscape photography.
What is it about Spring photography you love the most?
I almost feel that every year, I am waiting for the wonderful season of Spring to begin so that I can get lost amongst magical woodlands in the Dorset, Hampshire, and Wiltshire countryside. I am a firm believer in shooting to the seasons, making the most of the conditions and bringing landscapes to life in their best light.
One of my favourite things about this time of year is the chase for a photograph, the scouting of new locations and returning to the same area time, and time again, to see it change in different weather conditions. You also have all the incredible sounds, the smells, and the way the soft, golden light hits the Spring colours (especially fresh Spring greens, I LOVE those) is mesmerising. Spring really is a landscape photographers’ playground. You have vibrant purple bluebells, bright yellow rapeseed, luscious red poppies, textured barley and wheat fields, the photo-opportunities are endless.
Do you have a favourite time you prefer to venture out during these months and any tips for those starting out?
Although it can sometimes be a struggle with the 3/4am alarms, I would highly encourage anyone looking to capture the beauty of Spring to get out for sunrise. When you find yourself surrounded by stunning bluebells in a misty woodland, all alone with nothing but the birds chirping, you really feel like you are in a movie set.
My top tips for anyone looking to get out and capture Spring would have to be patience, persistence, and perseverance. I would say that only 40% of my time during Spring is with my camera setup on a tripod at sunrise. I know that sounds crazy, but the majority of time needs to be spent scouting new locations (start local, you will be surprised what you find within a 30 minute drive of your house) and get to know a location really well, by seeing it in different conditions. Would it look better backlit, with nice side light? Maybe with a little fog to remove distractions and provide separation? This is always location dependant so spending the time researching will ensure when conditions are right, you know exactly where to go and can sit in a location waiting for the perfect moment to capture.
Besides the camera, what is an essential tool in your photography kit which helps in Spring landscape photography?
Hands down a tripod. I do not think anyone shooting landscape photography should be without one in their photography kit. For one, it helps you slow down, think about your scene, finesse your composition and be more patient. Do not get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with running around handheld, especially with the dynamic range offered by cameras these days, I just find a tripod helps me from getting carried away and focus on coming away with one shot I am proud of.
What one filter in your arsenal is essential this time of year? And how does it help with your photography?
Without a doubt a good polarising filter. This, for me, is an essential filter during Spring and should be utilised by anyone looking to take landscape photography seriously – it really does make that much of a difference. During Spring, I hardly find myself shooting with the sky in frame, so graduated filters are not necessary. The same goes for ND’s as I rarely visit the coast, unless some wild thrift catches my eye.
So, why a polariser? Well, when you want to remove the due from the fresh Spring green leaves, a quick rotate of the polariser and the reflections are gone. You are left with more contrast, added saturation (natural, of course) and a less distracting scene. This year, I have found the Kase Magnetic Filters absolutely fantastic for capturing Spring colours – they are a lot quicker to use than traditional square filters and the polariser works fantastically.
What is your process for finding new locations and once at said location, finding a composition?
I spend hours and hours scouting new locations. I would go as far to say that only 40% of my time is spent with my camera, the other 60% is driving to new spots, scouting woodlands, and searching OS Maps for new locations to photograph. I find this part just as enjoyable as the photography, it makes it even more rewarding when you end up with a unique shot from all the hours searching and scouting (and getting lost, of course).
One tip I find to help me frame up a composition is to keep my tripod on my bag. I would not recommend setting up your tripod and putting the camera on straight away. Get your camera and move around, look low and high, left and right, the slightest of movements in a forest can turn a good composition into a great one. When you think you have found something handheld, get the tripod out and start to finesse the scene. When it comes to finalising your composition, check the edges of your frame and make sure there are no distracting elements – like a branch or twig coming into the scene that could distract from the main story of the image.