In the midst of Bedforshire there lies a forest. Ok, I know, Bedfordshire isn’t deepest, darkest Peru of Paddington fame, but the forest of the country park near the village of Heath and Reach (that’s one village by the way), is a beautiful spot of unspoilt woodland. Rushmere Country Park!
It’s a paid entry area, a privately owned piece of land that is very well looked after. It has ponds, a lake, a valley where herons nest, some marked walkways and a central car park, a picnic area, a dogs off leash area, and very tidy facilities. Indeed, the balcony of the Tree Tops cafe looks out over the tree tops on edge of heron valley, so you get the feeling you are in the tree tops. Cars drive in and out on the same road, exploring around the park must be on foot.
A visit in late January on a sunny, chilly winter’s day was a real treat. The sun was permanently low, giving wonderful light through the trees. The sun star shots had to be tried. Unfortunately I had to try this handheld, harder to get the composition right.
Star in the Forest, f/5.6, 1/60, 32mm, ISO320
There’s a mix of trees at Rushmere of the ever greens and the bare wooden limbs catching the sun beautifully. Trees are always beautiful, whether in blossom or in full leaf, but there’s something about a leafless tree, showing off its skeleton form, that is intriguing, not only for the natural shapes but also the metaphors. From the same balcony, with my 70-300 lens, I was able to pick out some moss covered tree trunks being hit by errant rays of the sun.
Deep in the Woods, f/11, 1/400, 209mm, ISO1600
An amazing fact about many of the trees in the centre of the park is that they are all very tall, and very slim. There was hardly a breeze on the day, but still you could see these peaceful giants swaying, every way you looked it was picturesque; looking through the symmetry of the trunks, the dappled soft sunlight and the blue sky beyond.
Through the Trees, f/8, 1/80, 50mm, ISO250
Composition choice were endless, the paths, the patterns, the chances of the intentional camera movement shots too. Like it or hate it! Selecting a narrower aperture and fixing the ISO at 100, ensured a long enough shutter speed for a bit of arty messing about!
Just an Impression, f/11, 0.5sec, 24mm, ISO100
The lack of a full leaf canopy of course meant that more sunlight was making it to the ground, this made the detail of the forest floor even more interesting than usual, again thanks to that gorgeous sunlight.
On the ground, f/5.6, 1/50, 35mm, ISO640
I tool a great number of shots that lunchtime around the forest in waking only a fraction of the many pathways, I could have taken many more. I will visit Rushmere again this summer, possibly doing a full circuit or going down to the pond at the bottom of heron valley, either way I look forward to it, though I know summer light will not be as intriguing as a crisp winter’s day.
My first visit to Rushmere was very brief, to check it out, last August. I think I counted upwards of 40 dogs, including a group of 10 old English sheepdogs. With all its beauty, its excellent facilities and being located within easy reach of many fairly large towns, Rushmere is a haven for families with dogs and, worse still, children (only joking) J My wife, who has a bit of a dog-phobia, together with my preference of having as few people around as possible, means that my visit this summer will be on a workday and before the school holidays start! Whatever I find this summer, I am sure I will also go back next winter. If ever I find myself back in England in autumn, I am sure Rushmere will be high on my visit list - the autumn colours must be amazing from the balcony of the cafe!
It’s a beautiful place, well worth the few pounds for a day’s visit.
What are the best forest areas near you for photography? How often do you get out to photograph them? What are your favourite types of forest or woodland shots?
Post me a comment and I will be sure to reply!
The Frustrated Photog.