Considering this photo walkshop at Foxes Forest/Hilsea Lines in Portsmouth was the 38th walkshop, we have been really lucky with weather. The early hours of this November morning were heavily overcast with lots of rain but we thought it was worth riding our run of luck so we went ahead. Happy to say that a few brave souls came out in to the showers at the start of the walkshop at 10am and, as has happened previously, the rain eased up completely in about 20 minutes which meant we were able to turn a negative in to a positive and shoot photos of the rainwater, the wet leaves, etc.
We started off by one of the freshwater lakes and began working on our focusing, looking at large and small subjects to challenge our focusing on foreground and background. The small water droplets on the branches meant we had to factor in minimum focal distance, macro settings and manual focus control to get the shots. We also found the water covered bench a reflective surface and perfect for catching the autumnal colours with a little still life. The birdlife in this part of Portsmouth was out in force too, good weather for ducks, and all that.
We made our way in to the forest and began to look at composition techniques like leading lines, colour focusing, alternative perspectives and more. tall trees and plants on the forest floor created a rich mix of colours, from the dark greens and browns through to rust reds, all amplified and saturated by the rainwater. We passed the small ‘bonfire circle’ and found some leaf roses someone had left behind before using one of the small tracks leading in to the more dense forest as a location for leading the eye and creating narrative.
Foxes Forest & Hilsea Lines is a real mix of nature and city heritage and we soon moved on to a tunnel that leads from the heart of the forest through the brick fortifications to the city side of the defences of which most are designated as a scheduled ancient monument. The tunnel allowed us to look at silhouettes, framing options and also simple ways of creating atmosphere within an image. From the other side of the fortification curtain we could look at the wide arching wall of brick and the metal remnants left behind from the days when the Lines were a busy military defensive position.
We continued east along the city side of the Lines along a tree lined ‘avenue’ looking at the old gates, fences, walls and some of the particularly interesting trees. Some of these trees are popular with local children with swing lines hanging from the branches. The leaves that had fallen at this time of year were everywhere and we used them as creative forms contrasting with the manmade lines and textures. We headed down to one of the large bastions to continue to look at textures in the doors and walls before climbing up on the the Lines ridge and finishing off looking at one of the fortifications with our cameras. As always, it was well worth sticking out the initial bad weather for what ended up a beautiful, colourful and visually inspirational part of Portsmouth all the more creatively interesting due to the weather.
A big thank you to who came along for the walkshop!
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